Friday, March 23, 2012

Expanding my edible food forest garden, round 2

Cornus mas, photo by wlcutler

Last year I started my first guild (and updated here) in a long-range plan for an edible food forest garden. Now with spring approaching, I'm ready to expand my food forest garden a little. I'm actually not expanding it yet since it's only March, but I just bought a bunch of new perennial plants that will get started in some new areas of my yard when it gets warmer. Oh, and I've also put a whole slew of woody fruit cuttings in little mini-greenhouse enclosures, hoping some will root.

Hardy Kiwi (female), photo by Joe+Jeanette Archie

My new plants just purchased include: 2 Cornus Mas (dogwood family) aka Cornelian Cherry which has edible fruit and shown at the top of this post; 1 Aycock green leaf plum that I have lusted after ever since I ate one right off the tree 4-5 years ago; two hardy kiwi (one male and one female) vines; 2 table grapes (a Concord and a white variety); and 2 different Haskap varieties.

Haskap, aka Juneberry; photo by Jeena Paradies

Haskaps are also known as Juneberries, and as Saskatoons, but for all practical purposes the fruits look and taste like blueberries. However, they do not require the acidic soil that blueberries do, and that's a big plus for me and my more neutral soil.

I had my three 20 gallon pots of figs, and my  several potted blueberries stored in the barn for the winter, covered in fiberglass insulation. Either mice or voles got into them, and only one blueberry survived. They didn't leave a speck of root nor branch except one blueberry and that one is iffy! The Haskaps will go in the ground soon and start to replace the blueberries. 

My big concern is that since some critters ate the roots and stems of my potted plants in the barn (like they ate all my sweet potato tubers in the ground last year), how do I protect new tree and bush roots in the ground? My instinct tells me to encircle each of them with planted garlic, chives and garlic chives. It will be a challenge, and my cat is sure not earning her keep killing the voles!

In April I will be attending an Extension Service grafting class about 2 hours away; it's being held at an antique cider apple orchard. They say we'll each go home with 5 apple grafts to plant! 

The woody fruit cuttings I now have under tents here at home include 2 trays of elderberries... the first tray of over a dozen seems to be growing fine. The second tray was just set a few days ago, so there's a long way to go. Other woody cuttings include beach plum, filberts (hazelnuts), Nanking cherries, Chinese chestnuts, black currants, buffalo currants, and maybe even some red currants (my currant bushes are unmarked).

I don't expect a lot of success with my woody cuttings other than the elderberries, since it's my first attempt, but I have to start somewhere... and buying a lot of fruiting plants is not in my budget. Any of these that do not root will be attempted again in summer with softwood cuttings. And again in winter with woody cuttings if necessary.


  1. Juneberries grow wild up in ND where I am from..what a treat it was to go picking them in the spring.We all came home with pails full and tummies full, too. My brother sill tries to get out to pick some but they are getting harder and harder to find. My uncle finally planted some at his summer home and has to keep them in wire cages to keep the birds from getting them all.

    1. Well, they will be a new experience for me! I do hear they can struggle in summer heat so I'll have to keep my eye on them.

  2. Were you able to purchase your Haskap plants in your area or do you have a favorite nursery that you "mail order" from? I'd like to purchase some of those!

    Leah's Mom

    1. First, I made a mistake by repeating common assumptions! Haskaps are not the same as Juneberries, just close. Haskaps, aka Honeyberries, are Lonicera caerulea var. edulis and Juneberries are Amelanchier alnifolia, a close cousin of our Eastern serviceberry Amelanchier canadensis), which is found as a tall shrub in our local forests.

      Juneberries look like blueberries although they are more closely related to cherries and plums.

      I bought my Haskaps from Edible Landscaping in Afton, VA ( and they do a lot of mail order although I was there in person. It's about 200 miles from here. For some reason, their website today is showing no plants of any kind at all!

      The two Haskaps I got are (Blue Bird and Berry Blue) are both early bloomers which means subject to late frosts. (They didn't tell me that, Grrrr.) OneGreenWorld carries several varieties, and I may get a couple of later-blooming varieties from them.

      St. Lawrence Nursery in Potsdam, NY carries Juneberries. (

  3. Haskap vs Honeyberry - Naming gets confusing really quickly. Jim Gilbert of One Green World was the first to introduce edible blue honeysuckle to North America in the mid-90s. What he introduced came from Russia. He renamed them honeyberries. They were Lonicera caerulea var. edulis from eastern Asia or Lonicera caerulea var. kamtschatica from northeastern Asia. Lonicera caerulea var. emphyllocalyx comes from the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido where it is known as Haskap. In the early 00's, the University of Saskatchewan began a breeding program using some of OGW's germplasm but no haskap germplasm although they called the varieties from their breeding programme Haskap because they were targeting the Japanese market. Dr. Maxine Thompson of the University of Oregon also has a breeding programme using Hokkaido haskap. She is attempting to breed a variety better suited to the more temperate climate of the pacific Northwest. None of her varieties have been released to nurseries although there is a pick-your-own in Kentucky who has 23 unnamed, numbered varieties from her.

    Confused yet? No? There's more. The University of Saskatchewan is now incorporating Hokkaido haskap into its breeding programme. Nothing has been released yet so who knows what the naming will be.

    If you want more info about the varieties that OGW and other US sellers carry, see There are two US sellers carrying the Canadian bred varieties - and Cornell Fruit also has a list of sellers of both haskap and honeyberry -

  4. Mike, you are always SO helpful, and I thank you. I hate not knowing what I really have, as much as I HATE posting erroneous information.

    I'll follow up on all those URL's in a couple of days. Maybe I'll be more educated and less confused!


I'd love to hear what you think about my posts! We all learn together.