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Growing Saskatoon Berries – all you need to know about growing this healthy superfood in your backyard!
Saskatoon bushes are known by other names such as Serviceberry bushes, Juneberry, Prairie Berries and Shadbush. Their Latin name is Amelanchier alnifolia. And we’ve got lots of great information about these fruit bearing bushes right here!
Want more articles about gardening? Check out all of our Food Gardening posts here.
No matter what you call them, here is everything to know about growing your own Saskatoon berries! Consider planting a few bushes and start growing your own berries, right in the backyard.
These bushes grow wild, but you can also buy them at garden nurseries!
Where do Saskatoon Bushes Grow in the wild?
Saskatoon bushes grow throughout North America. They are native to Canada, where these bushes grow wild throughout British Columbia, through the Canadian prairies and all the way east to Ontario. In the United States, they grow from Alaska to Maine and many other states.
Saskatoon berries have long been considered an important food source by early pioneers throughout the central United States all the way north to the Northwest Territories and the Yukon.
There are also some commercial growers, so if you don’t have them growing in your part of the country, you can find Saskatoon bushes for sale through garden nurseries. In Canada look to T & T Seeds, in Manitoba.
Interesting Things to know about Saskatoon Berry Bushes:
- The neat thing about Saskatoon bushes is that they don’t require a second bush to grow berries, so if you only have room for one, that’s not a problem.
- Having more than one bush will help increase your berry harvest, however.
- The berries form on the previous years wood – and any older wood. New shoots won’t be bearing fruit until next year.
- These berry bushes can be susceptible to wind damage, so be sure to protect your Saskatoons from any high winds.
- In early Spring, when the leaves of these small trees first come out, they are edible!
Health Benefits of Saskatoon Berry
Saskatoon berries are very healthy! They are like a superfood, full of antioxidants, especially anthocyanins and flavonols. Full of Vitamin C, calcium and manganese, plus they are rich in fiber, potassium, magnesium, iron and other nutrients.
How to Plant a Saskatoon Berry Bush
Be sure to prepare the ground before planting. Weeding it well to get rid of any grass and then placing mulch down to block weed growth is important!
Dig your hole (wide AND deep) and include a good amount of compost in the planting hole. The best conditions for growing a Saskatoon berry bush are well drained soil with plenty of organic compost mixed well together. Remember, you only get one chance to provide soil for the plant roots – make it count!
Plant each bush about 8-10 feet apart; remember they will become full grown bushes!
Can I Plant Saskatoon Bushes as a Hedge?
This is a great idea and yes you can grow a beautiful living hedge using Saskatoon bushes. If you want to create a hedge, plant 5 feet apart and they will grow together over a few years.
An edible hedge row is a fantastic way of creating privacy, while growing your own fruit! Saskatoon bushes also provide food for the bees, also so important.
Best Practicing for Fertilizing Saskatoons?
You don’t need to add specialized fertilizer to the planting hole if you are adding good quality compost – the compost will have plenty of nutrients to get off to a good start.
The bushes just need the planting area to be properly prepared with the removal of weeds and mulch to keep weed growth down before placing your new bush.
You can add top dressings of good quality compost around the base of your bushes. If you like, you can fertilize by sprinkling it around the base. Fertilize your bushes between flowering time and harvest for the best results.
Growing Saskatoon Berries in Containers
Some people opt to plant Saskatoon berries in containers. The downside to planting berry bushes in containers is that your harvest will be much smaller than that of the Saskatoon bushes you plant in the ground.
Your Saskatoon berries will need large deep containers to handle the roots and the growth of the bush.
Since a container with a berry bush in it will be heavy, you may want to have a strong plant dolly underneath the pot so you can easily move the container. You could place the container where you plan to keep it until you are ready to transplant the Saskatoon bush outside.
Transplanting a Saskatoon Bush
You can successfully transplant one of these bushes, although you will need to be careful. Smaller bushes have a much better chance of surviving than larger Saskatoon bushes.
The best time to transplant a Saskatoon bush is during the fall season. This is when the rain will happen more frequently allowing the bush to take hold properly at the new location.
The soil and the water should be the top priorities to a successful transplant of a Saskatoon bush!
Here’s an article with all the information on transplanting a Saskatoon berry bush –
plus tips for moving shrubs that you may not have thought of!
Best Tips for Pruning Saskatoon Bushes
Now that you have the ins and outs of fertilizing, transplanting, and handling the growth of your berry bush, it’s time to discuss pruning your Saskatoon bushes.
When to Prune Saskatoon Bushes?
Pruning is what helps your berries grow without crowding, and keeps the bush healthy during the growing process. You’ll need to prune your bushes in the early spring season right before new growth starts.
During the first three years after planting your Saskatoon bushes, you’ll prune only to remove diseased or dead stems. Don’t forget to remove stems that are healthy but drooping too low to the ground. You’ll use sharp pruning scissors to cut damaged or droopy stems.
If you don’t have sharp pruning scissors, you can use long-handled loppers but you need to be sure you’re taking a clean cut.
You can find good pruning information reading about how to prune bushes and shrubs here
Other Saskatoon Berry Bush Facts:
How Fast Do Saskatoon Bushes Grow?
You can aim to get your first berries from your Saskatoon bush within the first two years. It will be a small harvest, maybe a handful if you are fortunate. Just wait another year, though!
Peak performance for your Saskatoon bush will be when your bush is 3 or 4 years old. From that point on, you should be able to harvest a good supply of berries to use in your favorite Saskatoon berry recipes. Plus, you’ll have extra berries to put in the freezer!
How Tall Do Saskatoon Bushes Grow?
These types of berry bushes can grow anywhere from 6 feet to 30 feet tall. One nice feature is that the limbs are thin and pliable, so it is easy to pull down a tall limb closer to the ground, so you can pick the fruit!
This doesn’t seem to hurt the wild Saskatoon bushes here at all when we do this.
Propagating a Saskatoon Bush
Growing your Saskatoon bush from another bush is similar to growing any other shrub from cuttings. You’ll want to prune the tips, gather the cuttings and then place them in a small nursery bed area that’s fertilized.
Here’s an article showing everything you need to know about Propagating Shrub Cuttings – the example used here is Laurel (we grew our own hedge), but it works exactly the same for growing cuttings of Saskatoon berry bushes.
Watch the cuttings grow into new bushes, and the transplant the new growth Saskatoon bushes into your garden where you plan to keep the bushes for year-after-year harvest.
All About Saskatoon Berries
Before I leave you today with this information, I wanted to share more details about the actual Saskatoon berries themselves. As stated earlier, within the third or fourth year of planting your berry bushes, they’ll be at peak performance.
When do you Pick Saskatoon Berries?
When Saskatoon berries are ready for picking really depends on where you live. Usually, the berries ripen for late June or early July. Here in our Zone 3 area, Saskatoon berries are usually ready for mid to late July and into early August.
What do Saskatoon Berries taste like?
Saskatoon fruits are juicy and sweet. These berries are defined as being sweet but more in an earthy-like flavor. Some have said the berries have an almond undertone to their sweetness.
Some people prefer cooked berries instead of the fresh fruit – and Saskatoon berries are perfect for using in baking, making jam and even wine.
Difference Between Saskatoons and Blueberries
The biggest difference between Saskatoons and blueberries is that Saskatoons berries are packed with more nutrients than blueberries and other berries combined. They have more iron, antioxidants, protein, and potassium than other berries you can grow on your homestead.
These benefits make growing Saskatoon berries pretty much a no brainer.
What can I make with the berries from my Saskatoon bushes?
You can make anything that you’d typically make with blueberries using your fresh harvest of Saskatoon berries. There are a wide variety of ways to use them including, Saskatoon berry tart, pie recipes, and Saskatoon sauce to name a few clever ways for including Saskatoon berries in your favorite recipes.
Combine Saskatoons with apples, raspberries or strawberries to make a Bumbleberry crisp, muffins or use in pies or jam!
You can make juice too – then use the leftover fruit pulp to make Saskatoon jellies or syrups!
We even make home made Saskatoon Berry Wine – click over to learn more!
Bottom Line: Growing Saskatoon Berries is a fantastic way to grow your own healthy super fruit!
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