Berrries from the Heath or Heather family.
Cranberries are one of the berries which have gone through many different name changes since their discovery. Eastern Indians called them “sassamanesh” whereas Cape Cod Pequots and the South Jersey Leni-Lenape tribes named them “ibimi” or bitter berry. Reminds me of our streetnames and suburbs being changed. Cranberry is derived from the German word “kraanbere”.
If you are one of the few people who thought that cranberries grow underwater you are mistaken, but it is understandable why people think so when they see harvesting photos. Once the berries are ready to be harvested, the bog get flooded with about 45cms of water, the night before the berries are harvested. The growers then use water reels (eggbeaters) to churn the water and loosen the cranberries from the plants. Because of the air pockets inside them which allows them to float they would rise to the top allowing the growers to collect it. They can also be harvested in a dry method using a mechanical picker.
Cranberries are evergreen dwarf shrubs or otherwise trailing vines. Cranberries are low, creeping shrubs or vines which can grow up to 2 meters long and 5-20cms in height. The plants have slender, wiry stems which contains small evergreen leaves. The flowers are dark pink with very distinct reflexed petals. The fruit, which is larger than the leaves, start of light green, then turns red when it is ripe. The fruit has an acidic, bitter taste that overwhelms its sweetness.
Cranberries have the same water content as oranges which are 90% water, hence the reason why they are so heavy as there are 450 cranberries in 450grams. Even though these berries have such a huge water content they cannot grow in water. So, you can grow them in your own garden. Cranberries and Blueberries need very specific soil which is all available at our nursery. You need to ensure that the pH of the soil where you want to plant the cranberry is below 5. Both of these plants need cold weather in order to trigger a dormant phase. If the cranberry is one of the berries you want to try, then visit our website and order your plant today.
There are blueberries and then there are berries that are blue. There is however not many fruits as flavoursome as blueberries. If you think about it blue is actually a rare colour for fruit. This comes from a natural colouring pigment called anthocyanin. When a fruit has this pigment it can either be red, purple, blue or violet.
Blueberries were called “star fruits” by North American indigenous people, because of the five star shape that it forms at the blossom end of the berry. They are perennial flowering plants which are part of the same family as the cranberry. These plants vary in size which can range from 10 centimetres up to 4 metres. There are two different types of blueberries namely, highbush or lowbush. The highbush plants can reach heights of up to 2 metres whereas the lowbush grows to about 600mm which thrive better in colder climates. Highbush blueberries grow in a wider range than that of the lowbush. Highbush berries are bigger than the lowbush and grow more abundantly.
We stock many different varieties of blueberries. The highbush varieties are as follows:
The Biloxi blueberry performs exceptionally well in climates with little to no frost and can even be grown in tropical conditions. This is a great variety for the warmer climates. It is an early season fruiting variety; thus, it will fruit in the Spring, September to November. This plant grows very well and has blue green colour foliage with white flowers. The berries are medium sized, light blue in colour and very firm. Excellent for fresh eating.
The Georgia Gem blueberry is a mid-season fruiting variety, meaning it will fruit between November and January. It has a blue green colour foliage, and is self-pollinating. The fruits are medium sized and sweet, with a hint of tart in flavour.
The Gulf Coast self-pollinating blueberry is ideal for coastal areas. This berry is an early fruiting variety; thus it will bear fruit between September and November. The plant produces medium to large fruit with a good tangy flavour.
The O’Neal blueberry is an early season fruiting variety. It is a self-pollinating cultivar with large berries that are sweet and firm. The plants are vigorously upright with a grey tint to the foliage. The flowers are white bell-shaped, whereas the plants turn a red colour during fall.
The Sharpblue blueberry is one of the most adaptable low chill cultivars. This is also an early season fruiting variety which is self-pollinating. It produces small beautiful white flowers. The fruit are medium sized with a dark blue colour.
The Star blueberry is also an early fruiting self-pollinating variety. The fruits are medium to large with a dark blue colour. The plant has a moderately upright growth with blue green and yellow foliage. Clusters of white flowers form during spring which ultimately turns into sweet berries.
The Centurion blueberry is actually part of another family called “rabbiteye”. These are taller than other blueberries which and can grow up to 6 metres. They are deciduous, with whitish-blue under the leaves and small bell shaped pink flowers. The berries are medium sized, dark blue in colour with a very sweet taste. This is a late season fruiting variety.
In order to get a good yield of fruits from your blueberry it would be a great option to have an early, mid and late season variety. This will help to pollinate each other and will definitely give you much joy when picking the berries. This however is not going to help look after the plants. You have to make sure that you get the right soils. We have made it easy for everyone.
For our smaller blueberries and cranberries you would need the following soil;
- Spagnum peat moss – soak for 24 hours
- Berry mix
- Volcanic rock dust
- Pine bark mulch
- Berry fertilizer
- Acid compost
So you have everything ready including the soils but what now. Once the peat moss has been soaked for 24 hours you need to mix it with the berry mix and the volcanic rock dust. The peat moss actually helps to absorb the moisture and nutrients for the plant and has a natural low pH of about 4 which will make the rest of the soil more acidic. The acid compost is to help make the soil acidic which will then be put at the bottom of the hole you have for the berry in order to raise it to the correct level.
You can then put the berry plant on top of the soil in the hole without the packaging/wrapping it came with. The mixed soil mixture then goes around the sides of the plant filling it to the top. Lastly you can add the pine bark mulch on the top and then use the slow release fertilizer once every 5 months.
Easy, isn’t it…Maybe not so easy but it still takes some care needed for the plants. If you keep to the soils as recommended they will surely bear fruit very soon. But another easier way would be to just get the bigger plants from us. These have been planted in 20l bags with the correct mixtures of soil and have grown already over 3 years. All you need to add when planting them is, acid compost.
Take the time to measure out your garden in these unknowing times. Also remember that all these berries need full sun so make sure you have the right spot for them to flourish. As soon as you are ready visit us or even order online. You will really enjoy the berries as soon as summer is here.