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What are Cranberry Bogs?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 17 July 2014
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Cranberry bogs are prepared fields where cranberries are grown. The composition of the soil and the moisture content that make up a cranberry bog is very different from the medium used for growing other plants. However, this unique mixture provides the perfect environment for cranberries to mature, as well as making harvesting the berries much simpler than other types of fruit.

Many people wonder exactly what is a cranberry bog. In general, bogs are depressions in the soil that are filled with water. This creates a section of land that is waterlogged. Often, the depression is deep enough that an average sized adult can stand in the bog water and have the level rise to the middle area of the thighs. While many plants will not grow in a bog, others thrive due to the combination of the moisture and high acid content. Cranberries are among those plants that do very well in bogs.

Working cranberry bogs are fortified with organic matter that alternates with layers of sand at the bottom of the bog. It is not unusual for peat moss and similar substances to be used as part of the organic elements that find their way into the bog. The sandy bottom is normally not added to each growing season, but additional sand is often added to the bog every three to five years.

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In the United States, cranberry bogs are more common along the northeastern shoreline of the country. New Jersey, the Cape Cod area, and other locations within New England are especially ideal for the creation and maintenance of the bogs. In fact, there are those that believe the New Jersey cranberry bogs are among some of the best in the world, consistently turning out cranberries that are juicy and have just the right amount of tartness for use in commercial cranberry products.

There are several advantages to cranberry bogs that are not found with more traditional soil-based planting and harvesting. Because of the nature of the cranberry soil, there is never a need to till the area before planting. The addition of a little more sand every few years makes it possible for the plants to remain upright and produce fruit with relative ease. Harvesting is also much easier, since the berries detach from the vines with relatively little effort. The water also makes it much easier to gather the cranberries, whether using manual methods or harvesting equipment.

However, cranberry bogs do require ongoing maintenance and care in order for the fruit to remain healthy and grow to maturity. The high acid content of the bog must be maintained for the best results. When and as needed, additional organic material is added to the bog in order to maintain the acid balance. Growers also sweep the water clear of any foreign matter that is not likely to aid in the growing process.

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