Berries can be sown or planted all year round and are small but mightily good for you.

These extra special berries offer something a little different. All are easy to grow and care for, they have high yield but won’t take over the plot. They’re perfect for fitting into smaller patches as well as growing in containers.

They have different times of harvest but all can be sown or planted outside year-round.

If you have bought potted berry plants, water them with rainwater if they look dry and plant as soon as possible. If ground is not ready or soil conditions are unsuitable, stand them temporarily in a sheltered place outdoors. Check them regularly to ensure they don’t dry out, be sure to keep them moist, again using rainwater.

Choose a sheltered area of the garden, avoiding exposed sites. Shelter from cold winds and late spring frosts as the flowers could be damaged and the yield lessened.

Although berries do best in full sun, they should also fruit reasonably well in partial shade. Most importantly they are lime-haters and require a strongly acid soil to thrive. The ground should also be free-draining but moisture retentive. Soils overlying chalk or limestone or which contain free lime will not grow these fruits and, if you have such a soil, they should be grown in containers.

Berries need a well-drained, rich, moisture-retentive soil to thrive, so dig out a trench where the row is to be and incorporate plenty of well-rotted organic matter like farmyard manure into the soil at the bottom.

Berry bushes should be watered with rainwater because, over time, the lime in tap water reduces the soil’s acidity.

That said, they react badly to being overwatered so check for moisture before you water.

Since birds love berries it’s wise to use a permanent fruit cage or protect bushes with netting.

Berries are ready for picking when they are full coloured, soft and detach easily from their stalks. As they don’t all ripen together it is usual to go over the bushes several times at about 4-5 day intervals.

When plants are in full growth, feed regularly with an ericaceous liquid feed at manufacturer’s recommended rates.

Growing in containers

In the many areas where the soil is insufficiently acid to raise these fruits they are readily grown in containers. Select containers of a size that will allow plenty of room for growth and pot plants individually using an ericaceous compost or pure moss peat. In subsequent years re-pot in late autumn or early spring, as necessary, moving them on to larger containers as they grow. They must never be allowed to run short of water (rainwater) and it is better to err on the side of over-watering rather than to risk them drying out.

As an added bonus, berries make particularly attractive container plants on account of their autumn colour as well as their fruits and flowers.

Varieties

Jostaberry

Smallholder:

A cross between a gooseberry and blackcurrant bearing dark red fruits in summer on thornless stems. The gooseberry-like fruits are packed with Vitamin C and have a gooseberry-like flavour, which becomes more blackcurrant-like as the fruit matures. Well worth a try! Great for container growing.

Full sun

Bushy

Harvest in July

Honeyberry

Smallholder:

Easy to grow and does not require any special soil conditions unlike acidic loving blueberries. Honeyberries are an attractive and extremely hardy, small shrub native to Siberia, bearing small fragrant flowers in March-April followed by clusters of berries in May and June. The tasty blueberry-like fruits are sweet enough to enjoy fresh or can be used in jam, jelly and ice cream. Two plants are required for pollination.

Height: 1.2m (4ft) - 1.8m (6ft)

Deciduous

Bushy

Harvest in May and June

Blueberry Blue Sapphire

Smallholder:

Vaccinium

Naturally dwarf, this delicious blueberry maybe small and compact, but its yields are pretty mighty. Ideal for growing in pots on the patio, using ericaceous compost, it also features attractive white blossom followed by the deep blue and juicy berries from June to July.

Full sun

Height: 60cm (24in)

Hardy perennial

Harvest in June and July

Kiwiberry

Smallholder:

Actinidia

The size of a large grape, these bite sized kiwis are perfect for eating fresh and lack the furry skin of its older brother. Bright green in colour with a delicious and sweet flavour, they are great alternative to grapes and cherries and perfect for snacks and kids’ lunchboxes. Ideal for growing in the greenhouse or a sunny spot in the garden - grow through trellis work to support the climbing stems.

Full sun

Hardy perennial

Climber

Harvest in October

Japanese Wineberry

Smallholder:

Cropping from August with attractive orangey-red fruits, this easy to grow berry is similar in flavour to the raspberry and is ideal for bridging the gap between summer and autumn raspberries. Eat fresh or use for jams and puddings.

Full sun

Bushy

Harvest in August and September

Aronia Berry

Smallholder:

Thought to be richer in antioxidants than other well-known superfoods, such as blueberries and gojiberries, and is also thought to help protect against heart disease. Native to North America, plants produce small, white flowers in spring, followed by masses of reddish-purple berries, rich in Vitamin C. A little too tart for eating fresh, they are perfect for adding to juices and smoothies and for using in summer puddings and sauces. .

Full sun

Height: 3m (10ft)

Deciduous

Bushy and tall

Harvest in July and August

Lingonberry

Smallholder:

Very well suited to the UK’s climate, this low growing and spreading variety is perfect for containers, as well as the fruit garden. Similar to the cranberry, the tart berries make wonderful additions to jams and preserves, sauces and juices. The attractive white blossom is followed by the fruits from late July.

Full sun

Bushy

Harvest in July

Polarberry

Smallholder:

Rubus

Creamy and golden yellow in colour, this unique blackberry has all the flavour of wild blackberries and is so easy to grow. Attractive white blooms cover the plant during late spring and early summer followed by the juicy and delicious berries in July. With a minimal amount of thorns on the stems picking is easy and the fruit is excellent for jams, juicing and freezing.

Full sun

Height: 120cm (48in)

Hardy perennial

Harvest in July

With thanks to mr-fothergills.co.uk