Black chokeberries, or Aronia, are amazing native woodland fruits that are one of the highest measured for polyphenols, anthocyanin, proanthocyanidin, vitamin C, and flavonoids. These nutrients reduce cholesterol, control hypertension, lower inflammation, help liver functionmister spote anticancer. They are easy to grow.
I had Aronia in my dappled shade garden in Texas and other than planting them, no other maintenance was required. Aronia is self-fertile, but like other self-fertile plants, produce more fruit if you have two. If really big, maybe 20 pounds per year. I’ll be excited with 10 pounds.
I am building a new bed under a pinyon pine for two Aronias, see below.
I finished the second row of concrete blocks on raised bed 5 for my potager. I have filled it with deadwood and compost material just in case this week’s cloudiness turns into a drop of rain or two.
I have been considering the enclosure customary for potagers, and have a couple buildings serving as walls.
Here is a photo of the rocks edging the slope on the hill, and I am collecting stone for row 3. Adjacent to the concrete is where I have been collecting 1 inch thick rocks to face the storage building to the left. I have considered a low bed of flowers here, but it is dry and adding compost to hold moisture will have it spill over onto the concrete. I have decided to build a stone bed in front of the wall and fill with deadwood and compost, also known as hugelkultur It will be about 4 feet wide and I will add Aronia shrubs. I will pull out the 1 inch stones and install 2 inch stones to walk on, running the pathway along the back of the square bed until it reaches the gravel and rock path to the right.
The top of the photo shows the 4 foot chain link that surrounds my house, but not my 5 acres.
The raised stone bed will only be about 18 inches deep, and enriched, giving the new Aronia plants a good start. This may require water part of the year, but deadwood holds a lot of moisture and Aronias are moderately drought tolerant.
Aronia melanocarpa fruits can be used like most other fruits. I have used them in place of cranberries in cranberry nut bread. My favorite is to add a dozen dried berries to my hot winter tea. I add them to wheat bread for a little tang. They make a tasty syrup, or nice mixed with apple jelly, which I really liked. Like apples, Aronia is high in pectin and can be used to set other nonpectin fruits like rosehips.
With three total bushes, I hope to get enough berries to make a simple wine, and will adapt an elderberry wine recipe to suit. If I get champagne bottles, perhaps a fizzy wine. I am learning to make a little hooch for home use, because five acres gives me room for lots of fruits for wine making.
I love Black Chokecherries raw, just like I like cranberries, because I grew up in cranberry country in the Pacific Northwest. They have a similar tartness but a different under flavor. Wait until they are fully ripe, and after a frost or two. In any case, with sugar added, they suit most people’s palate.
Aronia melanocarpa has high insect protection value for my adjacent vegetable beds because they attract hummingbirds… the cutest little bug eaters.
Another value is for wintering over birds, Aronia fruit can last most of the winter in Texas. I doubt they last long here, because there is less competition and they taste much better than the Juniper berries that sustain wildlife through winter in these parts. Birds shelter inside also, and I sure have hawks they need protection from.
I have a few moister spots uphill, and once I have seeds, will try seeding them out.
Butterflies and bees love Aronia melanocarpa and so do I. Their rich red fall color is perfect for that spot under the pinyon. I look foward to their windbreak protection, lovely color, and nutritious fruit.