Cranberries are a valuable vitamin berry that grows in sphagnum bogs in conditions where most other berry crops cannot grow. In addition to the marsh cranberry, which is familiar to the inhabitants of the Russian North, which has a record winter hardiness, there are more capricious garden varieties with two-centimeter berries - large-fruited American cranberries, suitable for growing in regions with mild climates.
In the northern regions of Russia, many hectares of wetlands are occupied by vast wild thickets of marsh cranberries, which can easily withstand severe winters with forty-degree frosts.
Marsh cranberry grows in abundance on peat bogs in northern and central Russia
The cultivation of cultivated forms of this wonderful medicinal berry began only in the middle of the last century at the Kostroma Experimental Station, where several very successful highly winter-resistant varieties with berries twice or three times larger than those of the original natural species were created. Some of them are not inferior in berry size to the best American varieties, significantly surpassing them in frost resistance.
In North America, another type of cranberry grows - the large-fruited cranberry, which differs from the European marsh cranberry in denser berries, the presence of vertical fruiting shoots, a longer growing season and less winter hardiness.
Large-fruited American cranberry differs from marsh cranberry in denser berries
It was introduced into culture much earlier, already at the beginning of the nineteenth century. There are many of its varieties with large berries, the earliest and winter-hardy of them can be grown in Russian conditions: from the Moscow region and to the south.
In the wild, cranberries grow exclusively in sphagnum bogs, which are a completely unique ecosystem with very specific characteristics:
In nature, cranberries grow only on raised sphagnum bogs.
Peat moss sphagnum is a unique natural antiseptic, the basis of the ecosystem of sphagnum bogs
Accordingly, the most suitable for the cultivation of garden cranberries will be plots in peatlands. This is the only type of soil that does not require any special preparation for planting cranberries. You can immediately mark the beds and plant.
Peat bog with close groundwater - ideal for growing cranberries
Heavy clay soils are completely unsuitable. In such areas, cultivation of cranberries is possible only in artificial trenches filled with peat. In lowlands with clay soil, when constructing trenches, the necessary slope and drainage should be provided so that water does not accumulate after heavy rains or melting snow. Unlike permeable breathing peat, waterlogged clay is like a cement slurry, the roots suffocate and die.
Cranberries cannot grow on heavy clay - the roots will suffocate
Light sandy soils can be considered suitable only if there is the possibility of daily watering. They are well permeable to air and roots, but dry out too quickly. On sandy soils, a large amount of high-moor peat is required to increase the moisture capacity and achieve the desired acidity. For better moisture retention, it is advisable to cover planting trenches for cranberries with plastic wrap in several layers.
Sandy soils are easily root permeable but do not retain water at all
Cranberries need very acidic soil (pH 3.0 - 5.5)
Other plants from the heather family have similar requirements to cranberries: lingonberries, blueberries, blueberries, crowberry, wild rosemary, rhododendrons. The closest needs are for cranberries, blueberries and crowberries, and in nature they often grow in the neighborhood on bog bumps, in places well-lit by the sun. In the same swamps, wild rosemary grows, as well as berry herbaceous perennials from the Rosaceae family - cloudberry and prince. Blueberries are also hygrophilous, but they prefer shady forest areas. Lingonberry loves drier places and good lighting, in nature it grows in rather dry pine forests on sandy soils, therefore it is better not to plant it in the garden on the same bed with cranberries because of the different irrigation regime. Good drainage is required for rhododendrons, they cannot stand excess moisture. In natural communities, all these plants are companions of conifers (spruces, pines, larches, common juniper). When planting them in the garden, it is also advisable to add a little soil from the coniferous forest with wild heathers to ensure the presence of the necessary mycorrhiza in the soil - special underground fungi that favor root growth.
You should not plant cranberries right under the crown of a tree: firstly, it needs good illumination, and secondly, powerful tree roots dry the soil very much.
When choosing neighbors for cranberries, it must be borne in mind that its long creeping shoots grow rapidly in good conditions, covering the soil surface with a solid green carpet.
Under favorable conditions, cranberry thickets are very durable and remain in one place for many decades.
The high acidity of the soil required for cranberries (pH 3.0 - 5.5) is ensured through the use of large amounts of sour high-moor peat during planting. Low-lying peat does not have the desired acidifying effect due to its insufficient acidity.
Highland peat differs from lowland peat in a lighter color and coarse-fiber structure.
On all soils, except for natural peat bogs, cranberries are planted in specially prepared trenches with peat soil. The order of work is as follows:
First, for a cranberry garden, you need to dig a trench half a meter deep
The cranberry trenches are filled with sour high-moor peat
After planting cranberries, it is advisable to sprinkle the surface of the peat trench with a thin layer of river sand
It is impossible to use crushed limestone and other similar materials that reduce the acidity of the soil for trenching and drainage.
Planting cranberries is best in spring, so that the plants have time to root well over the summer. The first month after planting, you need to water every day.
The main problem when growing cranberries is maintaining the required acidity of the soil (pH 3.0 - 5.5). To control acidity, a special indicator litmus paper is needed, which is sold in garden centers and pet stores in the aquarium supplies section. To find out the acidity, a small amount of soil is mixed with distilled water, a strip of indicator paper is immersed in this liquid and its color is compared with the control scale on the package.
Litmus indicator paper for determining the acidity of water and soil
The water for watering cranberries also needs to be controlled. First, it must be acidic enough, like the soil. Any acid can be used to acidify water, from vinegar essence to car battery electrolyte.
Safety precautions: always add a small amount of acid to a container with a large amount of water, and nothing else. Concentrated acids are dangerous and cause burns if they come into contact with the skin.
Secondly, the water should not be too hard. The most favorable soft water from rains, melting snow, from some natural lakes. Many wells and artesian springs have very hard water with a high lime content, which is not suitable for watering cranberries.
Signs of hard water:
Water the cranberries regularly, with soft acidic water, preventing the soil from drying out. In areas with deep groundwater (more than half a meter from the soil surface) in the heat, daily watering is required.
It is categorically unacceptable to apply manure, compost, bird droppings and other nitrogen-rich fertilizers under the cranberries. From organic matter, only peat is well suited to it. The first year or two after planting, no fertilizers are required at all. In the future, only mineral fertilizers are applied in very small doses, only in spring and in the first half of summer (until mid-July). Approximate annual rate per 1 square meter (distributed in equal shares over 3 receptions):
No chemical treatments for pests and diseases are needed for cranberries.
Marsh cranberries overwinter well without additional shelter. Planting large-fruited cranberries can be slightly insulated with coniferous spruce branches.
On industrial plantations in regions without winter thaws, cranberries are sometimes frozen in ice for the winter. With the onset of persistent frosts below -5 ° C, the plantings are poured with water with a layer of 2-3 centimeters, after freezing, they are repeated so that the entire plants are in the ice. In the spring, excess water is discharged into the drainage system.
During the flowering period, which begins in the first half of June, cranberries may suffer from frost. For protection, flowering plantations are covered with agrofibre or plastic wrap at night. In the afternoon, the shelter is removed.
During flowering, cranberries need frost protection.
Cranberries propagate vegetatively (by cuttings) and seeds.
This is the easiest way. In June, cuttings about 10 centimeters long from young growing shoots should be cut and planted on a peat bed, leaving no more than 2-3 leaves above the surface. Water daily, keeping the soil from drying out. Can be covered with foil to maintain moisture. You can plant it immediately in a permanent place, 2-3 cuttings in 1 hole. Over the summer, the cuttings take root successfully.
The easiest way to propagate cranberries is by rooting green cuttings.
In the absence of ready-made seedlings or cuttings, cranberries can also be grown from seeds. Varietal characteristics during seed propagation are rarely preserved, but plants grown from seeds are better adapted to local climatic conditions.
The procedure is as follows:
Cranberries are easily grown in low-lying swampy areas with acidic peaty soil and close groundwater, it is in such conditions that it grows in the wild. These inconveniences, unsuitable for other crops, can be easily converted into commercial cranberry plantations. If the initial characteristics of the site do not suit its requirements, the cultivation of cranberries requires expensive and time-consuming special measures and may be of interest only for amateur gardening, as an exotic curiosity.
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How to grow cranberries on your garden plot? She also grows in the forest. But it turns out that cranberries are grown in Canada, the USA, New Zealand and small areas in a number of European countries, as well as in Russia and Belarus. And not only in the forest is her place. Therefore, in this article I want to tell you in as much detail as possible about my experience of growing cranberries on my site. I will tell you about the necessary information from choosing a place for planting to breeding methods.
First, let's learn more about cranberries. The cranberry plant is an evergreen ground cover shrub native to eastern North America. The height of the stems is up to 20, rarely up to 30 cm. In most varieties, the color of the leaves from autumn to spring is purple or purple-green.
Berries of cultivated varieties have an average weight of 0.8-1.5 g, and the largest berries reach 2 g or more.
Cranberries are propagated in two ways: vegetative and generative (seeds). The peculiarity of the culture is that the daughter plant grown from seeds has no signs of the maternal one. Therefore, the generative breeding method is used mainly by breeders. In private gardening, in order to obtain plants of a certain variety, it is necessary to adhere to the vegetative method (green cuttings).
Cranberry cuttings should be harvested in the spring when the shoots are developing intensively. The planting material must be immediately planted in the soil. The length of green cuttings should be at least 10 cm. They are rooted in a previously prepared place - which is called a school, planting to a depth of 3 cm. Sand, peat and rotted needles are used as a substrate.
Drip irrigation is ideal for cranberries as they require constant moisture
It should be borne in mind that the cuttings will have to be grown in a school for 1-2 years before being planted in a permanent place, and the first fruits will appear in another 2-3 years. This method is time consuming, but guarantees the preservation of the qualities of the mother tree. Growing from seedlings will save several years before harvesting, but there is no guarantee that the chosen variety will be to your taste.
It is recommended to grow cranberries in this way from fresh, just harvested seeds. Ripe berries are kneaded and washed well with water. The resulting seeds are immediately planted in the soil.
The procedure is carried out around the beginning of autumn. If the seeds are not freshly harvested, they must be stratified before sowing: placed in a mixture of sand and peat 1: 4, moisten well, and keep for up to 3 months at a temperature of 3 to 7 degrees Celsius. Such planting material is used in the spring.
How to grow cranberries from seeds
The seeds are sown in a container with peat, then a 3 mm layer of sand is added, 5 mm of crushed peat is poured on top. The planting is abundantly moistened and covered with glass, then regularly aired and watered.
After 3-4 weeks, the first shoots appear. The glass is removed, and the seedlings grow to 4 leaves.
The finished seedlings are planted in a greenhouse for a year, where they are carefully looked after and fed with Kemira-wagon according to the instructions once every 2 weeks.
At the end of summer, the greenhouse is removed, and in October the planting is mulched with peat and covered with spunbond. The next year, the seedlings are moved to the school - for 1 year.
Cranberries: planting, care, cultivation, reproduction, the best varieties
All types of cranberries grow in similar ecological conditions, which should be created when growing cranberries in the garden. And in nature, cranberries are a plant of marsh, forest and near-water biocenoses located in the subpolar and temperate climatic zones of the Northern Hemisphere. Therefore, we create something similar on our site.
Growing cranberries: where to plant
Basically, cranberries are grown for practical purposes - to obtain berries rich in vitamins and microelements. In this case, cranberries are grown in special equipped beds. In landscape design, cranberries are used much less often than lingonberries and blueberries, which are close to it. And even more so, its decorative value is incomparable with such representatives of the Heather family as rhododendron, erica, heather.
In low areas where water accumulates and stagnates, where there is poor runoff, very acidic soil and a lack of mineral components in the substrate, and where most ornamental plants do not grow, nature has created optimal conditions for cranberries. The cranberry can also be broken on a flat or slightly rising surface. It can be combined organically with other heather plants.
Cranberries are also suitable for creating artificial swamps with appropriate vegetation. Such corners of the "wilderness" are very popular nowadays. Cranberries will not only decorate a garden or park in autumn and winter with little snow, but will also attract birds, which will become plant protectors in spring.
In landscape design, companion plants for cranberries can be bushes, trees, shrubs and herbaceous perennials. Cranberries are ideally combined with different types of conifers: pines, spruces, thujas. In this case, you can use dwarf, medium and tall forms of conifers with a different type of crown. From deciduous shrubs, willows and mountain ash of dwarf and shrub forms, as well as euonymus, are suitable. Deciduous trees - maples, birches, mountain ash - should be selected according to their species composition.
From shrubs to cranberries, lingonberries are well adjacent, and from herbaceous plants - various types of sedge, cotton grass, wild rosemary. In the lower tier of the cranberry, you can add some of the green mosses, for example, the evergreen cuckoo flax, which does not lose its decorative effect and retains moisture well. You can plant cranberries in rockeries and compositions with rounded large boulders. Being a long-lived shrub plant in the garden, under favorable conditions, cranberries can grow for 30-40 years.
Cranberry growing conditions
Cranberries love good lighting and can withstand direct sunlight. Diffused light works best for her. With a lack of light, cranberries grow poorly and bear little fruit.
She will need soil with an acidity of 2.5-5.0 and good aeration. All types of cranberries are mycotrophic plants, therefore, symbiosis with soil fungus allows cranberries to grow on poor substrates. The optimal soils for growing cranberries are high and transitional (middle) peat. In this case, the plant feels at home, takes root easily, grows quickly and lays many generative buds.
When planting cranberries in an inappropriate type of soil, in which there is no symbiont fungus, the cranberries will not grow and will soon die. The fungus hyphae braid the cranberry roots, receiving organic substances from them, and supply the cranberries with dissolved minerals, including nitrogen, which is necessary for the growth of all plants. When growing cranberries, you can add a little forest land (from a coniferous forest) to the peat.
We advise you to read: Cranberries: types and properties What to cook from cranberries
How to save cranberries for the winter Cranberry treatment
Cranberry is a marsh plant, therefore it does not like the drying out of the soil, although it is able to endure the dry period. But this will not do the cranberry good: it can shed fruits or slow down the formation of flower buds. Since cranberries have a superficial root system located at a depth of 1-2 cm, the soil where cranberries are grown must always be moist.
In order to prevent the substrate from drying out and create good conditions for the cranberries, you can resort to several methods of retaining moisture by mulching. Chopped bark sawdust is suitable, it is better to use coniferous bark, which will maintain the acidity of the soil, needles, foliage (preferably started to rot) finely chopped straw or hay. You can plant moss next to the cranberries, it is hygroscopic, and the water absorbed by it persists for a long time.
Fertilize cranberries with nitrogen fertilizers (ammonium sulfate), which are applied in spring (April - May). At the same time, potash fertilizers (potassium sulfate) are also applied. But feeding cranberries with organic fertilizers can harm and even lead to the death of the plant.
Caring for young cranberries involves weeding frequently. And the overgrown bushes will periodically have to be cut in the fall or spring. It will reduce the overgrowth and thickening of cranberries, which reduces yields, mulching plantings with coarse sand or peat chips with a layer of 2 cm. It is enough to carry it out every three to four years.
Many varieties of large-fruited cranberries (it is more thermophilic), in case of a winter with little snow, will need additional protection against desiccation and freezing, as well as against diseases and pests that affect the plant (for example, brown rot, weevil caterpillars, black-headed fireworm). Such protection should be similar to what happens in nature. To do this, the raised ridges, on which the cranberries are grown, are gradually poured with cold water. The first time (the lower layer is a couple of cm) - with shallow soil freezing and slight subzero temperatures. The second (of the same thickness) - after freezing of the poured water. The third is like the second. And so on until the plants completely go under the ice. This technique of caring for cranberries is called freezing. In the spring, the thawed water is drained from the garden bed, throwing back the boards-sides.
All types of cranberries reproduce easily and quickly by vegetative methods. Their creeping shoots take root by themselves. A good result is obtained by cutting cranberries. Cuttings 10 cm long are harvested while budding from vertical shoots. They are wrapped in moist moss and kept in a cold place for a month and a half. During this time, roots grow on many of them. From June to July, cuttings (1-2 pieces each) are planted in moist peat according to the 15x20 cm scheme. They quickly take root and form roots even without a rooting agent (90-98%).
You can also propagate cranberries by dividing the mother shrub. This is best done in early spring before flowering or in fall.
Generative propagation of cranberries is carried out using seeds obtained from berries. Since in nature, cranberries pass through the stomachs of birds or animals, for better germination, seeds need scarify... Presowing treatment also involves stratification seeds. They are placed in moist peat with the addition of sand and kept at a temperature of -3-6 0С for 1-3 months, providing oxygen access. Seeds are planted in autumn in containers with a mixture of peat and sand, covered with a layer of moss. Seed germination occurs at an average temperature of + 23 ° C.
Before planting cranberries, you need to prepare the site and determine the type of soil. If it is a loamy substrate, heavy or clay soil, then the soil layer is removed by 30-35 cm, and sand is added to the bottom of the pit. The soil for planting should consist of a mixture of high peat and coniferous sawdust in a ratio of 4: 1 or 5: 1.
If peat is not available, a mixture of coniferous humus and double superphosphate is suitable (ratio of 2 buckets of humus to 8-10 g of fertilizer per 1 sq. M).
If the planting of cranberries is carried out on light sandy soils, in which water immediately goes into the lower layers of the soil, a thick plastic wrap is placed on the bottom of the pit.
They practice the cultivation of large-fruited cranberries in raised one-meter beds up to 4 meters long. Their edges, rising by a quarter of a meter, are fastened with wooden boards (the sides of the garden). The natural topsoil in the beds is removed by 20-50 cm, the bottom is covered with dense polyethylene and the entire space of the elevated bed is filled with the necessary soil mixture. Cranberry seedlings are planted at a distance of 20-25 cm from each other. After planting, cranberries should be watered abundantly and mulched with needles or moss, or sprinkled with a layer of river sand. In the first 2-3 weeks, until the seedlings have taken root well, you need to especially monitor the moisture content of the soil: it should not dry out.
Selection of species and varieties of cranberries for growing
When choosing cranberry varieties, you need to remember: the more the variety differs from the mother plant, the less resistant it is and the more susceptible it is to diseases.
For growing cranberries for decorative purposes on heaths, alpine hills or on the banks of artificial reservoirs, the wild form of common cranberries or large-fruited cranberries are best suited.
The largest number of varieties, about two hundred, are bred on the basis of large-fruited cranberries. It differs from common cranberry not only in the size of its berries, but also in its faster growth and a large number of creeping shoots. From the branches of the shrub lying on the ground, erect shoots depart, on which flowers develop, and subsequently fruits.
Breeders have developed early varieties of large-fruited cranberries, whose berries ripen in September: Washington, Franklin, Wilcox, Earley Black. The latter variety has smaller berries than other varieties, but wins in quantity.
In the Stevens and Beckwith varieties, the ripening of berries does not begin until the second half of September, the diameter of the berries is about 2.1 cm. Stevens is considered the most productive variety among mid-ripening cranberries.
The late Hoves cranberry variety has berries up to 1.7 cm in diameter, they ripen only in October.
When growing common (or marsh) cranberries, to obtain a harvest, you can pick up varieties that are not inferior in size to large-fruited cranberries.
Gift of Kostroma and Severyanka are medium ripeness varieties with a berry diameter of 1.8-1.9 cm.
The size of the berries is slightly smaller for the medium-ripening variety Sominskaya (1.3-1.4 cm). But this variety has a high yield and a long shelf life of berries.
Among the late varieties of marsh cranberries Krasa Severa is distinguished by large oval fruits 1.5-1.6 cm.
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In the video: some varieties of cranberries
Cranberry is a low-growing creeping shrub whose shoots root well on their own. Such rooted young can be separated and grown in containers or in a permanent place.
Also, this culture is excellent cuttings. For this purpose, cuttings are cut and planted in moist soil mulched with a layer of sand. To maintain sufficient humidity in the environment, the planting is covered with foil and watered regularly. After 20-25 days, the cuttings will take root and give lateral shoots.Cranberry video
Growing cranberries from seeds is only justified if you want to get plants for decorative purposes. Varietal properties during seed reproduction are not always preserved, besides, it will take a long time to wait for the harvest, about 5-6 years, and even then with good care. Cranberry seeds should be refrigerated for 3 months at + 3 ° C. But even with such preparation, do not expect that they will give amicable shoots. In the first year, seedlings will require a lot of your attention. And if you don't have the time and patience, seed cranberries are not for your case. It is much easier to grow it from a cutting or buy a ready-made seedling.
Grow your cranberries by following these simple rules and they will reward you with a generous harvest of vitamin berries.