Berries and soft fruits are easy to grow for beginners and produce heavy harvests. Here’s the pick of the crop for beginners to grow.
Strawberries will produce fruits the first summer after planting, and with varieties available that fruit at different times you could be harvesting from spring all the way through to fall. You can even extend the picking season by planting a late-season variety under a row cover.
Protect fruits from rotting by laying straw around strawberry plants when they start to flower. Trim back the leaves once the plants have finished fruiting.
See more information about growing strawberries.
Fall-bearing raspberries are the easiest type of raspberry to grow. They need minimal support to keep them tidy, and pruning is simple - just cut out all of the old canes after fruiting but before new growth begins in spring.
Fall-bearing raspberries will produce fruits from late summer until the first frosts.
See our Raspberry Growing Guide for planting and growing advice.
Blackberries and Hybrid Berries
Most modern varieties of blackberry are thornless, disease-resistant, and with large, sweet berries. Tie new growth to supports periodically, and cut out old canes to encourage new growth.
Blackberries are often crossed with other related soft fruits to create interesting hybrid berries such as loganberry and boysenberry.
See our Blackberry Growing Guide.
In the past, the cultivation of both currants and gooseberries has been restricted in many areas of the USA as they can host white pine blister rust. This can then be transmitted to white pines, which are important for the lumber industry. Many modern varieties are resistant to the disease, so restrictions no longer exist in most states, but check the situation in your region before planting.
Red, Black and White Currants
All currants are heavy yielding, and produce large crops of currants to eat fresh or turn into jams and sauces.
Red and white currants do better in cooler climates and can be grown in partial shade. Whitecurrants tend to be sweeter than reds. Blackcurrants require very little care, but to encourage lots of new, healthy growth and plenty of fruits, prune out some of the older and crossing branches in winter.
Gooseberries will thrive in most garden soils. They prefer cooler climates and some shelter from the wind. Gooseberries need little care, but feeding, pruning and mulching will encourage bumper harvests.
You have a choice of culinary varieties, used for making jams, pies and jellies, or dessert varieties which can also be enjoyed fresh.
Caring for Soft Fruits
Container-grown soft fruits can be transplanted at any time of year, but fruits purchased bare-rooted need to be planted from late fall onwards. Delay until early spring in colder climates.
See more about growing fruits in pots.
Caring for soft fruits is easy. Water them thoroughly at least once a week in dry weather, particularly in the first year after planting, and mulch in spring with compost or other organic matter to help feed your plants and improve the soil. Lay it at least a couple of inches thick and avoid piling mulch up against the canes or trunks of your plants.
To prevent birds stealing your fruit you will probably need to cover them with netting, or for a more permanent solution, build a walk-in fruit cage. See tips for keeping birds out of the garden.
Interested in growing food? Check out our amazing Almanac Garden Planner and start your own garden for free!