Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Bountiful Berries: Part 3 - Boysenberries

Harvest in May/June
Flowering in April


There is nothing more flavorful than a boysenberry picked at the peak of ripeness!  And the only way to get them is to grow your own, because they are so fragile that growers have to pick them before they get to that stage.

Fortunately, they are easy to grow, though a somewhat obnoxious plant (many have thorns, so choose a thornless variety if you don't want to deal with that)!  Here's what you need to know:

1.  Trellis - They are vining plants and need a trellis or fence to grow on.  Posts with 2 horizontal wires set at heights of 2' and 4' work well.   Also along a chain link fence that canes can be tied to.
2.  Site - Full sun or part sun with good drainage.  Note that the plants spread by roots, so locate in an area where this won't be a problem.
3.  Spacing - Plant 5' apart.
4.  Pruning - The roots are perennial, but the canes are biennial: they grow one year and flower/fruit the next year.  Prune canes that have borne fruit to the ground.  Train the new canes on the trellis by wrapping around upper and lower wires or tie to fence.  In summer, prune new canes to 6' in length.  This promotes side branches which will bear more fruit.
5.  Fertilizing - In late winter, mid spring, and midsummer.
6.  Problems - They are subject to leaf spot, powdery mildew and rust, as well as spider mites and whitefly so apply a lime sulfur dormant spray in late winter and at bud break.

Happy Eating!

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