My second post on backyard gardening in Cape Breton!
The first post can be found here: https://capebreton.lokol.me/favorite-flowers-for-cb-climate-rudbekia-laciniata---autumn-sun
This post is about three types of plants that work well together: strawberries, blueberries and mint. Next to my front walk/steps, I have a small raised bed. The walls of the bed are made of those rectangular edging bricks. It measures about 18" high, 2' deep, and 4' long. In this space I have planted
- 12 Everbearing Strawberry roots
- 1 Bluecrop Blueberry (Highbush)
- 1 Northland Blueberry (Highbush)
- 1 Common Mint
This might seem like a lot for one small-ish space, but timing wise, it works. In the spring I top up the bed with a lot of manure. The location is great .. lots of hot sun (although this picture was taken near the end of the day). And I have a soaker hose weaving through the plants. I don't use the soaker hose all the time, only when we have a stretch of a few days of full sun. One final trick I use here... I use branches from our Christmas tree to shelter the bases of the blueberries bushes. The branches provide protection from the snow and the needles fall off by spring, leaving a perfect bed of material for the strawberries to grow up through. Blueberries prefer a more acidic soil, and the needles also help with this.
The leaves of the strawberries are the first to appear in the spring. By the time the strawberries have blossoms, the mint is starting to pop up and the blueberries are starting to leaf out. By mid summer, we have picked the strawberries, are using the mint in salad and tea, and the blueberries are starting to form. And in the fall, I pull any extra mint plants, roots and all, because mint is a pretty aggressive plant and would choke out the other plants. These I hang upside down in my kitchen to dry. We also watch the blueberries daily at this point because these two bushes can be cleaned completely by a few birds in a very short time! And in the late fall, the leaves of the blueberries turn a deep red before falling off.
I absolutely love this little bed. It's located right next to the main door of our house. So, it's a frequent stop on the way to the car, or when we come home, or when we are preparing supper and need a little bit in the salad (I'll include a recipe at the end). There is nothing like munching on berries that are still warm from the sun.
This year we collected about 3 cups of strawberries. I think these plants are about done and will put some new ones in next spring. We pulled as much mint as I could use, plus extra. And about 6 cups of blueberries. It has been our best year yet for blueberries. They were planted in 2010.
Recipe for tomato and cuke salad:
- 2 roma tomatos, diced
- 1/3 of a seedless cuke, diced, leave skin on
- 4 or 5 black olives, washed
- Crumbled feta
- Mint chopped small
- Chives, chopped small
The dressing is mainly
- Olive oil
Then add small amounts of these to suit your own taste.
- Garlic Salt
- Stone ground Dijon mustard
- Sesame oil
- Crushed coriander seed