Nursery Notes: Spring is the time to think about small fruit and berries

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Spring is here, with longer days and, here’s hoping, a little more sunshine. We are busy getting everything organized as best possible. Keeping the crops happy in the greenhouses is always a little easier when the sun shines. By the time you are reading this, we should be open for the season.

Fresh into the nursery this spring and in the small fruit department are gogi berries! They look to grow as large vining shrubs. Their berries are said to have the highest levels of antioxidants as well as plenty of vitamins and minerals. They are drought tolerant once established and cold hardy to the prairies.

We also carry Borealis and Polar Jewel haskap berries. These are actually kinds of honeysuckles. They are said to fruit early as with strawberries. Their fruits have a taste reminiscent of Wild Blueberries. They will grow to six feet and are hardy to the Arctic Circle.

We actually have quite a large assortment of small fruits for 2013. How about some sea buckthorn? These large shrubs have little yellow flowers and gray green foliage. Their fruits are orange berries that ripen in the summertime. They are very healthful and taste like miniature oranges. A couple of these bushes are fun but you wouldn’t want to pick an orchard of them — as indicated in their name, they do have some thorns!

For more traditional small fruits in the easy-to-pick department, there area Thiessen saskatoons — purplish-blue fruit used for eating fresh, in pies or jams. These shrubs have great fall colour, too.

Red Lake currants have small red jewel-like fruit borne in clusters, and are easy to pick as you grab the whole bunch at once. They make a great addition to any fruit jam and really nice jelly. Crandall black currants are large with a sweet, tart flavor. They can be eaten fresh or used in jams, jelly, syrup and juices. They are reported to have five times more vitamin C than oranges. In addition to all that, the flowers have a delightful clove fragrance.

The nursery’s small fruit section is by no means limited to just these new items. We carry all kinds of strawberries, raspberries and two kinds of rhubarb. Gooseberries like Poor Man Pink and Welcome Green can be found there, too.

Drive in sometime to see what’s new. Perhaps you’ll find something new to try in your garden.

Evan Davies owns Beltane Nursery at 2915 Highway 3 in Erickson.