Less Noise, More Green: Edible Landscape Project: Lingonberries

Friday, June 20, 2014

Edible Landscape Project: Lingonberries

Balsgart Lingonberry, edible landscaping
These berries will turn bright red when ripe.


When looking for plants for my edible garden, I knew I needed a ground cover for the front edges that would be pretty and practical. I needed a plant that would help with preventing soil erosion and, if possible, have an edible element. I originally planned on planting cranberries, which would have been an appropriate addition to a New England garden!  Then, as I continued researching, I read about lingonberries and knew I had found my plant.


Lingonberries, edible landscaping
Waiting to be planted


Lingonberries are a popular bright red fruit in Scandinavia and in parts of the US with a large Scandinavian immigrant population.  I have never seen a lingonberry plant in Rhode Island. My guess is, because we have the cranberry in abundance and no large Scandinavian population, the lingonberry serves no culinary purpose here. This is too bad because even though the fruit is tart like a cranberry, the flavor is quite distinct.

Lingonberries need to be cooked and are used to make sauces, jellies, wines and syrups. Pancakes with lingonberry syrup is a classic Swedish dish and one I look forward to making! The berries keep in the fridge for up to three weeks and freeze well.

Lingonberries as soil erosion buffer, edible landscaping
Planted right across the front of the beds, these plants will fight soil erosion.


I chose to plant lingonberries because they are well suited to growing in this part of the country. Not only are they a low growing ground cover, but they are evergreen, which will mean a lot in the middle of a New England winter! The plants spread through an underground runner system which will aid tremendously in my battle against soil erosion.


Ida Lingonberry, edible landscaping
Ida Lingonberry

I bought two varieties of lingonberries: Ida and Balsgart. Both varieties grow to about eight inches tall. Cross pollination is recommended because that produces larger berries and an earlier harvest. In fact, the Ida produces two crops a year, one in mid summer and one in late fall (take that, cranberry!).


Balsgart Lingonberry, edible landscaping
Balsgart Lingonberry

Both varieties produce large and plentiful fruit. The Balsgart, which is the product of the Swedish University of Agriculture, is especially prolific. Some of the plants arrived (in the mail from Raintree Nurseries) with berries on them, which we removed, but they are not supposed to fruit until their second season. I'll also need a plan to keep the squirrels and birds away from the berries!


Balsgart Lingonberry, edible landscaping
We removed the berries to promote plant and root growth this season.


Lingonberries grow well in USDA zones 3-8 and like an acidic soil with a pH of 5. If you can grow blueberries, lingonberries will do well, too.  We added lots of peat moss to the soil along with compost. As we move into high summer heat, I'll add several inches of peat moss around the plant to act as mulch.

I hope these plants do well in my garden. I enjoy cooking with new ingredients and my head is spinning with ideas on how I can use these berries.

Your Gardening Guru, Charlie Junod

This project had been aided by my friend Charlie Junod, who has a gardening consulting business here in Rhode Island. He helped me locate and plant the shrubs, blueberries and lingonberries. Charlie likes to work with people who want to learn how to take care of their own gardens. He teaches his clients as they work side by side on their project. If you are interested in contacting him, he can be reached at:

Your Gardening Guru

charlie@yourgardeninggururi.com

(401)225-3446

See you in the garden,

Sue

If you would like to follow the progress of this project, click on the tag 'front garden redo' to see all related posts.

If you are interested in the plants I am using in the garden, visit my Pinterest Board  "My edible Landscaping Project".





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