A Four Year Wait

brazel-berry  Many of you have heard of the much-touted new family of fruiting shrubs introduced by Fall Creek Farm called “Brazelberries.”  There are several commercials advertising them on television and ads in most major gardening magazines, claiming that they are going to revolutionize small-space fruit growing.  They offer a selection of raspberries and another of blueberries, all bred to be compact, thornless, and self-pollinating.  I was excited when I was given four of their “Raspberry Shortcake” plants to trial four years ago.  The tag and the ads show a nicely rounded plant just covered with delicious red raspberries.  I couldn’t wait to start picking!

As directed, I planted them in large containers.  They do grow rapidly and stay compact, about 2′ in height.  When freezing temperatures threatened the first year, I moved them into the basement since they were youngsters, where they would stay cool but not freeze and receive adequate light from sliding glass doors.   As soon as spring arrived, new canes began to develop and some of the older canes grew new leaves.  I waited and watched all summer, keeping them watered and only adding a small layer of compost as instructed.  Over-fertilizing reduces berry production.  Never did a bud form, so there were no berries.  I was disappointed, and felt I must have done something wrong (although I have been growing other berries for forty years with success.)  Or, possibly they just needed to be older.  So, I went on-line and reread the growing instructions provided on their site.  The only thing suspect was possibly underwatering so I was more careful the second growing season, and again in the third.  Still there were no berries.  They did not rot, they were not frosted, they were not over or under fertilized.  I was so disgusted at the amount of time, hauling indoors and out, watering, and talking to them with encouragement, that I nearly just tossed them last fall rather than messing with them for another season.  After all, third time’s charm, and they’d already had three growing seasons.  But, I hate to fail.  I hate to throw out a perfectly healthy plant (let alone four of them!)  They are green and compact, and thornless, and make a nice patio plant.  If they were just a foliage plant, they were worth growing, I reasoned, so I hauled them indoors once again last autumn.  This variety is supposedly hardy, so I debated about just planting them in the ground, but I wanted to give them as long a growing season as possible.

This spring, in addition to their “Let’s have a great growing season!” pep talk, I gave them a stern warning, having decided over the winter that the big pots could better be used to grow something with flowers, like hibiscus, or something more useful like lemon verbena.  This was their last chance.  “Produce berries, or you are going into the garage sale!”

A couple of weeks ago, a few blooms appeared on two of the plants.  Today, I have one berry.   They are supposed to be winter-hardy here in Zone 5, so I am going to plant two of them in the ground, and give the two that had a few blooms another chance.  Maybe now that they’ve figured out how to produce one berry, they will produce more?


About carolee

A former professional herb and lavender grower, now just growing for joy in my new potager. When I'm not in the garden, I'm in the kitchen, writing, or traveling to great gardens.
This entry was posted in gardening, harvest, Potager, small fruits, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to A Four Year Wait

  1. Robin E. says:

    Hahahahaha! I ought to try the pep talk and stern warning! One can only hope that now they’ve figured it out and will give you quarts and quarts next year. I planted raspberries 2 years ago. I got some this year, but not as many as I should have. Then I read that you have really water them, which I hadn’t been doing. I mean the wild ones are taking over the place with no extra watering, so …. But even late season watering made a difference, so next year I’ll do better. My Chicago Hardy fig is producing like crazy with no extra work at all. Good thing it isn’t such a diva.


    • carolee says:

      It is strange that wild berries seem to tolerate drier conditions than the cultivated ones. I finally got a soaker hose for the fall red raspberries. They are setting blossoms and fruit during our driest weather, so I’ve realized they need extra help. Still getting a few berries from those, “Heritage” variety.


  2. Jackie Powers says:

    I also got a pot of Strawberry Shortcake Raspberry three seasons ago and am disappointed with it. It produces less than a handful of berries each year. Not sure what the problem is. I had it in ground for 2 years, it grew, but did not produce. Put it back in a container this year, but it wilted with all the rain. It has recovered, and looks healthy. Will see what it does next year, but I’m not impressed with it.


    • carolee says:

      It is very disappointing when such a highly advertised plant does poorly. Kinda like all those super fancy coneflowers and coreopsis that came out years ago and then disappeared so quickly. Right now, the deer are eating all the leaves on my raspberries, and have eaten the young elders down to the ground AGAIN! How did the pioneers manage? Are you back from South Africa?


      • Jackie Powers says:

        Yes, back home now, cleaning up flower beds, planting bulbs, and enjoying the beautiful autumn. South Africa is a beautiful and amazing country. What an amazing experience. Besides all the birding and wildlife viewing, we toured the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens in the Cape Town area and the Kew Gardens in London. Both spectacular places. After traveling for a month though, it’s nice to be home.


      • carolee says:

        Welcome home!


  3. And here I thought only my garden was demented. An orange poppy started blooming a week ago. In November. At a mile high elevation! Mother Nature has quite the sense of humor. Thank you for swinging by the “Ranch.” We ❣️ visitors especially gardeners. 😉


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