The growing number of millennial gardeners is spurring the trend of raising vegetables, herbs and fruit in backyard gardens.
Many of these new gardeners are growing their edibles in raised beds or containers, increasing the demand for new and tasty varieties that can be grown with less space. This demand is keeping plant breeders busy developing new introductions. Here are a few to look for in the next few years.
Delizz, a hybrid developed by a Dutch Company, is a day-neutral strawberry with compact growth. It produces orange-red berries that are about 1 to 1 1/2 inches in size, making them somewhat small compared to June bearing varieties. However, each plant will produce about 45 sweet, aromatic berries during the summer.
Delizz plants grow about 10 to 24 inches tall and a compact 12 inches wide. It is recommended that plants be spaced 20 inches apart in the garden. The interesting thing about Delizz is that plant breeders recommend that you grow them as annuals, even though the plants are considered perennial. They can even be grown indoors on a sunny windowsill, although they will not produce as well as out in the garden. Delizz was a 2016 All American Award Winner, which means that it performed well in test gardens around the U.S.
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Typically, gardeners start their strawberry beds using dormant bareroot plants that have been certified as virus free. Delizz can be started from seed (available at jungseed.com), but you may also find it available as potted plants at local nurseries.
Another new strawberry had a limited launch in Europe this year. It is a pink-berried variety called Bubble Berry. While I am not excited about this novelty heirloom strawberry that tastes like bubble gum, I think my youngest granddaughter might like it. The fruit are a soft pink color, not unlike real bubble gum. The same company that will be introducing Bubble Berry to gardeners introduced the Hula Berry strawberry in Home Depot stores this year. This novelty strawberry has unusual white berries with red seeds and tastes like pineapple. Hula Berry must be cross-pollinated to produce fruit, so it is recommended that it be planted along with a red-fruited variety for pollination.
Some of you may remember me telling you about BrazzleBerries’ Raspberry Shortcake, a dwarf thornless raspberry that is perfect for growing in containers, and Jelly Bean, one of their dwarf blueberries that also is eminently suitable for growing in containers. I grow both plants in half wine barrels on my patio.
Now I need to find a few more barrels to grow the newest BrazzleBerry introductions. Baby Cakes is a dwarf, thornless blackberry that is great for growing in containers. It produces large, sweet blackberries in summer on the older canes in mid-summer and on new canes in mid-fall. However, the company notes that this later crop may be inhibited in areas like ours with hot summer weather.
Another recent introduction to the BrazzleBerry line is a double-cropping blueberry called Perpetua. While this cultivar has “smallish mild and sweet” berries, it produces one crop in mid-summer and another crop in fall. The deep red and green color of the leaves in winter are an added attraction. If you like to graze your garden, you might find this one is for you.
I wonder how many more pots I can fit on my patio? I want to try all of these berries, except perhaps Bubble Berry.
Marianne C. Ophardt is a horticulturist for Washington State University Benton County Extension.