Saskatoon berries

A basic ingredient in pemican, the Native American dried food staple, this plant has an interesting legend. It is said that pioneers overwintering on the Great Plains had to wait for the ground to thaw in spring before they could bury their winter dead. Only one plant bloomed early enough that its flowers could be laid on the graves at the funeral services, and so it was called "serviceberry." Known by many names - Juneberries, shadberries, sarvisberry, or serviceberries, Saskatoon berries are another great choice for adventurous gardeners. I have wondered why this plant is not more widely cultivated. Not only does it produce delicious edible fruit, it is hardy from Zones 3 to 9. In fact it will survive temperatures to -20 degrees F (-28 C). Saskatoon berries makes superb fall foliage (many people put them in just for that), they are very drought-tolerant, compact but so sturdy that they make, and is commonly used for, an excellent windbreak, and is even self-fertile! America, what are you missing here?  (Canada knows and loves it.) The shrubby plants, which reaches 15 feet or more at maturity, produce deep-reddish-purple fruits, borne on long stems singly or in clusters of two or three, that ripen in early to mid-July. The fruits taste a lot like blueberries. A very nice sweet flavor, there is a hint of apple in the taste About the size of a blackcurrant, the fruit is produced in small clusters. The fruit is rich in vitamin C, iron and copper. They're a little more tart than blueberries and a lot easier to pick. The plants bear fruits over a four- to six-week period, producing between two and four quarts of fruits per plant. The flowers are tiny and white, in clusters. These flowers are produced before the plants come into leaf, and are usually produced so abundantly that the whole plant turns white. Saskatoon berries occur over a wide range of situations, from dry rocky slopes in full sunlight to partial shade of conifers and in moist, deep, and fertile soils. It is a common shrub in coulees, bluffs, and open woods. I find it interesting that the plant will survive a forest fire if the soil is moist and will even sprout vigorously and increase its number following a fire. As long as it receives enough moisture, the plants aren't picky about soil type, although they do prefer a near-neutral pH. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland). I recommend an annual light pruning -- just enough to get rid of the dead wood and broken or crossed branches. The one challenge you're likely to have growing saskatoon berries is to keep the birds away. Use protective netting in areas where birds are a problem. The best way to propagate is by division of suckers in late winter. The suckers need to have been growing for 2 years before you dig them up, otherwise they will not have formed roots. They can be planted out straight into their permanent positions.

Diseases include several rusts, fire blight, minor insect pests. The leaves are a tea substitute. Saskatoon/Serviceberries were an important food of the Blackfeet, who used them in soups, stews, and pemmican. Dried berries were also used as a trade item. The wood was prized for making arrows. Saskatoon was quite widely employed as a medicinal herb by the Native Americans, A decoction of the fruit juice is mildly laxative. It has been used in the treatment of upset stomachs, to restore the appetite in children, it is also applied externally as ear and eye drops. A decoction of the roots has been used in the treatment of colds. Young branches can be twisted to make a rope. Wood - hard, straight grained, tough can be used for tool handles etc. The wood can be made even harder by heating it over a fire and it is easily molded whilst still hot. The young stems are used to make rims, handles and as a stiffening in basketmaking. Use the fruit in pies and cobblers.

Can them in jams and jellies. Freeze them dry pack or in a light syrup, leave 1/2 head space. The fruit can also be dried and used as raisins or made into pemmican.



DO..... Soak plants in water for 4-6 hours before planting.

DON'T.. Plant daylilies around broadleafed trees.  They compete for moisture and nutrients.

DO..... Water daylilies during the heat of summer for more colorful and larger flowers.

DON'T.. Cut daylily foliage back until Spring when all danger of frost is over. The foliage shades the roots in the summer and protects the roots in the winter.

DO..... Use aged compost/manure or a 5-10-10 fertilizer for healthier plants.

DON'T.. Use high nitrogen fertilizers as they make for weak flower stems and dull bloom color.


Check any perennials or shrubs under large plants or the eaves of your house that may be drying out. The most common reason that plants die during the winter is lack of moisture. You must make sure that the soil gets a good soaking before the ground freezes, if rainfall is not sufficient.



Relatives of aphids, scale and mealybugs. They are not true flies. The flies are small (up to 2.3 mm), and white to yellow. They lay their eggs on the underside of leaves. They are yellow and flat, very tiny. They emerge and become tiny white bugs that feed on the undersides of leaves. You know you have whiteflies when you move aplant and it looks like a snowstorm! They are found all over North America and usually in warmer climates and in greenhouses (including on your house plants) . They usually stay away from gardens where there are many different kinds of plants. The adults destroy the leaves, buds and stems by sucking the juices out of them. Plants begin to yellow, wilt and then eventually die. The sap they excrete can cause a disease called sooty mold. Sooty mold can interfere with the photosynthesis processwhen occurring over large areas. If you spot eggs on the undersides of the leaves you can crush them very easily.


1) Soap Spray

Use a soap spray, The soap will also control sooty mold.

2) Yellow Sticky Traps

Placing these around plants especially in the greenhouse where you should have a fan to keep the flies active. Watch for infested plants at the nursery.

3) Companion Planting

Nicotinia, marigolds and other common flowers repel these guys.

4) Predatory Insects

Ladybugs, a small wasp called encarsia formosa, green lacewings and many songbirds including swallows.



Common Thyme

sow seeds or take cuttings in summer; divide plants in spring, or layer older bushes by mounding. Plant in very well drained soil in full sun. Clip after flowering and again in autumn; replace every 4-5 years, and in cold climates protect in winter, grow in containers or as a hedge. Also called garden thyme.

Red Clover

sow in spring (rub the seeds with sand paper to improve germination) in free draining, slightly alkaline soil in rows or patches.


sow in spring or early summer where plants are to grow, or in pots for transplanting after frosts cease. Grow in full sun with shelter from wind, in rich soil for leaf crops, poorer dry ground for flowers and seeds.



“How much the making of a garden, no matter how small, adds to the joy of living, only those who practice the arts and the science can know.”




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