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10 Other Berries to Be Aware Of – The Permaculture Research Institute

10 Other Berries to Be Aware Of

September 1, 2017by & filed under Plants

Since arriving in the temperate climate, I’ve been so excited about the idea of growing berries that I’ve been compiling lists of what—besides the common stuff—I might want to grow. We all know strawberry, blueberry, blackberry, raspberry, and Chuck Berry (i.e., “Johnny B. Goode”), but these are other berries that we can and should consider including in the garden.

Some of them are delightfully tasty, some of them mystically nutritious, and all of them are viable, perennial options for temperate permaculture food forests and polyculture gardens. In this collection, you’ll find things that improve the pantry, improve your health, and improve your disposition (Berries make some great wine).

In a word, there is a lot of fun to be had in the berry game, and there are a lot of niches for berries to fill in a design. Even with strawberries, blueberries, and the rest of the headliners, there is great diversity to be enjoyed, but the other berries open up entire new worlds. Some are sprawling trees. Some are great thorny hedges, suitable for natural fencing. Some are voracious, productive groundcovers.

Trees

Productive trees are the crème de la crème of permaculture design, and while this often comes in terms of nitrogen-fixing legumes, stone fruit, hard fruit, and nut trees, berry trees certainly have their own spot in the conglomeration.

Mulberry trees are a permaculture favorite. Not only do they provide an abundance of berries, but the leaves are also edible and—for the adventurous producers—can be used to rear silkworms for silk production or fish food. Mulberries are beloved for being quick growers for chop-and-drop mulch, heavy producers for food, pest distractors, and hardy plants for growing in any soil and many climates.

Mulberry trees are a permaculture favorite. Not only do they provide an abundance of berries, but the leaves are also edible and—for the adventurous producers—can be used to rear silkworms for silk production or fish food. Mulberries are beloved for being quick growers for chop-and-drop mulch, heavy producers for food, pest distractors, and hardy plants for growing in any soil and many climates.

Serviceberry goes by several names, including Juneberry, Saskatoon, and mountain blueberry, but whatever it is called, the serviceberry is a rangy and delicious option for a hardy food forest. They work into Zone 4 and will tolerate some shade, though they do like sunlight, as with most berries. The trees can be expected to reach eight meters high and about six meters wide.

Chokeberry trees are small, half-shrub-half-tree plants, that reach about six meters high and produce clusters of dark red berries. The berries are very highly esteemed munching for wildlife, and they are sometimes used for jams. These are medicinal, including lots of antioxidants that aid metabolic processes and help with diabetes.

Bushes

Berry bushes are often amazing in that they can be used as tremendously productive hedges, with an abundant output of fruit to coincide with wind protection and wildlife boundaries for the garden and plenty of shelter for beneficial animals.

Elderberries are well known in Europe, and they are highly respected as a wine fruit. For me, I’ve grown increasingly excited about them because they are a shade-tolerant, understory tree in the temperate climate. They are a prolific plant, growing so commonly in the wild, that sometimes they get overlooked as cultivars.

Goji berries are increasingly gaining popularity in niche, superfood markets, as they are well regarded for their antioxidant content. They can be grown in containers, though it will stunt their growth, or they can be grown in the ground, where they’ll get to roughly two and a half meters high and wide. They are deciduous, low maintenance plants, suitable from Zone 3 to Zone 10.

Currants, of the Ribes species, come in three varieties: black, red, and white. They are revered for jams and pies, as well as dried versions of themselves, which are much like raisins. They are self-pollinating and like cool, moist soil. They make nice shrubs, and a few can provide enough currants for a household.

Gooseberry plants are very similar to currants, though the fruit is notably different. There are European (tastier) and American (more disease-resistant) varieties, and they are fairly moderate in size, averaging about a meter high and wide. They like a full helping of sun and well-drained soil, but they can work into Zone 3.

Really Cold

One of the great advantages of berries, as food-producing plant, is that they span, in some species or others, pretty much the entirety of the temperate climate. In these zones, there are varieties that suit just about every role imaginable, and they tend to be worthy producers of healthy, good-tasting food.

Lingonberry bushes only get to about half a meter high, and they are evergreens. In other words, they make pretty decent ground cover plants that’ll provide a little color in the wintertime. They prefer cold environs, but they’ll grow into Zone 9 and 10, though the heat will sometimes get to them. They produce a tart, delicious berry.

Honeyberries are the cold-hardy strain to pay attention to, especially for those dealing with the cold-temperate rather than cool-temperate climate. They can survive icy temperatures of around -50 degrees (Fahrenheit or Celsius). These are in the same family as honeysuckle, though this time with an edible fruit. They do need at least two plants to produce sweet, delectable berries.

Cranberries, call it the American in me, have to be included in this list. Though the USDA approved versions can be a bit finicky to grow, cranberry sauce is a holiday favorite, and cranberry juice is highly regarded medicinally. Cranberries, though, like wet, acidic soil and fairly long growing seasons of nearly seven months. However, like honeyberries, they dig the cold, to the tune of Zone 2 and nothing warmer than Zone 5. Once established, they are consistent producers. The high cranberry bush is said to survive in Zone 7.

As I’ve quickly learned, once the berry boudoir is opened, a whole host of interesting options fall out, and most of them are notably nutritious and nearly as many are delightfully delicious. We haven’t even gotten into loganberries, snowberries, or yumberries, to name but a few. It’s one of the many advantages of homesteading in the temperate—berry-heavy—climate: There is a lot of perennial fruit to be had, and most of it is just too damned tasty for words. I can’t help myself, I’ve got visions of pies, jams, and sweet sipping wines dancing and twirling through my head. The future looks bright.

Header: Mixed Berries (Chun Yip So)

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https://permaculturenews.org/2017/09/01/10-berries-aware/

On – 01 Sep, 2017 By Jonathon Engels

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