Hello, We’ll be planting for the first time just off Mosser Road (North Ridge...

Asked February 3, 2015, 11:29 AM EST

Hello, We’ll be planting for the first time just off Mosser Road (North Ridge Road) in Garrett County this spring. We know we’re probably on the top of Negro Mountain but don’t know if this is the highest elevation. We want to build a berry cage surrounded by electric fence with the hope that the few bears who pass by will be deterred. Which thorn-less blackberry, 2-3 blueberries, red raspberry, and strawberry would work best here? Should these be in raised beds like the rest of the garden? I know I need to get a move on to be sure I can order what you recommend. And what zone should we use for planting? There’s some talk of a small hoop house. Thanks for any help you can provide. Sue Long 460 North Ridge Road McHenry, Maryland 21541

Garrett County Maryland

1 Response

Hi Sue. Thanks for asking your question. Welcome to Garrett County.

We are in zone 5 according the USDA Cold Hardiness zone; however, when possible i recommend that you get Zone 4 plants, just to be sure.

As far as varieties I asked a friend that worked for a berry breeder and her response is below:

Ok, as far as strawberries go, I would highly recommend Seascape. Other varieties that perform similarly are EV2, San Andreas and Albion but Seascape performs a bit better than these others when it comes to combined traits of yield and flavor. San Andreas is a close second. EV2 produces well but I don’t think the flavor is as good. Albion is large and tastes good, but yields do not compare as well. These are all day neutrals by the way. For June bearers I would suggest Earliglow (early), Jewel (mid), Sparkle (late). For red raspberries my first choice would be Caroline (zone 4-7). It is a mid-season fall bearer. Jaclyn also seems to do pretty well. It bears earlier than Caroline. You can purchase most of these plants from NourseFarms. For thornless blackberries I would suggest Chester (late season), also available from Nourse, and Ouchita (early season), available from Stark Bros.

http://noursefarms.com/

http://www.starkbros.com/

The plants won't have to be in raised beds unless drainage is an issue. Below are three links for additional information on establishing blackberries and raspberries:

http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/1000/1421.html

http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/garden/07001.html

http://pods.dasnr.okstate.edu/docushare/dsweb/Get/Document-1035/HLA-6215web.pdf

As for the blueberries--- they will need a much lower pH of 4.5-5.2 to thrive. They like a good amount of water, but not for their roots to be wet.

http://extension.umd.edu/growit/fruit-profiles/blueberries

http://extension.umd.edu/growit/fruit-profiles/blueberries#blueberry

If you would like to have your soil tested, we can send a sample out of the University of Maryland Extension office in Garrett County for $13, which will test pH, CEC, Ca, Mg, P, & K. Please let me know if you are interested in this service. Also, if you would like literature on constructing a low-tunnel, or high tunnel for your berries, we can send that information to you. My number is 301-334-6960 or email abachtel@umd.edu for more information.

One last comment, we are seeing a new fruit pest called the Spotted Wing Drosphilla, which is a fruit fly that affects alot of berries--- for more information visit this link: http://www.fruit.cornell.edu/spottedwing/pdfs/SWDgarden.pdf

Best of luck. Please feel free to contact me with any further questions!