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BLACKBERRIES

  How To Grow Blackberries


PLANT TYPE: Perennial
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Rubus fruticosus
ZONE / HARDINESS: 5 to 10
MATURE PLANT SIZE: Can quickly grow to 10 feet high x 10 feet wide
LIGHT: Full sun to partial shade
SOIL TYPE: See Details Below
pH RANGE: Hardy to Zone 5
KNOWN PESTS: None
KNOWN DISEASES: None


OVERVIEW:

There are two types of blackberries, erect and trailing. The primary difference is the growth habit of their canes. Erect blackberry types have stiff, arching canes that are somewhat self-supporting.

Trailing blackberries, also called dewberries in the East, have canes that are not self-supporting; they include the Marionberry, Boysenberry, Loganberry, Youngberry, and Thornless Evergreen.

Erect blackberries are more cold-hardy than trailing types. However, you can grow trailing types in colder areas if you leave the canes on the ground and mulch them in winter.

Choose a sunny site in your garden with good air circulation and water drainage and a pH of 6.0-7.0. Keep roots moist until planting. Work plenty of organic matter into the soil and mulch to keep out weeds. Plant as soon as the soil has warmed. Dig a hole large enough so as not to bend roots. Trim canes to encourage new growth. Plants should be set out at least 2 feet apart in rows 7 feet apart. Trellising is beneficial for cane support. These summer-bearing berries produce fruit on second year canes (floricanes). In the fall fo the 2nd year, prune spent canes at ground level and thin others to approximately 4 canes per foot of row. Cut off suckers which grow outside of rows. Trim remaining blackberry canes to 7 feet.


PROPAGATION / SOWING:

Seed; requires stratification and is best sown in early autumn in a cold frame. Stored seed requires one month stratification at about 3 degrees C and is best sown as early as possible in the year. Prick out the seedlings when they are large enough to handle and grow on in a cold frame. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring of the following year.


SOIL CONDITIONS:

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, requires well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid and very alkaline soils. It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires moist soil and can tolerate drought.


COMPANION PLANTING:

Not considered a companion plant. In fact it should be grown in areas away from primary gardens and walkways. It grows very quickly and can take over if not pruned frequently.


CARE & GROWING:

Plant as soon as the soil has warmed. Dig a hole large enough so as not to bend roots. Trim canes to encourage new growth. Plants should be set out at least 2 feet apart in rows 7 feet apart. Trellising is beneficial for cane support. These summer-bearing berries produce fruit on second year canes (floricanes). In the fall fo the 2nd year, prune spent canes at ground level and thin others to approximately 4 canes per foot of row. Cut off suckers which grow outside of rows. Trim remaining blackberry canes to 7 feet.


HARVESTING:

Harvest berries as soon as they turn a very dark, deep red/purple (black in appearance) - hence the name.


USAGE:

Fruit - raw or cooked. The best forms have delicious fruits and, with a range of types, it is possible to obtain ripe fruits from late July to November. The fruit is also made into syrups, jams and other preserves. Some people find that if they eat the fruit before it is very ripe and quite soft then it can give them stomach upsets. Root - cooked. The root should be neither to young nor too old and requires a lot of boiling. A tea is made from the dried leaves - the young leaves are best. The leaves are often used in herbal tea blends. Young shoots - raw. They are harvested as they emerge through the ground in the spring, peeled and then eaten in salads.

For medicinal purposes, the root-bark and the leaves are strongly astringent, depurative, diuretic, tonic and vulnerary. They make an excellent remedy for dysentery, diarrhoea, haemorrhoids, cystitis etc, the root is the more astringent. Externally, they are used as a gargle to treat sore throats, mouth ulcers and gum inflammations. A decoction of the leaves is useful as a gargle in treating thrush and also makes a good general mouthwash.

Other uses include a purple to dull blue dye is obtained from the fruit. A fibre is obtained from the stem and used to make twine.












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With Blackberries, it is best to avoid selecting a site where potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, other caneberries, or strawberries have grown within the past 3 years.





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