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Smart Pots® and Brazelberries®

Smart Pot with soil

A Smart Pot is a planter made of heavy fabric. Apparently, roots can grow through the fabric, but when they encounter air they naturally stop with minimal trauma to the plant. The first season I had a Smart Pot, I filled it on my deck with a mixture of topsoil and compost and planted it with cucumbers. The cucumbers didn’t impress; I’ve had way better results growing them in a planting bed. Quite possibly summer heat on the deck was too intense for cucumber plants.

In winter of 2011, a company called High Caliper handed out 15 gallon Smart Pots at a trade show in Boston, and I got to bring one home. The following spring, I unfurled the Smart Pot on my deck and combined garden soil and compost to fill it. I planted a single hill of cucumbers, and had a modest harvest; it wasn’t a brilliant success.

In 2012, Brazelberries introduced their new line of container-sized raspberry and blueberry plants. I was fortunate to get free samples at a trade show in autumn, and in October or November, I “fluffed” the soil in the Smart Pot and stirred in additional compost. I planted a single Brazelberries raspberry plant—a variety called Raspberry Shortcake.

In spring of 2013, the Raspberry Shortcake grew happily on my deck. And, by 2014 the plant was pushing up new canes that created a fairly impressive display in the Smart Pot. From what might have totaled six or seven fruit-bearing stems, we harvested several handfuls of tasty berries.

Smart Pot with one Brazelberries raspberry plant

In my second season with a Smart Pot, the folks behind Brazelberries gave me some plants to try. I set a single Raspberry Shortcake cane in the center of the Smart Pot and the plant thrived.

This season, the Smart Pot is chock-full of Brazelberries raspberry canes and there are flower buds everywhere. I’ve provided minimal care:

  • At the end of a growing season, I cut out canes that bore fruit that year.
  • I add organic fertilizer several times through the season.
  • I water if the container gets particularly dry.
  • I pull weeds if there are any; with the expanding mass of raspberry canes, few weeds get started.

My deck gets unpleasantly hot on sunny summer days, but the raspberry plants don’t seem to care; other plants stress out.

This is definitely one of the simplest and most satisfying projects in my small kitchen garden. I’m happy to encourage you: Plant a Smart Pot with Brazelberries raspberries. It will pay you back in about four seasons.

Ripening Brazelberries Raspberry Shortcake

In the Smart Pot’s third season, the Brazelberries Raspberry plant had produced six or seven canes. The canes produced flowers and then fruits most of which ended up in my wife’s cereal bowl.

Brazelberries Raspberry Shortcake in a Smart Pot

By late April of this year, about 17 raspberry canes were leafing out in the Smart Pot on my deck. Raspberry Shortcake canes are about 18 inches tall and free of thorns! It’s a pleasure to harvest from these little gems.


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8 Responses to “Smart Pots® and Brazelberries®”

  • Mark:

    I wonder if evaporation from the sides of the pot provides some cooling. Must check out the Brazelberries(r)!

  • Kurt:

    Yes, the Smart Pot is a fabric container, so the sides (and bottom) are porous. Evaporative cooling does occur, which is healthy for the root structure. It is very interesting, and typical, that the Brazelberries would be better the second year, since they have grown fuller roots. Year three should be even better.

  • Dee Gatward:

    Where do you get Brazilberries?

  • How is the flavor and how often do you add any type of organic material to the pot?

  • Daniel Gasteiger:

    Kurt – Thanks for chiming in. I’ve nothing to add to your response!

  • Daniel Gasteiger:

    Brazelberries have gotten pretty common in independent garden centers all over the US–not the big-box stores. If you can’t find anyone selling them locally, there are a few vendors selling them online. Here’s the Brazelberries web page that identifies online vendors:

  • Daniel Gasteiger:

    Mike – I very much enjoyed the Brazelberries raspberries last year. I’m not a connoisseur, so I’m not sure how to describe the flavor other than “very satisfyingly raspberry.” The only organics I’ve added since I planted the first cane have been various fertilizers… most lately I’ve used Black Gold 5-5-5 because a local crush-and-dent store has stocked it at an incredibly low price. As for refreshing the soil structure? I’ll be motivated by productivity. It seems eventually the plants will be frustratingly crowded. At that point, I’ll probably dig and divide… and rebuild the soil before committing the raspberries to several more years. I tend to fertilize sparingly: just once as the fruit comes in to give the plants an extra kick as they build up for next season.

  • Daniel – Cool. Sounds like an easy to grow, wonderful variety that you can fit in a lot of small spaces.

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