“Berryland” is a pet project of mine: it has been two years in the making. I’ve been collecting, swapping, “borrowing,” and painstakingly cloning germplasm from my favourite small edibles, in order to build an enclosed human, bird, and squirrel paradise in the far corner of the garden. It’s my own Secret Garden.
The many edible and useful species that have come together in this small corner encompass a multi-layer forest ecosystem. In order to keep the garden from being shaded out or taken over by the larger or spreading trees and shrubs, this area is pruning/pollarding/coppicing-intensive, so the larger plants not only produce an edible product (be it berries, fruit, or nectar), but double as a source of firewood and mulch. Since it is my in-law’s place, this work will have to be accomplished every time I visit.
It’s unfortunately not the best time of year to be photographing it, but I am looking forward to visiting the garden when it is in it’s full glory next summer. Now that almost everything is planted, it’s just a matter of waiting and maintaining.
Blackberries become invasive quite quickly when they are allowed to grow along the soil level: they root wherever branches make contact with the earth, and create a strong network of roots, which are difficult to eradicate once established.
I built a small trellis for my plants to grow on, using parts from a crib someone was throwing away. I’ll prune them regularly to keep them close to the structure.
The stems and roots of blackberry plants have been used for rope-making. Infusions made with blackberry leaves have been used to treat various ailments, from bleeding gums, to scurvy, to diarrhea. [x]
It’s a great plant for a permacultural garden, because it has numerous functions beyond just producing fruit.
The smaller trees are barely visible, but the planting under the sheet mulch is crescent-shaped, and comprised of Asian Pears (Pyrus pyrifolia) [x2], Mirabelle Plums (Prunus domestica subsp. syriaca) [x2], Linden (Tillia sp.), and a Tulip Tree (Liriodendron tulipifera). I’ll be throwing some nurse trees in between as soon as it is warm enough to transplant my seedlings. There is a row of raspberry cuttings between the sheet mulch and the hügelkultur mound (which separates the readily-spreading brambles from my row ofRibes–currant and gooseberry–shrubs). The mound itself will be planted with a flower mix as soon as I have it fully covered.
I potted up about 50% of the extra strawberry runners from last year, and those I couldn’t use for projects, or ground-cover I tried to give away. They sat outdoors with no care all winter. Even after all that, I still have 6 flats and a number of assorted pots full of extremely well-rooted plants.
I planted 5 more of my Paw Paw seeds out in Berryland, in-between some of my various Ribes shrubs for shelter. The row of Raspberry cuttings will be about 1.5 metres tall come summertime, the row of Elderberries will start filling out, and the Linden will as well, so hopefully they work together to block out enough UV light to allow the photosensitive Paw Paw seedlings to get established.
It’s a bit complex figuring out where to plant Paw Paw trees: while the seedlings can’t tolerate very much sun, the mature plants produce a better fruit set in full sun. I think planting between shrubs allows for the best of both worlds: the young seedlings are sheltered, but once they surpass the height of the shrubs, they will have full sun exposure.
Once all the seeds have germinated, and the cuttings have gotten established, I am looking forward to putting a sheet mulch over this entire area and carpeting it with strawberries. It’s a very dense planting of sweet edibles, and it’s fast becoming my favourite part of the garden.
For those of you planting Paw Paw seeds, remember to fill in the survey as you go!