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One of the easiest and most foolproof edibles to grow in Grande Prairie are berries. They come in a wonderful array of shapes, sizes, flavours and uses. No other edible landscape feature will give you as much variety to choose from while also being fully hardy to this area. Check out some of the berries and grapes featured across the city for you to enjoy!
History: Many currants and gooseberries are native to Canada and grow well in our climate. Red currants were planted by pioneers who settled the prairies; black currants are milder in taste and somewhat newer to this area.
Growing Tips: Black currants bear most of their fruit on the previous season's growth
(one-year-old wood). Maintain approximately eight fruiting canes. Some
pruning may be necessary the first spring following planting, to shape
the bush and limit the number of main branches to six or eight.
Each succeeding spring, leave three or four 2-year canes and six
1-year-old canes. If the plant is more vigorous, a higher number of
shoots can be left unpruned. The tips of black currant branches should
not be cut back as this will reduce fruit production. Choose cultivars that have mildew resistance.
Landscape Features: black currants rarely grow more than 1m tall, making them a good understory plant in a shrub bed, so long as they still get adequate sunlight to facilitate fruiting.
Culinary Uses: Jam, jelly, juice, wine, fresh eating, extremely high in vitamin C
History: Non-edible varieties of blue honeysuckle (also called sweetberry honeysuckle) have been grown across the Prairies as attractive landscape plants for decades. It is only within the last ten years, however, that considerable attention has been given to breeding edible varieties for home fruit growers and commercial production. Hailed as an excellent source of antioxidants, Haskap is gaining popularity in leaps and bounds across both North America and Europe.
Appearance and Hardiness: A deciduous shrub growing 1.5-2 meters tall. Flowers are yellow-white and fruit is blue and approx. 1 cm long. Fully hardy to -45°C and can set fruit even after severe frosts down to -11°C.
Landscape Features: One of the first plants to leaf out and flower in the spring. Fruit is ready to pick and eat by June! Requires a pollinator variety planted nearby in order to set fruit properly. Breeders recommend one pollinator variety for every five fruit-bearing plants.
Culinary Uses: Jams and jellies, fresh eating, wine, food dye
More information: See the University of Saskatchewan's Haskap information page and at Haskap Canada.
History: this little known bush fruit is a cross between black currant and gooseberry. It is thornless and produces large clusters of black berries. It also comes with built in resistance to most berry diseases.
Growing Tips: plant in well-drained, slightly acidic soil high in organic matter. Plant in full sun for maximum fruiting. Remove old canes as they stop bearing to encourage high fruit yield.
Landscape Features: Fast growing, long lived (up to 15 years per cane) and grows to 6 feet tall.
Culinary Uses: Jam, jelly, fresh eating, juice and wine
History: Finally, an edible landscape plant native to this area! Saskatoons are a familiar sight in parkland and roadside ditches around Grande Prairie, with their white blooms in May and tasty, purple fruit in June.
Growing Tips: You would think a native plant could grow anywhere with minimal care, but providing your saskatoons with the conditions they need will vastly increase your yields. Place them in a spot with good drainage where water does not pool and good air circulation to help prevent disease and fruit loss from frost. Plant seedlings 1m apart. Highest fruiting occurs on wood 1-4 years old. Remove diseased, damaged and deadwood annually, as well as branches larger than the diameter of a toonie. This will maximize fruiting and keep the bushes at a manageable height.
Landscape Features: Shrubs can grow up to 12 feet tall, with round leaves that show beautiful orange/red colour in fall. Any fruit left unharvested will attract birds.
Culinary Uses: Fresh eating, juice, jam, jelly, pie/desserts, wine
History: Despite it's name, this plant is not a true cranberry, but actually related to nannyberry and wayfaring tree. There are two species that bear this common name: Viburnum trilobum is native to North America and Viburnum opulus has been introduced from Europe. This bush is used more as an ornamental landscape plant than in edible landscapes.
Growing Tips: This shrub is surprisingly easy to grow, not being particular about soil type or pH. Like most fruiting bushes, it does best in full sun, on well-drained soil rich in organic matter. It is considered self-pollinating, but tends to set heavier yields with a different variety of the same species growing nearby.
Landscape Features: A large shrub that reaches 12-15 ft. high, the most attractive landscape feature of this plant is its stunning red fall color. Its bright, ruby red fruits provide valuable winter forage for wildlife, including cedar waxwings.
Culinary Uses: The berries can be cooked into a tangy sauce similar to cranberry sauce, excellent for pairing with poultry and meat.
History: Native to Europe, this berry has been used for centuries in traditional medicine. Some of its anecdotal effects include lowering fever, reducing inflammation, and treating coughs/colds.
Growing Tips: This is a bush suited to harsh environments. It grows in drought, saline soils, along highways, and in urban pollution. It is a dioecious species, meaning plants are either male or female. Only female bushes will bear fruit, but males are required nearby for pollination. Use one male plant for every seven females to maximize pollination. Plant in full sun on sandy loam soil and keep watered for best fruit set.
Landscape Features: This shrub can grow to 6m in height and suckers freely. It has attractive silvery foliage that provides an excellent backdrop for the intensely orange berries. Watch out for thorns, though!
Culinary Uses: The fruit is extremely high in vitamin C and is often used in pharmaceutical applications.
History: This cultivar originated in South Dakota and is hardy to -40°C. It is the standard grapevine seen in the Grande Prairie area.
Appearance and Hardiness: Vigorous vines with large green leaves bear medium-size cluster of small blue grapes.
Landscape Features: Grow over a fence or arbour for support. Vigorous vines will provide a visual screen.
Culinary Uses: Jelly, juice, wine and fresh eating
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