A vegetable garden is a wonderful thing, but so ephemeral! Every year it has to be started from scratch all over again. This is part of the fun, being able to try new plants or grow more of this crop or the other; still, it would be nice to have some permanence in the garden.
Small fruits can be permanent features and some are relatively easy to deal with. Here are some to consider:
Rhubarb is a plant that could be called the ‘big easy’ simply because it is. This very tough, winter-hardy plant is not really a fruit, but is mostly used as such. Rhubarb prefers organically rich soil and sunny, well-drained sites but will grow well in most soils. Once established, the plant is drought-resistant. Do not use any pesticides on or near the plant, which shouldn’t be necessary anyway, since rhubarb doesn’t have too many pests. Give each plant three feet or more and don’t harvest the first year, but always remove flower stalks as soon as they appear. Rhubarb is one of the first crops that can be harvested in the spring.
Raspberries are expensive when store-bought, because they are soft and difficult to transport. So growing your own is an excellent idea. There are many great varieties of raspberries to choose from—with red, golden, purple and black fruit. Most produce in July while some produce two crops a year; once in June and again in the fall. While raspberries are self-fertile it is still a good idea to plant more than one variety to guarantee fertilization (which is necessary for berries). Growing raspberries requires some planning, soil preparation and possibly some simple post and wire supports.
Strawberries are another fruit that is excellent for home gardens and probably the most popular summer fruit. As with growing all small fruits, sites with well- drained soils, amended with organic matter, in full sun, are preferred. Strawberries can be grown in rows or in raised “pyramid” planters. Each method has advantages and disadvantages. Read up on what the different varieties have to offer and then decide which ones will be best for you; some are good for freezing, but produce smaller crops or are less hardy than others. All are good for eating!
This is just a quick overview of gardening with small fruits. To get all the information that you will need to make a successful go of it, check out the U of M Extension Service for your county.
Mnextfirstname.lastname@example.org if you live in Hennepin county type in Hennepin instead of Ramsey and • likewise with all other metropolitan counties. There is • an advantage to using your county’s information • because it is tailored for conditions in your immediate • area.