Honeyberry Home Gardeners
Wellcome home gardeners and thank you for considering growing this very rewarding plant in your garden. Honeyberries are very easy to grow and offer you the added benefit of being the first berry to fruit in the season – about 10 to 14 days earlier than your local native strawberry. The flavoursome berries are packed with healthy treats like antioxidants, active polyphenols, pectins, tannins, and vitamin C. They are rich in minerals, and the berries potassium content of 70 mg is twice that of Blackcurrants, Raspberries, and Blackberries. They are delicious eaten fresh or frozen.
Plant Sales – North American home gardeners
If you live in the United States, we suggest you contact Berries Unlimited directly by Phone: +1 479 846 6030 or visit their website – www.berriesunlimited.com. They are extremely helpful, knowledgeable and supply us with many magnificent and fabulous varieties of Honeyberries. Their future pipeline is very exciting. The can provide small 6 cm potted plants or a larger one to two gallon sizes.
Please remember to achieve a healthy supply of tasty berries. We would suggest you plant three varieties in your garden for cross-pollination. It is similar to a pear, apple, plum or sour cherry. Also, the berries are more flavoursome eaten together as a blend rather one variety at a time.It is common with all berries and why for example Wild Blueberries taste superior to Highbush ones laden with water.
Plant Sales – the UK and European home gardeners
If you live in the UK or elsewhere in Europe, we suggest you contact Arbuckle’s Fresh Food by Phone: +44 7747 738364 or visit their website by clicking on their banner below. They are extremely helpful and hope to provide tasty fresh or frozen berries from their farm shop at Lundie Castle Farm, Lundie, DD2 5NT.
Rat droppings or healthy berries?
Honeyberries are very easy to grow in healthy soil and variety groupings of three or more. The result will be tasty, delicious and flavoursome berries (right-hand picture). Thanks to your nutritious and healthy garden soil. The only pests you will have to be on your guard for, are pesky birds looking to eat your berries.
If you decide another course of action. That is to say grown of poor soil or one variety only or grown in a small pot. Then probability suggests you will be rewarded with a weak tasting rat dropping (left-hand picture). So please do not blame the plant, as the ultimate test of your gardening skill is the size and taste of your Honeyberries.
Every garden should have one or three
What do they taste and look like? Well, its blue colour – with a white waxy coating, see below, is similar to a high bush Blueberry. There any many differing shapes and sizes that depend on the variety planted. They range from 2 cm oval berries to 4 cm long cylinders. There is even one shaped like a miniature blue banana. The taste has been described as a cross between a raspberry and a Wild Blueberry, with a hint of elderberry. We are of course biased! However, we think it’s the most flavoursome and tasty berry in the orchard
They can be used for producing jam, juice, salad dressings, and even homemade wines. The important thing to remember is to have fun and be creative in the kitchen. One of the Russian’s favourite Honeyberry combinations is with strawberries and peaches. A final note on its astonishing dark red colour. It may look very dangerous next to your white New Zealand wool carpet. However, you have it on good authority it comes out with lemon juice and water and a little help of white wine.
We do not sell directly to the general public. However, we can point you in the right direction. We do try and answer your gardening questions by email, and the only cost is a picture of your healthy Honeyberry plant for our Blog. For more information on the planting and care of Honeyberries, please pre-order a copy of our new book – ‘Your Essential Honeyberry Guide’ by clicking the banner below.
Honeyberry flowers are hermaphrodite and are most self-incompatible. In obtaining a healthy harvest, it is accepted two or more cultivars must be planted together for cross-pollination. Ideal Honeyberry pollinators include Bumblebees, Hive or Honeybees (one hive per acre) and other native or local bees.
We recommend three to six cultivars (planted in equal number) per garden depending on the size of the orchard. It creates a well balanced and diverse natural grouping, with luxury pollination, above average fruit set and excellent yields. We have also found that Brix levels tend to be higher with greater balanced varietal plantings.
A further advantage of many varieties is that it allows you to recreate the delicious, flavoursome taste of Wild Honeyberries or create your unique flavour with differing berry shapes tailored to your liking.
How to grow Honeyberries?
You will be very glad to know that this berry plant is very easy to grow, and they do not need acidic soil. Sure it has some unique habits, but nothing compared to the high bush Blueberry. By following the few very basic steps below, your Honeyberry plants should thrive for twenty to thirty years and provide you with over eight pounds of tasty fresh fruit every season.
Site selection in your garden
Select a sunny location with well-drained soil that is free of weeds and is well-worked organically rich soil. Honeyberries do not like overly wet swamped sites in your garden. The highest yields can be obtained in open, sunny places. Although the new berries ripen through heat units rather than sun units in May, June or July.
Honeyberries should be planted on plant centres of about 5 to 6 feet apart and 10 feet row centres, depending on the variety. The plant is a thick upright bush from 1.5 to 2.0 meters (4 to 6.5 feet) high and a similar 1.5 to 2.0 meters(4 to 6.5 feet) in diameter. They are fully mature in the 4th or 5th year after planting. By the second or third year, after planting a yield of one to three pounds of berries can be obtained.
Planting and pruning
The best season for planting Honeyberries is in the fall. Spring planting should be planted with care, not to damage the young emerging growth. Honeyberry plants can awaken very early and can start growing at an air temperature around 0 to 2 degrees Celsius or 32 to 36 degrees Fahrenheit when your soil is not ready for garden work. No pruning is needed on young plants. After 8 to 10 years of growth, a light pruning is required to remove the mature old growth or broken branches and to allow newer vigorous young stems.
If you need to prune because the plant has grown too large, please remember it is not recommended to cut the tops off new young growth, as this will reduce next year’s berry yields. Also, do not be worried by peeling bark as this is normal to the Honeyberry plant and Honeysuckle family.
Very cold hardy
One of the many advantages of the Honeyberry is due to its Russian origins. It has outstanding winter hardiness. In winter, the plants can stand frosts down to minus 46 degrees Celsius or minus 50 degrees Fahrenheit without being damaged. In springtime, flowers can withstand frosts of minus 8 degrees Celsius or 18 degrees Fahrenheit. For further information where the plant can thrive or only survive. Please visit our we page – Where will it thrive? It is fair to say that the plant is a native of northern climates, needing around 1,200 chilling hours. However it southern trials, it is showing remarkable adaptability.
Raspberry plants die or suffer terribly from minus 32 to minus 36 degrees Celsius(-32 degrees Fahrenheit). The leaves, and cones of strawberry from minus 16 to minus 18 degrees Celsius (0 degrees Fahrenheit) and the winter hardiness threshold of most cultivars of apple is from minus 38 to minus 40 degrees Celcius(-40 degrees Fahrenheit) .
Soil and Honeyberry fertilising
Honeyberry plants do not like acidic soil. They tolerate a soil range of a pH from 5 to 7. We aim for a healthy balance soil of pH of 6.4, similar to your vegetable garden. Humus or organic matter should be high at around 10 to 15%, and we have seen significant results from 20% organic matter.
The plants do have a healthy nitrogen requirement in the spring. However be careful not to over do it as excess nitrogen will lead to more foliar or leaf production and weakening of fruit production. They also benefit from a balanced phosphorus and potassium feed in the fall. Be careful not to disturb the plant’s shallow roots under the plant. Its root system of the blue honeysuckle is very thick and extensive, distributed within a radius of 1.5 m (5 feet) from the plant. The bulk of the roots is about 6 to 18 inches (15 to 45 cm) in depth.
In Southern or Western areas where drought is prevalent in the summer months, the plant should be watered. So that next season’s berries do not become bitter. How do we define ‘Summer Drought?’ We consider 10 inches or 25 cm of rain between July and September to be sufficient, but please preface this with local knowledge. The plants respond well to a spring or fall mulch of a balanced mix of fungal compost and well-rotted wood chips ( or natural charcoal or biochar if this is available).
We highly recommend ‘The Intelligent Gardener’ – growing nutrient-dense food for those gardeners, who are interested in soil health and how it can improve your health and the taste of your Honeyberries. Please click on the picture below to be taken to the Amzon.com book link. We are often asked where is the best starting place to purchase these needed minerals or soil health starter packs for the home gardener. We have found Michela Astera’s soilminerals.com to be an invaluable source of product and help. His ‘Soil Mineral Supplement’ boxes have kept our garden’s soil and Honeyberries in great health and good fettle.
Spoil your plants with Compost Tea
Soil life is often the forgotten factor in commercial orchards but not in gardens. Farmers should be encouraged to farm like gardeners, rather than the other way around. When we apply minerals to the soil, it’s not just for to keep our Honeyberry plant healthy. A balanced minerally fertile soil is home to over five billion microorganisms, which inhabit every teaspoon of healthy soil. Disease protection, nutrient uptake, available nitrogen supply and mineral stability are all functions of an efficient microbial workforce. They also work for free, but they need to love and spoilt to work in harmony with your garden’s soil.
Microbebrewers.com makes our favourite garden compost tea or microbe brewer. It comes in the form of a ‘Compost Tea in a Bucket (5 gallons). This brewing kit includes – the air pump, air stone, tubing, instructions and 20 gallons worth of the recipe microbe and food ingredients.
The tea is brewed or aerated overnight, and this microbe brew is then diluted and applied (one to five) immediately after planting and during the season.
Graeme Sait’s Microbe Secrets
1. Your fertiliser requirements can be dramatically reduced when you combine microbes with minerals amendments. Experiment by applying compost and microbes with your mineral blend for maximum results.
2. It is always a good idea to send your new garden workforce to work with a healthy lunchbox, improving both their performance and colonisation. The favourite “lunch” treats include – humates, fish, and kelp.
3. Humates are a wonderful ingredient for your soil as it helps to stabilise, magnify and retain nutrients while also providing the highly desirable “lunchbox” effect. Dissolve four teaspoons into the Compost Tea Bucket, after it has brewed, wet soil thoroughly. The diluted 15 gallons should cover approximately 200 square feet.
4. Honeyberries love fungal dominated soil, about ten fungi to one bacteria. So add greater amounts of kelp or humic acid.
The more minerals your soils biology can deliver to your Honeyberry plant, the greater the flavour (Brix of 15 plus) and the higher the medicinal value of the berries you are growing.
Please note chlorinated water should be aerated for 30 minutes before brewing and water temperature should not exceed 25c. You can buy in pre-made food and microbe packs or make your own. Just remember, be creative.
The berries are very easy to pick, and harvesting of the berries depends on your local climate. We use as a local guide Honeyberries fruit about 10 to 14 days earlier than your local native strawberry. In their native Southern Urals and Western Siberia, they harvest during the first ten days of June. In Western Poland and Scotland, they harvest around the middle of June. In the North Eastern states of North America, they harvest in early to mid-July. The earliest berries we have tasted are those produce in the gardens of Berries Unlimited – around mid to late May. Regarding Brix, we begin harvesting on a Brix of 15 or higher.
Differing regional ripening periods
In more temperate climates (Oregon), we find that the berries take longer to ripen 80 to 90 days versus in colder climates 50 to 60 days.
It is to do with fruit plant’s ethylene production and how it controls fruit ripening. Recent studies show that specialised receptors in plant cells bind to the ethylene. The first known plant genes involved in this process, ETR1 and CTR1, were identified in 1993. They keep the fruit ripening genes from activating until ethylene is produced.
The reason for differing ripening periods, we suspect relates to the CO2 levels around the fruit. CO2 can be used to reduce ethylene to increase shelf life and improve food storage. So the colder countries like Poland would have less biological activity (and hence less CO2 – their byproduct)
Warmer regions like Oregon would have higher biological activity in warmer soils and hence more CO2, which reduces ethylene production and slows ripening.
Birds and other pests
The Honeyberry plant is resistant to many found fungus diseases of leaves and other berry plants. If you have fungus problems, the source of this trouble probably lies in the soil rather than with the plant. We have seen no or very few aphids or other insect damage in our orchards.
In our minds, the only real pest of Honeyberries or any orchard is birds. In North America, the principal bird pest is Ceder Waxwings. In Russia, it is Snowbirds or Sparrows. So for your family to enjoy fresh Honeyberries. You need protection from birds at harvest time. The simplest garden solution is bird netting and put up the nets as soon as the berries turn blue. This is about 20 to 30 days before harvesting. Avoid draping the birdnets on young plants, as the early new growth or shoots will grow through the nets and become tangled. We find a row posts and wire solution similar to that found in vineyards works best.
On the topic of deer and other animals – we have heard out West coyotes are partial to the berries! The best answer to this problem is local knowledge is best. We have found that deer in the summer months prefer the grass in the orchard rows rather than the plants. The key deer problem window is during March and April if there is still snow on the ground and they tend to graze the top buds that are starting to form.
How long will it remain productive?
The simple answer to this question is a very long time! A Blackcurrant has a life span of 4 to 5 years, Redcurrant 15 years; a Raspberry fruit years are considered 2 to 4 years and a Strawberry is most productive up to 3 years of age. In Russia, Honeyberries remain highly productive until the age of 25 to 40 years old. There are some cases where 150-year-old plants are still laden with berries. In Russia, the plant is considered a plant today and will be able to enjoy not only by your children but by your grandchildren and even by your great-grandchildren.
Intending to sell at your local farmer’s market?
How much do Honeyberries sell a pound for? Well, how long is a piece of string? The best way to start to answer this is to describe the Honeyberry price premium to strawberries in Ukraine and Russia. In Ukraine, the price of a kilogramme of Honeyberries is 5 to 7 times higher than the prices for Ukrainian strawberries. In Moscow, it is 3 to 5 times greater. Even in the Novosibirsk and Tomsk regions of Russia, where the Honeyberries are commonly found in commercial orchards or the wild. The strawberry premium is 1.5 to 2.0 times.
The current prices of Honeyberries vary from whether they are organic or not or frozen or fresh. As a guide, in Poland, non-organic commercial frozen sell for around $2.60 a pound and fresh berries at the local farmers sell for about $10.00 a pound.
LoveHoneyberry – We are about helping You!
Our commitment at LoveHoneyberry is to enable you, to quickly establish a profitable Honeyberry orchard, by eliminating many of the high start-up and ongoing errors associated with a new fruit.
We are very passionate about the opportunities that Honeyberries offers growers (in particular organic) and encourage you to see these initial Honeyberry plant ordering costs as only a fraction of the lifetime revenue potential from fresh or frozen berry sales or Honeyberry value added products. We can ship Honeyberry or Haskap in-vitro plantlets or potted plants to you in most regions in the world, where the plants can thrive.
Our commitment does not disappear once we have sold you plants. Our passion is to help you improve your orchard’s soil fertility to allow you to grow high yielding, nutrient dense Honeyberries with sweeter and deeper flavours, and longer shelf life. You can implement our nutrient strategies by including our core recommended products into your current programs.