If you don’t have a lot of space in the garden yet still prefer homegrown fruits over store-bought ones, berries represent a convenient crop to try. Blackberries are some of the easiest berries to grow as they don’t require very intensive maintenance. These fruits are delicious and can be considered ideal for pies, jams, and other desserts. Once blackberries start to ripen you need to prepare yourself for an abundant harvest. The flavor and taste of homegrown blackberries are definitely superior to store-bought options. Check out the following guide that details how to produce your own blackberries in the garden.
1. Blackberry Varieties
Before looking at important tips for a successful harvest of blackberries, it’s a good idea to understand the different varieties of this berry. There are three main blackberry types – erect thorny, erect thornless, and trailing thornless blackberries. The trailing type needs support like a trellis while the erect varieties don’t have such requirements as they are bushes. Some popular blackberry varieties to consider for your garden are ‘Shawnee’ which boasts great cold resistance and ‘Prime-Ark Traveler’ which delivers large juicy fruits on new and old canes.
2. When and Where to Plant Blackberries
Blackberries should be ideally planted in early spring for most areas although late-fall planting is also possible for warmer regions. These berries are perennial and self-fertile. When it comes to selecting the right spot to plant blackberries, it’s important to pick an area with direct sunlight. This can help a lot to increase berry yields. Go for a type of soil that has decent drainage properties. Avoid planting blackberries close to wild varieties as there’s a risk of disease contamination.
3. Caring for Blackberry Plants
Despite the fact that blackberries grow best in full sunlight, they can also tolerate some shade and can handle more difficult growing conditions. There is no secret technique for getting a healthy blackberry crop. Some of the main ingredients that can be considered essential are adequate sunshine, regular irrigation, and fertile soil.
Blackberries can have problems with low temperatures and dry areas which can stunt the fruit growth. Mulching the blackberry plants represents a good solution for preserving proper moisture levels. Early spring fertilization could be a blessing for your blackberries, particularly when you’re dealing with nutrient-deficient soil. Trailing blackberries will require a good support system to obtain the desired fruit yields.
Whereas other plants don’t require extensive pruning, it’s safe to say that this process can make a solid difference in the productivity of your blackberries. It may seem like a lot of work, especially when dealing with many trailing blackberry plants, but pruning is a relatively basic task. Just eliminate the old canes that have produced fruit so that new canes can easily replace them. Careful pruning will help a lot in terms of fruit quality so it’s strongly recommended.
5. Pests and Diseases
Birds can often cause issues for your blackberries as they eat seedlings, buds, and fruits. If you notice pigeons or other birds flocking to your blackberry plants, it’s recommended to come up with some protection features like netting. Plants that aren’t too vigorous can be vulnerable to stink bugs and raspberry crown borers.
In terms of diseases, there are a few common ones that you should keep in mind. Blackberries can be attacked by stem blight and anthracnose. The Raspberry Bushy Dwarf virus is a disease you need to be aware of. It can cause bright yellowing of the leaves. To prevent diseases, we recommend sticking to reputable companies when you’re searching for plant stock.
6. Harvesting and Storing Blackberries
Make sure you select only blackberries that are completely black so you can enjoy the full flavor of the ripened fruit. Harvesting can take some effort for a few days as the berries ripen at different time intervals. The best time for picking blackberries is in the morning or the evening when the temperatures are usually lower. Considering that blackberries are very perishable foods, you should be very careful to store them properly. They will last only a few days when refrigerated. We recommend some reliable methods of preservation such as freezing or canning.