Strawberries

Strawberries

Photo © Bulleen Art & Garden

Nothing compares to the taste of homegrown strawberries, and those monster things you buy in punnets at the shops are generally a poor (and expensive) imitation. So, why not grow some strawberries at home! Good position and good soil are the keys to successful strawberries. Strawberries are a European cool-climate plant, and need to be treated with a bit of love in our part of Australia. For those of you growing strawberries during the warmer periods of the year, we suggest growing under a little shade cloth cover. This is ‘slip, slop, slap’ for your strawberries to stop the sunburn… they’ll thank you for it! In the cooler months, a nice, warm, full-sun to part-shade spot is perfect.

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Jujube Trees (Chinese Date – Hong Zao)

Jujube Trees (Chinese Date – Hong Zao)

Photo © Bulleen Art & Garden

UPDATE: 2019 – Jujubes will be on the bench and for sale in the nursery for sale on Saturday November 23. We are no longer reserving or holding jujube plants for people.

Please note, we cannot fill our local demand and do not currently post plants. We only deliver to nearby suburbs in Melbourne. This may change in the future, as we realise there is great demand across Australia for these plants. I will update this page if we are able to post plants. We are working to try and find a cost effective solution.

We are all very excited to finally have some jujube (Zizyphus jujuba) or Chinese red date trees to sell at BAAG. For me, thinking of this fruit brings back childhood memories eating them at Chinese restaurants in desserts such as “Eight Treasure Rice” when only the dried fruit were available and they were little known outside of the Chinese community.  It has been hard to get jujube trees in the past in Australia, but now that they are being grown at a small number of propagation nurseries here, they are starting to become more available.
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Currants

Currants

(Photograph by Bulleen Art & Garden)
Currants are small deciduous bushes with origins in cool European lands, where they thrived as forest edge plants, and later as domesticated varieties planted in gardens and hedgerows for their 5mm red, white or ‘black’ (dark purple) berries. This heritage gives a clue to their preferred conditions – moist, slightly acidic soils, with good drainage, lots of rotted leaves or other organic matter, and gentle sunlight – definitely NOT the scorching westerly afternoon sun in Australian summer conditions. In fact, they have the advantage of being one of the few fruits that will produce in light shade… so use them to get more sweet treats out of those garden spots where you thought none would grow! They are also ornamental, with pretty green lobed leaves.
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Goji Berries

After being away from the nursery for a while I’m always interested to come back and see how the plants are growing around the place, what is in flower, what is fruiting and what is struggling or thriving. So this time after a break, the first thing I noticed was the goji plant (Lycium barbarum) in Edible Alley, the edible garden alongside the BAAG driveway, its pendulous branches positively dripping with glowing, orange fruits.

It is the first time our goji has fruited, as the new growth was pruned in previous years before having a chance to fruit (they are tip-bearers) and because the plant was still young (they start producing after 2-3 years). Now that it is established, we knew not to prune it until after fruiting and have been well rewarded. Feel free to try one when you are in next before they finish. They are small but quite refreshing, not to mention a superfood.

To grow a goji plant, plant it in a sunny position with adequate food, water and drainage. Branches grow as long flexible stems that can be trained to allow the ends to weep and then pruned to maintain a good shape after fruiting or in winter whilst dormant.

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Cranberries

Vaccinium macrocarpon

Cranberries are famous for two things: cranberry sauce served at Thanksgiving with turkey and for use in treating urinary tract infections. It was highly valued by Native North Americans for medicinal use, and the berries were able to be effectively stored beneath snow during winter as an important food source. Now we also drink the Vitamin C rich berry as a juice and apparently the berry floats in water and bounces when dropped! Is there nothing this clever berry can’t do?
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Raspberries

If you can grow apples you can grow raspberries, and why wouldn’t you? The sweet juicy fruit is delectable when picked ripe and warm from the canes, truly placing the taste of the sun on your tongue. Nutritionally dense and a fantastic snack for kids, raspberries require a small amount of preparation and ongoing care which will yield great results.

Canes are available in nurseries in winter as bare-rooted stock.
When you plant your raspberries prune them to about 20cm from ground level.

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Berry Care & Varieties

Berries are generally crops for the patient gardener as a long term investment. Most berry plants usually don’t set an abundant crop for a few years, but some are faster, such as raspberries. With careful selection of cultivars, fruit can be produced over several months and used for fresh eating, jams and can be frozen for many months to be used later in desserts.

Designing berry gardens

Berry Plants not only provide delicious fruit through the warmer months, but also provide many design options. There are trees, shrubs, vines and groundcovers to select from. They can create features such as cordons, or may be grown over arches or woven cane structures, or trellises to screen off areas or provide shade. Vines can also be trained up walls or over pergolas. Ground covers, such as strawberries can be used to line paving areas or as garden edging. Others may be trained as specimen trees, such as weepers or standards.

Berry plants are usually deciduous providing summer shade, winter sunshine, beautiful autumn foliage colour, pretty spring blossoms, attractive leaves and delicious fruit. Under-plant berries with winter-spring flowering bulbs or vegies or annuals such as Kale, to provide winter interest. Ornamental plants can be interspersed with berries if space allows.

Growing conditions

Most berry plants are suited to cold, temperate regions with cold, wet winters and hot summers. Most need mulching during summer. Pea or lucerne straw is best for this. The ideal position for the berry plants is in full sun, although some vines and shrubs may take partial shade (Blackberries, Blueberries, Red Currants and Gooseberries).

The soil needs to be well drained and fertile, with similar conditions to the vegetable garden. Berry plants can be mixed with vegetables, herbs and annuals. The best time to plant berry producing plants is in winter when the largest range of plants are available.

Planting your berry plants

  • Prepare the soil by mixing through compost and cow manure and raising the soil up.
  • The planting hole should be dug so that it is twice as wide as the root ball but only a bit deeper. The soil in the bottom or the hole should be mounded and the roots spread out over the mound. Backfill the soil over the roots and firm down. Do not too plant too deeply, (this can lead to collar rot), or too shallow, (this can lead to the roots drying out).
  • Water the plants in well with a seaweed emulsion.
  • Mulch around the plants and stake if necessary.
  • If training the plants over wires or other supports, start when the plants are young.
  • Keep the plants well watered over summer and top up with manure in late winter.

Harvesting

Most berries do not keep fresh for long. Therefore it is best to harvest regularly, as the berries ripen on the plant. Do not leave old berries to rot on the plants as these can harbour disease. Strawberries will put out runners through the harvesting season, and it is best to cut these back regularly, to encourage the plants to produce more flowers and fruit.

Berries available at BAAG

Remember – not all plants are available all year round. Call before you come if you need to be sure the exact plant you are after is in.
Blueberries
There are so many varieties of blueberries available that they need their very own factsheet… click here to read it.

Boysenberry
Matures in December for about 6 weeks
Self pollinating
A vigorous plant, developing long trailing canes. A hybrid related to the raspberry and dewberry. The canes must be tied onto strong trellis or horizontal wires 2.5m apart. Boysenberries fruit on canes produced in previous season. An excellent home garden choice.
Produces large, dull purplish-red to black berries in its second year. Some consider this the best flavoured of the black berries.
Good for eating fresh, jam, or baked in desserts.

Jostaberry
Matures December to January
Self pollinating
A thornless and vigorous grower with good disease resistance.
Round juicy, black berries like fat black currants. The berries have a tangy sweet black currant like flavour, from the cross between a black currant and a gooseberry. Eat fresh or in jams, jellies and pies. High in vitamin C. Freezes well.

Lawtonberry
Berries are plump, black and sweet. Bears heavy crops of blackberry like fruit from late December to early February. Berries are best left on the plant for a while after full colour to allow maximum sweetness to develop.
Excellent for making jam.
Sturdy, stiff and thorny canes. Suckers heavily and needs thinning.

Loganberry
Matures Early December
Self pollinating
Hybrid related to the raspberry and dewberry. Trailing, thornless, biennial canes. Grows vigorously. Grows well in heavy soils. The canes must be tied onto strong trellis or horizontal wires. Loganberries fruit on canes produced in previous season.
Considered by many to be the best flavoured of all the brambles. Bears heavily. Excellent aromatic flavour. Ripen to fully red colour to eat fresh.
Eat fresh, cooked in desserts (especially good in summer pudding), and makes wonderful jam.

Raspberries
There are so many varieties of raspberries available that they need their very own factsheet… click here to read it.

Tayberry
Self pollinating
If you only have space for one Hybrid berry, the Tayberry is the one to go for as it has such a divine sweet and aromatic taste when picked fully ripe, is large in size, fruits prolifically, and is reliable. Bred in Scotland, this is basically a cross between a Raspberry and a Bramble or Blackberry, and is very thorny. The fruit is sweet and highly aromatic making arguably the best of all rubus jams.
They should be picked when they are fully ripe and not while they are still raspberry coloured. The central plug stays within the fruit when picked, just as happens with a Blackberry fruit, rather than a raspberry.

Silvanberry
Self pollinating
Silvanberries are a Victorian brambleberry cultivated in Silvan and are similar in taste to a blackberry. Silvanberries are excellent for making jam
A cross between a marionberry and a seedling cross between a boysenberry and pacificberry. Bears heavy crops of sweet, large cylindrical black berries. Great appearance and quality. Has a long fruiting season often starting in early December.

Strawberries
There are so many varieties of strawberries available that they need their very own factsheet… click here to read it.

Youngberry
Ripens after Loganberries and before Boysenberries.
Self pollinating
Sturdy, stiff and thorny canes. Suckers heavily and needs thinning.
A hybrid berry. The thorny varieties have better quality fruit. Vigorous trailing canes. Young berries fruit on canes produced in previous season. Long canes must be tied onto strong trellis work or horizontal wires.
Medium to large dark purple fruit. Unique, sweet, juicy flavour. Eat fresh or cooked. Fruit is black-purple when ripe.
Eat fresh, cooked in desserts and in cakes.

Rose Hips: Rugosa Scabrosa

Large single flowers of violet crimson colour with spidery yellow stamens and an exceptional fragrance. Repeat flowering.

Produces great hips and autumn foliage colour. Dead head spent flowers until late January then allow plant to produce autumn hips.

Rosehips are very sweet and full of Vitamin C. Their seedy nature means they are best used in jams and jellies where the seeds are sieved out. The seeds are high in Vitamin D and traditionally were saved, ground up and added to flour. Also used for syrups, wine and tea.

Flowers used for potpourris.

Bush is hardy, low maintenance and adaptable to almost all soils and weather conditions. Seasonal interest for spring, summer and autumn.

Juniper Berries

(Syn Cardamom) Juniperus communis

The spicy, aromatic, dark purple berries of the juniper tree can be used fresh or dried, crushed or whole, to flavour casseroles, sauerkraut, marinades and stuffings and complement game meats as well as pork, lamb, beef and duck. They can also be used in sweet dishes such as fruitcake. Juniper berries also provide the main flavouring for gin.

Juniper is commonly used with lamb but their sharp clean resinous flavour is particularly good with venison, wild boar, quail, duck, goose and even domestic pork. They can even be added to chilli dishes where they add a certain complementary rustic flavour.

Berries are best if lightly crushed before being used as a spice, used both fresh and dried, their flavour and odour is at their strongest immediately after harvest and declines during drying and storage.

The mature dark coloured berries are used in cooking while the green berries are used in flavouring gin.

The juniper berry is the female seed cone of the juniper tree.