How to Grow Blackberries - A Complete Growing Guide
Blackberries are a delicious and nutritious fruit that are not only easy to grow, but also a rewarding addition to any home garden. With their sweet, juicy taste and high antioxidant content, blackberries are perfect for desserts, jams, or simply snacking on. In this comprehensive guide, we will cover everything you need to know about growing blackberries, including choosing the right variety, planting, caring for the plants, and harvesting the fruit.
Choosing the Right Blackberry Variety
Thornless vs. Thorny Varieties
Thornless blackberries, such as 'Apache', 'Arapaho', and 'Navaho', are easier to handle and harvest. Thorny blackberries, like 'Brazos' and 'Darrow', may produce larger, sweeter fruit but can be more difficult to manage due to their prickly stems.
Everbearing vs. Summer-bearing Varieties
Everbearing blackberries, such as 'Prime-Ark Freedom' and 'Prime-Ark Traveler', produce two crops per year, with a smaller spring crop and a larger fall crop. Summer-bearing blackberries, like 'Chester', 'Natchez', and 'Triple Crown', produce one large crop during the summer months.
Choose a location with full sun (at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day). Ensure the area is well-draining soil with a pH of 5.5 to 7.0. Conduct a soil test to determine pH and adjust accordingly. Avoid low-lying areas where water tends to settle, as this will lead to rot and disease later on. Plant bare root blackberries in early spring, while they are still dormant, this will reduce transplant shock. Container-grown blackberries can be planted anytime during the growing season.
Space plants 3 to 5 feet apart in rows that are 8 to 10 feet apart. Dig a hole large enough to accommodate the root system, spreading the roots out in the hole. Plant the blackberry at the same depth it was previously growing, and backfill the hole with soil. Once the plant has been successfully planted, remember to water thoroughly.
Provide 1 to 2 inches of water per week, either through rainfall or supplemental watering. Avoid overwatering, as this can
Apply a balanced fertilizer, (we use Trifecta+) in the early spring and again in midsummer, according to the package instructions. It is important to fertilize blackberries twice a season due to the enormous fruit yields and stress that can put on the plant. We will also top dress with a bit of compost once a year to continue to amend and feed the surrounding soil.
Prune blackberries in late winter or early spring, removing any dead, damaged, or diseased canes. For summer-bearing varieties, remove the canes that fruited the previous year, leaving new canes to produce fruit. For everbearing varieties, prune the top 1 to 2 feet of the canes that produced a fall crop, allowing them to fruit again in the spring.
Install a trellis system to support the canes and make harvesting easier. Simply train the canes onto the trellis as they grow, tying them loosely with garden twine. Tresslising will also keep plants from touching the ground. It will
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