A berry good time to select delicious fruiting plants

With the Holidays and the Winter Solstice behind us and the days slowly but surely growing longer as we head towards spring, we can start to enjoy mental images of gardens and landscapes alive with colors and aromas where now we see only bleak soil and dry branches!
Colors and aromas satisfy two of our senses - sight and smell. But why stop there when you can add taste to the sensual mix? Include fruiting plants in your spring planting plans and you could soon, literally, be enjoying the fruits of your labor.
Here are a couple of suggestions that I hope will make your mouth water!
Blackberry Triple Crown Thornless
Cheryl and I recently discovered this relatively new blackberry and we quickly became enthusiasts. Yes, it really is thornless and that's a big benefit to those of us whose hands and forearms seem to be magnets for little scratches when we work around our plants.
However, for us the "wow factor" came from the size of the fruit that this variety can produce, based on results achieved in agricultural testing. Triple Crown was tested extensively by agricultural research scientists before finally being offered to nurseries starting in 1996. Oregon State University trials found 8-year-old plants yielding 30 pounds or more of berries per plant.
The fruit is also suitable for juices, pies, syrups and preserves, according to puree trials by the Oregon testers. The name, by the way, doesn't refer to horse racing. Rather it gets its name from its three crowning attributes: flavor, productivity and vigor.
Raspberry Kiwi Gold
As you might guess from its name, Kiwi Gold originated in New Zealand but does well in the United States, growing in USDA zones 4 to 8. (If you're unsure of the USDA zone in which you live, send an e-mail with your city and state to snipped-for-privacy@landsteward.org and I'll check for you.)
Kiwi Gold is a yellow-gold variety noted for its sweet flavor and great holding ability on the vine. It is described by horticulturists as ever-bearing: you'll get a good crop around June and an even better crop in the fall. A nice benefit: Kiwi Gold stays firm and won't turn to mush in your hands if you delay picking it for a day or two. Tests show that it resists powdery mildew, too. For correct pollination, plant Kiwi Gold close to some regular red raspberries.
Kiwi Gold tolerates most soil types but prefers deep, well-drained, fertile soil. It is quite versatile and hardy in cold climates where other cane fruits tend to fail. Best of all, in addition to its delightful sunny-gold color, it's delicious!
Blueberries
If you enjoy blueberries in fruit salads, muffins and pancakes, why not grow your own? To ensure good pollination, you need to plant at least two varieties, such as...
Duke, a new variety of blueberry, originating in New Jersey and suitable for USDA zones 3 to 7. This one ripens early with firm, nicely colored fruit that has a very pleasant taste. The bush itself can make an attractive and decorative hedge with its pink-tinged white spring flowers and vibrant yellow-gold fall foliage, in addition to the blue summer fruit.
Blueray, a mid-season blueberry that is upright, productive and vigorous. We've found you can get about 20 pounds of fruit from a single plant over the course of a season, so you'd better have a really good muffin recipe. Blueray is considered a good pollinator for other highbush varieties.
Blue Crop, a hardy variety of blueberry that produces large fruit when planted near to other varieties such as Earliblue or Jersey. Blue Crop grows to a height of 6 or 7 feet with fruit ripening in mid July.
Some of the fruiting plants I've described are quite new and might be tricky to track down. If you need some online shopping help, feel free to send me an e-mail.
Start planning now for many summers of delicious, home-grown fruit!
The Plant Man is here to help. Send your questions about trees, shrubs and landscaping to snipped-for-privacy@landsteward.org and for resources and additional information, or to subscribe to Steve's free e-mailed newsletter, visit www.landsteward.org
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