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Blackberry bush and blackberries, delicious small summer fruits

Blackberries ripening

Blackberry shrubs offer delicious blackberries if you care for them well.

Basic blackberry facts

NameRubus fruticosus
Typefruit shrub

Height – 3 to 10 feet (1 to 3 m)
Exposure – full sun, part sun
Soil – rich enough

Foliage – deciduous
Flowering – summer
Harvest – end of summer

Planting, pruning, and care, here are the practices to grow a bountiful blackberry harvest.

Planting the blackberry bush

Finding a blackberry bush with no thorns

You can refer this question to your local horticulture store, where experts on what grows in your area will recommend the best varieties of blackberry bushes without any thorns.

Planting your blackberry

It is planted preferably in fall, but also until spring as long as it doesn’t freeze.

  • Keep a distance of at least one yard (meter) between plants.
  • Five separate plants will quickly provide an abundant harvest for the entire family.
  • Select a sunny spot and set up a lattice or wire to tie them.
  • Refer to our guidelines for planting.

Caring for the blackberry bush

It is highly recommended to attach the blackberry shrubs. Either simply follow a straight line with stakes, or try the following innovation:

  • Training a blackberry bushPurchase T-shape fencing stakes 8 feet (2.5 m) long, set them along two rows 6 feet (2 meters) apart, with intervals of one to two yards (one to two meters). Drill holes through their center at 1 foot intervals (30 cm).
  • Connect these stakes with construction iron rods thin enough to slide into the holes drilled into the fencing stakes.
  • As the blackberry stems grow, attach the new growth of the year to the iron rods with pieces of string or raphia.
  • No further care is called for, since the plant isn’t vulnerable to disease.

Pruning blackberry

Pruning is in fall or winter, cutting down to ground level any branch that has born blackberries, while safeguarding all the year’s new growth.

>> Video tips on training and pruning a black bush <<

Harvesting blackberries

New growth is what will bear fruit in the following year.

You must be patient: the blackberry bush you’ve planted this year will only bear fruit next year, but the harvest will quickly increase as years go by.

The diligent gardener that lurks within will thus give his blackberry bush loving care and attention, and all will be repaid with delicious fruits, jams and jellies.

For an abundant harvest, select more productive cultivars such as ‘Apache’, ‘Dirksen’, ‘Smoothstern’ or ‘Darrow’.

What about the thorns?

The most tasty blackberries are often the ones you’ll find in the wild. They tend to be more tangy and flavorful. Their drawbacks? Size! And all those THORNS!

Thornless blackberry varietyBreeders have focused on creating new thornless blackberry varieties that nonetheless remain tasty. There’s the ‘Apache’ mentioned above, but there are others, too:

  • ‘Columbia Star’ (shown in the picture above)
  • ‘Caddo’ (shared on instagram)
  • ‘Apache’
  • ‘Navaho’
  • and more…

Harvesting wild blackberries

Who hasn’t yet noticed those blackberry briar patches along countryside roads, which from August onwards attract knowledgeable cooks and gourmets alike?

Some of us even keep secrets handed down from one generation to the next about where the most luscious and bountiful berry spots are, to go there discreetly and harvest enough to prepare blackberry jam and blackberry jelly!

The best time to harvest blackberries in the wild depends on where you live (climate zones). But it usually spans two-three weeks sometime in August or September. It depends whether they’re early or late varieties.

Smart tip about blackberry

Grow blackberries to make your very own jams, pies, crumbles and blackberry juice: satisfaction guaranteed!

Image credits (edits Gaspard Lorthiois):
CC BY-SA 2.0: Leonora Enking, Oregon State University, Ark. Agricultural Experiment Station
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