At Bee Sweet Nature Co we are first and foremost a native plant nursery. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t have a bit of wiggle room and grow our plant stock base. We have now added Sustainable Food plants to our inventory. Why? We never thought about food security until Covid 19 came along. Our food supply was based on global trading and most of us had drifted away from our agricultural roots. Maybe we need to reevaluate our lifestyles and start growing food, again.
Haskap are not a new addition to Canada. Lonicera caerulea was first cultivated in Canada in the 1950’s. But to be quite honest, they were not that great. What I am focusing on are the new cultivars created by the University of Saskatchewan from these original Haskaps. These cultivars are truly amazing with cold hardiness to – 45C and flowers have been known to survive and set fruit after – 11C temperatures.
To back track, what are Haskaps? They are an edible blue honeysuckle or honeyberry. The name is derived from Japanese meaning, “ berry of long life and good vision “. An unusual taste, tart and sweet at the same time. Like blueberry and raspberry combined. These fruit are super loaded in antioxidants, one of the highest of all fruits. And wildlife loves the berries, too. So beware – pay attention when Haskap are fruiting since birds will strip a bush incredibly quickly.
They are a compact bush attaining heights of 4 – 5 feet and widths of 4 feet. Be sure to plant them 3 feet apart. By May, Haskaps will bloom and have fruit available by late June. In fact, it is one of the first fruit crops beating strawberries by a few weeks. But the bonus is that these bushes will continue to bear fruit into the Fall. When harvesting remember that the fruit will turn purple close to maturation. However, wait till they physically drop off the bush for maximum flavour.
Their biological traits are interesting and you need to pay attention to this. You just can’t plant any bushes and expect fruit. Won’t happen. There are no male or female bushes but all Haskaps are self incompatible. That means they can’t be pollinated with their own pollen. They need a ‘ pollinizer ‘ which means they need a different variety of Haskap to pollinate each other. The University of Saskatchewan has a great listing of pollinizers and compatibilities.
Bees and insects must carry the pollen from one flowering Haskap to the next in order for pollination and fruit set to occur. Make the area attractive to pollinators. Since flowering occurs in May we find that leaving dandelions in the area attract the insects and then they are drawn to the Haskaps. Remember not to spray since you are drawing pollinators to your bushes for pollination services.
From what I have researched, Haskaps are not prone to pests and diseases. Upkeep is minimal pruning and no fertilizer is necessary. Almost sounds too good to be true!