Growing Just Photos

Enjoying the “Fruits” of my Labour

For years I’ve been obsessed with growing fabulous, fresh fruit right here in Central Alberta. Not just saskatoons and strawberries – but grapes, plums, cherries, watermelons – yes, even kiwis and apricots. And I want to grow it all in my own backyard. Well, I can’t say I’ve got all those things checked off the list yet, but this year I’ve gotten closer than ever before.

This has been a fantastic season for growing fruit. After starting from scratch 5 years ago, my backyard is now producing all kinds of different delicious fruit. One of my personal favorites has been my Pembina Plums. We had about 5 gallons of these amazing plums this year. So juicy and sweet! I don’t think there is a fruit I enjoy more!

Pembina PlumsThen there are my “Chums” – my Cherry Plums. This is the first year that they have produced, and they are quite a nice little treat.

Manor ChumsThis variety is the “Manor Chum”.¬†They are greenish-purple on the outside, and deep purple on the inside. Very tasty.

Manor Cherry PlumAnother highlight for me this year has been my raspberries. My Wyoming Black Raspberry grew like crazy – so much so that I think I’ll have to cut them right down to the ground this fall! They have almost overgrown the north side of my greenhouse! But they sure produce a lot of raspberries! And they are the perfect compliment to my “Fall Gold” Raspberries. These yellow raspberries are so mild! It’s all the flavor of a raspberry without the ‘raspy-ness’!

Fall Gold and Wyoming Black RaspberriesOf course, my haskaps really started to produce this year. I was amazed at how densely these little berries covered the branches of my little bushes. The kids loved picking these for a little snack. (And I’m excited for when my wife bakes up a batch of haskap berries muffins this winter!

Haskap BerriesMy grapes continue to ripen – I expect to harvest them in a couple of weeks. (My grape syrup from last year has just about run out.)

Valient GrapesMy muskmelons are getting to be a good size too. (Never heard of muskmelons? Think cantaloupe.) They got a late start, but I think they’ll be big enough for a tasty dessert or breakfast in the next days.

MuskmelonAnd finally, another fruit that I’ve highly enjoyed has been my cherries. I believe I had three varieties produce this year – hoping for another two to be mature by next year.

Sour CherriesSo it’s been a pretty great year for fruit. And hopefully next year will be even better! My kiwis have grown like never before (their vines have reached my garage roof), my apricots are coming along nicely, my blueberries are surviving (though not exactly thriving), and my hazelnut tree is slowly making progress. So we shall see what next year brings…

Upick Farm Review

The Saskaberry Ranch near Olds

The Saskaberry Ranch LogoMy love of fresh fruit has kept me on the trail to experience the many upick farms central Alberta has to offer. Yesterday I found myself at the Saskaberry Ranch west of Olds. This was not the first time I had been there. In fact, I’ve been there dozens of times before. And not just for the fruit (although that is an attractive feature). Most of my visits occur because I’m related to the owners. The Saskaberry Ranch is owned and operated by my brother Phil & his family. (I even had the joy of helping plant many of his saskatoons…) That being said, I’ll do my best to remain unbiased in this review – though I won’t guarantee anything.

My Experience

When I was a kid, I used to pick the wild Saskatoons that grew on the edges of the fields. I could pick for an hour and get only a quarter of an ice-cream pail full of saskatoons. Not so at the Saskaberry Ranch! Yesterday I picked for about 30 to 45 minutes and my pail was right full.

Bucket of Saskatoons

Absolutely fantastic! My son (about a year and a half old) was with me and believe it or not, I could fill my bucket quicker than he could empty it! He doesn’t say many words yet, but he did say “Mmmmm Mmmmm” quite a bit yesterday!

Large Cluster of Saskatoons

But I should mention that there is more to the Saskaberry Ranch than just piles of saskatoons. They also grow raspberries, strawberries, cherries, potatoes, onions, carrots, snow peas, and a whole host of other vegetables. Weather has certainly been an issue this year and both the cherries and raspberries are pretty sparse, but the saskatoons are absolutely amazing!

Sweet Raspberries

One Final Word

The Saskaberry Ranch is the place to go for saskatoons. You’ll find lots of other stuff while you’re there too, but if you’re in the market for saskatoons, I’ve found no better place. And at a mere $2.00 per lb, it’s a great price too.

Want to Visit The Saskaberry Ranch?

Here’s what you need to know:


They are just west of Highway 22 on Range Road 324, 2.4 km south of Highway 27 or 66 km north of Cochrane.


Saskatoons, Raspberries, Strawberries, Potatoes, Assorted Vegetables


At the time of this article, $2.00 per lb. for saskatoons, $3.00 per lb for raspberries

Other Info:

You can visit the Saskaberry Ranch online at or send phil an email at [email protected]. Additionally, you can call (403) 507-8994 for anything else you need to know.


17 Hardy Fruits That You Can Grow On The Prairies

When I was a kid growing up in central Alberta, I was pretty sure that all good fruit came out of B.C. True, I we had raspberries and strawberries on the farm, but apples, plums, cherries, grapes and the like where all “exotic” fruit that simply didn’t grow in Alberta. How mistaken I was! Or at least, how things have changed! I never would have thought that I could be growing plums, grapes and kiwis just outside of Red Deer, Alberta. But it’s true. There is a whole world of hardy fruit plants that can survive and even thrive on the northern prairies.

Grape Vines

So if you’re looking to grow some “exotic” fruit of your own, here’s my list of 17 hardy fruits that you can grow on the prairies.

1. Cherries

The University of Saskatchewan has really done great work in making cherries a viable prairie fruit. I now know of at least 10 varieties that are available. (I personally have 7 varieties.)

2. Haskap/Honeyberries

This fantastic fruit is amazing! Consider this… Can withstand -47 degree weather, ready for picking by the end of June, can produce 7 kgs of fruit per bush, and tastes great! Take a look at this article I wrote about haskap earlier.

3. Grapes

Yup, that’s right. Grapes in Alberta. Valient is the most common variety, but there are others as well. I’ve had mine for two years now, so I’ll be looking forward to my first harvest soon.