Berries are the best fruit cold climate gardeners can grow. Berries are the category of produce where we can shine. Here we share the varieties of berries that we grow in our zone 3 garden. However, there are more varieties that can be grown.
Why grow berries
Of all the fruit to grow, berries are the best choice for a cold climate garden. Many of them are hardy to zone 3 and lower and ripen quickly.
It often takes years till a fruit tree produces fruit, berries on the other hand are often bare fruit in the first few years.
Berries are a must-have for a permaculture garden, plant once and enjoy for many years.
Berries are very healthy. Dr. Fuhrman writes: Berries are one of my superfoods and are represented by the second “B” in G-BOMBS. Rich in fiber and phytochemicals and low in calories, they have the highest Aggregate Nutrient Density Index (ANDI) scores of all fruits. Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries are vibrantly colored with antioxidant phytochemicals, and they are some of the highest antioxidant foods in existence. Read more about the health benefits of berries in Eating Berries Reduces Your Risk of Heart Attack.
Berries are also beautiful in the garden. Starting an early spring with a display of flowers, that turn into colorful berries during the summer and often end the season with another display of amazing fall leaves. We love flowers and grow many perennial flowers, but berries have a special place since they are not just beautiful, but have so many health benefits and are delicious, too.
Now let’s take a look into varieties of berries for zone 3 garden that we have experience with.
Haskap Honeyberries is the earliest berry to ripen in our garden. The name honeyberry is a bit misleading, I often say that you need honey to really enjoy these berries. They do get sweeter with ripeness, but if you wait too long, birds will get them.
For proper pollination, you will need two plants and it does matter what variety you have. Aurora is a great pollinator for other Honeyberries, and I love the taste. We also grow Tundra in our garden.
Apparently, currants have 8 times the vitamin C of an orange. In our garden, we grow black currants, but red and white would grow here too. If you have space, grow a collection of them.
Ben Sarek is the variety that we grow. It is a compact and productive plant.
Saskatoon or Serviceberries
Saskatoon or Serviceberries are a must-have for cold climates. I didn’t even know they existed prior to moving to a cold climate. I did find that we had to get used to the taste, or maybe it’s just the texture? But these little berries grow on me. Very reliable and yummy. Plus this plant is very beautiful all throughout the season (see flower picture above). And if you are into pie making, saskatoon pie is delicious.
There are many varieties of Saskatoons to choose from. Our bush was already here, so I’m not sure what it is. It’s a nice one though. Saskatoon you-pick farms are a great place to taste different varieties if you want to choose one specific.
Raspberries are hands down my favorite berries. We grow lots of them and try to have homegrown all winter long for breakfast.
Again, there are so many different varieties of raspberries, not just in the red category, but yellow and black.
We grow the yellow Honey Queen, Red raspberries that were already here (no name), and Wyoming Black raspberry.
The yellow and black raspberries are more a fun crop, while the red raspberries make up the main crop.
We grow the Chester thornless blackberry in our garden. And even though they are sold as a hardy plant, our experience is that they are not hardy enough for zone 3. We cover them up with leaves every fall. They also do not make it to fully ripen during our short summer, but most years we get enough to feel that growing them is still worth it.
Strawberries are so fun to grow in the garden. We grow 4 different varieties, wild strawberries, June bearing, everbearing and day-neutral. The goal is to have strawberries all summer long.
The Alpine or wild strawberries are smaller than regular strawberries, they also are quite different in taste and texture. We grow a few plants in the greenhouse, and others along the pathway outside. They produce all summer and are a yummy little snack.
Not sure why, but we keep “growing” blueberries. We love blueberries but in our rich soil, the plants are really just surviving. If you have a spot with acid soil, it sure is a great berry to grow.
One of the first berries we added to our garden very gooseberries. However, we soon discovered that they were on their way to take the garden over, so we got rid of them as soon as possible.
Then we added a Pixwell gooseberry bush, it seems to stay in place.
Lingonberries are new to us. They are small, red berries that grow on a shrub. I must admit that they did not grow much in the first year, so we have to wait and see.
Aronia is another new shrub for us. It seems to grow well and maybe someday we will be able to report how we like or dislike them. At least it is a beautiful plant, even if the berries would turn out too tart.
We also planted Sea-Buckthorn last year. However, I must admit that we do have second thoughts on this vigorous plants. So far they are small, and apparently great companion plants, we will see.
This is the list of the berries we grow or have grown in our garden. Most of these are available at T&T Seeds in Canada. Some were already growing here and some we bought locally.
There are more great berries to grow in a cold climate. Please share in the comment below what berries you are growing.
Check also out varieties of perennial vegetables for Zone 3 garden.