Good Gardens and Good Cooks Go Hand-in-Hand

So add some Yezberry® Japanese Haskap Shrubs to Your Yard?

Growing edibles is as easy as pie. Nutritious and sweet, cold-hardy Yezberry® haskaps are a new way to add some berries to your landscape. Photograph Courtesy Proven Winners.

Holiday baking gives good cooks the perfect opportunity to show off their skills. And if those good cooks are also gardeners, you can bet their creations will be based upon their gardening success stories. 

Scratch the surface of any great gardener (figuratively, not literally), and you are bound to discover a great cook as well. Any cook worth their salt relies on the freshest ingredients—vegetables, fruits, and herbs—and many of them depend on their own gardens for those ingredients and inspiration. In a lot of cases that impetus could simply be one of keeping up with the zucchini or tomato production or the berry patch and putting-by that goodness for the months to come. Whatever it is, the two are often inseparable. 

Recently, as I rolled out the crust for a pie to use up the last of the raspberries in the freezer, I thought of my grandmother. A consummate cook and baker, she relied on the sour cherries and cooking apples from the trees she grew for her pies. She would spin them into pure culinary gold. She grew berries and vegetables, too, in her little in-town plot, and was famous for her tomato plants that often reached to the top of the garage and produced bushels of red fruits. Reba Miley will forever be the one who got me on the road to both good gardening and good cooking.

A small raspberry patch can often provide a bounty of berries for bakes treats to light up the winter months. Photo by Lynette L. Walther

Her kitchen measurements were always in terms of teacups and eggshell halves, which makes many of her personal recipes difficult for me to duplicate. She used lard in those heavenly pie crusts, and her “secret” thickening ingredient in the cherry pies was tapioca. (Oops, I let the cat out of the bag!) I, on the other hand, rely on standard measuring cups and olive oil for my pie pastry, although I do use butter to dot the top of the fruits before sealing on the top crust, just like she did. I like to think I am carrying on her traditions in the garden and the kitchen, in some ways at least.

And like my grandmother, I grow many of the ingredients for my pies and other dishes, specifically blueberries, raspberries, and apples, though this was a tough year for the latter. My growing space is limited to a small town lot, but it is amazing what can be grown in a limited amount of space. You really don’t need a farm to produce vegetables, herbs, fruits, and berries. 

Another batch of jam “in the bank,” a harvest of summer to enjoy for the months to come. The trick is to freeze daily pickings of raspberries until you’ve accumulated enough for a batch which can be any time of year. Photo by Lynette L. Walther.

In fact, new varieties are making it easier all the time to grow a range of edibles—from container vegetables to small shrubs with edible berries and fruits. These new varieties can also make for a good-looking yard, enhancing the landscape in the process. 

Consider these unique flowering shrubs which produce edible berries: Yezberry® Japanese haskaps. The fruits of this shrub are delicious and packed with more vitamin C, potassium, and fiber than citrus fruits. Bearing the flavor of raspberries and blueberries all rolled into one, this tasty superfruit can be eaten fresh or made into sauces, jams, and smoothies. To produce berries, you’ll need to plant another Yezberry® variety as a pollinator.

My small backyard raspberry patch produces just enough for a good supply of jam, and a raspberry pie or two. I am carrying on a family tradition of growing fruits, berries, and vegetables. Photo by Lynette L. Walther.

Yezberry® haskaps, from Proven Winners, are very easy to grow and don’t require any special maintenance. They can grow in any type of soil and have no particular pruning needs. If pruning is required, however, it should be done immediately after harvesting berries in early summer. You can harvest Yezberry haskaps as they ripen, turning from green to deep blue. If you taste a blue fruit and it does not taste sweet, leave the crop on the plant for another couple of days to ripen fully. It reaches just 3 to 5 feet tall and wide, about half the size of other varieties. These easy-going shrubs are one of the first plants to bloom in spring. Their tubular yellow flowers develop into elongated blue berries that taste, as noted above, like a cross between a raspberry and a blueberry.

Yezberry® Japanese haskaps are closely related to Sugar Mountain®sweetberry honeysuckle. However, the Yezberry series was developed from purely Japanese strains of haskap, while the Sugar Mountain series is of Russian heritage. Other differences: Yezberry haskaps bloom a bit later, so they’re a good choice for areas that get frequent spring frosts. Yezberry fruits are plumper and rounder than Sugar Mountain fruits, but both are equally tasty and heavy-bearing when it comes to harvest time.

Fall apples are often the basis for many a delectable treat. Photo by Lynette L. Walther.

Sugar Mountain® sweetberry honeysuckles also provide nutrient-rich fruit that has become popular for its antioxidant benefits. And you can grow your own goji berries when you plant Lifeberry® varieties that are great eaten fresh or dried. Grow these in full to part sun and they are hardy to Zone 3. They grow to an average of 36 to 48 inches tall and wide. 

Yezberry® haskaps make an easy-care edible hedge, small enough to grow in most landscapes. Try them surrounding a vegetable garden or orchard, or even in a container. Then all you’ll need to do is to get those berry recipes handy!

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