How Does My Garden Grow: Blueberries + Raspberries

This is the start of a new garden series.

I am going more in-depth about the planting/growing process, harvesting, and eventual utilization and storage of our crops.

It may seem like vegetables are the star of the garden show around here, but the amount of fruit and nut trees/bushes at the current property add up to over 50 varieties. And sadly, as I mentioned in the garden migration post, many of these cannot be moved as they’re “permanent” and perennial.

Since this is the first installment of the series, let’s break down some terms

Perennial = A plant with a life cycle of more than 2 years, often times much longer than that. The roots remain alive year-round and in the spring produce new flowers and fruits.

Examples: Tulips, asparagus, leeks, most fruits, most herbs.

Annual = A plant with a life cycle of only 1 year. They go from seed, to flower, to fruit, to seed again in 1 year or less.

Examples: Lettuce, tomatoes, beans, peas, corn, zinnias, sunflowers… a vast majority of garden growings!

Biennial = A plant with a 2 year life cycle. A bit more complicated, but they sort of act like a perennial in the first year, and an annual in the second.

Examples: Carrots, celery, parsley, some leeks, many flowers.

It took me a while to wrap my mind around the different categories, but these first featured fruits are easy to remember as being perennial because I have been watching them grow for many, many years

Blueberries + Raspberries

Crops: Blueberries + Raspberries
Annual or Perennial: Perennial
No. of Varieties: 10 (see names below)
Planting Date(s): 2014 – 2015
Age When Planted: 1 – 2 year old canes
Source(s): Fedco Seeds, Nourse Farms

Blueberry Varieties:

  • Lowbush
  • Chippewa Highbush
  • Darrow
  • Jersey
  • Blueray
  • Reka

Raspberry Varieties:

  • Killarney
  • Royalty Purple
  • August Red
  • Black Raspberry

Yes, many of these were planted over 3 years ago with little fruit to speak of in that time. Ah, perennials.

We use a garden planning program called GrowVeg to map out and document the land each year. Here’s a screenshot of what the blueberry + raspberry plots look like on paper:

The great thing about perennials? Once you plant them, the work is basically done.

Unlike annuals, which we have to start in seedling trays every winter and spring, perennials simply show up again, year after year, with new harvests far better than the last.

Here’s a look at our blueberries + raspberries in 2017 so far…

Raspberries starting to get very green back in April.

The plot in April (left) and June (right).

A few blueberries in May vs. June.

Raspberries making their first appearance in late May

And getting their first color in mid-June.

A first meager harvest about 10 days ago…

And many full trugs and containers within the last couple of days.

We’ve been picking raspberries like mad every other day.

But the blueberries are still slowly turning.

With only a handful or so ready each day.

It’s a very exciting time around here, and even though we can’t take these beloved fruit bushes with us, I feel so fortunate that we’re here for a couple more weeks and can continue to pick, and pick and pick

So, what do we do with all of the harvests?

Straight to the freezer!

I arrange the berries on a single layer (either on a cookie sheet or in a casserole dish) so that they freeze individually and not in one big clump. When they’re frozen solid I toss them in a bag, date it, and they’re good to go!

For comparison…

This is the best harvest we got in 2016. Yep, that’s about it.

Perennials certainly pay off with patience!



Betsy Brockett was diagnosed with Mesothelioma at the age of 28, and continues to thrive despite the challenges that cancer has created in her life. Holding a degree in Art & Visual Technology from George Mason University, Betsy expresses herself through writing, photography, painting, pottery, and more. She is most often found cultivating, creating, practicing/teaching yoga, or simply enjoying the beauty of life.