Earth friendly gardening in the Kootenays region of British Columbia, Canada

Kootenay Gardening

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Small Fruit Garden

Edible Berries - Common and Unusual

Barberry     Bearberry     Bilberry     Blackberry     Blueberry     Cranberry     Currant - Red, White and Black 

  Currant - Buffalo and Golden     Dewberry     Elderberry     Gooseberry     Honeyberry     Huckleberry     Jostaberry     Lingonberry     Mulberry     Oregon Grape     Raspberry     Saskatoon

 

Kootenay Gardening

Barberry

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Common names : Barberry, Berberris

   Barberry belongs to the genus Berberis in the family Berberidaceae.
In Canada the most popular are the European Barberry (Berberis vulgaris) and the Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii).
Japanese Barberries are smaller, about 0.6 - 1.8 m high at maturity. The European varieties grow 1.8 - 3.0 m tall.
The thorny shrubs are grown mostly for ornamental purposes and in  hedges. When grown as a hedge they require one annual trimming that should be done right after flowering.
Many varieties of Barberry are hardy in the Kootenays.
 
Barberries grow well in any kind of loamy soil prefer sunny position.
The flowers are yellow or orange, fragrant in some varieties.
The plants are self-fertile, what means that the flowers have both male and female organs. They are pollinated by insects.
The berries are edible. They vary in size from 0.5 cm to 1.5 cm. The colour can be blue-black, dark purple, scarlet, red or yellow, depending on the variety.
Many people find the fruit too acid to be eaten fresh but it can be used in pies, jellies, jams and beverages.
The berries are an important food for birds.
All parts of the plant are used in herbal medicine.

 

Kootenay Gardening

Bearberry

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Common names: Bearberry, Bear's Grape, Crowberry, Kinnikinnick, Mealberry, Sandberry


  Bearberries belong to the genus Arctostaphylos in the family Ericaceae.
The most popular in Canada is the trailing variety of Bearberry, Arctostaphylos uva-ursi or Kinnikinnick.
The plants are evergreen prostrate shrubs. They are common in the Rocky Mountains region. They are very hardy.
They can be grown in rock gardens and are valuable as a ground cover.
 
Bearberries prefer peaty soils and light sandy or gravelly loams, free from lime.
They are moderately drought tolerant.
They grow well on sandy slopes.
The pink flowers appear early in the spring.
The berries are edible, but somewhat tasteless, bright red, the size of a currant. They ripen in July/August.
Propagation is  by layering or cuttings.
The berries are loved by bears and other wildlife.
Traditionally the berries were used in herbal medicine.

 

Kootenay Gardening

Bilberry

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Common names: Bilberry, Blaeberry, Dyeberry, Hurtleberry, Whinberry, Winberry, Whortleberry, Myrtle Blueberry, European Blueberry

Bilberries (Vaccinium myrtillus) belong to the genus Vaccinium in the family Ericaceae (Heath).
They are native to Europe and northern Asia. They also grow in the western North America in the Rocky Mountains area.
Bilberry is a close relative of Blueberry, Cranberry, and Huckleberry.
The plants are short and shrubby. They grow  0.2 - 0.4 m high and are very similar in appearance to Blueberries.
They are hardy in the Kootenays.
They prefer soils that are moist and acid. They like soils of sandy-peaty character, but will tolerate any acid, loamy soil.
Like most plants in the Heath family they will not tolerate lime.
 
Bilberries produce pale pink flowers in May, the fruits ripen in July and August.
The berries are small, round, about 1 cm in diameter, bluish-black.
They are fine flavored, sweet with a hint of acidity, very similar in taste  and appearance to blueberries. They can be eaten raw, or used for making jams, pies, and jellies.
The easy way to distinguish Bilberry from Blueberry is that Bilberries produce single or pairs of berries on the stems, while Blueberries form clusters of berries. Bilberry stems are angled in cross-section. The fruit pulp is red or purple, while that of Blueberry is light green.
Bilberry fruit is commonly used for medicinal purposes.

 

Kootenay Gardening

   Blackberry

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  Blackberries and Raspberries belong to the same genus Rubus in the family Rosaceae.
There are two types of Blackberries: erect or bush type varieties, and trailing varieties.
Most Blackberries produce shoots with thorns, but there are thornless varieties as well.
Blackberries are less hardy than Raspberries, but there are several varieties that will do very well in the climatic conditions of the Kootenays.

Cultivation

     Blackberries need a well drained, loamy soil, well supplied with organic matter. Deep, sandy loams are preferable, but silt or clay loams are acceptable, too. 
Good drainage is important since Blackberries, like Raspberries, can't tolerate "wet feet" for more than a few hours after a heavy rain or an excessive watering.
Blackberries perform best in slightly acid soils with pH between 5.5 and 6.5.

Flowering and Fruiting

    The white to pinkish fragrant flowers, about  2 cm across, develop in May and June. The flowers produce nectar used by bees to make a dark, fruity honey.
Most erect or bush cultivars are self-pollinating.
Trailing cultivars often require cross-pollination. To ensure cross-pollination two or more different Blackberry cultivars should be planted.
The fruit ripens from the mid-summer to the early fall. The berries can be 1 - 4 cm long, depending on the variety and growing conditions.
The harvesting period lasts about 4 weeks.
The best time to harvest fruit is in the early morning. Harvesting should be done twice a week.

Propagation and planting - bush types

   Erect, bush type Blackberries are propagated from suckers and from root cuttings.
The roots for cuttings should be at least 0.5 cm in diameter. They should be dug up in the fall, cut in 10 - 15 cm long pieces and replanted in the desired location  0.6 - 1.0 m apart and covered with 5 - 10 cm of soil.

Propagation and planting - trailing varieties

    Trailing varieties can be propagated by root cuttings or by tip layering. The tips of the new canes should be inserted vertically in the soil, 5 - 7 cm deep, in the late summer or early fall. In the spring the rooted tips should be cut off the mother-cane, dug up and replanted in the desired location. 

Pruning

     The Blackberry canes are biennial. They grow one season and die the next, after fruiting. All the floricanes should be cut at the ground level and removed after fruiting.
The roots live on indefinitely, developing new canes each year. Redundant canes should be removed on regular basis and rows kept narrow, not more than 30 cm wide, for easy picking and maintenance. There should be  5 to 6 canes per foot in a row.
The new shoots should be topped at a height of about 1 m as soon as that height is attained.

Supports

    The trailing varieties need strong stakes or trellises for support, otherwise the canes will lie on the ground making harvesting very difficult.

Diseases

    Most diseases of Blackberries are caused by a fungus. Cultural controls include planting Blackberries in areas with a good air circulation and removing and destroying all the infected canes.

    The Blackberry fruit can be eaten fresh or used in juices, jams, jellies, pies, cakes, fruit salads and wines.

    The leaves, roots and fruit are used in herbal medicine.

 

Kootenay Gardening

Blueberry

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  Blueberries belong to the genus Vaccinium in the family Ericaceae (Heath). They are native to North America and eastern Asia.
    There are four types of Blueberries: High-bush, Low-bush, Half-high and Rabbiteye. Half-highs are hybrids of High-bush and Low-bush species. The High-bush varieties grow 1.2  - 2.4 m tall, Low-bush varieties grow up to 0.6 m tall. Rabbiteye is the tallest, the bushes can grow up to 3.6 m tall.
    Blueberries are grown for their fruit but they also have ornamental value. In the fall they look very pretty when the colour of their leaves changes from green to yellow to crimson to dark red.
    Many species of Blueberries are hardy in gardening zones 5 and 4. The Rabbiteye type is the least hardy, and can't be grown in the climatic conditions of the Kootenays. Many Half-high species are hardy in the gardening zone 3.

Cultivation

    Like most plants in the Heath family Blueberries like soils that are well drained but moist, acid, and rich in organic matter. Sandy soils are preferable, as well as sandy loams. Clay soils are not suitable.
    Blueberries perform best when soil acidity ranges between 4.0 and 5.2 pH.
The acidity of the soil may be increased (pH decreased) by the addition of sulfur. The acidity should be checked before and after the application.
Addition of peat to the soil is beneficial.
    To protect Blueberries from fungus diseases they should be planted in full sun in areas with a good air circulation.
    Blueberries have a shallow root system. Apply thick layer of organic mulch to keep roots cool and soil moist at the roots level. Acid mulching materials, like sawdust, Pine needles, or Oak leaves are the best.
    Blueberries will benefit from a moderate application of nitrogen rich fertilizers like manure, compost or blood meal, once a year late in the fall or very early in spring.

Flowering and Fruiting

    The flowers are small, bell-shaped, white, pale pink or red.
They produce pollen that is sticky and heavy, not easily transported by wind. Bumblebees and other solitary bees are the best pollinators of Blueberries. Flower buds for next year form in late August and September. Blueberries are self-pollinators, but cross-pollination does improve yield.
    The berries are 0.5 - 1. 5 cm diameter. They should be allowed to fully ripen on the bush before harvesting. Peak flavour is reached a few days after the berries turn blue.
    There are many varieties of Blueberries with different ripening period and time. You may want to plant early ripening, mid-season and late ripening varieties to ensure harvest from late June until early October.

Propagation

    Blueberries can be propagated by hardwood cuttings taken early at spring and inserted into the rooting mixture of half peat moss and half sand. The cuttings should be 10 - 15 cm long. They root with difficulty.
Low-bush varieties spread by underground rhizomes.
    The Blueberry plant can live up to 50 years.

Pruning

    Annual pruning of High-bush and Half-high varieties should start in the fourth season. Twiggy growth, canes that are over 5 years old and low-growing branches should be removed. Pruning may be done any time during the dormant season, preferably early in the spring.
    With Low-bush varieties cutting older shoots each year will stimulate new growth. For maximum fruit production all the stems can be cut back every third year.

    The berries have high nutritional value and are used in natural medicine.

    British Columbia has a favourable conditions for growing Blueberries and is the world's third largest producer of the Blueberry fruit.

 

Kootenay Gardening

Cranberry

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Common names: Cranberry, Mossberry, Moorberry

Cranberries belong to the genus Vaccinium in the family Ericaceae (Heath).
They are small, evergreen, creeping shrubs. They form dense mats. The runners are 1.5 - 2 m long. The vertical branches are 15 - 30 cm high.
In general, Vacciniums prefer soils that are moist but not waterlogged. The American Cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon) must be grown in acid bogs with acidity 3 - 5 pH.
Cranberries demand high organic matter in the soil and full sun.
In order to grow Cranberries in your own garden you must have an ample water supply for irrigation and flooding. You will have to construct an artificial bog garden which can be periodically flooded and drained.
To survive cold temperatures of our region Cranberries  need protection of snow or should be flooded for the winter with water.
The small clusters of pink flowers develop on the one year old shoots in May-July.
Cranberries are fertilized by their own pollen (self-pollinated or self-fruitful). That means  there is no need to plant more than one variety to ensure pollination. Cranberries are pollinated by honeybees and bumblebees.
The ripe globular berries, about 1 cm in diameter, are deep red and acid.
The berries are usually harvested in September and October. They can be stored at 2 - 4  C for 60 - 120 days.
The plants are propagated by means of vine cuttings which should be taken early in the spring. The cuttings should be 10 -25 cm long and should be planted 25 cm apart each way.
It takes 2 to 3 years before new plants will bear fruit.
The Cranberry bogs can be productive for more than 75 years.
Cranberries are used for juices, jellies, sauces and for baking in muffins and breads.
They are highly prized for their medicinal qualities.
BC is the world's third largest producer of cranberries.

 

Kootenay Gardening

Currant - Red, White and Black

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  Currants belong to the genus Ribes in the family Grossulariaceae.
The Red and White Currants descend from species Ribes sativum, the Black Currants from Ribes nigrum. Both species are native of Europe. Ribes rubrum is the North American species.
The White Currants are very similar to the Red Currants. The only difference is in the colour and flavour of the fruit. The flavour of the white varieties is less acid.
Currants are deciduous shrubs that grow to 1.5 - 1.8 m high.
They are perfectly hardy in the Kootenays.

Cultivation

    Currants perform best in cool, moist growing conditions with good air circulation, in a fertile, well drained medium. Clayey loamy soils are preferable, but sandy loams are suitable, too, providing they are well supplied with organic matter.
The plants grow well in partial shade among fruit trees, on north or east side of buildings, and on east or north facing slopes.
During the summer Currants benefit from mulching with a thick layer of organic matter to ensure cool, moist conditions at the roots.
To maintain fertility the application of well-decayed manure in the fall is beneficial.

Flowering and fruiting

    The small, yellowish-green flowers develop in pendulous racemes early in May. The plants are self-fertile.
The berries ripen in July. They are about 0.8 - 1 cm in diameter. The fruit of the Red and White varieties is tart, glassy, red or pale-yellow and translucent. The fruit of the Black varieties is black.
 

Propagation

    Currants are best propagated by hardwood cuttings taken late in the fall. The cuttings should be 20 - 25 cm long, made from the one year old growth.
They may be planted immediately into thoroughly prepared soil, enriched with old manure or compost. The cuttings should be set so that only the top pair of buds are above the soil surface. They should be spaced 1.5 - 2 m apart in the row.
The plants from a nursery should be set a little deeper than they were in the pot. That will ensure that the plant will grow as a bush, with new shoots arising from below the soil.
After planting the soil should be packed firmly and the tops cut back to a height 20 - 25 cm.

Pruning

    The best fruit is produced on 2 and 3 year old wood. Canes over 3 years old, as well as weak and diseased canes should be removed. Pruning can be done either in the fall or very early in the spring. Remaining canes should not be headed back.

Diseases

    Currant is an alternate host for White Pine blister rust, which can cause serious damage to  5-needle Pines. For this reason the Currant cultivation is prohibited in some areas.
In the Kootenays the main pest of  Currant, Gooseberry and Jostaberry is the Gooseberry sawfly (Nematus ribesii). The caterpillars, if not destroyed, often strip the branches of leaves in the spring and early summer.

    The berries can be eaten raw or cooked in jams, jellies, compotes, pies, etc.

    The fruit has medicinal properties.

 

Kootenay Gardening

Currant - Buffalo and Golden

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  The Golden Currant (Ribes aureum) and the Buffalo Currant (Ribes odoratum) belong to the genus Ribes in the family Grossulariaceae.
Both species are closely related.
They grow into very decorative bushes 1.2 - 2 m high.
Although very similar, Golden Currants are somewhat less ornamental and less fragrant than Buffalo Currants.
In the spring the plants cover themselves with a profusion of golden, clove scented flowers, in short racemes of  5 - 10.
In the fall their light-green foliage changes color to many
 
shades of yellow, crimson and red.
The fruits are about 0.8 - 1 cm in diameter, very dark purple.
They are edible, sweet and flavorful.
Everything what has been said here about the cultivation of   Red, White and Black Currants applies to Golden and Buffalo Currants as well.
Both species transplant well and form suckers that can be used for propagation.
The berries can be eaten raw or used in juices, jams and jellies. They are loved by birds.

 

Kootenay Gardening

Dewberry

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Dewberry belongs to the genus Rubus in the family Rosaceae.
The species is closely related to Blackberries and Raspberries.
Some varieties of trailing Blackberries, like Youngberry, are hybrids between Blackberry and Dewberry.
The most popular Northern Dewberry (Rubus flagellaris) is hardy to zone 3.
It has a trailing growth habit. The stems are thorny, up-to 5 m long and trail along the ground. Like with Blackberries, the stems are biennial. They fruit in their second year and then die.
The plant produces new stems each year from the rootstock that is perennial.
Dewberries require well-drained, moist, loamy soil. They prefer partial shade, but will grow in full sun.
The blooming period starts in mid-spring and lasts for about two months until early summer.
The plants are self-pollinating, self-fruitful.
The berries are edible, sweet, about 15 mm in diameter, blue-black and black, similar in taste and appearance to blackberries.
Propagation is by seeds, tip layering in July, cuttings of half-ripe wood in July or August, by root cuttings, and by division in early spring or in the fall.
The berries can be eaten raw or used in jams, jellies, sauces and teas.
They are eaten by many species of birds and mammals.

 

Kootenay Gardening

Elderberry

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  The American Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis) belongs to the genus Sambucus in the family Adoxaceae.
It is native to eastern North America.
Elderberries are large shrubs growing to 2 - 4 m in height.
They look best in the naturalized or wildlife gardens.
They are hardy in the Kootenays.
The American Elder grows well in full sun or partial shade, on loamy soils rich in humus and nitrogen. It prefers moist growing conditions, but the soil drainage should be good.
The large clusters of umbrella type, white, fragrant flowers develop in late June.
Elderberry cultivars are self-fruitful, however cross-pollination increases fruit production.
The berries are bluish-black, small, about 0.6 cm in diameter. They ripen late in the summer.
Propagation is by hardwood cuttings, root cuttings and suckers.
The hardwood cuttings should be 20 - 25 cm long. They should be set so that only one or two buds are above the soil surface.
Pruning should be restricted to removing diseased, dead, broken and weak canes, as well as less productive, more than 3 years old canes.
It should be noted that the Elderberry berries, as well as all the green parts of the plant, are poisonous. The berries are mildly poisonous, causing vomiting if eaten raw, particularly if eaten unripe. The toxicity is destroyed by cooking. The berries can be used in jams, pies, sauces and teas.
All parts of the plant, the flowers, leaves, berries, bark and roots have been used in traditional folk medicine.
The berries are eaten by squirrels and many species of birds.

 

Kootenay Gardening

Gooseberry

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Common names: Fea-berry (the old English name)

Gooseberries are closely related to Currants. Both species belong to to the genus Ribes in the family Grossulariaceae.
Modern varieties of Gooseberries descend from two parent varieties: the American Gooseberry (Ribes hirtellum) and the English Gooseberry (Ribes grossularia).
Gooseberry grows as a shrub 1 - 3 m high, depending on the variety and growing conditions.
The branches are thickly set with sharp thorns.
Gooseberries grow best in areas with cool summer temperatures and a good winter chilling. Plants suffer and may collapse when the soil or air temperature exceeds 29 C.

Cultivation

    Gooseberries, like Currants, grow well in partial shade among fruit trees, on north or east side of buildings, or on northern or eastern slopes. The morning sun is beneficial, but in hot summer conditions they should be protected or partially protected from the afternoon sun.
They perform best in cool, moist growing conditions with good air circulation, in a fertile, well drained, well supplied with potassium and magnesium, medium or clayey loamy soil.
Sandy, fast drying soils are not suitable for Gooseberries.
The roots are shallow and easily damaged by draught and hot temperatures. Mulching with a thick layer of organic material is recommended to keep roots cool and moist.
Gooseberries should be watered frequently enough to ensure a constant supply of moisture to the plant. Drought-stressed plants are more susceptible to pest and diseases.

Flowering and fruiting

    Gooseberries bear fruit on one-year old wood and on short spurs of older wood.
The pendulous racemes of inconspicuous, yellowish-green flowers develop early in the spring.
 
 
    The flowers are self-fertile, pollinated by wind and insects.
The berries are oval to round in shape, borne singly or in pairs at the axils. They come in green, yellow, pink, red, purple to almost black colours, depending on the variety. The skins may be smooth, downy or rough. The flavour is unique and, with the best dessert cultivars, very pleasurable.
In general, fruits of the European varieties are bigger, up to 2.5 cm long, the size and shape of a small plum. American gooseberries are smaller and round, pink to wine-red.
The American Gooseberry is more productive, but the fruit is generally inferior in taste and quality to the European.

Propagation

    Propagation is by hardwood cuttings, layering and tip layering. Cuttings should be 25 - 30 cm long, taken in the fall. They may be planted directly in ordinary garden soil. The new plants should be protected from full sun in the first year of growth.

Pruning

    Pruning should aim at opening up the thorny bush to make picking easier. Branches older than 4 or 5 years should be removed.

Pests and diseases

    In the Kootenays the main pest of Gooseberry, Currant and Jostaberry is Gooseberry sawfly (Nematus ribesii). The caterpillars, if not destroyed, often strip the branches of leaves in the spring and early summer.
Gooseberry is an alternate host for White Pine blister rust, which can cause serious damage to  5-needle Pines. For this reason the Gooseberry cultivation is prohibited in some areas.
There are Gooseberry cultivars resistant to the White Pine blister rust.

    The berries can be eaten raw or used in juices, jams and jellies.

 

Kootenay Gardening

Honeyberry

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Common names: Honeyberry, Haskap, Blue Honeysuckle

  Honeyberry (Lonicera kamtschatica) belongs to the genus Lonicera in the family Caprifoliaceae.
It is native to  Eastern Siberia and Japan.
Honeyberry is a relative of the Honeysuckle.
It is a vigorous, shrubby plant about 1 - 1.8 m (3 - 6 ft) tall depending on the variety, very attractive, with velvety grayish-green foliage.
It can be grown in gardening zones 3 - 9.
The plants prefer well drained, moist soil in partial shade.
Mulching with organic material is beneficial to maintain moisture in the soil.
The slightly fragrant, small, white flowers appear early in spring.
Honeyberry is not self-fertile. Two varieties that bloom at the same time are needed for pollination.
 
The berries are cylindrical, about 3 cm long, blue with a white waxy coating, sweet-tart and juicy. They mature in mid to late June.
You can ecpect 1.5 - 2.5 kg of delicious berries every year.
The berries appear in the first or second year after planting.
The plants are very long-lived, you can expect up to 50 - 75 years of active fruiting.
Little fertilizing is required, but if you decide to fertilize, use compost with balanced ratio of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus.
Honeyberry has very little pest and disease problems.
The berries can be eaten fresh, frozen for later use or used in jams, jellies and yogurts.
They have medicinal properties.

 

Kootenay Gardening

Huckleberry

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Huckleberry belongs to the genus Gaylussacia in the family Ericaceae (Heath).
It is native to North and South America.
There are three varieties of Huckleberry that are the most popular: the common Black Huckleberry (G. baccata), the Box Huckleberry (G. brachycera), and the Dwarf Huckleberry (G. dumosa).
    The common Black Huckleberry is considered one of the best Huckleberries regarding the value of fruits.
Black Huckleberries are deciduous branching shrubs growing to a height of 1 - 1.5 m. They are hardy to zone 5.
In the wild they grow in woods, thickets and clearings, on acidic, peaty, sandy soils. Lime soil is ruinous to their well-being. They thrive in sun or part shade.
Black Huckleberries flower from May to June. The plants are self-fruitful.
The berries ripen in mid-to-late summer. They are black, round, about 6 - 8 mm in diameter.
Propagation is by seeds, cuttings, layering or by division in spring. The seeds should be sown in autumn in a peaty medium, in a cold frame.
The cuttings of half-ripe wood, taken in July or August should be planted in a closed frame in a mixture of peat and sand.
The new plants should be transplanted into their permanent
 
positions next fall when they are at least 15 cm tall.

    The box huckleberry grows 25 - 50 cm high. The plants spread by underground runners. They form a mass of short evergreen shoots resembling dark-green carpet. Leaves are small, dark-green, flowers are pinkish, fruit light-blue.

    The dwarf huckleberry is a low plant, usually 30 - 50 cm tall. The plants spread wildly by underground runners. They bear bell-shaped white flowers in May and June and yield large quantities of round black berries.

    Huckleberry berries range in taste from tart to sweet, with a flavor and appearance similar to that of a blueberry. They can be distinguished from the Blueberry fruit by the number of seeds. The huckleberry has 10 relatively large seeds while the blueberry may have up to 65 small seeds.
The berries can be eaten raw or used in jams, pies and preserves. They can also be dried or frozen.

    Huckleberries are a favorite of  bears and other animals.
The flowers are attractive to bees for both the pollen and the nectar.

 

Kootenay Gardening

Jostaberry

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Jostaberry (Ribes x culverwellii) belongs to the genus Ribes in the family Grossulariaceae.
It is a cross between a Gooseberry and a Black Currant. It was first introduced by dr. Rudolph Bauer in West Germany, in 1977.
   Jostaberry is a deciduous, upright, thorn-free shrub, very vigorously growing to over 2 m tall and 2 m wide. It is hardy in gardening zones 4 - 8.
    Jostaberry prefers deep sandy loams, but will grow easily on any well drained, loamy soil if plenty of organic matter is incorporated to make it moisture retentive. It dislikes thin dry soils and very heavy clay soils.
It can be grown in full sun or in partial shade.
It is slightly more heat tolerant than the Black Currant.
    Jostaberry blooms on two or three year old wood early in spring, from April to May. The flowers are very small and susceptible to frost damage.
The plant is self fertile. The flowers have both male and female organs (hermaphrodite) and are pollinated by insects.
In the Kootenays the fruit ripens in late July or early August.
The berries are of good quality, crimson-black, globular or
 
ellipsoid, very similar in shape to gooseberries, about 1 cm in diameter and about 1.2 cm long. Rich flavour combine the qualities of fruits of both parents.
    Jostaberry will not breed true from seed.
It is best propagated form cuttings of half-ripe or mature wood.
The half-ripe, 15 - 20 cm with a heel long cuttings, taken in July or August, should be set in a frame.
Cuttings of mature wood of the current year's growth, preferably with a heel of the previous year's growth, should be taken late in the fall and set in a cold frame or sheltered bed outdoors.
    Pruning should be restricted to the removal of old, damaged or diseased wood.
    Jostaberry has a built-in resistance against major diseases afflicting other Ribes, like gooseberry mildew, rust, gall mite, blackcurrant leaf spot and White Pine blister ant.
In the Kootenays  Jostaberry is often attacked by Gooseberry sawfly (Nematus ribesii). The caterpillars, if not destroyed, will strip the branches of leaves in the spring and early summer.
    The berries are edible both raw and processed. They  are very rich in Vitamin C and excellent for juicing, pies, jellies, jams, wine, for drying and freezing.

 

Kootenay Gardening

Lingonberry

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Common names: Lingonberry, Alpine Cranberry, Cowberry, Moss Cranberry, Partridgeberry,  Red Whortleberry

Lingonberry belongs to the genus Vaccinium in the Heath family, Ericaceae. The plants are distributed in the wild in the northern regions of the world.
They are rarely cultivated, but the fruits are commonly gathered in the wild.
The North American variety, Vaccinium vitis-idaea var. minus, forms dense mats 10-20 cm high. It is native from Labrador to British Columbia and Alaska.
Lingonberries are very attractive and delicate-looking ornamentals, producing exceptionally nutritious fruit.
The plants are hardy in gardening zones 2 - 8. They will tolerate −40 C or less, but grow poorly where summers are hot.
They grow best in acid, sandy soils containing moderate amount of organic matter.
Lingonberries will produce more fruit in full sun, but in hot
summer areas they should be rather planted in the shade.
The plants do not like or require much fertilizer.
Mulching with sawdust or wood chips protects the roots from severe cold and helps keep the soil acidic.
The leaves are round and very small; in North American varieties 1.0 cm in length and 0.5 cm in width.
Lingonberry blooms in mid-June to mid-July. It is self-fruitful.
The berries are small, carmine red, up to 1 cm in diameter with a tart flavour. They ripen in late September to early October.
The plants reproduce by seeds and rhizome cuttings.
They are slow to establish.
The berries can be eaten raw or used in sauces, juices, jams, jellies, wines or baked desserts products.
They are used in herbal medicine.

 

Kootenay Gardening

Mulberry

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Mulberry belongs to the genus Morus in the family Moraceae.
Mulberries are attractive deciduous trees of varying height, depending on the variety.
There are three main varieties: the White Mulberry (Morus alba), Red Mulberry (Morus rubra) and Black Mulberry (Morus nigra).
The Black Mulberry is the least cold-hardy of the three.
Mulberries grow best in deep, loamy, well-drained soils.
They generally thrive with minimal fertilization.
They tolerate drought to some extend, but need to be watered during prolonged dry periods.
They need full sun.
Some Mulberry varieties are hardy in the Kootenays.
Mulberries are self-fruitful.
The berries ripen over an extended period of time.
The ripe fruit is 2-3 cm long, mild and sweet.
 
The colour can be white, pink, purple, dark purple or almost black, depending on the variety. The flavour of the fruit of Red and Black varieties is much more intense than that of the White Mulberry.
Mulberries produce abundantly. You can expect to harvest up to 4 - 5 kg of fruit from 6 - 8 year old tree every other day for about 6 weeks.
Propagation is by seeds and by grafting.
Pruning should be done while the tree is dormant and should be restricted to the removal of dead or overcrowded branches.  The cuts heal with difficulty. Cuts of more than 5 cm in diameter should be avoided at all cost.
Mulberries are generally free of pests and diseases.
The berries can be eaten raw or used in pies, tarts and puddings. They can also be dried and frozen.
The unripe berries are toxic.
The berries, root and the tree's inner bark are being used in traditional herbal medicine.

 

Kootenay Gardening

Oregon Grape

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Common names for Mahonia aquifolium: Tall Oregon Grape, Blue Barberry, Cree, Holly-Leaved Barberry, Holly Mahonia, Oregon Grape-Holly, Oregon Holly-Grape, Mountain Grape, Sowberry, Woodsour

Common names for Mahonia repens: Creeping Mahonia, Ash Barberry, Creeping Barberry, Creeping Hollygrape, Holly Grape, Oregon Grape

Oregon Grape belongs to the genus Mahonia in the family Berberidaceae.
The Tall Oregon Grape (Mahonia aquifolium) is an evergreen shrub 1.8 - 2.4 m tall.
The Creeping Oregon-grape (Mahonia repens) grows to 20 - 30 cm high.
The Creeping varieties hybridize readily with the Tall varieties.
The plants are hardy to gardening zone 5.
Oregon Grape is grown most often as an ornamental. It has holly-like foliage and clusters of bright yellow flowers early in the spring.
Oregon Grape will grow well in almost any kind of well-drained, loamy, acidic soil, including heavy clay soils, in sun as well as in shade. For the best results, dry soils and exposure to hot drying winds should be avoided.
On dry soils Oregon Grape benefits from heavy mulching with materials that increase soil acidity, like Pine needles or Oak leaves.
It is drought resistant but, like most plants, likes moisture.
 
The Creeping Oregon-grape tolerates drought and heat even better that the Tall varieties.
The plants flower in April to May. They are self-fertile. The flowers are hermaphrodite and are pollinated by insects.
The small, about 0.8 cm in diameter, dark purple or blue-black, acid berries ripen from August to September.
Oregon Grape is very tolerant of pruning. The plants can be cut back into old wood if necessary. Early spring is the best time for pruning.
Although the established plants produce suckers freely to form dense thickets, the plant is not invasive.
Oregon Grape is quite resistant to insects and diseases.
Propagation is mostly by seeds. Some kinds can be propagated by suckers, by division or by layering.
The fruits may be used in jams, jellies, pies, wines and other drinks.
The plant is used in herbal medicine.
Oregon Grape is valuable for wildlife. Its berries attract bees, butterflies, birds and small mammals.

 

Kootenay Gardening

Raspberry

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Raspberry belongs to the genus Rubus in the family Rosaceae.
There are Red, Black, Purple and Yellow varieties of Raspberries, the Purple Raspberries being hybrids between the Red and Black Raspberry species.
The plants can be cultivated in gardening zones 3 - 9.

Cultivation

    Raspberries need a well drained, loamy soil. Deep, sandy loams are preferable, but silt or clay loams are acceptable, too.
They can not tolerate "wet feet" for more than a few hours after a heavy rain or an excessive watering and will die out readily, hence the importance of a good drainage.
The optimum pH for Raspberries is slightly acidic around 6.0 - 6.5.
They should be planted in a spot where air circulation is good since fungus diseases are more serious where air circulation is poor.
Raspberries will tolerate full sun, but prefer cooler spots sheltered from the late afternoon sun.
Mulching with straw, grass clippings, hay, leaves or any other kind of organic mulch is recommended, especially for light soils. The mulch may be put on in early summer and allowed to remain until it decays.
To keep plants healthy the application of manure or compost every second year, late in the fall, is recommended.

Flowering and fruiting

    The flowers appear from late May to early July.
They must be pollinated by honey bees, bumble bees or other wild bees.
The plants produce sweet, red berries in summer or early autumn.
The harvesting period lasts about 4 weeks.
The best time to harvest fruit is in the early morning. Harvesting should be done every 2 - 3 days.

Propagation

    The Red varieties can be propagated from runners. The runners should be dug when dormant and replanted in a new bed.
The new shoots which develop in the spring can be used, too. They should be dug up before they are over 15 cm high, preferably during cool, cloudy weather and replanted immediately.
The Black and Purple varieties are propagated by tip layering. The tips of the canes should be inserted vertically 10 cm deep into the soil in late August or early September. The rooted tips can be dug up in the spring and replanted in a new bed.

Preparing Raspberry bed and planting

    To prepare Raspberry bed, dig in the fall a trench 30 cm deep, 60 cm wide, as long as needed, preferably facing south-east.
Cover the bottom of the trench with a layer of  well rotted manure, or compost and turn it in. Then replace the top soil and cover it with 15 cm of  manure or compost. Fork this into the topsoil. Let it sit over the winter.
When preparing the bed in spring do it as early as possible to allow all the ingredients to mellow.
Soil for Raspberry crops should have an organic matter content of at least 3%.
 
While planting do not allow the roots to dry out.
Space your red Raspberry canes about half a meter apart.
Space black and purple varieties about 1 meter apart.
If you plant more than one row space the rows about 2 meters apart.
Plant the canes 7 - 8 cm deep.
After planting water the bed thoroughly and pack the soil well to eliminate any air pockets.
Trim the tops to about 20 cm above the ground.
The Red Raspberries develop underground runners or suckers that can be invasive. Consider building a wooden frame buried in the soil around the bed to keep them in check.
The Black and Purple varieties do not produce suckers and remain in hills.
Raspberries yield a full crop in two to three years after planting. After seven years the yields will start declining.

Pruning

    The standard Raspberry (not ever-bearing) canes are biennial. They grow one season, fruit the next and die. They should be removed and burned after the crop is harvested.
The roots live on indefinitely developing new canes each year.
New, weaker canes should be thinned out when they are not more than 30 cm tall.
To ensure easy harvesting and good air circulation, remaining canes should be spaced 15 cm apart in rows that are about 30 cm wide.  Early next spring the canes should be pruned back by removing about one fourth of their length.
Each hill of the Black or Purple varieties should consist of about 8 canes. To make the canes branch, the tops of the new canes should be pinched off when the new shoots are about 50 to 60 cm high. Raspberries need strong stakes or trellises for support.

Diseases

    Raspberries are susceptible to viral diseases such as leaf curl, mosaic and streak, and to fungus diseases in areas where air circulation is poor.
Raspberries (especially the Black and Purple varieties) are susceptible to Verticillium wilt. Do not plant them on land that has grown Strawberries, Tomatoes, Potatoes, Peppers or Eggplants during previous three years because these crops may infect the soil with the disease. Weeds like Lamb's Quarters and Pigweed are known to harbour Verticillium so keep Raspberry beds weeds free.  Verticillium on Raspberries causes broad blue stripes to develop on the sides of the new canes. The leaves will start yellowing and drooping from the lower part of the plant gradually upwards.
To keep your plants disease and pest free prune out and destroy, preferably burn, any canes that show evidence of disease.
Always choose varieties suitable for your growing area. When planting, choose the right location and prepare Raspberry beds carefully.
Mulch and fertilize moderately to ensure good growing conditions and keep the plants strong and disease resistant.
Remember, the answer to most problems lies in the location and in the soil.

    Raspberry leaves are used fresh or dried in herbal medicine.

 

Kootenay Gardening

Saskatoon

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Saskatoon (Amelanchier alnifolia), belongs to the genus Amelanchier in the family Rosaceae.
Saskatoons are native in western North America, ranging from Alaska to  New Mexico, and in the Canadian prairies.
They are perennial shrubs that can be grown for their fruit, as well as ornamentals.
They cover themselves with masses of white flowers early in spring. In fall the foliage changes to red and yellow.
Saskatoons range in height from 1.8 m to over 4 m.
They prefer soils with plenty of organic matter but will tolerate dry, rocky and sandy soils. They need good drainage.
They tolerate wide range of soil pH, but prefer soils that are slightly acidic.
Locations with good air circulation, like north or east facing gentle slopes, are ideal for cultivation.
Saskatoons are hardy to gardening zone 1.
They are drought resistant but, as with most of other plants, regular watering, especially during fruit development, is beneficial for the production of good quality, juicy berries.
Saskatoons are self-fertile. It means you do not need two
 
plants in order to produce fruit.
The fruit ripens in July. Berries are the size of blueberries, purplish-blue and very sweet. They grow in clusters.
Saskatoons produce fruit on the previous year's and older wood.
The plants can be propagated from seeds and from suckers.
The seeds should be sown in the fall.
The young suckers with good roots should be dug up either in October or early in spring and replanted immediately.
After planting the tops should be cut back to a height of about 5 cm. Regular watering is needed to establish the young plants.
The first crop may be expected in three to four years from planting.
Saskatoons require little fertilization.
They should be pruned early in the spring. Remove diseased and damaged growth, as well as branches that are older than 5 years. The best quality fruit is borne on younger, vigorous branches.
The fruit can be eaten fresh and dried, used in baking, jams, jellies and wines.
Several parts of the shrub are being used in herbal medicine.
 

 
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