Berries are nature’s original superfoods, loaded with vitamins and low in carbs. They’re low-fuss to grow too, so you should definitely include them in your garden plan!
If you want to get more berries into your diet without forking out a pretty penny at the supermarket, now’s your chance to grow them for free. Read on or watch our video to discover how!
Grow Raspberries From Suckers
Raspberries are one of the very easiest berries to make new plants from, because they virtually propagate themselves. Most types of raspberry spread by sending out new shoots (called suckers) from their root system so that the clump gradually expands outwards. Some of these shoots will pop up away from the main clump, and we can take advantage of this by simply digging them up to replant elsewhere.
Autumn or early spring, before plants have started into new growth, is the best time to transplant suckers. Only remove suckers from healthy plants to avoid spreading disease.
Look for suckers at least a foot (30cm) away from the plant to avoid damaging the mother plant when you dig it up. It will be connected to the mother plant by a root - just cut it free and replant it into a waiting planting hole, taking care to set the cane at the same depth it was at before lifting it up. Then cut the cane down to a height of around 10in (25cm), making the cut just above a bud. Don’t forget to keep your new plants watered as they establish.
How To Take Blueberry Cuttings
Winter’s the perfect time of year to take hardwood cuttings of many fruit garden staples, and blueberries are a firm favourite for health-conscious fruit lovers.
Wait until your blueberries are dormant in winter before taking cuttings. Begin by cutting away healthy young shoots, the straighter and stronger the better. Look for growth that is pale green or red – you don’t want any of the older growth towards the bottom of the plant. Cut them down into six inch (15cm) lengths. To minimise any risk of spreading disease, use a sharp pair of pruners or secateurs that have been sterilised using a solution of one part household bleach to five parts water.
Cut just below a leaf node, and trim the top end with a slanted cut just above a node. This can help you identify which end is up in case you forget.
Once you have your cuttings simply pop them into pots filled with a low-nutrient, free draining medium. I like to use a 50:50 mix of perlite and coconut coir fibre, but you could use a potting mix made from equal parts coarse sand, pine bark and coir.
Before popping the cuttings into your pots, it’s a good idea to dip them into hormone rooting powder or gel to encourage more roots more quickly – it’s not essential, but will give your cuttings an even greater chance of success.
Insert them into the potting mix to about half their height. Keep your cuttings in a sheltered place such as in a cold frame, and protect them from harsh sunshine next summer. Don’t allow the growing medium to dry out. Your cuttings should be ready to carefully separate and pot into their own containers by next winter.
Hardwood Cuttings of Currants and Gooseberries
Autumn through to the end of winter is the best time to take hardwood cuttings of currants and gooseberries, as well as many fruit trees like fig and mulberry, and even grapevines. This is a quiet time of year in the garden, so if you’re itching to get on and grow something, this should keep you busy. Summer fruits start in winter!
Hardwood cuttings can be taken the same time as pruning established bushes – just use the offcuts as material for your cuttings. I love it when nothing goes to waste like this! Ideally, you’ll want to take hardwood cuttings of fruit just after the leaves have been shed in autumn or just before they burst into leaf again towards the end of the colder months.
Select material from this year’s growth, which will have paler coloured stems. Look for stems that are about pencil thickness. Cuttings should ideally be about a foot (30cm) long, so begin by cutting them to the right length. Make a cut at the bottom of your cutting just below a bud, then trim the top of the cutting. Make this cut just above a bud, at a slant that faces away from the bud. Making a slanted cut like this makes it easy to get your cuttings the right way up with you come to plant them, and it also sheds water away from the bud, reducing any risk of water lingering and causing rot. Use clean, sterilised, sharp pruners for the job to give a good, neat cut.
Growing Fruit From Cuttings
To plant your cuttings you have two options: in the ground or in pots. For the in-ground method you’ll need a sheltered spot and – very importantly – well-drained soil. Give the soil a further boost by digging some garden compost into the area first.
Simply push in your cuttings into the soil so that two-thirds of the cutting sits below ground, leaving a few buds above ground to sprout and grow on in spring. Space your cuttings about 6in (15cm) apart to give them plenty of room to grow. Leave them where they are until next autumn, when they can be dug up and transplanted to their final positions.
If you only have a few cuttings or don’t have lots of garden space to spare, root them in deep containers of potting mix. You can use any all-purpose potting mixed with some coarse grit, sand or perlite to improve drainage. You can plant several cuttings per pot.
You may wish to dip the ends of your cuttings into a hormone rooting powder or gel to encourage root formation, but I’ve never found this necessary for currants.
Keep your pots somewhere sheltered – against the wall of a house or, ideally, in a greenhouse or cold frame to keep the worst of the cold off them. This will also help to protect them from nuisances such as deer and rabbits.
Keep an eye on cuttings and water them as necessary to ensure the potting mix or soil remains moist. This will become more important in spring, as temperatures begin to rise again. You may see new growth by the end of spring, but leave them in their pot or in the ground where they are for at least a year before either carefully separating them out or digging them up to transplant into their final growing positions. If they produce any flower buds before this point, pick them off to concentrate the young plants’ energy on root formation.
Don’t forget that excess berries are easily frozen, so there’s very little risk of going over the top when including these powerfully-good-for-you fruits in your garden. Will you be using any of these methods to grow more berries? Join in the conversation below.