In January 2001, blackberries, boysenberries, blueberries, raspberries, and other berries were planted by Master Gardeners. Drip irrigation was then installed and an 8 inch layer of mulch was applied.
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Most of the blueberries grown here are the Southern Highbush type because they have been hybridized to be more heat tolerant and to require less winter chilling. Northern Highbush blueberries are the most widely planted blueberry in the northern U.S., but generally require 800 chilling hours for proper dormancy. There are two Northern Highbush blueberry varieties at the far end of the berry patch that are doing well in our mild winters and hot summers.
Although most Highbush varieties are self-pollinating, berries will be larger if two or more varieties are planted together.
Blueberries grow best in well-drained soil that is very acidic (4.5 to 5.5 pH). Here, soil sulfur was incorporated before planting to acidify the soil, and we added additional soil sulfur 5 years later after the soil pH rose to 5.5.
RaspberriesRaspberries can be challenging in the home landscape. They have invasive roots and will spread unless contained by borders. Persistent gardeners can be successful containing the plants by removing unwanted shoots in the spring. Use a hoe to cut canes that grow outside the vine row.
At the Fair Oaks Horticulture Center, we recently planted raspberries in a new area. We put a 15 inch barrier (a 30 inch barrier designed to keep bamboo from spreading that we cut in half) in the ground around each planter—hoping to keep the root shoots from spreading.
Bamboo root barrier cut in half, at left. At right, connecting the ends of the barrier.
At left, four new raspberry beds with bamboo barrier, each approximately 2 feet by 3 feet.
Wooden forms in top two beds were used to keep the barrier from collapsing while putting in the soil.
Bottom two beds have the wooden forms removed and the soil is ready for planting.
Above, planting bareroot raspberry. Wooden frames were built around each box to keep the bamboo barrier from being walked on and breaking down.
Raspberries prefer afternoon shade in the Sacramento area. Summer shade was created by hanging shade cloth over the trellis, and remove it in the fall. The raspberry plants grow well under the shade and do not get sunburned except for leaves on canes that grow beyond the shelter. There is good fruit set even with the shade cloth.
Check out the Workshop Schedule to attend workshops on growing and maintaining berries.
Growing Blueberries in the Sacramento Region (PDF, 135kb)
Growing Cane Berries in the Sacramento Region (PDF, 100kb)