Author Archives: Hortalaska Berries

Berries in Alaska

I saw a post/comment on this paper on the Hort Alaska Berry Blog. Most Alaskans surveyed (from 73 communities) thought that berry supplies were more variable and had declined in recent years. I wouldn’t be surprised if that is the case, but I also wonder if our memories would mislead us to accurately remember past berry years. I guess the number of containers you pick from year to year would be a good indicator. If berry supplies are more variable and declining, that would be a good case for managing wild stands to some degree or cultivating berries. It’s also interesting to see how your location influences which berries you pick. Apparently, I am solidly an Interior berry picker that finds blueberries to be the most important berry. But, that probably means there is less competition for other berries such as cloudberries, nagoonberries, and cranberries. It is pretty cut throat at the blueberry patches here in Interior Alaska.
Hupp, J., Brubaker, M., Wilkinson, K., & Williamson, J. 2015.  How are your berries? Perspectives of Alaska’s environmental managers on trends in wild berry abundance. Available online: Berries. Accessed on 11 Oct, 2016.

Cloudberries

 I’m very excited to hunt for cloudberries (Aqpik in Inupiaq) and nagoonberries–perhaps far. I remember seeing them occasionally in the Interior but never put much thought into them or effort into looking for them. But that’s all changed now.
Also, I’m a little jealous of the cloudberry hunt in Norway and would love to earn ‘highland gold’. The Coudberry cream sounds absolutely wonderful. I think I would fit right in with hunting and talking about when to go looking for the berries. And speculating about when they will be ripe. I love how obsessed both the Norwegians and Alaska Natives are with berries, because I’m a little obsessed as well.
Katak, M. 2015. Berries of Northwest Alaska. Available Online: https://alaskamastergardener.community.uaf.edu/2015/08/04/berries-of-northwest-alaska/. Accessed 11 Oct 2016.
Guide to cloudberries. 2011. Available Online:

Musings on Mulches

      I am writing about mulch because I find it very intriguing. I am interested in trying out different methods of mulching in my own berry patch, and in my own vegetable garden. This will by a simple synopsis on the few things I have found out about mulch and is by no means an exhaustive study. The act of researching and writing about mulch serves as a good opportunity for me to learn the best ways to use mulch next spring and summer.
Mulching has many uses both in cultivating berries, managing wild berries, and in your own gardens. Mulching serves many functions: It protects the roots of your berry crops; their root systems tend to be near the surface, many perennial berries grow using rhizomes which form mats of growth at relatively shallow depths.
     During cold winter months having a mulch over these mats can greatly increase the berry plants chances of producing the next growing season (New York Berry News). Mulch helps to hold in the moisture and to create habitats for small organisms to live and die. Organic mulches also provide more nutrients as they break down into the soil (Homestead and Gardens). The type of mulch to use largely depends on your purpose for the mulch. Most berry crops that are perennials and or shrubs prefer mulches made up of wood chips or sawdust, and other mulches which take longer than one growing season to break down (Work with Nature). These will protect the roots longer and release nutrients slowly into the soil. With cultivated stands of say strawberries using an organic mulch such as grass clippings or leaf mold is a good practice. These mulches will be a good source of organic fertilizers once tilled in at the end of the growing season.
     Obviously the best mulches are the ones that you have on hand; these will be the cheapest to use and can be replaced year after year as needed. I personally live near a large sawmill so fresh sawdust and chips are available though I would try and age it for a period of time perhaps a year as least. Putting fresh sawdust or chips around the berry plants can rob the soil of nitrogen. If fresh sawdust is all you have, simply add nitrogen to supplement the soil content. Mulch is also a good way to prevent weeds from taking over your plants. This practice is of primary interest to me as I have a big patch and am continually fighting weeds both between the bushes and the rows. Grass clippings are a very good mulch to keep weeds down but will need to be added every growing season as they break down quickly into the soil. Be careful that the mulch you use if it is a type of hay, that it does not have hay seeds still in the bales, straw would be better.
     Not all mulches have to be organic plasticulture works very well for cultivating berries and other crops. Most types of berries need a lot of moisture to produce healthy plants and also when ripening fruit. Plastic mulch can be very effective both for holding moisture and also to keep weeds down. Plastic mulching also works to raise the soil temperature to help keep the berries roots warm. This also will create warmer soil earlier in the year than usual around the berry plants (homeguides SF gate). The downside of using true plastic mulch and not a semi porous ground cloth is that rain water will not get to the roots; an irritation system will most likely need to be installed for the plants. Plastic mulch will also not add any nutrients to the soil and does not provide as favorable a habitat for helpful organisms in the soil.
     Decomposing organic mulches can change the pH of your soil over time. In Alaska the cold temperatures slow this decomposition down considerably and it will be awhile before any noticeable changes occur, but if the proper mulch is added every year and tilled in as needed the soil will be improved (Work with Nature). The soil I work tends to be more acidic so I much more likely to grow funguses such as mushrooms in wet soils. In warmer climates with alkaline soils the bacteria are able to build up better soil systems which is why composting works well in the warmer states (Work with Nature). I will be putting a lot of very old horse manure on my garden this month and have it tilled in for next spring. I might also put some straw and other mulching options down on some of the bare spots in my garden over the winter so that those areas will have a bit more organic matter already decomposing next year.
A quick note about the references below. I especially recommend reading the first website with the forum about mulching pros and cons put out by (Stackexchange.com). Read the brief overview by J Musser of the different types of mulch, its very interesting.
Websites:
By J. Musser 2014. Started forum on pros and cons of different mulch. Gardening Stack exchange. Available online: http://gardening.stackexchange.com/questions/13777/what-are-the-pros-cons-of-different-mulches Accessed Oct. 11, 2016
By Perry G., May, 2003. Blueberry mulching. Taken from New York Berry News. Put out by Penn State University. Available online: http://www.fruit.cornell.edu/berry/ipm/ipmpdfs/bbmulch.pdf Accessed Oct. 9, 2016
By John Winings October 2, 2014. Mulches: Types and Uses. Homestead and Gardens. Available online: http://www.homesteadandgardens.com/living-soil-system/ Accessed Oct. 9, 2016
     Nardozzi C. 2016 Much Ado about Mulch. The National Gardening Association. Available online: Mulches Accessed Oct. 9, 2016
     Rodriguez A. 2016 What type of mulch is best for blackberries? SF Gate. Available online: Mulches.  Accessed Oct.9, 2016
Youtubes:
     Work with Nature- Organic gardening, beekeeping, and seed saving. Oct. 1, 2011.The right way to mulch your vegetables and trees / For proper PH! Available online: Mulches Accessed Oct. 9, 2016

Bye Bye Birdie-Bird Management Strategies for Small Fruit

Heidenreich, Cathy. 2007. Bye Bye Birdie-Bird Management Strategies for Small Fruit. New York Berry News Vol. 6, No. 6. Available online Bird deterrents.  Accessed: 7 October 2016.

Great article about effects of birds on small fruit, i.e. berry, crops and review of exclusion and deterrent devices and techniques. The article discusses how to address the issue from decision making process through construction of complete exclusion structures to a variety of deterrent strategies, along with cost estimates. An excellent resource for home gardener to small scale farm.

Strawberries on NPR Double Header

Online News Article and Radio/Web Broadcast: The Secret Life of California’s World-Class Strawberries

Charles, Dan. 2012. The Secret Life of California’s World-Class Strawberries. National Public Radio. Available online: Strawberries. Accessed: 7 October, 2016.

Comments: Here’s an article and associated radio/web broadcast about commercial strawberry production in California, from NPR’s “The Salt, what’s on your plate”. The authors briefly discuss a broad range of topics from genetics and cloning to Fusarium wilt to field trials with soilless growing media. Although the article is not overly scientific, it is interesting to get a snapshot of current drivers behind commercial production. High yields and disease resistance remain at the top of the list but market desire for organically produced fruit have forced growers to adapt newer methods.

Online Radio/Web Broadcast and Article: Bigger, Blander, Blegh: Why Are Strawberries Worse?

Block, Melissa. 2012. Bigger, Blander, Blegh: Why Are Strawberries Worse? National Public Radio. Available online: Strawberry flavor. Accessed: 7 October, 2016.

Comments: The broadcast explores the tendency of strawberries today to be big and not so flavorful, the answers aren’t too surprising. Marvin Pitts, of Cornell, also discusses how toselect the best strawberry at the store. CZ Anchorage

Currants in Cooking

I am fascinated by the material on currants as well as the wide variation in taste between black currants, red currants, ect. My grandma has always been obsessed with currants and grows them in Anchorage and Palmer. I’ve enjoyed her currant jam. I don’t think she’s ever tried black currant jam. I will be looking for ‘Swedish Black’ at the Georgeson Botanical Garden plant sale next year.
With such a wide range in sweetness and tartness between cultivars and species, I wonder if at a minimum, the different species require specific recipes? For example, should the recipe state whether or not it is for black currants (Ribes nigrum)or red currants (Ribes sativum)? As opposed to a general “currant” publication or general recipe which is what we currently have at Cooperative Extension. HR Fairbanks
J. Cascio. 2012. Currants. University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service. FNH-00115. Available at: Cooperative Extension Service

Sauce for Turkey Day

Speaking of ways to use lingonberries without an overwhelming amount of sugar, I tried Kathy Gunst’s recipe, “Cranberry Sauce with Orange, Ginger, Pineapple and Pecans” last year for Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving isn’t too far away, but maybe I’ll make it even sooner just for the heck of it and because it’s so darn good.Kathy Gunst’s recipe combines ginger (fresh and crystalized), maple syrup, pineapple, pecans; orange juice, rind, and zest, and of course cranberries.. She suggests using it on turkey, but if you want to make it more than a once a year condiment, she suggests trying it with a cheese platter or with sweet potatoes as well.

You can find it here: Recipe

And next maybe I’ll try finding a good cranberry chutney recipe.

Gunst, K. 2011. From Notes from a Maine kitchen.  Down East Books.

Berry cake

The image of berries always evokes the summer when recipes for them are abundant everywhere. This recipe came from a family friend and is an easy alternative for cobblers or crisps with a longer bake time. I recommend serving with vanilla ice cream.
1 bag or fresh berries (blue, rasp, or black)
1 Cup sugar (or Splenda)
1 yellow cake mix
2 eggs
½ Cup melted butter
Mix the berries and sugar in a 9×13 pan. In a separate bowl combine the cake mix and eggs. Spread over berry mixture. Drizzle with melted butter. Bake at 350o F for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream. CM Fairbanks

Driscoll Website

Driscoll’s  –  I had no idea what this site was, I just saw something about Life & Joy. I was peeking through the website and it is sort of a business/blog where they pick berries and they donate them to food banks and such. They post  recipes as well. I have never actually seen the Driscolls brand at the store, but maybe I should look a little harder, if I see nice berries I usually dont pay much attention to the brand, but maybe I should start. Driscoll’s talks about having the “finest berries” since 1872 because of the way their farmers pick them. I wonder if their is much difference from farm to farm the way they harvest their berries or if it just depends on the area they are in, what kind of soil and how they upkeep it.

Raspberry Cultivars for Alaska

 I found a great paper on UAF’s website that has information on raspberries. The beginning talked about where to plant these berries and what areas to grow them in and it made me think of the screen cast including wild stand management. Summer bearing red raspberry cultivars inlcude:

• ‘Boyne’ (cold hardy in Southeast, Southcentral and Interior, not tolerant to varied temperatures, early harvest)

• ‘Canby’ (cold hardy in Southcentral, disease resistant, early harvest)

• ‘Chilliwack’ (hardy in Southeast, some root rot resistance)

• ‘Festival’ (Southcentral, hardy, mid- to late season harvest)

• ‘Haida’ (very cold hardy in Southeast and Southcentral, some resistance to root rot, late harvest)

• ‘Indian Summer’ (hardy in Southcentral, vigorous plant, mid-season harvest)

• ‘Kiska (Interior Alaska cultivar, very cold hardy, lower quality fruit)

• ‘Latham’ (very cold hardy in Southeast, Southcentral and Interior, root rot resistant, long established Minnesota cultivar, early harvest)

• ‘Nova’ (hardy in Southeast and Southcentral, early harvest)

• ‘Prelude’ (very cold hardy in Southcentral, root rot resistant, early harvest)

• ‘Reville’ (cold hardy in Southcentral, mid- to late season harvest)

• ‘Skeena’ (very cold hardy in Southeast, Southcentral or Interior, root rot susceptible, early harvest)

• Titan (hardy, Southcentral only, susceptible to viruses and root rot)

There was also very detailed information about planting raspberries that I thought was very interesting! LF Fairbanks

Strik, B. Available online: Berry Crops.  Accessed on 5 Oct, 2016.

Blackberries in Arizona

I found this publication from the University of Arizona Extension office about growing blackberries in Arizona. I found this publication to be pretty interesting and easy to follow. It seemed to walk even the most novice berry farmer though the proper steps and courses of action in order to grow blackberries successfully in Arizona. I may actually try to grow blackberries next year!  CA Arizona
Wright, G.C. 2008  Growing blackberries in the low desert. Available online: Blackberries . Accessed 5 October, 2016.

Alaska Bumblebees

It was all over the internet recently, bumble bees were put on the endangered species list. Research into this decision told me that the “rust-patched” bumblebee (Bombus affinis) was the pollinator. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the bee can be found in the eastern portion of the United States and in some parts of Canada. The Alaskan Department of Fish and Game cites Bombus polaris, the Arctic bumblebee, in this article describing the life of a bumble bee in Alaska. Because they are important pollinators, this is of horticultural interest. The article can be found here:
Sutton, A. n.d. A brief busy life of the arctic bumblebee. Available online: Bumble bees
Accessed 2016.
U.S> Fish and Wildlife Service. 2016. Rusty Patched Bumble Bee. Available online: Rusty patched.  Accessed 5 Oct, 2016

Blueberry banana bread

BBBB! This link  goes to a blueberry banana bread recipe. My mom just made fresh banana bread with the blueberries I picked this past fall. She added nuts as well. Something I like to do is heat up a slice in the microwave for about 10 seconds and put some butter on top, the berries taste sweeter and it taste like it just came out of the oven, fresh and moist. Just another example of how we use berries in our lives.

Wile Berries in Alaska and their uses

“How are your berries? Perspectives of Alaska’s environmental managers on trends in wild berry abundance” is an article that I found that has a lot of information on wild berries in Alaska, perfect! The article is about a study done on berries, which berries people are eating and the abundance of berries and how it has been changing through the years. The researchers received information back from 73 communities in Alaska. It was so interesting to see which regions favored which berries the most! In the interior their research says that the lowbush blueberry is the most popular, which is my favorite. I’ll attach the link below if anyone wants to see the information on wild berries in Alaska!

Hupp, J., Brubaker, M., Wilkinson, K., & Williamson, J. 2015.  How are your berries? Perspectives of Alaska’s environmental managers on trends in wild berry abundance. Available online: Berries. Accessed on 5 Oct, 2016.

Try fruit leather

I’ve always dehydrated my own fruits, or made jams or jellies, even frozen them for shorter term storage. Never have I had the chance to try and make fruit leathers, I am very interested to try this very easy seeming process. It seems the same as dehydrating, but you don’t have to worry about the presentation factor of dehydrated fruits not always looking very pretty. BE Fairbanks

van Delden, K.2011. Fruit Leather. Available online:    Fruit Leather.  accessed October 5, 2016

Watermelon Berries

This is an informative paper byLeslie Shallcross and Marci Johnson explaining the uses of one of my favorite berries, the Watermelon Berry. Most people I have met don’t like the sweet seedy berry purely because of the skin texture and high seed content. However, I was interested in the uses of this berry in a homestyle sense instead as just a grab and go hiking snack as I usually use them for. This article walks you through storage and uses of a berry that is most often ignored.
   Shallcross, L. and Johnson, M. 2012. Watermelon Berries. Food, Nutrition, Health. Publication FNH-00123. Online: Watermelon berries Accessed: 4 Oct 2016.
This is a video by a Youtuber named Alaskan Urban Hippie. In it she explains how she acquired a Watermelon Berry plant and how to properly identify it. There are some species that look very similar while young that are not edible but poisonous such as False Hellebore. Alaskan Urban Hippie. 2016. Identifying Watermelon Berries (wild and edible).  Watermelon berry ID Accessed: 4 Oct 2016. AA Seward

Blackberries in Alaska?

Blackberries in Alaska; sounds farfetched I know. Many growers of berries in this state don’t have much luck with blackberries in most of the state (forums). They say the berries needs warmer summers with more sun and that winter temperatures usually kill the new canes that grow during the summer. In most blackberry varieties these canes will produce the next summer but have to over winter successfully to produce (motherearthnews). In the lower 48 growers usually mulch the plants heavily if they are in a colder state and keep the plants pruned to keep them from taking over adjacent plots and garden areas. Blackberries usually fall into two categories: trailing and upright both require different methods of pruning and if this is neglected the plants can quickly get out of hand (motherearthnews). Blackberries also are a very thorny plant even worse than raspberries and the trailing ones can create large brambles that are very difficult to pick. Overtime new and better varieties of blackberries have been created with certain traits being bred out and others becoming more prominent (motherearthnew). One of these traits was a faster maturing berry which would grow on the first year wood; this variety is a possible option for colder climates as one could conceivably get berries from young wood that summer (almanac.com). The reason I am writing about growing blackberries in Alaska is because I have seen it done and successfully. Years ago I was visiting a farm not far from where I live. The farm had a large vegetable garden, hay fields for the small herd of cows being raised there, and a nice greenhouse. The lady who ran the green house was an excellent gardener and coxed more yields out of her tomatoes and other greenhouse crops than most others could have managed. I liked her greenhouse set up; it was simple and very productive, but the one thing which stood out the most in my mind was the very large blackberry bush that was growing up one wall. The trailing vines grew nearly 12ft in either direction and was trellised to the wall for support. This plant grew out of a 5-gallon bucket set against the wall. I had never actually seen a blackberry bush in living color so I took some time to inspected the branches and ripening berries with interest. The branches were loaded with ripening berries. I have since then asked around and it seems the lady who ran the greenhouse was and is still known for her abilities in plant growing and knowledge of greenhouse growing and berry cultivation. Some of the people who talked tome mentioned her blackberry bush. The bush it seems was a bit famous.
     Perhaps growing blackberries in a hightunnel, or greenhouse is the only way to really get good production in my area. I did not know much about her methods of how she cared for the bush so to find out I asked around, got her phone number and called her up. She was more than happy to share her experience of growing the blackberry bush with me. She said that she bought the berry through a catalog which advertised the berry as being (grow-able in Alaska). The variety was a thornless blackberry sold by Doyle; the plants are still for sail online and I found many favorable reviews though most were in the lower 48(yelp.com). Even Amazon sells them and says they can be grown in all 50 states though I am sure that can be taken with a grain of salt. My friend also said that the berry was very easy to grow as far as yearly maintenance. When the plant arrived it was about a foot tall with a long root system. She planted the small bush in a bucket with holes in the bottom for drainage and filled it with half potting soil, half topsoil from her garden plots. She placed it by the greenhouse wall and used it as a trellis when the bush began to put out larger branches. The fertilizer she recommended is made by (spray-n- grow.com) called Bill’s perfect fertilizer. She fertilized the bush at the beginning of the year and kept it well watered. She pruned early spring and transplanted the bush the second year into a larger container than the bucket. Every fall she stored the whole plant unpruned in the farm’s rootcellar and watered it once a month with about a quart of water to keep it alive but dormant. The first year the bush produced a handful of berries and the second year it produced a gallon. It would have produced more but the third year she moved and had to give the plant and her propagated cuttings from the bush away. I asked if she had any issues with diseases or pests on the bush and she said no. I also asked if she had any pollination issues and again she said no. I guess because it was growing in the summer and the greenhouse was well ventilated, bees or flies must have pollinated it for her. She felt the whole experiment was very much worth her time and effort. I was glad to get this information straight from her. I also enjoyed finding out how, a little blackberry bush for sale in a catalog was grown, propagated and is still growing in this part of Alaska thanks to her efforts. AB Delta Junction
Spray-N-Grow. 2016. Spray-N-Grow Garden Products. Available online:. https://www.spray-n-growgardening.com/ Accessed Oct. 5 2016.
Amazo. 2016. Doyle’s thornless blackberry plant. Available online: https://www.amazon.com/Doyles-Thornless-Blackberry-Ordinary-Annually/dp/B00GLEBN2S.  Accessed Oct. 5, 2016.
Yelp. 2016. Recommended reviews for Doyle’s thornless blackberry. Available online:
Accessed Oct.5, 2016
Heidenreich, C., M. Pritts, K. Demchak, E. Hanson, C. Weber and M J Kelly. 2012 rev. High tunnel raspberries and blackberries. Department of Horticulture Pub. No. 47. Available online: http://www.fruit.cornell.edu/berry/production/pdfs/hightunnelsrasp2012.pdf
Accessed Oct. 3, 2016
Pleasant, B. 2016.  Plant low-maintenance blackberries. Mother Earth News. Available online: http://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/plant-low-maintenance-blackberries-zmaz07djzgoe Accessed Oct. 3, 2016.
The Old Farmers Almanac. 2016. Blackberries. Available online:
  

Hardiness stages of blueberries

This link with nice photos of different growth stages of a blueberry plant.   What I find interesting is the different cold tolerances of the different stages, which as mentioned in this class, is an important consideration when predicting fruit production from our plants.  For example, flower bud swell can tolerate 10-15F, while flower bud break is tolerant to about 20F, full bloom to 28F and petal fall (while fruit is developing) only 32F.  This shows how vulnerable late developmental stages can be and how a cold snap late in the season could be detrimental to the fruit crop.

Note that this site talks about highbush blueberries and not our native bog blueberry, Vaccinium uliginosum, in Interior Alaska.  I need to do more searching to find the critical temperatures for V. uliginosum! However, I think that these photos of bud stages and listed critical temps are helpful reminders that not all stages or parts of a plant have the same temperature tolerances.  The plant is growing, developing and changing and as managers, one would need to be attentive to these changes.

Blueberry hardiness

Pruning blueberries

The links below compare pruning techniques between highbush and lowbush blueberries. Although I assume most of us are not interested in growing highbush blueberries, I still think it is an interesting comparison. The first link is a video bythe University of Maine on how to prune highbush blueberries on a blueberry farm. I like that he points out how to looks for vegetative vs. fruiting buds and which branches to prune out to improve fruit quantity and quality. In the video a loppers is used to prune the bushes. The second link is a publication, also by the University of Maine, about pruning lowbush blueberry fields. The techniques suggested here are thermal pruning (eg burning) and mowing, which is quite a different approach! The timing of pruning is the same for both, which is during plant dormancy- late fall after a hard frost, during winter or early spring before bud break. KMD Fairbanks

Pruning Blueberries

Preserving my berry treasure

Wild berry patches are an ever changing resource. Berries rely on a certain set of requirements; if any or all of those change, the berries can disappear and one year you may return to find your once lush patch gone for good. This at least has been my experience in a few of the wild berry patches that I have relied upon over the years. The past year I and some friends were very blessed to fine a lovely patch of Lingonberries in an area we had never searched. The reason we had never found this particular spot was because the berries used to be more prolific nearer our homes and my first rule of berry picking is; if a patch is near pick there. Why spend precious moments that could be spent picking berries wandering thither and yon over rough terrain looking for berries, unless you have to. Well we had to and much to our delight our search was rewarded. The area was not terribly far and had a nice hunting trail already established. We found many large clusters of berries near the trail and my friends decided to stay in this area to pick.
I have always been a wanderer; I usually have a gun with me in case I find something furry and large feeling territorial about the forest. True to my nature I walked some good ways beyond the trail; stopping every now and again to pick some berries and eat some berries. The going was rough with lots of fallen timbers around, but not impassible so I continued on. Finally, my efforts were rewarded. The patch that I found was in fact a series of patches all linked together in a large piece of woodland. The forest was a mix of perhaps 50/50 small spruce, medium sized aspens and a few large birch here and there. The forest floor was covered with lingonberry bushes, crowberry, and a few bearberry bushes all growing happily in the dappled pools of sunlight coming through the leafy canopy. The lingonberries were by far the most prolific; the plants were large and spread out under fallen logs and around old stumps. The area was edged by a few clearings and a long low trench running through much of the patch, perhaps from an old creek bed. The berries grew in thick clusters on the edges of this trench and along its lowest part. As I walked deeper into the forest I found fewer healthy patches; the trees were too thick and ground cover consisted mostly of mosses and lichens. In the more open spaces the berries were beautiful, large, and juicy, tart but also sweet; dark red on the outside and very white inside. Perfect specimens, and it did not take me long to fill my gallon.
This lovely patch has remained in my mind and seems a perfect candidate for wild stand management. I love the idea of having a place that I could care for if even just a little and perhaps improve the patch so that every year me and my friends can return to find it producing in abundance. The berries are already growing so well that I would not need to do much I think. Here are just a few ideas I have to improve the patch and perhaps next spring and summer I can implement some of them. First the spot is not easy to find and the going is pretty rough; I have found another way to get into the beginning of the patch from a different direction. This approach is much more open and I will mark it for further use. I know that lingonberries like sunny spots to ripen in but don’t handle hot weather very well; they need areas that also can shelter them during the cold winter months (garden.org). They prefer acidic soils which is fine, because where I live the soil throughout the whole area is very acidic; I struggle with acidic soils in my vegetable garden and it has been cultivated every year for about 30 years and is still acidic. The spot where the berries are growing must be acidic and the nutrients must be at a good ratio because the berries are very healthy looking. Cross pollination must also be taking place because the berries, throughout the patch, are all very large compared to what I am used to seeing from other patches. The shade does help to keep the moss around the berries moist; this not only helps the berries grow but also provides pollinators another reason to visit the patch. To improve the sunlight into the patch I will have to be very careful how many trees and how much brush I remove to prevent the patch from drying out; this would have a detrimental effect on the overall microsystem surrounding the berries.
I will need to chart when the berries bloom, what pollinators visit and how often. At this point the lingonberries far outgrow any other weeds in the area so I don’t think that I will add any fertilizer as this may encourage weeds to grow. The berry plants look very big to me and any more fertilizer might encourage more vegetative growth that they clearly don’t need (mofa.org). I will take my brush cutter into the stand next spring and remove a lot of the under growth such as small spruce trees, broken off limbs, and remove much of the Labrador tea stands to let more sunlight get to the berries and remove competition. After finding out how many pollinators come to the spot I have some ideas to attract more. I am not sure if it would work but I would like to plant or transplant a few more wild flowering plants to the spot such as bluebells, bunch berry, and others from farther away spots. There are already other flowering shrubs such as bearberry and crowberry and I would not remove all the Labrador tea as it also has nice flower for part of the year. The spot is also full of grouse which I am sure are attracted to the many berries; thankfully there are plenty to go around and the birds are also a very nice resource for fresh meat should I need some this winter. I think the primary pollinators are bumblebees; the spot is full of old trees and fallen rotting logs which would provide good nesting sources for them.
Hopefully I will have time next spring and summer to visit my patch and implement some of these improvements. The berries are happy so I will be very careful how I proceed and plan each action taking many things into consideration. Also if anyone, with experience in managing wild lingonberry stands, would like of offer me some advice I would greatly appreciate it. AB Delta Junction, AK
 Bailey, R. 2016. Grow your own lingonberries. Available online: Lingonberries Accessed Oct. 2, 2016
The National Gardening Association. 2016. The mighty lingonberry. Available online: 
Lingonberries Accessed Oct. 2,
 
Alaska Channel. 2016. Low bush cranberry. Available online: Low bush cranberry. 
Accessed Oct. 2, 2016
 
Deane, G. 2016. Bunchberry Brunch. Available online: Bunchberry. Accessed Oct. 2, 2016