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Four Fresh Berries to Grow This Summer

Nothing says summer like the fresh taste of homegrown fruit. Berries are becoming a staple crop in everyone’s summer garden, and for good reason! Not only are these little fruits delicious, they also provide a ton of nutritional benefits. Add some berries to your garden for a harvest the whole family is sure to love.

When growing fruits in your organic garden, be sure to use Espoma’s liquid plant foods to give you healthy blooms and abundant fruit.

Here are some of our favorite berries to grow:

Blueberries

Blueberries pack a big punch for such a small fruit. They are loaded with tons of vitamins, essential nutrients and antioxidants. Blueberries are often a favorite among kids, too. What better way to get kids involved with the garden than by planting something they love?

Blueberries also thrive in containers, making them the perfect fruit for small space gardeners. The beautiful foliage they produce is just an added bonus.

Try using Espoma’s Holly Tone plant food, perfect for acid-loving fruits like blueberries and strawberries.

Strawberries

Another fan favorite, strawberries are well-loved for their versatility. While delicious on their own, they also pair well with so many different flavors. They can be used in anything from sweet pies and homemade jams to a tasty vinaigrette dressing. Whether snacking, cooking or baking, there’s no way your strawberries will go to waste!

Strawberries grow best in soil with a pH level of 5.5-7. If your pH level is too high, use Espoma’s Soil Acidifier to create the perfect growing environment.

Raspberries

The sweet summer flavor of raspberries makes a great addition to any dessert.

Raspberries often grow up instead of out, so make sure you plant with support stakes or next to a fence. A tall raspberry plant looks beautiful in any garden and draws all eyes to the beautiful red and green foliage it creates.

Blackberries

Since they don’t produce fruit the first year of planting, blackberries require a bit of patience. However, with great care we promise it will be worth the wait!

When blackberries are ready to harvest, the flavors pair very well with raspberries. Blend together in a smoothie or bake a mixed berry pie and enjoy the taste of summer.

Want to know more about growing your favorite berries? Check out our infographic

How to Plant Blueberries in Containers

Laura from Garden Answer shows how to plant blueberries in containers and fertilize with Espoma’s Holly-tone. Watch the video below to see just how easy it is!

 

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Strawberry-Sweet Recipes: From Your Garden to Your Plate

It’s almost September and your strawberry plants  are still yielding fresh, summer-ripened fruit!

Strawberries are delicious and versatile. They can be used in desserts, smoothies or anything that’s cooked or pureed. They can also be frozen and made into jams. Where there’s a strawberry, there’s a way! But first, you have to know how to pick.

Prepare for Picking

In September, many strawberry plants will be busy developing latent buds for next spring’s flowers. Some will rest during late summer, only to be perk up in the middle of fall. Make sure to take advantage of your strawberry plants while they’re still producing fruit! (And remember, they’ll be back next year.)

Pick strawberries in the morning, before the sun gets too hot. Immediately after picking, place strawberries in the refrigerator. Be sure to rinse them before consuming, or before preparing a dish.

If you decide to not eat your strawberries right away or make them into a recipe, you can still freeze, dry or can them.

Our Favorite Recipes

Strawberry Salad Dressing

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 4 large chopped strawberries
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar

Blend ingredients together using a food processor until the consistency of the dressing is smooth.

Leftovers? Store extras in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Fresh Strawberry Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 2 ½ cups fresh strawberries, sliced and slightly mashed
  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 ¼ cups canola or coconut oil

Preheat oven to 425◦.

Combine dry ingredients in large mixing bowl. Combine eggs and oil in a separate small mixing bowl.

Mix the strawberries into egg mixture.

Blend in flour mixture until thoroughly combined.

Spoon into greased muffin tins until nearly full.

Bake at 425◦ for 5 minutes. After that, reduce heat to 350◦ and bake an additional 15-19 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

 

Balsamic Strawberry Asparagus

Ingredients

  • 1 pound asparagus, ends trimmed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 20 medium strawberries, sliced
  • 10 leaves basil, chopped
  • Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400◦.

Place asparagus on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil.

Roast asparagus for 8-10 minutes, until just tender.

Boil. While the asparagus is roasting, boil the balsamic vinegar until reduced to about ¼ cup.

Serve and divide asparagus amongst plates and top with sliced berries, basil, and salt and pepper. Use a spoon to drizzle each serving of asparagus with the balsamic syrup and serve!

For more great berry recipes and other ideas, check out our Pinterest board and our ultimate berry growing guide!

Have a great strawberry recipe you want to share? Drop by our Facebook page!

Berry Healthy Recipes, Straight from the Garden!

There’s nothing more refreshing than the taste of summer berries, and in August your berries are still prime for picking!

Many berries ripen around mid-summer, so by now you already may have some practice with harvesting. Now that summer is starting to wind down, try these new recipes to prolong that sweet seasonal freshness.

When ripe, raspberries are easily removed from the plant. Refrigerate immediately and use between three and five days after picking.

“First, how can I tell when my berries are ready?”

  • Blueberries: Don’t pick them until they’re fully ripe! Wait until they turn a uniform color and can easily be pulled away from the plant. But don’t rely on color alone; check first if the berries are firm, rather than mushy. Store them in the refrigerator after you’ve collected them.
  • Strawberries: Keep the cap and stem attached. Store in the refrigerator for 2-5 days.
  • Raspberries: When ripe, raspberries are easily removed from the plant. Refrigerate immediately and use between three and five days after picking. Harvest every few days. Check soil pH. If your soil is not acidic enough, add Espoma’s Soil Acidifier.
  • Blackberries: Don’t pick blackberries too early! Wait until they dull in color from the black, glossy stage. Pick ripe blackberries every 3-6 days.

For more information on taking care of your organic garden, check out our Berry Growing Guide!

Strawberries are a favorite summer fruit. Yet store-bought berries can’t come near the intense and fresh flavor of those picked right off the vine from your very own garden.

Once you’ve collected your berries, take them to the next level with these easy and delicious recipes!

  1. Slow cooker granola berry crisp: A perfect summertime dessert, made with your choice of berries from the garden. This recipe is light, fresh and healthy—a true seasonal staple!
  2. Summer berry cheesecake salad: With just five ingredients, this recipe combines the sweetness of berries with all the great flavor of cheesecake filling. Makes for a sublime summer fruit salad!
  3. Red berry vanilla almond smoothie bowl: Great for breakfast (or any other time of the day), this treat is fewer than 300 calories and takes five minutes to make. It’s a great way to add an extra summery punch to your regular breakfast routine.
  4. Summer berry kale salad: This summer salad, combines signature vibrant and tropical flavors in one quick, easy dish!
  5. Berry watermelon fruit salad: A classic take on combining peak season fruit. You can make this fruit salad well into September. Bonus tip: add a light sprinkle of lime juice before eating!
  6. Mini summer berry galettes: You’ve already got your berries ready to go! Just fold your fruits into the pie crust and bake. Now you’ve got a healthy, sweet summer treat!

What is your favorite way to prepare fresh berries in the kitchen? Try any of these recipes and want to show us a picture? Share your experience with us on our Facebook page

How to Plant Fruits and Veggies in Containers

Short on space? Grow fruits and vegetables in galvanized buckets! Laura from Garden Answer shows you how to plant the perfect companion plants for containers. Try zucchini, peppers, tomatoes and marigolds or raspberries with strawberries.

How to Fertilize Blueberry Plants

There’s nothing like fresh-picked blueberries to add to a smoothie, salad or dessert. Rich in many health-benefiting nutrients, anti-oxidants, and vitamins, blueberries don’t just taste delicious, they’re also nutritious.

The secret to grow delicious, thriving blueberry plants: feed them, a lot.

Maximize your blueberry bushes’ health, help it resist insects and diseases, and boost your harvest by providing the right kinds of soil amendments.

When to Fertilize Blueberries

Fertilizing is recommended in early spring before the leaves have grown in. This gives the fertilizer time to be absorbed by the roots of the blueberry before it enters its active growth stage during summer.

Feed new plants once in early spring and again in late spring. Healthy, established plants should not need to be fed more often than once a year.

Espoma soil acidifier, Holly-tone, growing blueberries, Brazelberries Peach Sorbet

Photo courtesy of Bushel and Berry™

The Best Fertilizer for Blueberries

Blueberry bushes respond best to acid fertilizers such as those for rhododendrons and azaleas. Holly-tone has long been used by professional gardeners as the best source of food for berries.

From blocking weeds to conserving water, mulching goes hand in hand with fertilizing and is also very important for blueberry bushes. By feeding as it decomposes, mulch helps to maintain soil acidity. The best mulch options are oak leaves, pine straw or pine bark. Gardeners should spread it in a 3-4” thick layer.

Espoma soil acidifier, Holly-tone, growing blueberries

How to Fertilize Blueberries

For established plants, spread one cupful of Holly-tone per foot of branch spread. Double the quantity if branch spread is 3’ or larger.

If the area to be fed is mulched, remove as much mulch as you can, feed, and then restore the mulch on top of the plant food. If you can’t remove the mulch, just double recommended feeding rates.

To lower the pH of soils for optimum growth of acid-loving plants such as blueberries, you can also mix in Soil Acidifier as needed.

Always water well after fertilizing.

To learn more about blueberries and how to plant, care for and grow, visit our Organic Blueberry Growing Guide.

How to Plant Blueberries in Containers

Laura from Garden Answer shows how to plant blueberries in containers and fertilize with Espoma’s Holly-tone. Watch the video below to see just how easy it is!

 

 

Seeing Red: Raspberries in the Garden

Raspberries are a summer staple in every kitchen. Make them a staple in the organic garden, too.

Whether you are growing berries for jam, raspberry cobbler, or just to eat as a quick and healthy snack, these sweet little fruits will never disappoint!

If you want to enjoy these delicious summer berries, now is the time to start planting. Here’s how, and when to plant raspberries.

Espoma soil acidifier, Holly-tone, growing berries

Pick a Berry

Summer-bearing fruits bear one crop per season, typically summer. Ever-bearing fruits bear two crops, one in the summer and one in the fall. Choose your variety based on how many berries you’d like to harvest.

Contrary to popular belief, raspberries aren’t always red! They also come in yellow, purple and black, so grow a variety of berries and add some color to your organic garden this summer. Visit your local garden center and they can help you choose a variety best fit for your region.

Espoma soil acidifier, Holly-tone, growing berries

When and Where?

The best time to plant raspberries is in early or mid-spring. These berries are inclined to grow in cooler climates, but the ground might not be workable until after the last frost.

When choosing a location, plant raspberries in an area with full sun and good air circulation. Avoid areas with heavy winds that may damage plants. Leave about 3 feet of space in between each plant.

Because some varieties of raspberries send long canes upward as they grow, they need support. Plant them next to a fence or create a simple support alongside the row with stakes and wire.

Espoma soil acidifier, Holly-tone, growing berries

Soil Conditions

Raspberries will grow best in slightly acidic, well-drained soil. Be sure to test your soil — an ideal pH level is anywhere between 5.5 and 6.5. If the soil is not acidic enough, add Espoma’s Soil Acidifier.

Add an organic plant food to the soil to encourage healthy growth. Espoma’s Holly-tone is perfect for raspberries as it is a slow-release fertilizer for extended feeding. Keep the soil evenly moist and water as needed.

And that’s it! You’ll have juicy, fresh-picked raspberries in no time.

What is your favorite way to use your homegrown raspberries in the kitchen? To learn more about growing raspberries, visit our berry growing guide!

The Time is Ripe to Plant Blackberries

Blackberry cobbler, fruit salad, pie, and muffins – oh my!

These yummy berries are loaded with antioxidants and Vitamin-C, which help promote healthy skin and improve memory.

So maybe, it’s ok to have that second slice of cobbler after all?

We’re getting ahead of ourselves, though. Let’s get those blackberries planted first.

Espoma soil acidifier, Holly-tone, growing berries

Grow Bliss in the Garden! Plant Blackberries

1. Just in Time! The best time to plant blackberries is early spring. If you’re feeling eager, plant them a month before winter’s last frost if the ground is workable. Planting in late fall works, too – as long as winters temps aren’t especially

2. Here or There? Plant blackberries in full sun. Also, blackberries don’t play well with others. Choose a spot that hasn’t had blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants, or peppers growing there in the last few years. Otherwise, leftover diseases or pests from those plants could spread to your blackberries.

Espoma soil acidifier, Holly-tone, growing berries

3. Testing, Testing. Once, you’ve found the prime spot, test the soil. Blackberries prefer well-draining, acidic soil. Add a handful of compost and Espoma’s Organic Soil Acidifier, if needed.

Growing, Growing, Gone! Plant your blackberry 1” deeper than it was growing in its pot. Plant upright varieties 3’ apart and trailing varieties 5-8’ apart. Then, water.

Ready, Set, Wait! Blackberries don’t produce fruit their first year, but they still need TLC to establish. Give them 1-2” of water a week, and organically feed throughout the season with Holly-tone.

Growing berries – especially blackberries – does take a bit of patience. We promise, though, its fruit is sweet! Check out our berry guide to learn more!

The Best Blueberries to Grow in Containers

Blueberries are nutritional powerhouses packed with high concentrations of antioxidants that help guard against cancer and heart disease. Just one serving of blueberries serves up almost 25 percent of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin C.

Growing blueberries maximizes small spaces and keeps fresh, nutritious fruit nearby. Even if space is limited, you can still grow blueberries at home. Some blueberry shrubs are the perfect fit for containers on the porch, patio or balcony.

Ought to Pot: The Best Blueberries for Container Gardening

Espoma soil acidifier, Holly-tone, growing blueberries

Photo courtesy of Bushel and Berry™

Bushel and Berry™ Pink Icing – With breathtaking spring and fall foliage and large, sweet berries mid-summer, this gem makes small spaces shine. Plus, these bushes are self-pollinating, so only one bush is needed to produce fruit.

Blueberry Type: Dwarf

Light: Full sun

Size: 3’ H x 4’ W

Zone: 5-10

Chill Hours: 500

Ripening Season: Mid-summer

Taste and Size: Large blueberries with sweet, robust flavor

Yield: Moderate yield

Features:

  • Works well in containers or in landscape
  • Likes acidic soil
  • Beautiful year-round foliage

Espoma soil acidifier, Holly-tone, growing blueberries

Patriot Blueberry – The Patriot puts on a show each season – from striking white blooms in spring to warm, vivid foliage in fall. During summer, you’ll be busy munching on up to 20 pounds of blueberries!

Blueberry Type: Northern Highbush

Light: Full sun

Size: 4-8’ H x 3-5’ W

Zone: 3-7

Chill Hours: 800-1,000

Ripening Season: Early: Mid-End of July

Taste and Size: Large blueberries that taste classically sweet

Yield: High yield, 10-20 pounds of blueberries

Features:

  • Native
  • Cold-hearty
  • Works in the landscape or as a hedge
  • Adapts to various soil types, including heavy or wet soil
Espoma soil acidifier, Holly-tone, growing blueberries, Brazelberries Peach Sorbet

Photo courtesy of Bushel and Berry™

Bushel and Berry™ Peach Sorbet – Full of charm, these compact blueberry plants are four-season showstoppers with stunning leaves ranging from peach to pink to orange to emerald green. Spring’s white, bell-shaped flowers will give way to an abundant summer crop of healthy, sweet blueberries mid-summer.

Blueberry Type: Dwarf

Light: Full sun

Size: 1½’ H x 2’ W

Zone: 5-10

Chill Hours: 300

Ripening Season: Mid-summer

Taste and Size: Medium blueberries with a sweet, tropical essence

Yield: High yield

Features:

  • Works well in containers or in landscape
  • Likes acidic soil
  • Plants keep leaves through winter when the foliage transitions to a rich eggplant purple
Espoma soil acidifier, Holly-tone, growing blueberries

Photo courtesy of Doreen Wynja for Monrovia

Sunshine Blue Blueberry – These berries are even more nutritious than other blueberries because they’re high in Vitamin P. Another fun attribute of the Sunshine Blue is their hot-pink flowers in spring and blazing red leaves in fall!

Blueberry Type: Southern Highbush

Light: Full sun

Size: 3-4’ H x 3-4’ W

Zone: 5-10

Chill Hours: 150

Ripening Season: Mid-season: End of May-End of June

Taste and Size: Medium blueberries that taste opulent and sweet

Yield: Moderate yield, 5-10 pounds of blueberries

Features:

  • Tolerant of higher soil pH
  • Love the California sunshine and heat
  • Semi-evergreen

Northsky Blueberry – Meet the most cold-hardy blueberry out there. The Northsky can withstand temperatures of -45° and can even bear snow on its branches. In spring, the Northsky produces lots of sweet, white blooms that look absolutely darling.

Blueberry Type: Half-high

Light: Full sun

Size: 2-4 H x 2-3 W

Zone: 3-7

Chill Hours: 800+

Ripening Season: Mid-season: Mid-End of July

Taste and Size: Small, firm blueberries that taste fresh, wild and free

Yield: Small yield, up to 2 pounds of blueberries

Features:

  • Extremely cold-hardy
  • Works in the landscape or as a hedge
  • Elegant burgundy fall foliage
Brazelberries jelly bean, Espoma soil acidifier, Holly-tone, growing blueberries

Photo courtesy of Bushel and Berry™

Bushel and Berry™ Jelly Bean – This blueberry is prolific – producing a bumper crop of large, flavorful blueberries mid-summer with a super sweet flavor like homemade blueberry jelly. Brilliant green new foliage emerges in spring which gives way to darker greens with red hues throughout the summer and fall.

Blueberry Type: Dwarf

Light: Full sun

Size: 1’ H x 2’ W

Zone: 4-8

Chill Hours: 1,000+

Ripening Season: Mid-summer

Taste and Size: Medium to large blueberries with homemade jelly flavor

Yield: High yield, bumper crop

Features:

  • Works well in containers or in landscape
  • Likes acidic soil
  • Beautiful year-round foliage
  • Prune annually during winter dormancy

Looking for more options? To learn more about blueberries, the best tasting berries, how to plant, care for and grow, visit our Organic Blueberry Growing Guide.