Four Berries You Can Grow at Home in Vancouver
(HealthCastle.com) You might have seen some of the articles my editor Christina Newberry has written for HealthCastle.com about home gardening. She mentioned to me recently that she grows blueberries and strawberries in containers in her patio, and that there are some new varieties of berries now available in garden stores that she wants to try out. I've only ever grown strawberries at home and didn't know we could grow any other berries at home in the Vancouver area, so I thought I'd ask Christina about the berry-growing options for home gardeners in Vancouver. Here are her suggestions.
Four Berries to Grow at Home in Vancouver
These are probably the most common home-grown berries in Vancouver. They are easy to grow in the ground or in a container – and the local berries grown at home are an incredible treat compared to the ones we import from California. Local strawberries are available in stores for a few weeks each year, but they can be very expensive, so it's worth your time to grow your own. If you're growing your strawberries in a pot, check with the staff at your local garden store to choose a variety suitable for container gardening. Choose a large container rather than a small flower pot for the best results.
Blueberries are reasonably easy to grow in Vancouver. Keep in mind that you might not get very many berries in the first year or two after you plant your blueberry bush because they take a while to get established. The main requirement for successful blueberry growing is plenty of sun. You will not have much success without at least six hours of sun, and you'll do better if your plant gets eight hours.
There are many varieties of blueberry bushes you can grow if you have a yard. If you need to grow your berries in a container, choose a compact variety like Top Hat, and use a large container. If you can find them, you can also try the new Brazelberries varieties of blueberries that are bred to grow well in containers and produce lots of fruit on a small plant. Brazelberries have been selling out at local garden centres, as they're new this spring, but you might be able to find some if you call around to garden centres in your area.
Raspberries are rambling plants, and most varieties need to be planted in the ground. Like blueberries, raspberries need time to get established, so you may not get berries your first year. Raspberries thrive in Vancouver, so your biggest challenge may be keeping your raspberry patch from spreading beyond its borders. Check with your garden centre for non-invasive varieties.
This year, for the first time, there's a variety of raspberry designed to grow in containers, produced by Brazelberries. The new variety has no thorns and is meant to grow in pots, maxing out at a height of two or three feet. Again, choose as large a pot as possible.
Tayberries are a cross between a raspberry and a blackberry originally bred through a Scottish program. Like raspberries and blackberries, they grow well in Vancouver. But unlike blackberries, they won't take over your yard – so they are a good option for those who want something a little more tart than a raspberry without sacrificing their entire yard to invasive blackberry plants. Tayberries can be grown in a large pot, but they will be happier in the ground.
No Space to Grow? Go Wild
If you don't have outdoor space to grow berries, you can still get your fill this season by foraging among the many wild blackberry bushes that have taken over old train tracks, fences, and other under-used or neglected areas in the city. Blackberries are hugely invasive in Vancouver, which means they will take over if left unchecked. While not the best thing for the native species they push out, it does mean that in peak season there are plenty of juicy, ripe berries free for the picking.
Tell Us: Do you grow berries at home? Let us know about your favourite berries in the comments.