We love pretty much any kind of berry in this house and blackberries are no exception. Since high quality organic produce is sometimes expensive, we thought it would be important for us to learn how to grow blackberries.
How to grow blackberries?
Growing blackberries, just like growing blueberries or growing strawberries, was an inevitable thing for us. There's only so long you can stand looking at high prices of good produce before you think, "I can grow that myself".
There are a ton of different varieties of blackberries. When we decided what kind of blackberries we were going to grow, we really weren't concerned with anything other than whether or not they were thornless.
We tried a few different varieties of blackberries and they're all pretty similar in how quickly they grow, the way in which you plant them, and how prolific their production is. And trust us when we say you will get a lot of blackberries; so many in fact you will probably want to learn how to freeze blackberries so you don't have to throw any out.
BlackBerry plants are also pretty versatile. Following the same techniques as container vegetable gardening, you can also grow blackberries pretty easily.
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How to plant blackberries
Similar to growing blueberries, blackberry plants can take a while to mature. Typically it will take about two years for your blackberry plant to reach maturity and show fruit. But once they do, they will produce very heavily and will live up to 15 years.
You can purchase seeds online if you like. We did not want to wait the full two years for the blackberry plant to start producing, so we purchased already started plants.
As we mentioned, we didn't want to wait the full maturity time for our plant to start producing, but we also wanted to make sure that we had a healthy plant that was coming from a reputable, high quality source.
Where is the best place to plant blackberries?
As soon as we got our plants, we started them in food grade 5 gallon plastic buckets.We used a mixture of organic potting soil, organic compost, and peat moss. This mixture is similar to what you would use in square foot gardening.
Make sure to drill plenty of holes in the bottom of your bucket. If you do decide to go that route. This will allow plenty of drainage for any water so it does not get trapped.
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If you like, you can leave your blackberry plants in these buckets. You need to prune them as they grow to make sure that they do not outgrow the container. Also be aware that as they grow they can become restrained and root bound within that bucket.
If your blackberry plant becomes root bound within the bucket, it's not difficult to fix. All you need to do is remove the plant from the bucket, carefully trim the root ball, shake free any loose soil, and replant in the same container with fresh soil.
If you decide that you do not want to leave them in buckets permanently, you'll want to choose a space outside that has a lot of sun. You also want to make sure that they have soil that has a pH of at least 5.5 to 6.5. The peat moss in your soil mixture should take care of the acidity for you.
When we are ready to plant our started blackberries, we prepare a raised bed with a organic potting soil and organic compost mixture with a bit of peat moss added as well. You'll notice this is the same mixture we use in our containers.
When transplanting from your bucket into your raised bed, you'll need to dig a hole that is about a foot wider and six inches deeper than the root ball of the blackberry plant. Then remove your plant from its container, use your hand to break up the soil around the root ball, and place it into that hole. Gently pack dirt around and water.
We made sure to plant our blackberries approximately 2 to 3 feet apart. This allows them to spread out and have some room and to stay healthy.
Do I need a trellis for my blackberries?
It really depends on what kind of blackberries you have. Typically, you'll find blackberries either trailing or erect/semi-erect. Trailing should be fine. They will grow on their own and do not need support.
However, erect and semi-erect blackberries do need some sort of trellising system. If you decide to go this route, you will need a couple of DIY trellis ideas.
When to pick blackberries
You'll know that your blackberries are ready to harvest when they are firm, and a bit shiny. This is typically later in the season, usually late summer or early fall.
Do blackberries have worms in them?
It is not uncommon for wild blackberries or blackberries growing in your own garden to have small worms in them. These worms are the larva of fruit flies.
You will likely never notice that they are there. However, to be on the safe side and to keep things sanitary, it is always best to wash your berries before consuming them.
You can do this by giving them an ice water bath. Place your blackberries in a bowl of ice water and let them sit there for awhile. If you want to be extra prudent and get rid of all of the worms, you can add some salt in the water as well.
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