[NAFEX] crabapples, and haskaps

Kathryn Mathews kathmath at charterinternet.com
Tue Sep 9 09:16:46 EDT 2008

I've been interested in growing seaberries, but wondered about the taste.
Are they really good enough to eat fresh?  Are they sweet, tart, both?  Is
there one variety you prefer?
Kathryn Mathews

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  -----Original Message-----
  From: nafex-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org
[mailto:nafex-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org]On Behalf Of John S
  Sent: 09/08/2008 11:16 PM
  To: North American Fruit Explorers
  Subject: Re: [NAFEX] crabapples, and haskaps

        Melissa, I grow honeyberries and have 7 (possibly more) varieties at
this point.  I find them to be very worthwhile.  In taste and texture I find
them very similar to blueberries, but significantly more fragile (and no, I
have never tried to peel them!).  There is, however, more "character" to the
taste, and different cultivars do vary in taste more than you find in

        They are very winter hardy, and start blooming very early, in fact
almost too early for there to be pollinators to service them.  (more later)

        One Green World has been working hard to bring more varieties of
these onto the market. They must have about a dozen varieties now and seem
to add another every year or so.  They have been my primary source and are
located in the US (Oregon).  Because they start growing so early in the
year, and must be shipped across the country, I have had a few shipping
related losses with them.  They start to leaf out before they are shipped,
and get stressed during shipment.  They do not handle drying out well and
need careful handling when they first arrive.  This will likely be a factor
for you in NY.

        Because of space limitations, I must grow mine in large pots.  This
creates a problem in the later summer/early fall when we get a lot of sun
and very little rain here.  Heat and limited moisture makes the plants go
dormant sooner than I would like and if I do not water regularly, I risk
losing them, especially in the pots.  Other than that, I have had very few
problems.  The birds seem to ignore the fruit and there are not significant
numbers of fruit eating insects to bother them at the times they are

        Berries color up significantly before the fruit has matured enough
for consumption and it can be easy to pick them prematurely and not be happy
with the taste.  I always wait until I see a few fruit start to drop, then I
know they are ready.  They also hold on the plant reasonably well, which is
a nice feature for the home gardener.

        OGW offers them in two maturity categories, one they state is better
for Oregon because they flower later and one suitable for colder climates
that flower earlier.  However, I have more production and success with the
later blooming varieties.  It might be because they are in pots that the
others heat up quicker and flower sooner, or some other reason.

        I am growing Blue Bird, Blue Bell, Berry Blue, Blue Moon, Blue
Velvet, Kamchatka, Blue Sky, Blue Forest and perhaps a couple more.  They
differ in plant size, fruit production, fruit size and fruit flavor.  I
believe that some are better pollinators than fruit producers.  I'd
recommend that you get 3 or 4 different plants from OGW to get started, then
evaluate but suggest you start with the later blooming ones.  I do have a
fondness for Blue Moon and have had some moderate success in starting extra
plants to expand my fruit production.

        Also, since you indicated an interest in the unusual, OGW is also
doing pioneering work in spreading quality varieties of Seaberry plants.  I
bought a male and female from Indiana Berry Co years ago.  The male died and
female flourished, so I ended up buying another male from OGW.  The plant
was large, vigorous and fertile, resulting in an immediate fruit crop that
next year.  I followed up with a purchase of a female var Sunny from OGW,
and found that the fruit size was easily twice to 3 times the IndBerry var.
when it fruited the next year.  This year I added another female from OGW
which I expect to fruit next year.  Seaberry really deserves better exposure
in the states.

        I should also state that I have no ties with OGW other than being a
repeat customer.


        --- On Mon, 9/8/08, Melissa Kacalanos <mijwiz at yahoo.com> wrote:

          From: Melissa Kacalanos <mijwiz at yahoo.com>
          Subject: [NAFEX] crabapples, and haskaps
          To: nafex at lists.ibiblio.org
          Date: Monday, September 8, 2008, 6:43 PM

I've been enjoying the lively discussions of obscurefruit on this list. My
husband and I just bought ahouse with a big yard, and we're eager to rip up
theuseless lawn and plant more interesting plants nextspring. You're all
giving us lots of great ideas.Crabapples have been discussed recently by
people whoenjoy eating them fresh. I'd never considered any sortof apple for
our garden, since the usual applevarieties can't be grown organically in
 area(central NY, zone 5), and I don't want to have tobother with spraying.
How do these crabs for fresheating do against pests? Are they more resistant
thanthe usual apples?Assuming these crabs are more resistant to pests,
dothey really taste good? I realize that's a verysubjective question, of
course, so I'm going tocalibrate my tastes for you all with a familiar
apple.My favorite apple of the commonly available varietiesis 'Granny Smith'
because that's the crunchiest andmost flavorful. (I like 'Gold Rush" even
better, butthat's more obscure.) Are there crabapples with acrunch and taste
sort of like that?But anyway, I'm mostly thinking of planting speciesthat
are so obscure, the local pests hopefully won'tknow what to do with them.
Haskaps, Loniceracaerulea,sound particularly intriguing. This is a blueberry
that ripens two weeks before strawberries, andis reputedly
 tasty eaten fresh, like blueberries.Here's more info about
kap_mar2008.pdfThe species has various other names, like bluehoneysuckle and
honeyberries, but the new varietiesthat have just been developed by the
University ofSaskatchewan that are supposedly so much tastier thanthe
earlier varieties, the breeders want to distancethemselves completely from
the earlier kinds by usinga different name. Haskap is a traditional name
forthis berry in Japan. Here are the new
rieties.pdfThe trouble is, these varieties seem to be availableonly in
Canada, and I can't find a Canadian nurserythat can ship plants to the US.
Is there any way I canbuy these plants?MelissaCentral NY, zone 5
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