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Backyard Berries ~ So Berry Delicious!

Homegrown berries can be yours for the tasting, and growing them is easier than you think. When it comes to growing berries, strawberries are most likely the first fruit that comes to mind. While these scrumptious fruits are a popular addition to any edible landscape, there are other berry-producing plants that not only yield an abundance of fruit, but are visually pleasing in the landscape and work well in containers.

Berry selections available today offer gardeners a multitude of colors and flavors. Most need full sun and, with the exception of blueberries, need neutral soil. Nearly all small fruit plants and vines will grow successfully with moderate care - an application of fertilizer or compost, mulch for weed control, and regular pruning to aid in disease prevention and encourage large fruit.

With proper care, these sweet treasures will reward you for years to come. Shoot for a mix of different types and varieties that ripen at different times to extend the harvest season. Be sure to visit us during Berry Daze, May 24 – 26, at all McDonald Garden Center locations and enjoy juicy savings on all backyard berries!

Raspberries - plant late fall or early spring. Raspberries like full sun, however, they will tolerate some shade. Plant in acidic, composted soil and keep soil moist especially during the fruiting season. Raspberries spread through shallow runners so be sure to provide them with plenty of room to grow. Growth can be controlled by planting in raised beds, containers or by routinely digging them out. Prune plants after fruiting, cutting canes that produced fruit to the ground. Fertilize using a high quality fruit fertilizer.

Strawberries - plant in early in spring. Plant roots shallowly in soil rich in organic matter. Water deeply but allow plants to dry slightly between watering. Mulch lightly during spring, summer and fall to help keep soil cool and to help control weeds. Mulch heavily during the cooler months to avoid damage to crowns. Fertilize with a high quality fruit fertilizer, but avoid fertilizing late in the season as this can encourage new growth that can be damaged by early frosts.

Blueberries - plant in late winter or spring. Blueberries like an acidic, richly composted soil and prefer a full sun to part shade location. Blueberries have shallow root systems so fluctuations in water should be avoided. A 3 to 4-inch layer of mulch will help keep soil moist. Water regularly to maintain plant health and avoid leaf and flower drop. Prune lightly during the first 2-3 years to maintain shape. Mature blueberries should have older canes removed to encourage new growth. Fertilize using a high quality fruit fertilizer.

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A juicy garden favorite

Who doesn’t love strawberries? Those juicy red berries are a sure sign that warm has arrived! One of our favorite berries, are Chandler Strawberries. And, did you know that Chandler is the leading strawberry variety sold in supermarkets. They produce fruit that is conically-shaped ranging in size. When ready to be picked, the berries are red, firm, juicy, sweet and tangy. The number of berries per plant will depend on the size of the plant and overall condition of the roots and stems. Chandler strawberry plants drop their fruits in late May or early June.

Chandler strawberry plants thrive in the southern states during the spring. They require full sunlight, sufficient water and well-drained soil; too much water can cause the roots to rot. We recommend planting in single rows about 8 to 14 inches apart or in double rows that are 1 to 2 feet apart. Healthy, mature plants have shallow roots and stems that grow to about 8 inches tall. Strawberry plants can also grow from seed or clippings; plant them in small containers with fresh soil. Available in strawberry baskets for $19.99, or individually at $2.99.

Be sure to join us this Saturday, March 30 at 11:00am to create your very own strawberry jar using Chandler strawberries. Get the juicy details >>

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No Orchard Needed!

URBAN™ APPLE COLUMNAR APPLE TREES

There are apple trees that flourish in orchards with foxglove and clover at their feet, and then there are apples who stand all alone, trained on wire or string on the side of a house. Apple blossoms and juicy fruit can now captivate homeowners, apartment dwellers, condo owners, suburbanites and those short on space!

New to the gardening scene are Urban™ Columnar Apple Trees that grow in a very narrow upright form with short branches. Not only are these little trees easy on the eyes, but you'll love their delicious fruit too! Urban apple trees mature to 8 to 10 feet tall, but less than two feet in diameter and are extremely healthy and disease resistant. When grown in full sun expect full-sized fruit the first year of planting, as long as there are two or more varieties for cross pollination. As trees mature, the yield of apples will increase. Now you can harvest juicy apples within easy reach of the patio or kitchen table!

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