Thread: Lingonberries
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Old 08-19-2012, 07:03 PM
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Originally Posted by kfander View Post
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.
"Ja Ja, Ja, Ja, 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? Jeg elsker lingonbaer!!"

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.
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