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Summary

I want to grow a garden on a lot of land on the Faroe Islands. It is on a slope of rocky ground next to the sea. I am leaning towards wild blueberries and bill berries, but I have concerns over if they, or any other berry, can be grown on the Faroes.

Research done

I have a short and limited background in agriculture, and that guided me in looking up some tables on climates for agriculture, what is grown in similar climates, and what books I should read and reference.

Climate

The Faroe Islands, Iceland, Maine and Alaska are in the same temperature zone for agriculture. But they also have dissimilar weather. The local climate is literally saltier.

What is native elsewhere

Wild Blue Berries and Bill Berries grow wild in Alaska, Maine and Iceland. However, Blue Berries are grown mostly in Oregon, Washington and Canada in North America.

Iceland does produce some crops, such as kale, carrots and potatoes, without greenhouses, and fodder crops such as grass and barley. Common junipers do grow wild in Iceland.

The Faroese Conditions

Due to high winds and severe storms, the country is mostly devoid of forests. There are some managed plantations, but wild trees have been blown over long ago. Native plants are mostly grasses, mosses and flowers. There are low-laying bushes where there is shelter from the wind, provided by depressions or geological features. Due to how exposed to the sea the Faroes are, the air is saltier, and consequently, the ground is a little salty. Otherwise, winters are mild, and summers cool. The ground is rocky, with shallow topsoil.

What I am looking for

I am looking for a list of berries I can grow on my lot of land. It isn't much; it came with the house I lease, and want to work the land and produce something. I am not a professional farmer and do not intend to have a commercial operation growing berries, but I want to grow berries nonetheless.

I would also be interested in knowing if Juniper berries can be grown here.

Available resources

I have access to a tractor and equipment, and can either plow or till the land.

I can automate and manage some tasks with micro controllers.

I can cover rows with a plastic sheet, supported by bent poles.

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  • It seems that they have a botanical garden. I would just ask them (email, because I do not think it will be full staffed) Commented Mar 29, 2023 at 15:27
  • Email who? And who's staff? If you mean me, I don't have a botanical garden or staff. Commented Mar 30, 2023 at 8:07

2 Answers 2

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Rose hips (rosa rugosa) come immediately to mind as a common coastal fruiting plant in Maine (and elsewhere.) You have to scrape out a lot of seeds, but they do grow and fruit reliably, and have very high vitamin C content if you don't heat-process and destroy it. They tolerate very windy and salty conditions and will eventually produce a windbreak.

The suitability of the soil for wild blueberries would depend on how acid it is. They do well with exposed, windy, shallow-soil conditions; but they really need a very acidic soil. The environments they thrive in (non-commercially) in Maine are granitic mountaintops where they get plenty of sun and can shelter in pockets of rock, while few other things can grow to shade them. Commercial production in Maine is in flatter conditions of bogs, some of which are near the ocean.

Cranberries are another likely fruit. While commercial production is "floodable bog centric" for management reasons, that's not required for growth, and many of those bogs are right by the ocean.

Wintergreen / checkerberries (Gaultheria procumbens) tended to do well beside the road, where there would be considerable salt exposure.

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You might try some Hippophae berry bushes (sea buckthorn, or seaberries). According to Wikipedia, you want them to have plenty of light, though, but they're salt-tolerant (both to salt in the air and the ground) and can add nitrogen to your soil; it says not to shade them. They also tolerate fairly cold weather.

Strawberry spinach might work. It's related to lambsquarter, and I'm pretty sure lambsquarter would be okay in those conditions. I've never tried strawberry spinach itself, though. I don't recommend growing lambsquarter itself, as it can be an invasive weed (not sure about the cultivated varieties).

If you can grow potatoes, you might try wonderberries; no guarantees, but they seem to do well in adverse conditions (they get bigger plants with black plastic to warm the soil, though). Nightshades seem more salt-tolerant than some crops (such as beans).

Supposedly, there are ways to increase salt-tolerance in plants (such as with certain kinds of magnetization, and doing foliar sprays of acids at a certain solution). While there seem to be studies on these, I haven't evaluated them sufficiently to say what I think about it (particularly in a home-garden context), and I don't know the application rates for the acids.

I don't know how salt-tolerant they are, but I've seen blackberries growing well in coastal towns in Washington.

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