Tips for Growing Blackberries

Until quite recently, blackberries were hardly ever grown in gardens. The main problems were their size and vigour and the thorns. Although we still lack a dwarf blackberry, there are now several thornless selections and hybrids with less vigour. Added to that, the wild blackberries of the countryside have now disappeared to a great extent in the fetish for tidiness and a neat and ordered environment. Both these factors have encouraged people to grow blackberries in their gardens for themselves.

Although they can still take up rather a lot of room, this is only in respect of their length because they need to be trained to wires to make them easy to manage. In many cases, gardeners are now using them as fruitful and impenetrable hedges.

First, let us consider the varieties:

'Himalayan Giant' BlackberriesHimalayan Giant

Very vigorous and thorny. Large fruits. Mid to late season. Good flavour

 

Loch Ness

Widely grown. Heavy crops of good quality, large fruits of good, but not exceptional, flavour. Much less vigorous than the older varieties. Thornless, therefore easy to train.

 

Waldo

Similar to Loch Ness, but with better-flavoured fruit. Thornless.

 

Black Butte

Very large fruits up to 12gm in weight and 2in (5cm) long. Rich and sweet and full of flavour. Very winter hardy. Early July to mid August.

Oregon Thornless

Semi-vigorous and thornless. Medium fruits. Late. Good flavour Ashton Cross Vigorous and thorny. Medium fruits. Midseason. Probably the best wild flavour of all.

 

Fantasia

A mid-season vigorous and thorny variety with huge fruits and good flavour.

 

As a general rule, the thornless varieties crop lighter than the thorny. The life of a blackberry plant can be anything around twenty years.

Vigorous varieties should be planted 12-15ft (3.5-4.5m) apart; semi-vigorous, 10-12ft (3-3.5m).

The canes must be supported on horizontal wires stretched at 3, 4, 5 and 6ft high (1, 1.3, 1.6 and 2m) which are securely fastened to a stout post at each end of the row.

There are several recognised ways of training the canes and, although the ‘weave’ method is probably the best for ripening the fruit, it is hard to carry out with stiff blackberry canes. For this reason, the one or two-way rope systems are easier.

This illustration shows the two-way system:

growing blackberries

 

For the one-way, the new canes are trained out and tied on one side only with the fruiting canes on the other.

Pruning is easy. The old fruited canes are simply cut out at ground level in the autumn after the fruit has been picked. The new canes are then tied in. Where new canes are in short supply, the old ones may be cut back to new canes that are growing from near their base.

16. May 2011 by admin
Categories: Fruit Gardening, Soft Fruit | Tags: , | Comments Off on Tips for Growing Blackberries

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