Tag Archives: edible garden


Morus nigra – Black Mulberry

Morus alba, – White Mulberry

The Mulberry is a deciduous tree reaching up to 10m, but they can be coppiced or pollarded, every 1 – 4 years, to control size and provide leaf fodder for livestock. The Black Mulberry is considered to have the better fruit, while the White Mulberry is grown for its leaf value (silk worms are grown on the White). They are rapid growers while young but this slows as they age and they are also considered long lived trees. Because the trees are deep rooting they bring up nutrients from the ground and can be grown with crops surrounding them as they don’t compete. The leaves also contain high protein levels for a plant, making them highly nutritious for livestock, including rabbits. While the berries are an excellent chook forage.

The purple-black berries of the Black Mulberry, are produced early summer and are considered delicious, though it recommended that you do not plant near concrete as they stain. These berries can be eaten fresh or used in jams, cordials and winemaking. Young leaves are eaten cooked in many countries. The fruit, bark and leaves, of both species, are also medicinal with many uses, including the treatment of colds, flu, eye infections and toothache. The bark is considered anthelmintic and purgative, it is used to expel tape worms, this could be highly beneficial if feeding branch trimmings to  livestock. Fiber can also be made from the bark, dye from the fruit and leaves, and the wood can be used for joinery.

It is also said that if planted next to Walnuts, Mulberries can buffer the negative effects of the Walnut roots on other plants. Underplanting with nitrogen fixing plants will help support the Mulberries growth.  Well drained soil is preferred, Mulberries are fairly drought-hardy once established but prefer water during fruiting. They are low maintenance, frost hardy and self-fertile. An excellent choice for a multi-purpose hedgerow, specimen tree, etc.



Corylus avellana

The Hazel is deciduous and can be grown either as a multi-stemmed bush or a single trunk small tree. They are hardy and fast growing, reaching 3–8m tall, but can reach as high as 15m. The flowers (single sex catkins) are produced very early in spring before the leaves, the male catkins are pale yellow and 5–12 cm long, and the female ones are very small and largely concealed in the buds, with only the bright-red, 1-to-3mm long stigmas visible. Pollination is done by the wind and pollinator Hazels are necessary for this to be successful.

The edible nuts are 1–2.5 cm long and 1–2 cm diameter, surrounded by a husk which can partially or fully enclose the nut. Ripening from February to April, depending on the variety, Hazels are ready when they fall from the tree. Harvesting can spread over three to four weeks per tree, keeping the ground clear during this time can help with ease of picking the nuts up. Once harvested nuts must be dried and stored in a cool dark place.

Hazel leaves and small branches can also be used as stock fodder/forage, the nuts as pigs or bird fodder and the flowers provide an early pollen source for bees. The Hazel stems are also used for basketry, woven fencing (hurdles), walking sticks, garden stakes, furniture and the frames of coracle boats. The tree can be coppiced, and regenerating shoots can be harvested every few years. However, if nuts are wanted the pruning should be kept light as they bear on strong one-year old wood. Remove any inward growing branches and crossing branches to allow light and openness in the center of the tree/shrub. The Hazel grows best in sheltered areas with fertile soil and consistent moisture levels. They can tolerate frosts but persistent harsh winds will slow their growth.

These are some cultivars  which are readily available.

Hazel – Appleby

Low vigour, spreading tree form, moderate suckering, with good yields. Needs pollinator possibly Campanica, Butler, Davianna and Merveille de Bollwiller could be used.  Good flavour.

Hazel – Merveille de bollwiller 

A large attractive nut.  Highly sought-after pollinator.  Vigorous grower.  Pollinate with ‘Alexandra’.  Hardy.  Late cropper, ripens April.

Hazel – Whiteheart 

Good yields of medium-sized nuts with a clean kernel and excellent flavour. Best hazelnut for processing. Pollinators include ‘Alexandra’ and ‘Merveille de Bollwiller’. Ripens April.


Ribes nigrum – Blackcurrant

This deciduous woody shrub grows to about 1.5m in height and width, they are long lived for shrubs, up to fifty years, but are often replaced every 10 – 15 years in commercial orchards. The Blackcurrant prefers cool damp fertile soils and mulching is beneficial as they are shallow rooted. While winter hardy, cold weather at flowering time during the spring reduces the size of the crop as the flowers are susceptible to frost damage. Bunches of small, glossy black fruit develop along the stems in the summer and the raw fruit is particularly rich in vitamin C. Blackcurrants can be eaten raw but are usually cooked to make jams, jellies and syrups and often mixed with other fruits such as raspberry or apple. The fruit is also used in the preparation of alcoholic beverages and both fruit and foliage have uses in traditional medicine and the preparation of dyes. The leaves are considered edible so would be safe for livestock and a great plant for a chook forage area.

As the blackcurrant produces berries on one and two year old wood, regular pruning helps maintain consistent cropping. Removal of one or two of the oldest branches at the base, any dead material and low branches touching the soil is all that is usually required. When planting a young blackcurrant all branches can be cut back to two buds above the soil to help the plant establish a strong root system. This should be done during winter while the plant is dormant. As they are heavy feeders, especially with nitrogen and potassium, a yearly application of manure and/or compost is also beneficial.

Ribes rubrum – Red currant

The redcurrant is a deciduous shrub growing up to 2meters high. Currant bushes prefer partial to full sunlight and can grow in most types of soil. The red currant has the same requirements as the black currant above but produces its red tart berries on two to three year old wood. Pruning is therefore different, generally consisting of cutting new growth back to create an open compact bush. For more information on pruning currant here is a good link…



Black currant 

Shrub up to 1.5m, moist fertile soil, sun/semi shade, mulch to keep roots cool, fruits on new wood, Dec- Jan. Cold hardy.

Red currant – Gloria de Versailles 

Shrub up to 2m, moist fertile soil, sun/semi shade, mulch to keep roots cool, Fruits on older wood, large red berries, vigorous, Dec – Jan.

Red currant – Mangatoki 

Shrub up to 2m, moist fertile soil, sun/semi shade, mulch to keep roots cool, Vigorous, prolific, small berries, Fruits on older wood, December.