I made a HugelKultur in late summer (video below). I covered if for the winter (zone 4). I still have not decided waht I want to plant on it. I have always wanted blackberries but most are only hardy to zone 5. I found one that claims to be hardy to 3. Does anyone have any experience growing blackberries in zone 4? Or with a hugel possibly allowing something to survive in a zone slightly cooler? I am hoping the hugel may give some additional protection to the root systems. Thanks!
If it were my hugelculture garden, I would reserve it for plants that really would benefit from this rich environment. Since hugelculture gardens are often much higher than the natural ground level, you want your plants to be able to take a lower hardy zone, such as up to zone 3. It is often the freezing & thawing in the spring time that kills the plant. Plants that are in the natural ground have more opportunity for winter protection. It is easier to keep snow on it or heavy layer of mulch at ground level.
Blackberries grow naturally on nutrient lacking dirt without regular rainfalls out west. I would not waste my hugelculture beds on Blackberries. You probably have a better location for your blackberries. I would look for a sunny and well protected location such as the sunny side of a hedge or garage etc.... This way you will have a micro climate closer to a zone 5. Make sure that you mulch it and keep the snow on the ground around the roots as long as possible in the spring. I live in zone 4 and I will not plant blackberries when I can get great harvest from raspberries that do well to zone 3. (Maybe one day I will experiment with blackberries after I have more than I need of raspberries). I am not there yet. I have lost too many plants in the past planting "iffy" plants for my zone. Now if I have a neighbour who is growing successfully an "iffy" zoned plant and I can get a cutting, then of course I will likely succeed if I can create a similar micro-climate zone as my neighbour. But remember we will always get those killer record breaking winters sometimes.
I agree with Michelle about where to try a black berry planting. Look into low-bush blue berries or save the hugel for vegetables with some lower growing huckleberries or even put strawberries as the cover crop then plant other items between those.
As Michelle mentioned, blackberries (or raspberries) will grow in some of the poorest soils so using them in a hugel is kind of counter intuitive.
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If you're really keen on a berry, have you considered honeyberries - Lonicera Caerula? They're extremely hardy; they do fine in zone 2.
Also it's fine if they sink into the ground a little, which can easily happen with newly made raised beds as they settle.
Normally I would be cautious with perennials on Hügels at first, and stick to annuals at least the first season, to keep room for re-defining the Hügel incase you may have a wish for that.
It does't look like an extremely nutritious environment at first, the Hügel you built - still some raw material in the top layer and no manure or other fertiliser added - correct me if I missed something. Maybe you added a mulch and it's a bit richer than it looks in this video you linked to.
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Okay, so berries are out. Thank you for helping me decide that. Maybe, I will use it for some perennials like sorrel, mitsuba, lovage, chives, etc.
Redhawk, I do have a lot of strawberry seeds. I plan on using them for ground cover in my food forest.
J- I am going to plant some honeyberries. I have read they are hardy. How do they taste? Correct, no mulch or manure. I am getting my first chickens in a couple weeks. I am also getting a dump truck of local leaf compost that I plan on dumping on top as soon as the snow melts.
Thanks for the help. I feel better about what to plant on it in the spring.
good idea, Michelle. That is most likely what I will end up doing. Thanks!
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posted 5 months ago
Nathan Marquardt wrote:I am going to plant some honeyberries. I have read they are hardy. How do they taste?
Only today I picked my very first one and tasted it, and I thought it was like rhubarb. I like rhubarb, so for me it's pleasant.
I've always seen the taste described as something between raspberry and blueberry, you'll read that online everywhere, but if I'm going with this one honeyberry I ate today it's more tangy. Not bitter - often it is said said honeyberry is a misleading name because it doesn't taste one bit like honey, and that made me believe it might be more bitter like sloughberry, but it's not.
Probably some honeyberry varieties will be sweeter than others. I had a berry of an older, unnamed variety today. Newer varieties should be sweeter on average, but it's not a fruit I can just buy in the shop here, so I had to wait until my own berry bushes are starting to give me fruit, and now, at the end of May, the first berries are starting to ripen here. In a colder climate this should be a bit later.
We have a few hugels out on our urban site. Our proper hugel bed with logs underneath is a 150 foot long asparagus bed that continues to thrive even though nearly half is now engulfed in Bermuda grass. Our other “hugel light” bed, that is just woodchips and topsoil, is filled with elderberries. We are constructing a third hugel bed this year for annuals and are going with a few different melon varieties. We are in the southeast US and in zone 7 (but with climate change and the urban heat effect really zone 9). Good luck!
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