June is a super month for fruit. Watch for developing raspberries and definitely strawberries. If you have no fruit bushes or trees on your property, seriously consider adding some. Few treats are as satisfying as homegrown fruit. Since most berries are fragile, it’s hard to get properly ripe fruit at the grocery store. Grow your own and enjoy. Peaches, pears, apples, grapes and a whole range of berries thrive in our climate.
I want to start a raspberry patch. Is it too late in the season to start? I’m thinking of planting them around the edge of my vegetable garden to act as a sort of hedgerow.
Although the optimal time for setting out raspberry plants might be early spring, you can take advantage of nursery sales and get a patch established less expensively. If you have friends with a patch, no doubt they will be happy to give you some of the offshoots from their canes to transplant to your garden.
Planting around the edge of an existing vegetable or flower garden is a surefire way to set yourself up for frustration. Raspberry plants spread by runners underground and they tend to wander with abandon. My south patch, planted a good 15 feet or more from an asparagus bed, has pretty much taken over the asparagus. Had I been diligent about cutting back the canes repeatedly and maintaining a clear separation of garden space, it would have been fine. But once summer sets in, other activities tend to keep me away from that section of the yard.
Alternatively choose a different location, one with full sun and good drainage. Whether you order from a nursery or get transplants from friends, take care to acclimate the plants to their new location. Erect a windbreak if winds are strong and be sure to provide ample water to help the plants re-establish themselves. Stark Brothers provides an excellent growing guide for raspberries at https://tinyurl.com/y527ha9n.
I live in the Rhinelander area, which is in growing zone 4a. Can I grow lingonberries in this zone?
Yes, you can successfully grow lingonberries in zone 4a. Native to the colder northern sections of Europe, they are often considered a Scandinavian treat. Since they require a more acidic soil with a pH of 4.5 to 5.5, before planting get your soil tested and if necessary, apply an acidifying product. If you prefer, you could create raised beds with your own soil mixture. See this piece from the University of Minnesota on creating beds for blueberries, which also require acidic soil: https://tinyurl.com/y5uc4mn9. Once again, Stark Brothers has an excellent growing guide: https://tinyurl.com/y47d2fww.
I want to grow a strawberry patch but I get confused when I read about what to do with the runners, how I should prune the plants, etc. Is there a simple way?
Join the club. I too get confused when I try and study the proper way to raise strawberries. I have a small patch that grows in a raised bed with no attention except occasional weeding and of course harvesting. It doesn’t produce much but I enjoy it. As for the proper way, here is a link to a short video about raising strong strawberry plants. The speaker prefers cutting off runners to develop strong plants: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G4rWhht-jNE. You can also let the runners grow in the same row as your current plants. UW-Extension has a brilliant publication with helpful illustrations at https://learningstore.uwex.edu/Assets/pdfs/A1597.pdf.
Beverly Carney can be reached at email@example.com.