I live in northeastern North Dakota, and am interested in starting several honey berries this coming season, as blue berries are not a option in our more alkaline soil. How do they compare? (To blueberries.) Also, do you have any advice on the fungal black knot that is plaguing choke cherries and Canadian cherry trees in my area?
Grafton, North Dakota
Honeyberries compare quite well with blueberries and produce well in more alkaline soil where blueberries prefer acidic ground. The appearance and taste is similar. We’ve started two here and they’re growing well despite our acidic soil, so they are quite flexible. They do grow quicker and you’ll get a crop faster than with blueberries, which take up to four years to produce a decent crop.
Black Knot fungus is a nasty-looking fungus causing black knots to form all over affected trees. To stop it, you need to prune off all affected branches of not only your own trees but any wild neighboring trees that carry the fungus as it is spread by the wind during the spring. Prune while it is still cold so spores do not shoot off into the wind and prune well below the knots. Collect the prunings and burn them away from the orchard. If you just leave them on the ground, they will probably still shoot off spores, come spring. Scout your trees and any nearby trees every year in the late winter to prune any new black knots. Sometimes spraying several times with a fungicide such as Bonide is advisable, after the trees have been pruned. Follow the directions on the container.
Black Knot affects cherries, chokecherries, and both wild and domestic plum trees. — Jackie
This is probably a stupid question. How do you start? I read your articles and I see you in your garden and I feel so over whelmed.
There are no stupid questions! You start gardening like you started walking — taking small steps until you are up and running. Anyone would feel overwhelmed to think they’d have to have a garden like ours right at first! Heck, it’s taken us nearly ten years to get where we are now. (Read my book, Starting Over, to see just how it went.) Start with a small garden or some container plants then work your way up to a larger garden each year, if you want to. I think once you find your pace and discover how much fun gardening is and how tasty your own home grown food is, you’ll be off and running! Never lose the fun of it all. — Jackie