Monday, October 8, 2012

Odd Berry Crops

Goumi berries are good. So are dirty thumbnails.
Plenty of people are interested in planting blueberries, blackberries grapes, strawberries and other small fruit. But what about goumi berries? Or mulberries? Or Surinam cherries?

Life isn't all about the commercial crops found in your local grocery.

In Florida, we're uniquely suited to growing some amazing and almost unknown berries. Sure, we know about mulberries, right? But how many trees have you seen lately? Probably very few, since the modern idea of a nice suburban yard doesn't have a place for a messy (that is, HIGHLY PRODUCTIVE) tree like a mulberry. Heck no - let's plant a freakin' worthless ornamental!

When TSHTF, you're going to be glad for mulberry trees.

Can't eat all the fruit? Dry them for later.
Weather won't allow it? Ferment them and make brandy.
Not legal to make brandy in your locale? Feed them to your chickens.

Seriously - that's not a mess, that's food. I'll do a future post on mulberries since I'm just using them as a passing example here.

If you're down in South Florida, you can grow cocoplum or Surinam cherry hedges and have something to eat as well while you enjoy your privacy. Heck, you can eat berries naked once the hedges fill in enough. It's fun.

In the middle of the state, Goumi berries are a great choice. A relative of the popular silverthorn (used extensively for hedges), goumi berry shrubs fix nitrogen and bear delicious, tart red berries with tiny silver spots on them. I've got a half-dozen in my front yard in both sun and shade. Plant them in your food forest and the roots will also feed the trees around them.

Another native with edible berries is the "Simpson Stopper." They're a decently sweet little red berry with an interesting bitter grapefruit aftertaste. One of these days I'll dry some and see how that works out. Just another way to think outside the typical berry basket.

Bonus: most people don't recognize these plants or their food value, meaning you can be eating goumi berry jam while the rest of your town is dealing with major food theft issues.

Just a few thoughts.

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At November 2, 2012 at 12:41 PM , Blogger Unknown said...

Eating berries while nekkid...who says gardening isn't sexy?? haha! :)
It's true and makes perfect sense that if someone has requirements for their yard; shade, hedging, erosion, nude sun bathing, et-cetera, that they might as well select things that can produce.
I did a lot of extensive reading about mulberries when I was trying to decide which one(s) to get, and was surprised by the number of people who despised the tree because of the so-called "mess." The farm I grew up on in Virginia had a few along the driveway, and they were super delicious. Don't recall anyone ever complaining.

I settled for 3 'Illinois Everbearing', which were about 10 inches tall when planted this past July. They're now about 5-7 feet tall (what the deer didn't get, anyhow). I wanted quick shade and of course, the fruit :)

So how fast do these goumi berries grow in our climate, and are they evergreen? Now you've got me wanting to plant a hedge and experiencing the garden in a much more "natural" form! :)

At November 2, 2012 at 12:45 PM , Blogger David The Good said...


The goumi berries in my yard were about 2' tall when I planted them in late winter/early spring as bare root starts. Most are about 4' tall now. They actually bore a few berries in the spring this year (hence the photo), but should do a lot more this coming spring.

I'll let you know if they stay evergreen here. I believe they're supposed to. They're a close relative of "sliverthorn," the eleagnus that gets planted as a hedge all over North FL.

Mulberries are fantastic. I have three and want more. One everbearing and two regular black mulberries. All planted last year as well... and they're really cooking along. The one I planted in full shade inside my chicken run has grown the best - we'll see how it fruits, I guess.

People are really stupid when it comes to food-bearing trees. "Oh, I don't want a REAL pear tree... they're way too messy. Give me the ornamental type..."

At July 22, 2013 at 11:40 PM , Blogger Sheila O said...

Still wading my way through your blog. Well, you learn something every day! I had no idea Simpson Stopper berries were edible! YAY! I have a beauty of a simpson stopper in the back yard. And I'm so getting me some goumi berries, just cause I like the word goumi! Gotta go search the net for some seeds!

At July 22, 2013 at 11:50 PM , Blogger David The Good said...

Heh. Yep. If you don't mind the bitter aftertaste on SS berries, they're good. I like the flavor.

Goumis are DOUBLE good, though, since they fix nitrogen in the soil. Plant them in your yard, and your yard's fertility increases - plus you get tasty berries.

At July 17, 2021 at 11:11 PM , Blogger Unknown said...

Where can I find this for sale? I have very alkaline soil and I'm hoping this will help.


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