Strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries and grapes from the garden, harvested at peak quality, can be far superior to those you can buy in the market. A well-planned garden can supply fresh fruit from early spring to the first killing frost in the fall and any surplus can be frozen, canned or preserved for later use. They may be grown when space is limited, and space limitations can be overcome by fitting the plants into the overall landscape in shrub borders, screen plantings or hedges.
Success, of course, depends upon careful attention to cultural details. Plant no more than you can care for properly. Neglected plants will provide poor yields.
One of the worst problems is that birds may take most of the fruit unless you can find a way to prevent it. Some help may be provided by planting an elderberry and mulberry at the same time. Mulberries will grow almost anywhere, they ripen in the spring and birds seem to prefer them to blueberries; the birds also go for elderberries in preference to late raspberries and blackberries.
Soil where small fruits are planted should be reasonably fertile, drainage should be good, and exposure to full sunlight is best, but they will produce in locations shaded during a part of the day. Early spring is a good time to plant them. The plants can be ordered from Burpee Seed Co., Warminster, Pa. 18991; Bountiful Ridge Nursery, Princess Anne, Md., 21853; or Brittingham's Plant Farms, Salisbury, Md. 21801. Send for their free catalogues.
Strawberries are the first fruit to ripen in the spring. They should be planted as soon as the soil can be worked to let the plants become well established before hot summer weather. The flower stems should be removed from newly-set strawberries the first summer as soon as they appear; allowing the fruit to develop will reduce the crop the next year. Everbearing strawberries usually do not produce as good fruit as Junebearing varieties. Raspberries ripen shortly after strawberries; if given good care, they may produce for 10 years or more. Mulched raspberries grow better, produce more, and have larger berries.
Blackberries are best planted in early spring, using the same care as for raspberries.
Black raspberries, purple raspberries and erect blackberries should be pruned three times each year, during the summer, early spring, and after harvest.