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Edible Landscaping--Cranberry Bog

Category: Gardening for Food | Posted: Sun Feb 10, 2008 3:51 pm

Some interest has arisen about my cranberry bog, so I will post what I did here.

We moved here about 4 years ago. The first year I had a veggie garden and a "watch and see" for the rest of the yard. Well, I noticed a portion of our yard held water when it rained a lot. It was wet, I thought, because the ground was still frozen underneath.

The following year, my daughter (7 at the time) was rescuing worms from the flooded area. These worms told me it had nothing to do with frozen ground. The poor things were trying to escape because the soil was wet all the way down. The worms weren't there the time before, but this was definitely a clue. I was pretty excited--unlike most people I would imagine--to have an opportunity there. My daughter and I saved literally about 4000 earthworms! She was so adorable saying, "Help! We have to save them!" We put them all in gardens on higher ground.

The next year, I started to prep the area. My son was helpful, thank goodness. I chose the lowest spot, turned over the nice black dirt. I made a drainage hole next to it (where we pulled out a stump) because cranberries like to be raised up above the moisture. They can be soaked for a period of time in cool/cold weather, but not during growing.

On top, I mixed peat moss and sand--with a little garden solid for nutrition (not much at all). I also had to dig a trench at the other end of my field because road run-off would get into the yard and work its way across to the bog area. That worked out pretty well.

We also made a rock wall (one row of big rocks) behind the bog and planted azaleas there. I put violets around the bottom of the flowering shrubs.

My brother worked for a cranberry growing company, and I was hoping to get some vines from him. He procrastinated and then moved to Florida! Well, I had decided earlier to start cranberry from seed.

Cranberry germination: I cut open fresh cranberries, put them on a damp paper towel, and put them in the fridge. They were there for over 30 days, but I do not recall exactly how long). Then I brought the paper towel baggie out, and started watching the seeds. Each day, I would unwrap, and return them to the moist (now warm) place in the plastic bag. Then, I saw sprouts, and planted them in flats. Since it was an experiment and I hoped to get vines from my brother, I had but a few. They did quite well.

You do not need a bog to grow cranberries!

I wanted a bog for other reasons too. I have a Jack-in-the-pulpit to one side of the bog, and am studying about other plants that like that sort of situation.

Well, my brother moved back last year, and got me a big bag of vines. He told me to plant them, and not to be concerned if they drop all their leaves and look dead. This is what happens when you cut the vine and it has no roots. The moisture in the bog keeps the stem from dying. Well, I decided to toss a little rooting hormone down before I laid the vines everywhere and sprinkled sand all over. I could see parts of the vines, and if any ends were sticking out or showing, I tucked them into the dirt. Well, things looked bad as he said it would, and then after a long time, I saw little green cranberry sprouts!

The worst part of it last year was to weed it without pulling out the delicate little plants. We also have chickens, and a couple are good at getting out. Now, where did you think they wanted to go and play? The bog of course--but only those nice soft-soil weeded areas! So, I decided to leave the rest of the weeds to protect the little plants from the chicken scratching and see what I had this year. Maybe by the time things get going again, I will have a stronger vine when the weeds are removed, and they can fend better for themselves.

We will be building a special chicken coop for Houdini chickens.

Cranberries need a little sand on them now and again to produce more roots as the vines grow up and old are replaced by new. I do not think much fertilizer is needed. I am organic here anyway, but I think they do well in nature in fairly poor soil anyway. I will check, and post about that in the future.

Near where I used to live, there was a swath of wild cranberries growing amidst a big blueberry patch. The whole thing was above an aquifer (underground water). The ground actually had a bounce to it. It was dry on top and and it is hard to describe: not squishy, just bouncy as if you were on something fairly solid, but that it was on top of something not. Well, when we picked blueberries one year, we got about 3 gallons in an hour or so. The cranberries there produce too, but not much, and at a different time. The following year, the town put in a water-pumping station, and the blueberries were never quite the same. I never saw any after that. After the birds got the few that were there, I never saw another blueberry. Fortunately, I saved a couple of the bushes, and I have them growing in my yard now.

Feel free to ask questions, if I do not know the answer myself, I will ask my brother. I do hope I get some berries this year; I would like to make sauce for Thanksgiving dinner from my own cranberries!

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budagardener wrote on Sun Feb 10, 2008 4:06 pm:

That just sound amazing Robin. I love cranberries...and had no idea a bog was not required.
I am not sure how they would do in this Texas heat though!
Do you have photos?

Robin282 wrote on Sun Feb 10, 2008 6:10 pm:

No photos yet, but I plan to take some this summer.


Droopy wrote on Sun Feb 10, 2008 6:16 pm:

It's so nice to hear that people actually use their wet areas to make something unique instead of digging away to drain it all. Good luck with the Houdini-chicken-coop.


bsewnsew wrote on Mon Feb 11, 2008 12:25 am:

i did see the blogs on tv commercial........they flood the cranberry bushes to pick the cranberrys ......If I am correct?


Robin282 wrote on Mon Feb 11, 2008 1:50 am:

Yes, the cranberry farmers who have specialized equipment do the water picking method for most of the harvest. These berries are used to make sauces, jellies, and juices. They also dry-pick. These are the fresh bagged cranberries in the produce section. They use a special scoop-rake to dry pick.

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