What with the lower temperatures and rainy days, I definitely get the feeling that summer is well and truly over. And whilst I’m still happily picking my autumn raspberries and having the odd exciting find of a ‘Mara des bois’ strawberry, I feel a tad bereft that my Japanese wineberries are also finished for the year. Out of all the fruit that I’ve grown this summer, this tiny berry has been the most delicious of them all.
I have to admit that my berry growing repertoire isn’t that extensive (just strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries and wild strawberries). I’ve never tasted (let alone grown) a tayberry or a goji berry, but each time I’ve nibbled a few of these intense sweetie-like berries, they’ve hit my taste buds like nothing else.
Compared to my strident Polka raspberries, it takes a fair old while to fill a whole bowl, but to be honest, I prefer eating them straight from the cane, preferably after they’ve been warmed by the gentle rays of the sun for an hour or two. As they’re not great travellers ( their delicate petite form tends to crumble if you try to move them about once they’ve been picked), I can’t ever see these berries hitting the supermarkets, but that’s all the more reason in my book to have a go at growing your own.
Earlier this year, I tried a few different ways of training their pink stems, tying some along bamboo canes and twirling others around pieces of wire. All have produced copious amounts of berries, so I reckon that this fruit can be coaxed into a myriad of shapes and sizes and can be squeezed into the tightest of spaces if necessary.
If you fancy growing your own, now is the perfect time to order a bare-rooted plant for a November/ December delivery. Similarly to blackberries and summer raspberries, they fruit on canes produced the previous year, so it will be a couple of years before you get to taste these gems. However gardening is often about the long game, and in this case it certainly will be worth the wait.
P.S. I received an email asking about pruning Japanese wineberries. You can prune old canes that your plant produced fruit on this year (about half of the canes) anytime from now until late winter. Here’s a post about pruning them. Be careful not to prune the new pink canes though, as these are the canes which will provide fruit for next year!
P.P.S Just spoken to a friend, Tanya, who’s a mighty fine cook and would love to have a go at growing some Japanese wineberries. I’ve since popped out into the garden and put the tip of one of the canes into a pot of soil and she will have a new plant of her own next spring/summer. It’s as easy as that. As soon as the cane touches the soil it will start making roots, a bit like a giant strawberry runner. And the new plant should be fruiting in 2015!