It’s seems a bit silly to start off with the premise of why we’d like to have more berries around: they are delightfully delicious, and that’s reason enough for most. But, what may not be apparent is why we should be growing them at home, and to further that, we might want to grow a variety. Moreover, for those who need no more reason than breakfast (and pie and cobbler and smoothies and sorbet and…okay, there’s a lot to be said here) for growing mixed berries, this little article might just serve as an ode and celebration to a wonderful treat.
So, which berries should we grow? There are so many to choose from. Blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries are an obvious place to start. But, there are also elderberries and currants and gooseberries and cranberries. Then, we have newly popularized choices like goji and mulberries. Suffice it to say, there are lots of directions to go with this, and that’s part of what makes growing mixed berries at home so much fun.
1. They grow everywhere
In essence, the United States and the rest of the countries in the temperate climate are very well suited to growing berries. It’s kind of a specialty of the region. While this or that variety might not be perfect for one place, it’s certain that from Florida to Saskatoon there are viable options for growing berries. In fact, there are options beyond that work further afield than that.
2. Fit in tight spots
While fruit trees and food forests are a little more space-consuming, berries can be tucked into corners and along fence edges. They can be grown in pots. There are even types, like strawberries, that can be grown in hanging baskets or on windowsills. They can be fit to the landscape.
Many types of berries are renowned (or infamous) for being vigorous growers, happy to spread out and reproduce. Most are hardy plants, and many will endure droughts. Others, like cranberries, require lots of moisture. What’s more is that they are perennial, which means they don’t require replanting every year. Choose the right berries for low-maintenance production.
With many types of berries on the scene, biodiversity is high. Furthermore, they grow in many different shapes and sizes. There are full-on trees, shrubs, canes, and herbaceous berry plants to choose from. This builds up the local biodiversity.
Berries are well regarded for the healthful values, particular anti-oxidants for fighting off cancer and brain deterioration. Plus, they have lots of vitamins and minerals to throw into the mix. They are something we should go out of our way to include in our diets.
Berries, like other fruits that we eat the skins of, are horrible for carrying chemicals to eaters. So, growing them at home means they can be produced organically for safer eating.
Berries from the supermarket, particularly organic ones, are a pricey item to add to the shopping list, so growing them at home can equate to some serious savings. One berry plant can pay for itself very quickly in terms of produce, and after that, it will continue to provide more year after year.
Of course, it’s worth noting that growing berries at home is a good choice because the plants are generally very beautiful. First, they put on lovely flower displays. Then, they add vibrant colors to lawnscape. In other words, they serve well as ornamental plants as well.
9. Easy to preserve
Undoubtedly, a few berries plants will produce for more fruit at once than most families would eat. Luckily, berries are easy to preserve. They are ideal for jam. They freeze well. They can be dehydrated. They can make wine. Abundance just means more berries later.
Berries are tremendous whole food ingredients to work with. They show up in all sorts of recipes, from deserts to salads (and salad dressings) to breakfasts and more. Berries are an easy culinary component to make shine. After all, many are so good just as they are.
11. Produce at different times
Rather than growing one type of berry, cultivating a variety will mean that something new is always popping up. It’s possible to get early fruiting varieties, late fruiting, and everything in between. Having a mixture maximizes months of picking.
12. Attract birds, bees, and other wildlife
Birds and bees are huge fans of berry plants, so a yard with several of them is sure to draw some enjoyable wildlife viewing. Plus, having a mixed collection will extend the flowering and fruiting season so that the animals stick around longer.
Growing mixed berries at home is something that can be done in urban and suburban settings. It’s also often something that can be done where there are bans on growing productive lawns because they can stand as ornamentals rather than productive plants. And, it will be wonderfully exciting to the smorgasbord just outside the window.