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How to plant a berry garden or growing berries

By growing your own, you can enjoy strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries at their sweetest and most nutritious. All berries like well-drained soil and full sun. A gentle south- or east-facing slope is ideal. Don’t plant berries in a hollow where cold air collects.

Birds are fond of berries, particularly strawberries and blueberries. Cover these crops with a net a few days before they ripen. Pick strawberries in the morning as soon as the dew has dried, raspberries in the late afternoon when their flavor is at its height. Blackberries and blueberries can be picked at any hour; taste them for ripeness before you start. Planting procedures Because berry plants are susceptible to disease, start with resistant varieties and disease-free stock. Don’t plant them where tomatoes, potatoes, or eggplant have been grown.

Set out new plants as early in the spring as possible so that they become established before hot weather. Keep their roots moist before and during planting. Soak the roots of bare root plants in a mixture of soil and water before planting. Allow ample space between plants for air circulation. Prune old growth annually and keep plants weed free. Weed by hand; hoes and forks will damage shallow roots.

To start a strawberry bed, dig rotted compost or well aged manure into the soil. Set plants 8 inches apart in rows 30 inches apart; new leaf buds should be at soil level. Water plants in dry weather, and mulch with straw to preserve moisture and keep the ripening berries off the ground. Remove all but one or two runner plants from each plant. Pick off blossoms the first year. In the fall cover plants loosely with straw or similar material as winter protection. Strawberry plants need replacing every few years, when they bear fewer and smaller fruits. The bramble fruits Raspberries, blackberries, dewberries, loganberries, and boysenberries require an acid (pH 5.5), moisture-retaining soil. Choose a sunny spot. Before planting, dig in plenty of peat moss and cow manure or compost. Cut all canes (stems) back to 6 inches.

Set raspberry canes in the soil about 2 inches deeper than the previous soil line, and space them 2 to 4 feet apart in rows 6 to 8 feet apart. Blackberries need even more space. Allow 4 to 6 feet between plants and 6 to 9 feet between rows. Plant blackberry canes at the same depth as the old soil line.

Bramble fruits are subject to many viruses and diseases. To reduce the chance of contagion, use virus-free stock. Plant raspberries and black raspberries 500 feet from one another and from any wild brambles. Prune old canes as soon as they finish fruiting; thin the rest of the canes to about 6 inches apart. Burn all prunings. Blueberries

Generous rainfall and well-drained, very acid soil (pH 4.8) are essential for blueberries. To prepare the soil, dig a trench or holes at least 2 feet deep and 3 feet wide and fill with a mixture of 2 parts peat moss, 2 parts sand, and 1 part garden soil. Plant at least two varieties (for fertilization), and space them 4 feet apart. Mulch the plants heavily at planting time and every year with leaves, straw, or peat.