The Good Earth: It's easy to make space for small fruits
Small fruits are among the easiest plants to grow in containers. Even starved-for-space city gardeners can get their homegrown sugar fix by growing a variety of small fruits in pots on a patio or terrace.
Small fruits are classified as such because of the stature of the plants and the size of the fruits. Because each small-fruit variety has its own ripening schedule, growing an assorted mix of small-fruit selections enables gardeners to have something delicious to pick throughout the entire growing season. As you decide which of the following small fruits to add to your garden, keep their harvest times in mind, as well as their growth habits and flavor.
• Strawberries are probably the easiest of all the small fruits to grow in containers. Use a quality potting soil in a large container or hanging basket and locate the plants where they'll receive full sun from morning to mid-afternoon.
Strawberry varieties fit into two categories: June-bearing and ever-bearing (also called day-neutral). The former produces berries that all ripen within a period of a few weeks in early summer. These are the best strawberry varieties to grow in containers as they'll produce the same season in which they were planted.
If you'd like to overwinter a pot of strawberry plants, bury it in the compost pile or garden for the winter and mulch with a 2-inch thick layer of straw. Come spring, dig up the pot, hose it off, and put it back on the patio or deck.
• Blueberries are extremely hardy — some varieties survive down to minus 35 degrees. These shrubs will survive quite nicely in a container, even without any added winter protection. They thrive in acidic soils with a pH range of 4.0 to 5.0, so add a cupful of granular fertilizer formulated specifically for evergreens to the potting mix every year.
For container growing, some plant varieties are specifically bred to thrive in tight quarters. These selections do not require a cross-pollination partner like standard blueberries do. Newer varieties like “Jelly Bean,” “Blueberry Glaze” and “Peach Sorbet” are perfect for containers and should be widely available at local nurseries next spring. Locate your blueberries in full to partial sun.
• Raspberries are traditionally considered best for gardeners with some extra room to fill — but that's no longer the case. “Raspberry Shortcake” is a beautiful and productive new introduction that is short in stature and perfect for containers. Its compact growth has little tendency to ramble when planted in the garden, and it doesn't need a pollination partner. Red raspberries are fully hardy and should survive the winter in a container without any added protection.
• Currants are another wonderful addition to your container garden, not only because they are attractive, but because they mature to only 3 to 5 feet. Currants are fully hardy to minus 40 degrees and are resistant to most diseases and pests. Plus, the flowers are attractive to hummingbirds and many species of songbirds enjoy the ripe fruit.
Currants require full sun to partial shade and most currants are self-fertile, meaning that a single shrub will form fruit without a pollination partner, though most produce better yields when partnered with a different variety. Potted currants need no extra winter protection.
Horticulturist Jessica Walliser co-hosts “The Organic Gardeners” at 7 a.m. Sundays on KDKA Radio. She is the author of several gardening books, including “Grow Organic” and “Good Bug, Bad Bug.” Her website is www.jessicawalliser.com.
Send your gardening or landscaping questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or The Good Earth, 503 Martindale St., 3rd Floor, D.L. Clark Building, Pittsburgh, PA 15212.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers quarterback Vick getting more acquainted with offense
- Starkey: Pirates gaining bad big-game rep
- Pitt O-line responds to coach’s challenge
- Pirates notebook: Fastball command issues hurt Cole against Cubs
- Steelers hoping to establish run early against San Diego
- Penn State coaches are happy with quarterback Hackenberg’s play
- Hydrangeas flower year after year with proper care, placement, feeding
- Ten Commandments monument moved to its new home in Connellsville
- NFL notebook: Ex-Pitt RB Lewis signs 2-year extension with Patriots
- What’s old is new at Toll Gate Revival in Lawrenceville
- Rossi: Cole is simply not good enough for Pirates