Friday, September 7, 2012

How To Care For Your Backyard Blackberries

Blackberries are probably the easiest plants to add to any edible landscape and delishious too!  It is a good thing to know the differences between varieties of blackberries that are available.  The basice difference is thorns--some blackberry plants have thorns and others are thornless.  In Grandma Farmer's garden we have the thornless variety which makes them safer for my grandchildren's little hands to reach in and harvest.

Erect blackberry plants grow upright and tend to stand on their own without needing any additional support. These are ideal if you are hoping to grow these plants in containers or if you are adding them as a point of interest in your home garden.

Semi-erect blackberry plants have a spreading nature and will require a little support, in the form of a trellis, to continue to grow up and off the ground.

You can also find illustrations of different kinds of blackberry trellises from the North Carolina State University Cooperative Extension Service if you want to try your hand at constructing your own!

Homemade Berry Trellis
Homemade Trellis
via DeWayne Harrell of HobbyBerries
Mulching Blackberries is an excellant idea.  The recent drought in our area has convinced me that even the toughest of blackberries are not immuned to the horrible effects of drought and extreme heat.  When I'm pruning the bushes this season (see below) I will add 1-2 inches of compost and 2-3 inches of wood/leaf mulch combination.  This will not only feed the plants but add a cover to retain moisture for the plants.

Pruning blackberry bushes can not only help keep blackberries healthy, but will also help it to have a larger crop. Blackberry pruning is easy to do once you know the steps.

One of the most common questions about blackberries is “when do you cut back blackberry bushes?” There are actually 2 different types of blackberry pruning you should be doing and each must be done at different times of the year.

  1. In the early spring, you will be tip pruning blackberry bushes. In the spring, you should be doing tip pruning on your blackberries. Tip pruning is exactly what it sounds like, it is cutting off the tips of the blackberry canes. This will force the blackberry canes to branch out, which will create more wood for blackberry fruit to grow on and therefore more fruit. While you are tip pruning, you can also prune off any diseased or dead canes.
  2. In late summer, you will be doing clean up blackberry pruning. In the summer, after the blackberries are done fruiting, you will need to do clean up blackberry pruning. Blackberries only produce fruit on canes that are 2 years old, so once a cane has produced berries, it will never produce berries again. Cutting these spent canes off the blackberry bush will encourage the plant to produce more fist year canes, which in turn, will mean more fruit producing canes next year

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