Planting and caring for berries and grapes

Basic guidelines for growing healthy, prolific crops

Caring for berries and grapes

Train leafy grapevine over an arbor to create a shady retreat.

Derek Fell

Given a little attention to watering, fertilizing, and pruning, your berries will reward you with bumper crops of fruit year after year.

Planting

Choose a site in full sun. Keep in mind that, with the exception of strawberries, most berries are fairly long-lived and will occupy the same space for some years. They need well-drained soil to thrive; if your soil is poorly drained, plant in raised beds or mounds. Most kinds of berries and grapes are sold bare-root during the dormant season.

Watering

Water plants thoroughly after you set them out; then water again whenever the top 2 inches of soil are dry. During the growing season, the soil around the roots should be kept moist but not soggy. Applying a mulch such as ground bark or compost will help conserve moisture and keep the soil cool.

Fertilizing

Most berries prosper with one feeding of a complete fertilizer in early spring. Strawberries have somewhat more exacting requirements.

Managing pests and diseases

A number of problems can affect berries. To minimize pest and disease troubles from the very start, buy certified disease-free stock from a reputable nursery. To identify and control problems not discussed in this book, contact a local nursery or your Cooperative Extension Office.

Training and pruning

Berries that grow on canes and vines ― blackberries, raspberries, and grapes ― need training when young, Most grow best if tied to a trellis or fence; grapes can also be grown on an arbor or pergola. Yearly pruning encourages better fruit production and keeps the plants in bounds, preventing them from forming jungly, tangled thickets. For details on training and pruning each kind of berry, consult a nursery or your Cooperative Extension Office.

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