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Order boysenberry plants through a local nursery or garden center

May 9, 2018

When Rudolph Boysen moved to Orange County, he planted his own hybrid berry vines in Anaheim, Calif. Years later, a berry grower began growing this cross between raspberries and blackberries, and named them after their creator, Boysenberries (Rubus ursinus x ideaus). These deep-purple, two-inch-long berries have soft, tender skin, and a tart yet sweet flavor. You can use boysenberries the same as raspberries and blackberries, eating fresh off the vines, made into salsas, jams, muffins, pies, and even wine. Boysenberries are high in dietary fiber and have large amounts of vitamin C, vitamin K and natural antioxidants, or anthocyanins.

Plant boysenberries in a sunny spot with well-drained soil, such as sandy loam, with a pH of 5.8-6.5. Soil that drains well is key because standing water or soggy soil will cause the vine’s roots to rot. These are self-pollinating, so you can even grow a single plant and get berries. Dig in lots of compost to fertilize, and to help the soil retain water without getting soggy. Avoid planting boysenberries in the same spot where any members of the of the nightshade family, such as eggplant, tomatoes or potatoes, may have grown before.

If your plants are bare root, soak them in a bucket of water for an hour or two so the roots rehydrate. Set out your plants so that their crowns are just two inches below the soil line. Apply a two- or three-inch mulch layer to keep down weeds. As the plants grow they need to be trained onto a strong trellis or support. Boysenberries can even be grown in large pots.

Order boysenberry plants through your local nursery or garden center, or by mail from Burpee's (www.burpee.com) or Harris Seeds (www.harrisseeds.com) as well as other suppliers. Boysenberries are hardy in USDA zones 5-9. In the spring, fertilize with a good all-purpose fertilizer. Prune by removing any canes that have fruited, as well as any weak or damaged canes. These berries produce best on 1-year-old canes. Do not prune your boysenberries for the first year after they are planted. After the first year, right after harvesting, cut the canes that just fruited down to ground level. Prune any new canes back to just eight or nine inches high.

Put boysenberries in your garden, and soon enough you will have quarts of delicious, delicate fruit not often found in supermarkets. As for the Anaheim berry grower who first popularized Boysenberries? His farm stand soon sported rides and attractions, and is today Knott's Berry Farm.

  • Paul Barbano writes about gardening from his home in Rehoboth Beach. Contact him by writing to P. O. Box 213, Lewes, DE 19958.