Deliberate Agrarian
Snippet #28

Planting Elderberry Bushes

Dateline: 14 May 2014

(picture from Nourse Farms)

I had my first taste of elderberry pie after Marlene and I started dating back in 1975. Her mother made elderberry pies each year when the wild elderberries were in season. Since then, Marlene has made plenty of elderberry pies. They are a real treat. Back around 2000 we learned about making herbal tinctures, and we've made elderberry tincture (and elderberry-flower tincture) as medicinal tonics. Someday, I want to make elderberry syrup and elderberry jelly.

With all of that in mind, I decided to plant some elderberry bushes. I could have dug up some wild elderberry but wild elderberry tends to grow large and spread, and it generally grows best in wet areas. Then, this last winter, I read the following description of a new variety of elderberry being sold by Nourse Farms:

Samdal Elderberry: This is one of several newer elderberry varieties from Denmark. Plants are vigorous, producing long shoots from soil level one growing season and bearing fruit the next. These are removed after bearing and replaced by the current year's growth. This makes the plant easy to prune and manage as a bush. Large fruit clusters with good flavor ripen in August each year. Berries have very high anthocyanin content…. Very good for you!

That description sold me because it appears that this elderberry variety can be grown and pruned just like the raspberry canes I've grown for many years. So I ordered four seedlings (pictured below) and wasted no time getting them "bush planted" in one corner of my garden. 

Bush-planting is a simple, sensible, less common technique for planting bramble fruits that was advocated by the famous berry-man, Edward Payson Roe, back in the 1800's. I explain bush planting on page 23 and 24 of my Planet Whizbang Idea Book For Gardeners. And I have labeled the planting stakes with "Forever Plant Tags" as explained on  pages 25 and 26 of the book.

A good supply of water is critically important to growing fruit. With E.P. Roe's bush-planting idea, the bushes can be easily trickle-watered through the season as needed with one of my Planet Whizbang irrigation buckets.

Elderberry plants from Nourse Farms
(click picture for enlarged view)


Cynthia (C.L) Lewis said...

Sounds great! I really want to plant some elderberry bushes for tonics and jam! Keep us updated on how the bushes do.

Left Coast Don said...

Nice plant source. I have a feeling Marlene will find a way to put all your berries into pies! At $7 per plant, you might want to get 10 more plants so you can make an official "DelAG Medicinal Tonic" (good for what ails you). I will purchase the first pint.

Herrick Kimball said...

I will do that.

Left Coast Don—
All the berries in pies would be fine with me. The tonic selling idea certainly crossed my mind. But I like to put my toe in the water before I jump in. Thanks for the encouragement.

Daniel Way said...

Herrick, I purchased some "collected" elderberry seedlings from the Missouri Dept. of Conservation about three years ago. We got our first harvest from them this year. Watching them grow and blossom on our place, I learned what they look like and g in a couple fence rows out in the county around us. Today I de-stemmed several pounds of them, mashed and then simmered them in a kettle. My intent is to make juice and jelly.