The hustle and bustle of getting the vegetable garden planted is one of spring’s very exciting tasks, but don’t forget that there are many delicious Minnesota hardy fruits to plant too! The best part of growing your own fruit, other than the delicious flavor, is that you only have to plant them once to enjoy bigger harvests every year. Here are some of our favorite small fruits to grow in Minnesota:
These delicious flavor bombs are a true garden essential. Freshly picked strawberries have a flavor that is incomparable, and they make store bought strawberries seem dull and flavorless. June bearing varieties will give you a nice big harvest earlier in the season and everbearing varieties often yield one main crop and then fruit intermittently throughout the summer. You could try a few varieties to keep it interesting!
Good sun and rich soil kept evenly moist and mulched will keep your strawberry patch going strong. Many gardeners cover plants with straw over the winter to insulate them and protect the crowns. It can also be beneficial to use straw or landscape fabric under the plants during the growing season to keep the fruit up off the ground.
Another garden favorite, raspberries are an easy to grow Minnesota hardy fruit. Just a few raspberry plants can yield an incredible harvest with minimal work, and there are many delicious varieties to choose from. Gold varieties like Anne and Fallgold and reds like Polana, Caroline, and Heritage are fantastic treats.
Maintaining raspberries is fairly simple but can require a firm hand. Site raspberries in an area where they have room to spread and can be mowed or cut easily if they start to go where unwelcome. A raspberry island is easy to mow around! Types that bear on first year canes in the fall (primocane) may be cut to the ground in spring. Summer bearing types (floricane) should be selectively pruned to remove old canes after they have fruited.
Tart, sweet, delicious blueberries belong in your fruit garden, too. Blueberries like friends, so plant a couple different varieties to ensure the best fruit set and enjoy some different flavors. The plants themselves are attractive and have beautiful red fall foliage, so multiple plants could be used as a low hedge or landscape feature.
Site preparation is key to get the most out of blueberries. They thrive in acidic soil and require regular moisture. Amend the soil with peat moss for acidity and organic matter for richness before planting. Keep an eye on soil pH and if plants display yellow foliage or lack of vigor, amend with a soil acidifier if a soil test reveals high pH. Regular watering will yield best results in general, and mulch will help retain moisture and protect foliage and fruit from fungal issues.