Growing Lingonberries I thought I had written about lingonberries before but I don’t see it here, and it doesn’t turn up on a search, so I’ll do that now. One side of my driveway in Millinocket is lined with rocks, creating a narrow rock garden between the driveway and the fence. In that area, I planted eight lingonberry plants several years ago, and I can’t even count the number of plants that are there right now, as lingonberries spread very fast once they get established. A lot of people in the United States are unfamiliar with lingonberries. I know of them because my parents came here from Sweden, and lingonberries were very familiar to them there. Lingonberries are also known as cowberries, foxberries, quailberries, partridgeberries, bearberries, beaverberries, cougarberries, mountain cranberries, red whortleberries, lowbush cranberries, mountain bilberries, rock cranberries, whimberries, and redberries. The berries themselves are small, red, and very much edible, looking very much like cranberries, although cranberries don’t taste very good right off the bush, while lingonberries do. They are similar to cranberries, but not as tart. They are related to both cranberries and blueberries. They grow on small evergreen shrubs, growing to be only a few inches tall, with varying heights depending on the variety. In the wild, they are native to the Scandinavian countries, Alaska, and northeastern Canada. As this might indicate, they do very well in cold weather. The plants remain green beneath the snow all winter. In fact, given that they are growing along my driveway, all the snow from the driveway gets blown or shoveled on top of the lingonberries. Apart from the fact that they are very hardy to cold temperatures, they thrive on being ignored. One of the worst things you can do to them is to pamper them. They do well in poor soils, and don’t require anything in the way of fertilizer. They like peat moss. To prepare my lingonberry beds, I stacked the rocks, then placed several layers of damp newspaper on the ground to prevent grass or weeds from growing through. Then I added a a mixture of about fifty percent top soil and fifty percent peat moss. They like peat moss, so every now and then I’ll add a thin layer of peat moss to the beds. Prepared in this way, I have to weed out some dandelions and sometimes some grass during the summer, but there isn’t much of a problem with weeds. Once the lingonberries began to fill out the space, there isn’t a lot of room for weeds. Other than that, they do best when they are ignored. Over-watering them can be a problem, and they mostly do well with the amount of rainfall that we get in Maine. I might give them a little water if we go a couple of weeks without rain, but I seldom water them. I do add a small amount of fresh compost every now and then, but a very small amount, and I’m not sure if they even need that. In order for them to flower and produce fruit, you need to have at least two different varieties of lingonberries. I have four. Beginning in mid-summer, the lingonberries begin to produce fruit and they continue to produce fruit throughout the summer and into the fall. The summer after I planted the eight plants, several new ones began coming up, and each year after that, more of them appeared. I have extended my rock garden on both ends, and eventually they would make their way over there, but I am buying a couple of more plants, as well as some lingonberry seeds this spring, so that I can get a bigger crop quicker. Lingonberries are good in jam, jellies, juice, sauce, and wine. But mostly, I eat them directly after picking them. My mom used them as a garnish for pancakes and waffles, as well. They can also be used in pies if you get enough of them. This summer, I will prepare a place to begin them on my land up north too but I probably won’t plant any until the following spring. Once they get established, I think they will spread even to areas that I haven’t prepared. I don’t expect to actually get to eat very many of the ones I might grow up north because we have bears and birds and things that will probably get to them before I do. Here are a few photos of lingonberries, although they are not mine. I have pictures of my plants somewhere, but I don’t feel like searching for them right now.