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kfander 08-06-2012 08:53 PM

Lingonberries
 
I have mentioned lingonberries in a couple of other threads, but I haven't given them one of their own, and I wanted to do some follow up discussion on them.

Also called cowberries, foxberries, mountain cranberries and perhaps some other things, lingonberries are a Swedish tradition. They can be used in much the same ways as cranberries, which they closely resemble, except that they taste better eaten directly off the bush than cranberries do.

Some advantages to lingonberries are that they grow well in places that other things won't grow, including low temperature zones and poor soil. They thrive on neglect, and they self-propagate readily.

Next year, I plan to plant a large number of lingonberries on our property in St. Agatha, Maine, but I currently have lingonberries growing along the side of my driveway in Millinocket. I planted them in a small rocky, sloping area between the driveway and the neighbor's fence. First, I placed a row of rocks along the side of the driveway to keep the soil from washing away. I used a 50% mixture of regular topsoil and peat moss to give me a few inches of soil. Lingonberry roots spread horizontally, so deep topsoil isn't necessary, although I'm sure it wouldn't hurt.

In the spring of 2010, I transplanted twelve lingonberry plants, of five different varieties, along this area, spacing them in two rows about two feet apart, spreading some wood chips over the remaining soil.

My cat dug two of them up. Replanting them, one of them is still hanging in there, although not looking so good, while the other didn't make it. I added a bird mesh over the top of the soil, which discouraged further forays into my garden by my cat.

After buying our property up north, our house has been left empty through the spring, summer and fall. I visit the place every month or so, doing some weeding between the plants (dandelions and clover, mostly), but otherwise I don't do much of anything with them, and they are thriving on the neglect. Lingonberries don't compete well with voracious weeds, such as dandelions, so some weeding is necessary, but that's about it. I was there today, and I watered them because we haven't had rain here for quite awhile, but the lingonberries are doing great. I can't even count the number of lingonberry plants that I have there now because they've spread throughout the planting area.

I ate a bunch of lingonberries this afternoon, and they were good. My lingonberry patch in Millinocket was an experiment, so that I could see how well they do, and they do quite well. It's not a large enough patch to make jam out of, but it's plenty large enough to pick and eat my fill of lingonberries a few times a summer. With a few varieties, I have ripe berries throughout the summer and into the early fall.

Since I am concentrating on my property in northern Maine now, particularly on edible perennials, I plan to add a sizable patch of lingonberries next spring.

bookwormom 08-06-2012 10:06 PM

thanks for posting Kfander. I did not know what you meant, so I googled lingonberries.
[url]https://www.google.com/search?q=lingonberries&hl=en&client=browser-ubuntu&hs=pmD&sa=G&channel=fe&prmd=imvnse&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&ei=iFogUKiVKYigqQHnqoD4CQ&ved=0CH0QsAQ&biw=1024&bih=572[/url]
oh wow, trip down memory lane. I picked them with my grandmother as a child. Loved them. the second picture says lingon berry, please look at it. To me it looks like Mountain ash. Do they grow where you live and do you eat them?

wildturnip 08-07-2012 12:02 AM

I planted 3 each of 4 different varieties this spring: Regal, Red something, Sousi and Ernestegen. One of the ernestegens died right away but the others look good.

I read that they taste like cranberries except richer. Can you describe the taste?

kfander 08-07-2012 01:22 AM

[QUOTE=bookwormom;320063]To me it looks like Mountain ash. Do they grow where you live and do you eat them?[/QUOTE]

I'm not familiar with them, but they are hardy to Zone 3. The berries look similar, only the lingonberries are redder, I think.

[QUOTE=wildturnip;320082]I read that they taste like cranberries except richer. Can you describe the taste?[/QUOTE]

The taste is unique, and also unique to the variety. I planted five varieties but didn't pay attention to which was which. The taste is similar to a cranberry, which would make sense, since they are related, but a bit sweeter when eating them raw and fresh than I can remember the couple of times that I've eaten cranberries off the bush. Cranberries are too tart for most people, unsweetened, and the same may be true of lingonberries, although they are somewhat sweeter than cranberries.

Tim Horton 08-07-2012 12:31 PM

According to what little I can find to read.......... I have the perfect place environment for lingonberries. They also seem hardy enough to resist my considerable brown thumb..........

However.......... I have been having major trouble finding places to buy plants.........

Anyone suggest places to get plants......... ?

Thanks

bookwormom 08-07-2012 01:39 PM

looks are deceiving kfander. Mountain ash berries come in big clusters, the berries look like miniature oranges. maybe a little redder. there are varieties that do not have so much bitter in it. And of course they grow on a tree. they also are used like cranberries. We did not eat them because mother did not like them. But I used them every fall for decoration, because they are so beautiful.
to me, lingon berries taste a lot like cranberries. I could tell them apart though. When I first had cranberries, I thought, typical American, everything has to be bigger in this country. even the lingon berries.

kfander 08-07-2012 02:43 PM

[QUOTE=Wyobuckaroo;320139]According to what little I can find to read.......... I have the perfect place environment for lingonberries. They also seem hardy enough to resist my considerable brown thumb..........[/QUOTE]

From what I have learned, one of the greatest threats to lingonberries is someone who insists on taking a hands-on approach, resulting in over-fertilization and over-watering. Other than preparation of the soil prior to planting and periodic weeding, they don't require much of anything. I do put mulch and wood chips down prior to winters, and I water them during lengthy droughts, but they have never shown signs of stress due to these dry periods so even that may be more than is necessary.

[QUOTE=Wyobuckaroo;320139]However.......... I have been having major trouble finding places to buy plants.........

Anyone suggest places to get plants......... ?[/QUOTE]

I couldn't find any locally, so I ordered mine from two different places, in order to get as many varieties as possible: [URL="http://www.raintreenursery.com/Berries/Lingonberries/"]Raintree Nursery[/URL] and [URL="http://www.hartmannsplantcompany.com/plants_other.htm"]Hartmann's Plant Company[/URL]. I cannot attest that these are the best places to get them but mine arrived in good shape.

kfander 08-07-2012 02:45 PM

[QUOTE=bookwormom;320151]looks are deceiving kfander. Mountain ash berries come in big clusters, the berries look like miniature oranges. maybe a little redder. there are varieties that do not have so much bitter in it. And of course they grow on a tree. they also are used like cranberries. We did not eat them because mother did not like them. But I used them every fall for decoration, because they are so beautiful.[/QUOTE]

I was just going from the pictures that came up on a search of Mountain Ash. I don't know that I've actually seen (or recognized) one.

[QUOTE=bookwormom;320151]to me, lingon berries taste a lot like cranberries. I could tell them apart though. When I first had cranberries, I thought, typical American, everything has to be bigger in this country. even the lingon berries.[/QUOTE]

That was the closest comparison I could come up with. As you say though, there is a difference and, to me, the lingonberries taste better.

kfander 08-07-2012 03:14 PM

I strongly recommend paying attention to the different varieties that you've planted, knowing which is which. I wish I had done that because there are some that produce far better than others, and some whose taste is better than others, but I don't know which is which in my garden.

Eventually, as they propagate new plants, it might be difficult to tell but if you pay better attention than I did for the first couple of years, you might be able to tell them apart. I plan to do so with the ones that I plant next spring.

Doninalaska 08-19-2012 01:05 PM

Lingonberries grow wild almost all over the state here. They are a mainstay of our diet, along with blueberries. Lingonberries are also a great survival food here, as they survive pretty intact under the snow, so people (and bears in the early spring) can get some good food. They seem to grow in drier locations generally that the blueberries. We use them as a substute for cranberries in everything from salads to sauce. I have always wanted to try some of the domestic varieties from Sweden, but have never gotten around to it.

oldtimer 08-19-2012 07:03 PM

[QUOTE=kfander;320055]I have mentioned lingonberries in a couple of other threads, but I haven't given them one of their own, and I wanted to do some follow up discussion on them.

Also called cowberries, foxberries, mountain cranberries and perhaps some other things, lingonberries are a Swedish tradition. They can be used in much the same ways as cranberries, which they closely resemble, except that they taste better eaten directly off the bush than cranberries do.

Some advantages to lingonberries are that they grow well in places that other things won't grow, including low temperature zones and poor soil. They thrive on neglect, and they self-propagate readily.

Next year, I plan to plant a large number of lingonberries on our property in St. Agatha, Maine, but I currently have lingonberries growing along the side of my driveway in Millinocket. I planted them in a small rocky, sloping area between the driveway and the neighbor's fence. First, I placed a row of rocks along the side of the driveway to keep the soil from washing away. I used a 50% mixture of regular topsoil and peat moss to give me a few inches of soil. Lingonberry roots spread horizontally, so deep topsoil isn't necessary, although I'm sure it wouldn't hurt.

In the spring of 2010, I transplanted twelve lingonberry plants, of five different varieties, along this area, spacing them in two rows about two feet apart, spreading some wood chips over the remaining soil.

My cat dug two of them up. Replanting them, one of them is still hanging in there, although not looking so good, while the other didn't make it. I added a bird mesh over the top of the soil, which discouraged further forays into my garden by my cat.

After buying our property up north, our house has been left empty through the spring, summer and fall. I visit the place every month or so, doing some weeding between the plants (dandelions and clover, mostly), but otherwise I don't do much of anything with them, and they are thriving on the neglect. Lingonberries don't compete well with voracious weeds, such as dandelions, so some weeding is necessary, but that's about it. I was there today, and I watered them because we haven't had rain here for quite awhile, but the lingonberries are doing great. I can't even count the number of lingonberry plants that I have there now because they've spread throughout the planting area.

I ate a bunch of lingonberries this afternoon, and they were good. My lingonberry patch in Millinocket was an experiment, so that I could see how well they do, and they do quite well. It's not a large enough patch to make jam out of, but it's plenty large enough to pick and eat my fill of lingonberries a few times a summer. With a few varieties, I have ripe berries throughout the summer and into the early fall.

Since I am concentrating on my property in northern Maine now, particularly on edible perennials, I plan to add a sizable patch of lingonberries next spring.[/QUOTE]
[I]"Ja Ja, Ja, Ja[/I], it does a Skandihoovian's heart good to hear you folks talkin about lingon berries. They are a Scandinavian delight don't ya know, so don't cha be yust givin' all the credit dere to the Svedes. Da Norveegens and da Danes yust love dem dere berries too don'tcha know? [I]Jeg elsker lingonbaer!!"[/I]

I will have to add for the benefit of all who are even remotely "tinking" of growing the wee things, that you make sure you know what kind of soil you have; 'Cause lingon berries won't grow where the soil is the least bit alkaline, don'tcha know?

If you have alkali soil, forget wasting any money on them as it is nearly impossible to doctor your soil up to where the little rascals will grow. Take it from one who has tried and tried with no success. A rule of thumb is if blueberries are growing naturally in your area, then you should be able to grow them, if not, just forget it. Find someone in the northwoods to go visit when they're in season.

wildturnip 08-19-2012 07:40 PM

[QUOTE=kfander;320090]I'm not familiar with them, but they are hardy to Zone 3. The berries look similar, only the lingonberries are redder, I think.



The taste is unique, and also unique to the variety. I planted five varieties but didn't pay attention to which was which. The taste is similar to a cranberry, which would make sense, since they are related, but a bit sweeter when eating them raw and fresh than I can remember the couple of times that I've eaten cranberries off the bush. Cranberries are too tart for most people, unsweetened, and the same may be true of lingonberries, although they are somewhat sweeter than cranberries.[/QUOTE]

Thanks! Sounds good. My other variety was Red Pearl and one of them has since died :)

kfander 08-19-2012 09:12 PM

[QUOTE=oldtimer;322062]If you have alkali soil, forget wasting any money on them as it is nearly impossible to doctor your soil up to where the little rascals will grow. Take it from one who has tried and tried with no success. A rule of thumb is if blueberries are growing naturally in your area, then you should be able to grow them, if not, just forget it. Find someone in the northwoods to go visit when they're in season.[/QUOTE]

They'll do great on my land in northern Maine too then, as we have blueberries everywhere, although the bears generally get to more of them than I do.

Tim Horton 08-23-2012 03:46 PM

OK......... My plan is to use a 5' square raised bed that I am filling with compost, news paper, peat moss, and will top off with about a 5-6" layer of black dirt. Hope to have this all ready by late this fall so it can set over winter and be ready next spring.

What would you normally add to soil to reduce alkaline ? Cider vinigar ?

I also have bears to contend with, but already have a plan that includes chicken wire and voltage...................

Good luck, don't yu know......... Ya sure.....

kfander 08-23-2012 04:08 PM

I haven't had to contend with that because my soil is, apparently, perfect for lingonberries. However, I believe the peat moss itself will go a long way toward reducing the alkalinity of the soil, and I know they like peat moss.

kfander 11-06-2016 12:33 AM

Since I started this thread more than four years ago, my lingonberry patch has been extended most of the way along the length of my driveway, along the fence. Most of this has occurred from spreading of my original plants. In order to ensure the variety that I want, I did buy four new plants this spring, adding them to a new section of the garden contiguous with the other plants so, as they propagate, they will fill in the gaps. Lingonberries are perfect for the northern climates, and I'll be adding some to some land that I have a camp on up north this spring, where they can expand wherever they want to. There, I expect the wildlife may eat some of them, but that's fine. The critters have to eat too and if I really get hungry, I can always eat the critters.

kfander 03-06-2018 09:31 PM

A couple of years later, and my lingonberry patch is still doing well. Although my original plants had spread pretty well, I bought a few new one's summer before last because I'm an impatient bastard and I wanted to fill in a new section that I had created along the driveway.

This spring, I am going to start some at my land up north. Probably, the bears and the birds will be eating more of them than I will but they have to eat too.

Tim Horton 08-08-2018 07:56 PM

Being the definition of "black thumb" my Lingonberry project didn't go well.

There is small amounts of a variety of "low bush" cranberry around here and much more like that to the north of us. That all being in the Lingonberry, cranberry family of plants. More in the tundra type country to the north.

I suspect the biggest threat to that type of plant there is the caribou. There are a couple types of caribou, barren ground, forest and maybe others. Not sure what is the most prevalent there. Moose ?? Not sure if they eat that or not.

May try to get sweetie to try some Lingonberry plants. She is much better growing things.

Doninalaska 08-08-2018 09:14 PM

Lingonberries grow wild here and we usually have a plentiful supply on hand for Thanksgiving and Christmas. We also have a few true bog cranberries, but they are such a pain to hand pick that we usually don't mess with them. Lingonberries are totally interchangeable with cranberries in recipes, and many (especially Scandinavian folks think they are better than bog cranberries. Sorry your project didn't work out well. I would say give them another year, as they may not have liked your dry weather.


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