I would like to add one or two berry bushes to my garden and I want them to be worth the trouble of growing them. What would you suggest as the most nutrient-dense and productive berry bush that doesn't get too huge or which can be kept smaller by pruning? This will be in an irrigated area so it needn't be especially drought-tolerant, but should be tolerant of somewhat alkaline, clay soil, and high temperatures.
Most kinds I haven't eaten, for instance aronia and goji. I like blueberries and blackberries. I've tried growing blackberries here and they died. But most things I've tried to grow have died. Kind of a brown thumb....
So I should add "easy to grow" on my list of preferred berry attributes.
1. Easy to grow
5. Dries well
Most people aren't crazy about fresh aronia -- but most people also pick them far too early. They aren't ripe until about 6 weeks after they turn dark..
I eat aronia fresh and use a lot for jam -- exceptional jam comes from astringent and sour items like currant, elder, and quince...
Raspberries are good food, usable in many forms. I would say that they surely get a check on all the 5 points.
If you go for the twice-bearing varieties, the harvest can last for months (end May - end September at least, with a 2-week pause in July, in my Z6/7 location). Don't let them get dried out - but you've mentioned irrigation so I guess that should be fine. As to acid/alkaline soil, they do prefer acid. I suggest using sawdust, in my experience they like that a lot. If the sawdust you're adding is fresh then take care to also add nitrogen in some form.
You said you had a brown thumb, so maybe look for berries that grow naturally in your climate? I really don't know Texas' climates at all, but I'm reminded of The Florida Survivalist Gardener saying that berries were really hard to grow in their hot weather, but mulberries did great.
You might try figs. Not sure if they are technically a berry. I would think they'd be great in your warm climate. They're pretty difficult here in MO. They can be kept small and are very easy to propage. Some varieties are self pollinating. Don't know if they like alkaline soils. That's not a problem here.
Thank you! I think I'm going to go with Blackberry, as they grow wild in this region, though no productive plants are nearby. I think I will try growing them against a fence to keep them from taking over the garden. Can anyone recommend an especially fruitful variety?
I'll second the fig recommendation. It should do well in your warm climate and produce a lot more fruit per plant than blackberries; and easier to pick too. It can be pruned to just about any size or shape desired with little effort - you can treat it like a cane fruit bush and just whack out older growth. It's easy to propagate. Fruit is versatile and sweet - no sugar required.
Tyler, most berries like the acid side of the pH scale as do most fruit trees. Pine and cedar leaves are the easy way to turn soil slightly acidic.
In Texas you will find that The thornless black berries are good, large sized and grow well.
Also there are service berries, better growing in our climates than blueberries and respond to pruning well.
Figs are a natural as well.
I think blackberries are the only answer for Central Texas. FYI, anytime I search the interwebs, I add tamu in the search. Blackberry tamu, peach tamu, etc. This will get you to Texas A@M information, which will get you specific info for your region.