Red cranberries are relatives of blueberries and can help prevent and treat urinary tract infections (UTI). They make your stomach and teeth healthy. Cranberries also reduce kidney stones, increase good cholesterol while lowering bad ones, help patients recover from stroke and aid in fighting and preventing cancer. Planting cranberry in your garden will ensure that you will not run out of supply of this beneficial fruit.
What to Consider before Planting Your Cranberries:
Cranberries require the right climate, soil type, and watering habits. While cranberries can grow commercially in the temperate marine climate of the western Oregon and Washington, they can also grow vastly in Northern Wisconsin where the climate is harsher. Cranberries grow as runners (rhizomes) which trail on the ground and spread the plant as long as two feet in one season. Then, they develop uprights which grow on the runners during the second and third year. To maximize growth potentials, the runners need to spread fast during the first two years to yield strong uprights which will produce flowers and fruit.
Cranberries grow between the last stage of the spring frost and the onslaught of the fall frost. In general, cranberries need 150 days free from frost to mature. In places that experience harsh winters, such as in USDA Hardiness Zones 3 and 7, it is best to cover the cranberry leaves and buds with a layer of ice or water or combination of both to protect cranberries from dying due to extremely low temperatures. In areas such as Wisconsin (Zone 3) and Michigan (Zone 4 and 6), flooding is necessary to produce ice blanket as part of winter protection practices. In addition, re-flooding to add thickness to the ice, and then drawing water out from under the ice are also necessary steps for protection.
Wetlands are ideal soil types for growing cranberries because they have organic materials, sandy, with an acidity level (pH 3.0 to 5.0) and water content. However, some cranberries can grow in non-traditional soil types such as AuGres and Croswell soils that are generally not well drained.
Healthy Caring Habits:
Cranberry beds should be free from weeds, especially during the first year. Remove weeds as often as possible because cranberries are not good in coping with them. Cranberries must be well watered. Cranberries require large amounts of water for protection from frosts in the spring and fall. Most growers frost protect by sprinkling water on plants. Irrigation is necessary to provide enough the water demands in the summer. Cranberry plants have shallow roots. Cranberries with dried out roots will eventually die. Use sprinklers during hot summer weather to cool down cranberries. Since water is very essential to the cranberries, it is important to remember that they are extremely intolerant of water with high salt contents.
At the very least, cranberries require a moist soil. Use moist peat moss to absorb huge amounts of water to maintain moisture level especially during dry spells. Provide extra nitrogen in the first two years to enhance the runners to steadily grow and fill the cranberry bed. However, avoid giving too much nitrogen because there will be more runners and no uprights. It is highly recommended that you apply a fish emulsion fertilizer at a rate of ½ gallon, once in spring during initial growth, once when the blooms are starting to show, and once more when the berries are starting to form.
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