Monday, July 21, 2014

Growing Your Own Back Yard Organic Berry Garden

Happy Monday Everyone! Today I have the honor to introduce to you my lovely friend Jenny from My Happy Homestead! She will be sharing her advice on how to start your very own berry garden in your backyard. Enjoy and get inspired!

photo taken by Jenny Irvine

After years of growing flower gardens in our tiny suburban backyard we eventually decided to covert them into berry gardens. As our family has grown over the years so has my desire to provide organic homegrown food for our family of six. 

Not really knowing what we were doing at first and fumbling through along the way after 7+ years I think, we finally have things down pat. 

Yielding nearly 4-5 freezer gallon size ziplock bags full every summer- I think we have successfully converted our once flower oasis into a mini piece of heaven that provides nutritious food for our family all year long and still looks beautiful. 

From homemade jams to berry crisps the sweet aroma of homegrown fruit is never far away at our homestead. 

Sharing some of my thoughts, experiences, and suggestions today to help get you get started- 

Growing Your Own Back Yard Organic Berry Garden

photo taken by Jenny Irvine
 Strawberries 

- the most plentiful of all. We started with 5 small plants and now we have an entire fence line covered in them. 

The best time to plant a strawberry garden is actually in the fall. When plants are put in the ground in spring they will require de-budding of any new flowers and pinching back of all runners to gain a strong root system and to assure plenty of growth. 

Planting during the fall months eliminates these additional steps - plants will automatically develop strong root systems and achieve rigorous growth throughout the autumn months. 

When choosing a strawberry variety choose June-bearing oppose to 'everbearing' - the yield is virtually the same. 

Strawberries love ground that is rich with organic matter- compost and leaf mold work great. In the fall we add some of our gathered fall leaves and work them into the soil at the beginning of spring. 

Carefully weed to eliminate any weed invasion and pinch off runners from the mother plant as often as necessary. Too many runners will affect your yield. 

In the summer months we cover our berries with a thin netting similar to chicken wire to help keep pests away. The robins love our berries- and although we love our little bird friends - we don't want them eating our food. 

During the winter months we cover them with a thin layer of pine straw to help keep the temperature a bit warmer. 


photo taken by Jenny Irvine

Backyard raspberries 

- come in many colors. - Red, black, purple, and yellow. We only grow the red as their tangy mouth watering taste is truly unbeatable. 

Much like strawberries it is best to plant your rootstock in the fall months. Plant them in a well cultivated area- rich in organic matter. 

You will often see a number of new canes "suckers" coming up from the base of your plant as time goes on. A certain number of these are necessary for plant growth (6-8) per plant. 

In the fall months prune all canes back an inch from the soil. 

Blueberries 

- are the newest addition to our homestead. Most varieties do best when they are 'companion planted' meaning they are planted next to others of their kind. 

Blueberries also require a high level of acidity (4-5ph). If the soil at your homestead is neutral you might consider adding a layer of pine straw and dumping your morning coffee grounds in the garden bed to help maintain a higher level of acidity. 

The upper most 'twig' like portion of the plants should be pruned to help develop root growth and as time progresses maintain its 'bush like' appearance. 

If your still not convinced that replacing your beautiful flowers with the opportunity to harvest your own bounty- then, here are 5 berry facts that might just convince you otherwise. 

5 Benefits of Berries 


photo taken by Jenny Irvine

Berries are high in antioxidants- compounds that may aid in the slowing of cancer development- the darker the berry the higher the level of phytochemicals. 

This goes without saying but that does not mean eating them guarantees warding off all risks of cancer- it simply means they have been found to aid in prevention. 

Blueberries have been shown to improve insulin levels and lower blood pressure levels in pre-diabetic men and women without raising their blood sugar levels. 

Berries have anti-inflammatory properties and high levels of fiber which aid digestive issues. 

Berries are high in vitamin C and K. Strawberries also contain a good amount of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium.

Berries especially blueberries have been found to positively affect brain function and prevent memory loss. 

What is your favorite kind of berry? Do you currently have them growing in your backyard-if not what's stopping you? 



Jenny Irvine is a homeschool mom raising nearly a handful of food sensitive gluten free kids.
It was out of her frustration-searching for the perfect meal planning system that best could meet her family's dietary needs that she created the Simple Savvy Meal Planning Kit- 20 printable meal planning pages with the average consumer in mind but leaving plenty of room for the allergy sensitive to make the necessary alterations.
With a degree in behavioral science and psychology, a passion for family, and a long standing love hate relationship with food it is out of her love of helping others that she blogs at myhappyhomestead.
It is here, that Jenny shares recipes, diy projects, the ups and downs of raising a healthy, happy, food intolerant, homeschool family. Life can be crazy raising four kids 8 and under but some how she makes it all work. 

For more from Jenny you can go to her Twitter account, her Facebook page, Instagram, and her website My Happy Homestead    



No comments: