Like other trees, plants and shrubbery, fruit bushes can bring a lot of satisfaction when it comes to harvesting. Nevertheless, as with all your other horticultural endeavors you need to first research the types of fruit you wish to grow to see what thrives in your area. Here are some key questions you may have along with helpful advice for your consideration as you are selecting your your bushes:
1. How much space do you have? Some bushes grow fast and large, others are more compact and slower to mature. Raspberry and Blackberry bushes are generally very hearty. However, they can quickly take over an area, and you may find it has outgrown the area you selected. These bushes send shooters up through the ground and also climb, but keep in mind they are not easily contained to small areas. Blueberry bushes tend to be more compact and prefer more acidic soils. Many of the blueberry varieties are fairly disease and pest resistant, and if receiving proper care, can be fruit bearing for up to 20 years.
2. What do you plan to do with the fruits you harvest? Will this be to throw on your cereal in the morning, or are you looking to make jam or preserves? While researching which fruit varieties you will plant, keep in mind how long it typically takes for that bush to be producing fruit, and when you should pick that fruit. For example, if you are planning to make any wines or try cooking a variety of preserves or possibly pies out of your gooseberries, you might choose to pick them when they are slightly under ripe. At this point, they will be firmer and still green, but still perfect for picking. However, if you want to just eat the fruit off the bush you will want to wait for them to become riper. They will go from green to red, then on to a deep purple as it continues to ripe, getting sweeter as they change color.
3. When do you plant your fruit bushes? Typically the best time of year to plant your fruit bushes is in the spring. You may also want to look at planting bushes that are 1 to 3 years old. This is due to the fact that they have already started to develop their root system, and many of these bushes won’t produce much fruit until they are 5 to 6 years old.
4. What type of special care do fruit bushes need? In general, you need to ensure your fruit bushes have adequate water and nutrients. Your local garden center can guide you on the types of supplements for the fruit bushes you select based on the soil conditions in your area. If you want to keep birds from eating your delicious fruit, get a net that can be draped over the bushes. You can remove or lift it as you are harvesting your fruit and store it for the following year. Prior to the beginning of spring, prune your bushes back. You want to make sure you get them pruned prior to the new growth beginning to emerge. For blueberries, gooseberries and elderberries you may also want to consider pinching off the blooms the first year or two after planting. This helps encourage the bushes to develop the root system, and focus on fruit production in later years.
Fruit bushes are a fun accessory to gardens and yards. They are beautiful blossoms throughout the year, and healthy, delicious additions to your kitchen. Planting and harvesting your own fruit bushes means you can have the look and taste of wholesome fresh fruit coming from the comfort of your own backyard.
Stewart Scott is a certified arborist and is the owner of Cevet Tree Care, where he offers the best tree service Columbia MO has to offer. Cevet has provided tree trimming and other tree care services to mid-Missouri for almost 20 years.