How to Grow Cranberries – A Guide to Growing Cranberries
Cranberries are a tasty and easy to grow tart fruit that add dimension to recipes as well as makes delicious juice. Dried, they are a nice healthy snack or delicious addition to salads.
Cranberries are high in Vitamin C and antioxidants earning them a place in the garden and daily health.
They are a long-lived, spreading plant, so take the time to select the growing type you wish, lowbush or highbush, as well as the variety that will suit. Contrary to popular belief, cranberries do not grow in bogs.
Recommended Varieties of Cranberry
Cranberry : Pilgrim
A low growing evergreen with small leathery leaves and a prostrate habit, making it ideal for creating a cascading effect in containers or hanging baskets. The tiny pink to red flowers are followed by juicy dark-red berries with a distinctive tart flavour, often still hanging on bushes throughout the winter.
Cranberry Red Star
Attractive creeping, evergreen shrubs which are ideal for growing in patio containers or hanging baskets. The pretty, dark pink flowers in summer are followed by delicious berries that are initially white but turn a bright red when they ripen in early autumn.
Cranberry Pests & Problems
- Cranberry fruitworm can be controlled with insecticide
- bright red spots on leaves are leaf spot. Treat with copper based fungicide
- Usually grown from cuttings rather than seeds
- Plants need a few years to establish before berry production begins
- Planting in ground, allow approximately two square feet per 1 yr old plant to spread. Remove soil to a depth of six to eight inches and clear all weed roots. Cranberries cannot compete with weeds. If your soil tends to be dry, the dug area can be lined with polythene with some drainage holes punched in the bottom.
- Fill the area with either ericaceous soil or peat moss, some sharp sand, and add about a pound of blood meal and a half pound of bone meal. Add some high nitrogen fertilizer. Mix. Water, but do not over saturate.
- Plant cuttings two inches deep and about one to two feet apart (1-1.5m) 3 yr old plants need 3 ft (1m) spacings
- Water regularly so soil stays moist to the touch for the first year while cranberries establish themselves. Mulch is recommended.
- Feed the first year or two with some high nitrogen fertilizer to encourage upright shoots then stop
- About every 3 years during production, cut out any dead wood, never the uprights, and trim new runners to revigorate berry production
- Ground growth works best for cranberries but they will grow in wide pots filled with ericaceous soil mix as above. Trim runners that escape the pot but leave others to grow fruiting upright stems. Keep well watered.
Harvesting , Eating & Storing Cranberries
- One year cuttings need a few years to mature before crop appears
- Pick berries by hand before the first fall frost. Ripe berries are deep red and seed inside is brown
- Before winter sets in, cover plants with heavy mulch of pine cuttings.
- Remove mulch in spring when threat of frost is over. Or, cover plants with fleece in spring.
- The berries are somewhat tart so some sweetening may be needed
- Berries can be stored in fridge up to two months in tightly covered container
- Or they can be dehydrated or turned into juice, chutneys, etc.