"The tragic reality is that very few sustainable systems are designed or applied by those who hold power, and the reason for this is obvious and simple: to let people arrange their own food, energy and shelter is to lose economic and political control over them. We should cease to look to power structures, hierarchical systems, or governments to help us, and devise ways to help ourselves." - Bill Mollison

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Honeyberries


I am excited to see that our little honeyberry (edible blue honeysuckle) has finally developed a few fruits for us this season. Honeyberries, with their frost tolerant flowers, are known for their ability to fruit early, a couple weeks before strawberries, and with a little luck they will even produce on 1 year old bushes. Ours has taken quite a few more years than that but then again we have uprooted and moved the poor bushes on several occasions which no doubt has set them back a bit. From what I've read they will produce berries for well over 30 years so I am willing to be patient. Some varieties are supposed to produce anywhere from 3-5 lbs of fruit per bush when fully mature...ours has about 20 berries on it.

The plants require cross pollination so at least one other, preferably more, different and compatible varieties are necessary for fruit set. Although our other bush is very small, produced no flowers to speak of, yet we still have these berries on the larger plant so they are obviously able to self pollinate to some degree as the flowers are (I think) hermaphrodite (having both male and female organs). Life will find a way I suppose. If memory serves me, I believe our bushes are Berry Blue and Blue Belle. There are many varieties and not all are compatible with each other.

I'm excited to start taking cuttings for propagation and hope to have more than a few bushes in the near future. Theoretically, this Siberian honeysuckle should be a perfect addition to our berry patch as they are not at all picky about the type of soil they are grown in and can be hardy from zones 2-8 and -40°F.

So anyway, I hope to become more involved with this particular plant now that it's obvious they will indeed grow and produce for us. I plan on purchasing a few more varieties next spring and also hope to focus on propagating some of my own through cuttings and maybe even seed. The plants are not cheap so I had better start saving my pennies.:)

The berries have a sweet tart flavor that I really like.


40 comments:

Sheryl at Providence Acres Farm said...

I have recently taken an interest in honeyberries too. I have one, a Haskap borealis, I think. I hope to get another for cross pollination this year too.

I think the berries would make excellent pies and wine!

LynnS said...

What an interesting berry shape. I really like the color of this berry.

You guys really enjoy your berries and your plans to propagate more (and buy diff varieties) will no doubt give you a bounty! I can imagine you will make more of your rooftop fruit leather with an ample supply.

I'll bet a jam or pie would be sinfully delicious.

ThyHandHathProvided said...

I have never heard of honeyberries, although the pictures of them look vaguely familiar. We're all about the berries, too. You can never have too many. They are possibly my favorite fruit.

Roasted Garlicious said...

how exciting!!! i can honestly say i've not heard of them before.. sounds interesting, will have to see if we have them here!

Mr. H. said...

Sheryl - Berry Blue is supposed to be a good pollinator for Borealis. I also think they would/will make and excellent pie berry too...I do like my pies.:)

Lynn - They do have a weird shape and taste somewhat similar to a wild blueberry, I like the flavor. I am really looking forward to expanding my experimentation with the outdoor drying this year.

Thy Hand - Yes, they are my favorite fruit as well...especially huckleberries and black raspberries. I think all this rain we are getting will make for an excellent wild berry season...I can't wait.

Roasted Garlicious - I think they are available from DNA Gardens in Alberta and Raintree nursery over by Seattle. I bet they would do good in your climate.

Fiona said...

I've never heard of honeyberries either, but I'm intrigued! I like their hardiness and their productive lifespan... or maybe I'm just excited to learn about a new berry! They sound lovely dried or in jams and of course a crumble and and and... Great post!

Emma said...

I have a pair of honeyberries in containers, which were planted last year. One flowered this year, but I am not expecting any fruit. Maybe next year though!

kitsapFG said...

I have been eyeing honeyberries for several years now and am glad you posted about them. The thing that has been holding me back from acquiring some is that I do not have any to try/taste ahead of time such that i am gambling that I will actually like the taste of the berries!

Mrs. Mac said...

Very interesting berry Mr. H. I've never heard of them before. I bet they are yummy if they taste like are sweet and tart.

granny said...

Berry nice :0)

vrtlarica said...

First time I see these berries. I don’t think that I have ever heard of them. They look like they are very delicious.
If I would have more space in the garden, I would definitely grow more berries.

Carolemc said...

Very interesting post - I'd seen Honeyberries on the websites of fruit suppliers in the UK - but had no idea what they are like. I do love Blueberries so might give these a whirl too.

I'll be very keen to see how they do for you.

Mike said...

I'm excited to start taking cuttings for propagation and hope to have more than a few bushes in the near future.

They're pretty easy to propagate. Cuttings that I rooted last year, flowered and fruited this year.


I think that fruiting that soon was unusual but then again it was an unusual spring.

For more info on edible blue honeysuckle, see http://ediblebluehoneysuckle.ning.com/.

Dirty Girl Gardening said...

How fabulous!! I've never grown these... they look very cool.

Mr. H. said...

Fiona - They do seem to have potential as a great dessert berry. I'll let you know in a couple years when I have enough to spare for the crumble.:)

Emma - Lucky you, I bet you will get some fruit next season. I would love to hear what you think about it.

KitsapFG - That's why we only tried a couple...just to see how they would grow and taste. I think you might like the flavor, it really can be described as sweet and tart. It does not taste like your average blueberry to me though, but does remind me of the flavor of a wild blueberry.

Mrs. Mac - I know that you would like them, they would make an excellent jam or jelly I think.

Granny - Berry nice indeed...except that the birds finished the rest of the berries off for me.:(

vrtlarcia - I bet your climate would be excellent for growing most any fruit or berry....and those beautiful strawberries of yours...I'm still waiting on ours.

Carolemc - You will have to try a couple bushes someday. Don't be fooled by the adds though, they really do not taste like your average bluberry but have their own unique, but good flavor.

Mike - Thank you! This information is just what I was looking for. It looks like you took softwood cuttings, so I should be able to do that at anytime rather than waiting for the bush to be dormant.

Dirty Girl - They really are a neat looking little bush, they remind me of some of the red huckleberry bushes we pick off of in August.

Ayak said...

There's an award for your blog over at mine

http://ayak-turkishdelight.blogspot.com/2010/06/awards.html

Heiko said...

Sounds lovely! See there are advantages to cool climate gardening. Mind you the weather here is turning rathet cool and damp again...

miss m said...

Lovely ! I've been eyeing honeyberry since stumbling upon it last Fall on the net. I'm a big fan of honeysuckle and want more berries in the patch so this plant to me is a definite winner. Just need to find a good spot for it before taking the plunge.

stephanie said...

I've seen these in the Burgess catalog, from which I've never ordered a thing, but my 6 yo cut these out for an "eating the rainbow" project. Interesting to read more about them. We just finished off our Juneberries, here.

Mr. H. said...

Ayak - Thank you.:)

Heiko - I think there must be one big giant rain cloud that extends from Idaho all the way to Italy...it's raining here again as well. But yes, there are definite advantages to a cooler climate garden...like as many salad greens as one could ever want.

Mrs. M - They are supposed to like partial sun so I originally planted ours in such a location where it struggled greatly. As soon as I moved it to a sunnier spot it really took off.

Stephanie - Sounds like a fun project. Our June berries are still very green and should be called July berries in North Idaho.:)

David Rivera O said...

Congratulations!, I admire their work and dedication, tomorrow will be able to harvest good fruits.
Thank you for their excellent information.

Sylvie in Rappahannock said...

I think I have come across references to edible fruiting honeysuckle before, but never really paid attention to them. Glad - and interested - to read of your experience with them. Although I am in climate that's less cold than yours in winter, I should look into their cultivation requirements. I am all for undemanding fruit that taste good...

From where did you source them?

Kate said...

How incredibly interesting.... I have never heard of honey berries! I am going to see if I can find this here in Australia.

Leigh said...

I've been eying these in the catalogues, so I was delighted to find someone blog about them. Thanks

Mr. H. said...

David - Gracias, con un poco de suerte tendremos más plantas y una buena cosecha en unos pocos años. Gracias por visiting.

Sylvie - I bet they would do well for you as the plants are supposed to thrive in zones 2-8 and I have even read zone 9. We bought ours from Miller Nursery but I do not recommend using them as they have poor quality plants in my opinion. We had to send the original ones back as they were dead upon arrival. Territorial also sells them as well as Raintree nursery (under honeysuckle).

http://www.raintreenursery.com/catalog/p

roducttype.cfm?producttype=HONE

http://www.territorialseed.com/product/1280/163

Kate - I'm glad that you find them to be interesting as I do and hope that they are available for you in Australia.:)

Leigh - If you buy them I highly recommend purchasing them in pots rather than just a few dormant sticks as we did. Check out my comment to Sylvie for a couple of reputable companies that sell them. I think I will use Raintree for my next purchase.

GetSoiled said...

Can I just tell you how many times I looked at this plant wondering just in what way I could cheat nature and make it flourish in my zone 9ish?

I am so happy I get to grow plants vicariously through you guys! I heard honeyberries are highly nutritious too...so yummy and good for ya. Dang. *jealous*

I have been thinking that a part of me would rather garden farther north...because in a place like, say, the Carolinas I could be a millionare and have a huge green house in which to grow all the tropicals and then outside I could live off peaches, all sorts of cherries and berries...it is much easier (given the $) to cheat a subtropical plant than one that needs more cold more often or is light sensitive...perhaps I could build me a humongous glass fridge where to grow 'em berries???

Oh one can dream, no?

Happy to see your garden is thriving! Say hello to the missus and to the lil' one and to the dog(s?), goats, chickens, yadda yadda yadda...

Mr. H. said...

GS - Me too, a large heated greenhouse in a Northern climate where I can grow all of those wonderful fruits that only grow in places like Florida.:)

Frustrated Farmer Rick said...

Will be interested to see how well these turn out for you. We may have to look into these for use around here. Thanks for the info.

Mr. H. said...

I bet they would thrive in your cooler climate.:)

The Cottage Garden Farmer said...

Thanks for this, I've been meaning to give honeyberries a try, so now I will - I see Thompson and Morgan have a special offer on at the moment, 3 young plants for £16!

Mr. H. said...

Cottage Garden Farmer - I hope you do and that seems to be a good price for them. They are a very nice, compact berry bush and I am excited to get a few more going too.:)

Silke said...

I had never heard of these berries and have to show them to Daniel. How interesting! What do you do with them besides just eating them? Can you make jam? Pies? Freeze them? I always learn something new when I visit! Hope you are both doing well!! : ) Silke

Mr. H. said...

Hi Silke! - The best way to use these berries is to make a fine jam to spread on the "Best German bread" we made last night. I think we have made it about 7 times since you shared that wonderful recipe with everyone...so very good.

From what I have read you can use these berries as you would a huckleberry or blueberry...pie, jam, smoothies...all good stuff.:)

Lorena said...

I tried Honeyberries down here in zone 4, the plants do well but it's been 3-4 years and I have yet to see a berry although I have two different varieties, maybe your moving them had nothing to do with the time before fruiting or maybe I need to move mine to get them to bear fruit!

Mr. H. said...

Lorena - It hard to say for sure, I moved mine out of the shadowy depths of our salad garden so they would receive a bit more sunshine. Hopefully yours will produce soon...I think the robins got more of the berries than I did this year though.

Amy said...

I'm sorry I didn't see your comment on my honeyberry post until today.

Your honeyberries look great. I'm glad you mentioned that you moved yours to more sun. I was actually worried that my little plants must be getting too much sun. So, now I know it isn't a sun issue. Must be soil.

Mr. H. said...

No problem Amy, I'm just glad that there is someone else out there growing them so that we can compare notes.:)

Jim and Bernis Ingvaldson said...

Hello from northern Minnesota, where my husband and I brought down 300 Canadian haskap this past September! We sold half of the plants and put the other half into the garden, so are eagerly awaiting spring to see how many survive! Amongst 3 gardeners in Minnesota we only had a 50% survival rate for the bare root honeyberries that we got from a mail order company, so we're expecting much better success having received live plants from Canada. We are now taking orders for a spring shipment of haskap/honeyberry plants at www.northwoodsgarden.blogspot.com. Will reship anywhere in the USA using PriorityPost or UPS.

We are also gathering information for doing a U-Pick, talking to growers in Saskatchewan, hoping to avoid some of the pitfalls they have encountered in dealing with a larger operation (wind/weeds/birds/deer).

Great to see all the interest your blog has generated! I'll be looking for more updates in the future as you're a few steps ahead of us!

Mr. H. said...

Jim and Bernis - Thanks so much for the information.

turgid86 said...

I love this blog! I have a new blog all about Haskaps that I just started, check it out at http://haskaps.blogspot.com/

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