The cranberry is the fruit of fall and winter! Enjoy these fun facts and tips about this delicious red fruit from the November edition of The Almanac Monthly Digital Magazine!
Tis' the Cranberry Season
The cranberry, a North American native, is a low-growing evergreen, hardy to Zone 2, that sends out runners much like strawberries do. Each runner may grow up to 3 feet long and send up numerous uprights that bear thumbnail-size fruit. The plants thrive in the moist soil along the edges of bogs and wetlands. The ability of cranberry plants to survive under water for long periods of time has helped growers to protect the blossoms and berries from spring and fall frosts. Cranberry bogs are constructed so that they can be quickly flooded when freezing weather is predicted. Water is often left in bogs throughout the winter to protect the plants from severe cold.
You don’t need a bog to grow cranberries; in fact, they are a great addition to the home garden. A 10x5-foot plot will yield up to 10 pounds of delicious berries just in time for holiday sauce and desserts.
For best results, cranberries should be grown in full sun in a 50-50 mix of garden soil and peat moss. If your soil is sandy, remove the top 8 inches and line the bottom of the bed with a sheet of 6-mil plastic. Poke plenty of drainage holes in the plastic and then fill the bed with the soil mix. Scratch in ½ pound of 10-20-10 fertilizer, and you are ready to plant.
Cranberries are best planted in late April through the end of May. Six 3-year-old plants spaced evenly throughout the bed will grow together to form a thick mat and should produce during the first season. A light mulch of sawdust or sand will help to root the runners. Water the new planting every day for 2 weeks and then as you would the rest of your garden. Flower buds open from late May to June and produce ripe fruit in late September to early October. Fun to grow and easy to care for, cranberries are one crop that shouldn’t bog down any gardener.
How can you use cranberries this season?
• DIY: Cranberry Wreath —Decorate your front door with a colorful cranberry wreath! It’s fun, festive, and—most important—pretty easy to assemble.
• Cranberry Pear Relish —Enjoy this accompaniment in addition to—or instead of—cranberry sauce!
For more fun facts about cranberries this fall season, check out our November edition of the Almanac Monthly Digital Magazine!