Growing Blackberries

Growing blackberries in the backyard is the first berry I planted years ago. Blackberries are one of my favorite berries. I love them in jam and pie filling. The cost of the berries spurred me into trying to grow them my self.

I stared with a thorn less boysenberry a cross between black berry and raspberry, loganberry and a dewberry.  They have a nice sweet tart flavor and produce large berries that ripen in the late summer.

My next plant was a Chester thorn less blackberry; both are a semi erect variety. Black berries can also trail. Erect varieties can support themselves if pruned to about 4 feet. Trailing blackberries need support and can be grown along a fence to save space.

If pruned properly growing blackberries can produce gallons of berries off one plant. One or two plants can produce enough berries for a family. It is a good idea to grow several different varieties so you’ll have insurance against pest and disease. 

Berries grow on the second year canes so you can have a harvest the year after you plant a new bush. Plants hardy to your area can be purchased in your local nursery. Plant new plants in the early spring or late fall.

Choose a sunny spot with well drained soil. Blackberries need consistent moisture but do not like soggy ground. Fertilize each spring and fall with a good balanced fertilizer. I like Mittleider fertilizer weekly feed because it has all the nutrients the plants need. It has worked really well for me. I purchase it at my local feed store. If it is not available in your area, you can purchase the micro nutrients online and mix the rest with store bought ingredients.

Planting Blackberries

Growing blackberries can be purchased bare root or in pots. If you plan on training blackberries on a trellis, install it before planting. Dig a hole deep enough and wide enough to accommodate the root ball. Water the plant before removing from the container. Tip plant over and let it slide out of the pot. Place in the hole you dug and fill in soil around the plant. Water well and spread mulch around the plant.

Cut the blackberry plant back to 8 to 10 inches. If you are planting more than one blackberry bush space them according to the type of blackberry. Trailing varieties need to be 10 to 13 feet apart. Semi erect varieties need 8 to 10 feet between them.

The first year let the vines grow. If the blackberries are trailing, tie the branches to the trellis as they grow. If your blackberry plant is semi erect, prune the blackberry cane when the canes are 4 to 5 feet tall. Pruning the canes will promote side growth and the blackberries will have more fruit the following year.

Caring for Your Growing Blackberries

Keep your plants watered regularly. Prune as the plants get unruly. Tie trailing plants to the trellis as they grow through out the summer.

Fertilize in the spring. The berries will start to ripen in late summer. Pick berries as they ripen. Don’t wash the berries until ready to eat or freeze as it promotes spoiling. Store berries in shallow containers in the fridge or freeze to use later.

At the end of the summer prune out the fruiting canes. In the winter months when all the leaves have dropped you can prune the canes for next season’s crop. Properly pruned blackberries will produce larger and better fruit the next summer.

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