I don’t know about you, but I love fresh berries in the Summertime! Did you know now is the perfect time to plant your berries for Summer? At your local Al’s Garden and Home, we have all kinds to choose from ranging from canning berries to berries that you can just pick right off the branch and pop into your mouth (without poking yourself)!

January and February is the time to put on your Berry Tone ® , get control over your pest issues and amend the soil! Espoma Organic Berry-tone® helps maintain the acid levels in the soil and helps the fruit production process. For your pest issues, check out Bonide®. They have a great website that helps you really narrow down your search. Make sure to call ahead to your local Al’s Garden and Home to make sure that we have the products you are searching for! To amend your soil, you will want to keep in mind what your soil texture is. Berries do best with good drainage, aeration and structure. When thinking about what to amend your soil with keep those in mind!

If you are wondering what berries will be best at my home here are two of the brands that we carry in-store.

View of 'Chandler' Blueberries at the farm

Grown by Al's

Did you know that Al’s grows 85% of the product we sell in our stores? Even better, our growing facilities are local and run by Al’s very own granddaughter! Starting off as a fruit stand; berries are very close to our hearts. We provide what we think are the best options for our customers. Believe me when I tell you that Jack (Al’s son and second generation) has very high standards when it comes to anything produce related. He requires the best! This means that right now in our stores we have six different blueberries, two blackberries and three raspberries.

Jack (or grandpa as I like to call him) recommends ‘Chandler’ blueberries for three main reasons:

  • They have very good flavor
  • They are a good size (he claims that they can get as big as a quarter!)
  • They have decent production so you can get a good size crop out of them

Cane berries, otherwise known as Blackberries and Raspberries because they grow on a hard, woody stem have many uses. If you want to use them for canning or jelly or just to pick right off the branch we have options for you. Cane berries can grow pretty rapidly depending on the variety. A good way to maintain them is to grow them along a fence line so they have something to grow on and they can disguise the fence behind them! You will want to prune and trim them right after they are done producing fruit in late summer and early february before they start to grow. You can see at our stores, a lot of the pots look empty this time of year because we trimmed them back to get ready for spring growth!

Grown by Al's and Bushel and Berry Blueberries

Here are some options for cane berries:

  • ‘Munger’ Black Raspberry which is great for making preserves.
  • 'Black Satin' Thornless Blackberry is disease resistant and have a sweet flavor.
  • ‘Heritage’ Raspberry is great to eat fresh or canned and are everbearing in July and September.
  • ‘Willamette’ Raspberry ripens early and is disease resistant.
  • ‘Meeker’ Raspberry is a great mid-season ripener with a high sugar content that provides great flavor.

Bushel and Berry®

When I think of blackberries and raspberries, I imagine out of control bushes on the side of the road. But that is not the case for the berries that we carry! Especially when it comes to Bushel and Berry®. When walking through an Al’s Garden and Home location you might notice bright blue pots in our berry section. We recommend Bushel and Berry® plants for these reasons:

  • Their compactness makes them easy to manage. They are great for container planting or in the ground if you have a small empty space.
  • They make thornless varieties: Blackberry (Baby Cakes®) and Raspberry (Raspberry shortcake®)!
  • They are great for kids to just eat right off the bush out on your porch, patio or yard. You don’t have to worry about them (and yourself) getting stickers in their fingers or snagging their clothes!

    Key tips:

    • Since berries fruit at different times if you want berries all summer you will want a few different varieties an early, mid and late fruiting.
    • But if you are canning or making jelly you want them to fruit at the same time so you will want bushes that will fruit in the same time zone.
    • All berries like full hot sun.