How to Grow Sea Berry
Sea berry is a little known European Berry. It is very hardy and grows on almost any soil type. It is drought-tolerant once it is established, seedlings however require consistent moisture. Seaberries are hardy in zones 3 – 7, they resemble citrus in taste and composition and are a tad tart. The berries are the size of a large blueberry and have a citrusy flavor, in fact Europeans use sea berry juice as a substitute for Orange Juice.
They are somewhat compact, attaining 6 to 12 feet at maximum maturity and are relatively easy to grow. Two plants are needed to produce fruit a male and female as they grow on different plants. They are wind pollinated and should be appropriately spaced, 6 to 8 feet is ideal.
The berries ripen in late summer and Autumn and will remain on the bush, unfazed through hard frosts, they do not over winter. The male shrub remains covered in burnt orange flower buds in winter and spring, they produce larger flower buds than the female.
Seaberries should be planted in the spring. Full sun and moist soil, sandy soil or even gravel is acceptable as they are very hardy and tolerant of adverse conditions.
A soil pH between 5.5 and 7.0 is optimal. Mulch periodically and some well dried manure in the spring should supply all the plants fertilizer requirements.
They grow fairly quickly, but don’t expect fruits for the first 2 years, by the third year if all goes well you should have a reasonable harvest which should grow exponentially larger till the shrub reaches full maturity. Some varieties can produce upwards of 50 lbs of berries annually, on the average – smaller shrubs will generally produce at the very least 15 to 20 lbs.
They ripen in late Summer and early Fall. When fully mature they are fire engine red and the interior flesh and pulp is a burnt orange. Other varieties are sometimes yellow on the outside and honeydew green on the interior.
Pruning is not essential for the plants health, but can enhance its aesthetic value when properly done. Don’t prune till after the harvest.
Birds are not a bother with these berries as the astringency seems to deter them, although they have been known to nest in the branches.
The sea berries should be bright orange and firm when harvested, if they start getting soft, they are over-ripe. They have thorns so exercise caution – ouch – that’s just common sense. See Also: Health Benefits and Recipes for Sea Berries