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Let's talk seaberry!  RSS feed

 
Posts: 74
Location: Southeast Michigan
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Let's talk seaberry!

I'm in Zone 5b michigan, looking for unique edibles attuned to the kind of cold we get, and seaberry seems like a great tough option for food and nitrogen at the same time.

I've come to understand there are a LOT of varieties of seaberry. One Green World has some ~15 varieties at a glance. I'm feeling a little overwhelmed choosing the right ones for my design without more information, so I'm wondering if anybody here has experience with some of these varieties.

I'm looking for a handful of varieties to fill 2 distinct niches in our site.

One: large bushy, vigorous varieties for nitrogen fixation in our hedge. Good fruit flavor and production are a bonus but not a requirement here.

Two: compact (4-8ft), productive varieties with high fruit quality for a berry bush area. Flavor, fruit size and sweetness are key here, though some tartness and even a tart variety with exceptional flavor are both fine. At least a majority of them should have a flavor suited for fresh eating.

Thanks in advance! Really looking forward to hearing your experiences.
 
pollinator
Posts: 886
Location: Nevada, Mo 64772
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They wouldn’t grow for me. 3-4 years and not much taller than when I bought them. I suspect that they couldn’t stand our wet spring weather and only fair drainage.  One died and I took the other out.
 
steward
Posts: 3077
Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
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I know very little about them but I bought the 6 pack from One Green World so I'm hoping the varieties they picked are good.  I have sandy, fast draining soil so I think they'll be fine for me.

I'm debating where to put them.  I plan on putting them near a walnut based on some limited research saying the juglone would be ok.  It sounds like they are wind pollinated and you need a male to pollinate up to 6-8 females.  Pollination distance is a bit fuzzy.  Some sources say 30', others say 150'.  I'll probably put them in a clump so it doesn't matter.  

Sorry it's not much info to add to the conversation...
 
pollinator
Posts: 209
Location: Worcestershire, England
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I have Mary and Sunny as well as Lord (male). I also have conventional sea buckthorn which to be honest is pretty bad by comparison. Mary and sunny are quite sweet like a slightly sour orange juice. I have also noticed the named cultivars are ready way before the 'wild' version as well as being eaier to pick and tasting better.

I have heavy clay soil and they are growing just fine here! Perhaps the problem is the lack of moisture rather than the soil type?
 
Posts: 326
Location: S. Ontario Canada
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I planted 6 about a foot tall in 2015 in sandy very high PH soil and they seem to be doing better than most other things here. The first winter one got nibbled down but nothing has bothered the rest. About 5ft tall now and waiting for some fruit!
 
Posts: 470
Location: Northern Maine, USA (zone 3b-4a)
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planted mine in rocky heavy clay soil 3 years about a ft. tall. . theyre 6ft now. maybe see some flowers/ berries this year. one male , one female . think the female is russian orange. don't remember what male is.
 
Mike Jay
steward
Posts: 3077
Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
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My seaberry bundle arrived!  I need to plant them pretty soon.  What's a good spacing for a living fence with these plants?  I was going to put them 4' apart.  Is that about right?  Thanks!
 
pollinator
Posts: 246
Location: NE Slovenia, zone 6b
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Some thoughts... My experience comes from small-scale growing of Russian/German cultivars (Leikora, Orange energy, one is supposedly Hergo) during the last 10 years or so. Clay soil, ph 4.5 - 5.5, continental climate, hardiness zone 6/7.

- Think about harvesting. Harvesting seaberry is hard. It's closer to pruning overgrown roses than it is to picking cherries. The berries do not dislodge easily and by the time you've applied enough pressure to separate them from the plant, it's not unusual to notice that you've also squished them in the process. Maybe you want to chop of entire branches, freeze them and then shake off the berries. This works fine but, well, you took of a whole branch.

- While some cultivars have better taste than others, this is just not dessert fruit. Satisfaction is a combination of reality and expectation. In this case (and many others) it is the latter which will respond more easily.

- I've compared the taste of named cultivars that I had available with "no-name" seaberries which for some reason get planted as windbreaks at gas stations around here. There is some difference. Not night and day though.

- Soil pH is not so important. However, despite talk of this being a pioneer plant, soil humidity is quite important, at least until you have a 6 ft bush. Deep mulch helps but in the end there's no substitute for watering young plants. You can skip on it and they'll take much longer to grow up. If that's OK then... OK. (It's what I did as well. It took about 7 years to bushes to grow to a good size.)

- Once they have found their footing they will sucker. You may consider this good or bad. For a living fence it sounds like a good thing. If you want your fence to get dense as soon as possible then 4 ft is not wrong. (It will get REALLY dense later on though.)

- In my book autumn olive named cultivars beat seaberry named cultivars in the resilience + N-fixing + taste combined category any time of the day. (Especially Sweet-n-tart which likes to bear fruit on the main branches so harvesting is super easy.)

Maybe some of this is helpful to you. Good luck in your adventure

 
Posts: 10
Location: Zone 4, MT
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Posting to Follow as much as anything.  That last post was enlightening - maybe I will focus on propagating Autumn Olive instead - The A.O. seem to grow great here and since both plants fill pretty much the same niche...
I'm in central Montana, and at my location I have quite heavy soil and pretty heavily Limestone influenced soil and water. Planted a smattering of Seaberry, Autumn Olive, Elderberry and  half dozen other shrubby things.  The thorns don't appeal to me a ton, but I was just listening to Spirko on a podcast talking about blackberries and how they allow the forest to expand - I would love to interplant tall visibility barrier trees with a nitrogen fixer that communicates to the deer "don't come too close or I'll hook your face", blackberries don't fix and are not exactly thriving here (zone 3/4). I don't know if thorny raspberries would keep deer away from trees?
 
Posts: 477
Location: 4b
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I love my Autumn Olives, and I love my Seaberries.  Both grow well in my heavy clay soil, but I have had loses with Autumn Olive, and none with seaberries.  Seaberries thorns are much, much worse.  My Autumn Olive varieties don't have enough thorns to notice.  Seaberry will rip you to shreds.  I really enjoy the berries from both, but there is no argument that Autumn Olive tastes better.  Autumn Olive doesn't spread for me.  I've found exactly one volunteer in 5 or 6 years of having them.  Seaberry spreads from roots like a madman.  I wouldn't want to give up either.
 
Trace Oswald
Posts: 477
Location: 4b
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olin erickson wrote: I don't know if thorny raspberries would keep deer away from trees?



Not in my experience.
 
pollinator
Posts: 251
Location: Denmark 57N
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Sea buckthorn won't either, deer sleep under the taller bushes I have. they think it makes an excellent windbreak (and so do I) It grows on the sand-dunes here in full wind, there is gets maybe 2ft tall. in my garden on waterlogged silty lake bed soil the same bushes get well over 10ft tall.  
 
Posts: 180
Location: Kachemak Bay, Alaska (usda zone 6, ahs heat zone 1, lat 59 N, coastal, koppen Dfc)
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Ken W Wilson wrote:They wouldn’t grow for me. 3-4 years and not much taller than when I bought them. I suspect that they couldn’t stand our wet spring weather and only fair drainage.  One died and I took the other out.



Nevada Mo is my hometown : )    I actually tried planting some seaberries for my parents there about 13 years ago and they also died, though I don't know if from the climate or the lawnmower.  I suspect southwest MO might be warmer than ideal for seaberries, since they originate in  temperate climates that are closer to subarctic than subtropical.   I remember eating some great autumn olives in northeast MO from naturalized stands.  My seaberries here in southcentral Alaska (also Zone 6, like sw MO, despite a much colder average annual temperature)  are growing well.  I had a few fruits this summer, I thought they tasted like a mix between lemon juice and orange juice.
 
Ken W Wilson
pollinator
Posts: 886
Location: Nevada, Mo 64772
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Hi Corey. You’re a long way from home!

I also wondered if maybe our soil pH is wrong for them. At the time, I couldn’t find what pH range they like.
 
Posts: 91
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Does anybody have tips for starting them from seed?  I have some sitting in my fridge waiting for me to get cracking
 
olin erickson
Posts: 10
Location: Zone 4, MT
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"The Reference Manual of Woody Plant Propagation" says fall planting or 3 months cold stratification. So put em in a ziploc in the fridge with a teensy piece of wet paper towl.  Works for apples and lavendar. Hopefully these too - I just ordered 1/2 oz, like 1200.  Lots of different tricks to seeds.
 
olin erickson
Posts: 10
Location: Zone 4, MT
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As an update to my situation I was trying moist storage and they started growing mold in the fridge. I gave a bath in hydrogen peroxide and then rinsed with water.  I've been reading quite a few folk put in near boiling water then let it cool as a 24 hr soak and then immediately plant. I don't want the mold to get the better of me so I may start trying some indoor germination.
 
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