Written by davethetreecenters • September 07 Bushel & Berry® – a Fantastic New Way for Everyone to Grow Berries
Nothing beats a bowl of berries – fresh, juicy, tangy and sweet – delicious! If you are a berry lover, nothing truly beats the taste of berries fresh from the bush, perhaps still warm from the sun. If you want that thrill, then you need to grow your own, but berry growing can be a big operation, because those tasty little treats usually grow on pretty big bushes that are 4, 5, 6 or 8 feet tall. Not only do they take up lots of room, they often need special fences, support systems, lots of care and complex pruning too. We wouldn’t want to put you off doing that – it’s a great hobby, a terrific way to spend your time outdoors, and the bushels and bushels of berries you harvest are great – but it’s not for everyone.
Features of the Bushel & Berry® range of Fruit Bushes
- Small, compact bushes perfect for pot growing
- Grow well in garden beds with shrubs and flowers
- Don’t need fancy care and pruning
- Let you grow your own berries even on a balcony
- Easy to care for and fun to grow
Many of us are just too busy to have that time to devote, or the space, and most gardeners want a pretty garden, not a farming operation. So that kinda hits the ‘home-grown berries’ idea for a six . . . or does it? We got really excited when we learned about the new Bushel & Berry® range, because it brings growing berries at home right back, front and center, into decorative gardening. Heck, you don’t even need a garden at all – a patio or terrace will do just fine. With these dwarf bushes you can grows several different berries in just a few square feet of outdoor space – amazing!
What is Bushel & Berry®?
This new range of berry bushes is a collection of dwarf bushes that have been developed by different breeders and brought together into a group of great bushes for home gardening. All of them are just a couple of feet tall, and they all thrive in pots and planters. Most are blueberries, which makes a lot of sense because these are easy to grow in pots, and for many people, who don’t have the right soil, they are the best option. But as we
As well there are blackberries and raspberries – both plants that are notorious for spines, tricky pruning and complex growing techniques. So having dwarf versions of those delicious berries that can be grown in pots is a real breakthrough. Let’s start by taking a general look at how to grow these easy plants, and then look more closely at some of the specific varieties.
Growing the Bushel & Berry Range
All of these bushes have been bred and selected to be perfect for pot growing. They can be grown in planter boxes, and just about any kind of pot you have. Just make sure it has a drainage hole – that is really important. Because of their compact size they also make great plants to slip into a flower or shrub bed, especially the evergreen blueberries, which are perfect for edging beds. They all have attractive flowers, pretty leaves and some have fall colors too. The clusters of berries – multi-colored because of their different stages of ripening – really do make a great decorative showing – almost too good to eat.
Location and Planting Zone
All the Bushel and Berry bushes will grow best in full sun. A little afternoon shade, especially in hot zones, won’t do any harm, but too much shade will reduce your crops, although the bush itself may continue to grow. Check that you are choosing a variety that grows in your zone – especially with blueberries there are varieties for cooler, northern areas, and others for hot states. If you are leaving your pots outdoors all winter, go up one or two zones to find the minimum for your area, especially if you are growing on a balcony. That is, if you live in zone 5, choose a plant that is listed as hardy to zone 6 or 7. If you can bury the pot in the garden, then you can plant right to your own zone. Alternatively, if it loses its leaves in winter, store the dormant plant in a cool or even unheated shed or garage through the coldest months. Don’t bring it indoors – it needs the cold weather.
Choosing Pots and Soil
It should be big enough to allow the roots to develop, so something in the 12 to 24-inch range of diameters should work out great. Don’t plant one in the middle of a really big tub or half-barrel – it will get lonely and the soil will hold too much water – but a big tub would be great for 3 plants, and that means three times the harvest! For blueberries you need to use a soil mix for acid-loving plants, and if you have it, adding a little shredded pine bark will give extra drainage and boost the acidity at the same time. Some more of that bark topping the pot as a mulch is good too. For blackberries and raspberries you can use any blended potting soil, preferably one for outdoor planters. Don’t try and use garden soil for any of these berry bushes – it is too heavy and doesn’t drain well, even if it is acidic enough for blueberries. Plus, it will contain weed seeds, pests and diseases. These might not be a problem in the garden itself, but in the micro-environment of a pot they certainly can be.
Watering and Growing
Blueberries need a lot of water, so water whenever the top of the soil begins to look a little dry. For the other bushes, let the top ½ to 1-inch dry before watering. Always water thoroughly, so that some flows out the drainage holes. Never water when it is not needed, and don’t leave a pot standing in a saucer of water for more than a short time – it will damage the roots.
The Bushel & Berry® Range
For full details on all these bushes, see our catalogue:
Raspberry Shortcake is a great thornless raspberry bush growing just 2 or at most 3 feet tall – perfect on the patio.
Baby Cakes is a thornless blackberry that has not one but two crops a year – carrying blooms and berries at the same time. Grab a few each morning for your cereal.
Blueberries for Cool to Warm zones
Blueberry Glaze is a dual-purpose blueberry as good for edging or neat pots as it is for berries. It looks like a boxwood shrub, but it has blooms and berries – how about that.
Blueberry Buckle is also boxwood-like, with an extra bonus of red new shoots – a real patio princess.
Jelly Bean is a super-small edger that is hardy even in zone 3
Perpetua is a first – a repeat flowering blueberry with two crops a year. A little large for pots at 4 or 5 feet, it’s perfect in shrub beds.
Blueberries for Hot zones
Peach Sorbet is a high-yielding dwarf shrub that crops well in zone 9
Pink Icing has berries that are bright pink until the moment they ripen – so pretty – and it crops well in warm areas
Southern Bluebelle tells it all in the name. This dwarf selection of the southern blueberry is perfect even in zone 10.
***If you want to check the availability of any of the plants mentioned here, go to our Home Page, click on the ‘Search’ button in the upper right, and type in your choice – both common names and botanical ones will work. If, sadly, you find the item sold out, click on the ‘notify me’ box beside the size you want, and you will get an email the moment that plant is available again – it’s easy.