babying the berries–tending to berry bushes now for great summer berries
babying the berries–tending to berry bushes now for great summer berries

babying the berries–tending to berry bushes now for great summer berries

Last year, my out of control wineberry bushes began bullying my blueberry plants.  In an effort to call them off, I

tender berry bush growth to be pinched off (smaller, bright green leaves)

trimmed and tugged until the unruly characters ended up on their side of the garden patch.  A couple of months later, the birds and I enjoyed more berries than any of us could eat in one sitting.  I couldn’t believe the sheer number of them given the small area I had relegated them to.  For weeks on end, the juice stained our fingers as we grabbed handfuls coming and going to the car.

So, what are other ways you can baby your berry bushes?

  • In the Spring, pinch off the tops of the plants.  I can do this with gloves on–you’ll know where the tops are by looking for two things:  brighter green leaves that are smaller than others on the bush and the stems will be so tender you can literally pinch them off with your fingers
  • Berries like “deep” watering–make sure they get plenty of fluids in hot, dry weather.  They liked to be soaked, however.  That will also encourage their roots to grow deeply rather than shallowly at the surface of the dirt.
  • They also like watering when they are producing berries.  Naturally, more water = juicier, bigger berries.
  • To support the berries’ moisture retention, I also put a shovelful of mulch around the base on top of the
    blueberry blossoms

    composted material.

  • If space is limited, keep your berries trimmed to create bushier plants or build a vertical trellis for them to climb.
  • Cut out any dried, old canes (stems).
  • Berries love compost.  I usually put several shovelfuls around each base before winter then supplement in Spring with more compost or an organic mushroom compost I buy at the local hardware store.
  • Prune only in Spring or Autumn.  My rule of thumb is cutting back plants (if needed) in Autumn then in Spring, clear away any dead branches/canes and pinching off the new growth tips at the top.
  • For new plants, especially blueberries, the first year may need to be spent establishing the plant–making all the bush’s energy to go into the plant itself and not berries.  Clip off any buds that form or flowers that blossom.

Most importantly, don’t forget the other reason berry growth is important–to provide nutrients for your fine feathered friends.  On our farm, we have intentionally planted wineberry canes in the woods near our bird feeders.  We don’t eat off these for they provide summer treats for the birds.  We know that it works because as we eat dinner on summer evenings, most of the birds in the neighborhood come to feast at our house.  It is just delightful!


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