Berry bushes need sun, space and good drainage. Make sure you read the plant label before planting so you have enough room. Not only do you need space between the bushes for growth, but you also need room walk in between to harvest the berries. After a few years of growing some berry bushes in my flat and often overcrowded herb garden, I decided to give the berry bushes their own patch on a slope behind my vegetable which provides good drainage.
Put mulch around the base of the berry bushes. Mulch helps to keep the the roots cool and keeps away grass and weeds from the base on the plants.
Give the tree some plant food. For instance, I use organic Holly-tone from Espoma (4-3-4) which is plant food for acid loving plants. If you don’t remember what the numbers mean, then click on the link. It needs to be applied in the spring according to the package and then half the amount in the fall.
Use Neem Oil to keep bad diseases and bad bugs away. Don’t forget that you should apply Neem Oil at night so you don’t hurt any bees or any other good bugs.
Use a frame and netting to keep away the birds. While people love berries, so do birds! This year, Alan built me a temporary frame out of pvc pipes which we can take down when the harvesting season is done. We tied bird netting to it and it worked like a charm. Keep in mind that it needs to be tall enough so you have enough space to walk underneath – there is nothing worse than crawling on mulch!!
Berry bushes need to be pruned. Here are the pruning suggestions for Bushel and Berry plants that I am growing: 1) For the Raspberry Shortcake and the blackberry bushes, you wait until early spring to prune. You will see new green shoots or canes coming up from the soil which will provide berries the following year. Leave the old canes with new growth alone because they will bear the berries in the current year. Prune the old canes with no new growth. 2) For the blueberry bushes, prune any stems with no new growth in early spring. Pruning is important so all the plants energy is going to the fruit not a bunch of dead wood.
Next up is harvesting and storing blueberries, raspberries and blackberries.