Easy bush and bramble fruits
If the endless talk of pests
and disease in the rest of The
didn't scare you away, you probably felt the same relief I did when you
hit the Berries chapter. Not only do many brambles and bush
fruits bear much sooner than trees, they also tend to be more resistant
to problems, allowing you to make selections based on taste and
I've written extensively
about brambles in Weekend
and Phillips agrees with me on most points. Blackberries and
raspberries are easy and delicious --- select among the many varieties
based first on your growing zone and you'll be golden.
are tougher for those of us without highly acidic soil, but Phillips
offers some fascinating holistic advice there. First, he reminds
us that the main issue with alkaline soil is that it makes iron less
available to the blueberry roots, which tend to hunt for minerals right
at the mulch/soil interface. So adding greensand (rich in iron),
acidifying sources of nitrogen (such as cottonseed meal), old nails, or
sulfur (for fast acidification, in
a pinch) right below the mulch is much more effective than struggling
to change the pH of the whole rooting zone. Lots of organic
matter is very helpful long term too. Another issue blueberries
have with high pH is excess calcium blocking their taste for magnesium,
which can be fixed by boosting levels of the latter. Finally, if
you don't live too far north, southern highbush blueberries or (even
blueberries are less
sensitive to high pH.
and currants don't
like high heat, but that same personality trait makes them some of the
few fruits that will produce in the shade. We chose gooseberries
in our garden since we like fresh fruits much more than preserves, but
jelly-eaters might prefer currants. Disease is more likely to be
a problem with these plants than with other small fruits, though, so
select carefully to ensure you get both resistance and flavor.
doesn't throw in many unusual fruits, but does devote a whole section
to elderberries. I think this choice is due to his wife's
profession (herbalism) and to elderberries' healing powers. In
our garden, wild elderberries come up everywhere, and I mostly root
them out, but I have let one shrub grow up beside our biggest
peach. The bush attracts lots of pollinating insects, but the
fruits didn't pass my raw taste test.
Meanwhile, I was sad to see
that Phillips skipped grapes --- they're not technically berries, but I
could have used some holistic advice about these fungus-prone
fruits. And I think strawberries merit a place even if they're
not woody plants --- they certainly bear like crazy with few issues.
Which fruits did you
wish had made the cut? Do you find some of the small fruits
listed more or less hardy than Phillips suggested?
I appreciate you all
hanging in there through a mind-bending couple of months considering
fruit trees. Those of you who haven't been reading along might
want to check out older posts about beginning
a holistic orchard, techniques
for designing a holistic orchard, orchard
soil health, managing
fungi in the orchard, disease-resistant
pears, and no-spray
Meanwhile, the consensus
is for Joel Salatin's Folks,
This Ain't Normal to
be our next book club read. We'll skip Thanksgiving week, then
dive right into chapters 1 through 3 on November 28. Salatin is
bound to provoke lots of opinions, whether you agree with him or not,
so be sure to find a copy so you can join in the discussion!
is too much for you, my
paperback guides you
toward choosing a few simple fruit plants to start with.
Now available in a book store near you!
to be notified when new comments are posted on this page? Click on the
RSS button after you add a comment to subscribe to the comment feed, or simply check the box beside "email replies to me" while writing your comment.