When it comes to growing blackberries, the rewards are delicious – like blackberry cobbler, blackberry pie, and blackberry jam!
I can still remember as a kid heading out to nearby fence lines for a little blackberry picking. Dressed in jeans and a long sleeve shirt for protection from briars, and who knows what in the waste high weeds – I knew that if I could fill a few quart picking baskets, mom would always oblige with a homemade pie or cobbler. Oh those were the days!
There is something so special about the taste of blackberries. That deep, rich flavor, entwined with a tartness and sweetness that is hard to describe, but delicious to eat!
We have been fortunate enough for the last seven years to have wild blackberries growing along nearby fence lines. But with more and more development, those patches are quickly disappearing. And without fresh blackberries, the chances of making my absolute favorite – homemade blackberry-honey jam – were dwindling year by year. That, of course, simply couldn’t be allowed to happen. See : Blackberry Honey Jam Recipe
And so, we decided it is time to add our own home-grown crop to the mix. Blackberries are actually quite easy to grow. All you really need for a great crop year is a little room and a bit of support. Making them even more attractive, a single planting can produce for 20 years or more.
Growing Blackberries – The Basics
Blackberries are a member of the bramble family. Brambles perform well in many soil types, but prefer a slightly acidic soil. It is one of the reasons you often see blackberries growing wild so well along fence lines and at the edge of woods.
There are two basic types of blackberry plants, trailing and erect. Trailing varieties are great if you have a fence line or trellis system to provide support. Trailing varieties can grow 20 to 30 feet long. They can also give you a big harvest. Erect varieties are good for those with little room, or in beds up against fence lines.
Growing Blackberries – Planting and Support
Blackberries should be planted in a slight mound about 2 inches above the soil line. Trailing varieties should be spaced 6 to 8′ apart. Erect types should be spaced 1′ apart. When planting, work a shovelful or two of compost into each hole as you set the plants. A thin 1 to 2″ layer of compost on top as a mulch around each newly planted bramble will help conserve moisture and provide a little early nutrition to the plant as well.
Blackberries generally will not fruit during the first year growing year. Brambles actually produce on two-year canes. One cane grows the first year, then the fruit canes will grow the next. It is only during the first year that you will not have fruit. Each year after the first, fruiting canes for the next year’s growing season will be produced.
What To Grow
We are planting a trailing variety called Natchez Thornless, utilizing an unused row in our grape arbor to grow them “vineyard-style” along the trellis lines. As an alternative, a simple wood post with two wire supports at 2′ and 4′ off the ground will work as well. Simply train the vines as they grow by tying off with loose string or rope. If you choose to grow the erect style, you might still need to provide a bit of support in the form of a fence or stake. Product Links : Natchez Thornless Blackberry Plants – Apache Erect Blackberry Plants
1st year plantings do not need to be pruned back at all. As the blackberries grow from year 2 on, simply remove old shoots that have died off each fall. This allows for new shoots to come on the following spring for another great harvest. In general, blackberries do not need much fertilizer to continue to perform. A top dressing of compost around each plant every spring should be more than enough.
Here’s to growing blackberries in your backyard! – Jim and Mary. To receive our 3 Home, Garden, Recipe and Simple Life articles each week, sign up for our free email list. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram. This article may contain affiliate links.