Grow amazing blackberries, that was my original goal when I purchased 4 thornless plants a couple years ago. You know what happened?
One died and the other three just kind of sat there. They grew but it was minimal and it almost appeared forced.
Frustration surfaced but to be fair it wasn’t the plants fault, it was mine!
Basically, I was disappointed in myself because I started this project with a lack of focus.
- I planted in the worst possible place just straight in the ground.
- I didn’t even till the ground.
- There was no planning.
- No vision.
I’m amazed any of them survived, you can view this pitiful site here.
To grow amazing fruit producing vines you need to have a long-term plan. So, in January of 2016 I decided to get serious and transplanted each one into a new area where my easy growing tips were implemented for success.
Growing Tip #1 – Good Soil
Thornless blackberries love course soil, a mixture of sand, clay and natural elements is best. When I moved the berries to a raised bed the soil conditions were spot on and this space was already fertilized in the fall. Since then I continue to feed the soil with the following ingredients.
- Direct Compost – year -round.
- Llama Droppings – any natural fertilizer will work and it’s implemented early fall and late winter.
- I use hay to mulch in the summer than work it into back into the soil beginning in the fall after the temperatures decrease.
These three simple applications made all the difference and because blackberries love moist soil the mulch helped keep the ground moist through the summer when temperatures are ridiculous. Guess what happened? They grew beyond my wildest dreams.
Growing Tip #2 – Correct Spacing
I knew blackberries need at least 4 -5 ft. spacing between each cane; because my plants didn’t look so great I chose to plant 2 ft. a part; honestly, I thought a few might die.
When their growth did the opposite concern did surface, but I decided to just keep caring for them and not let myself get worked up about it.
The base of each plant is quite large and the vines have been woven into a cow panel so transplanting again just didn’t seem like the best option.
Instead I decided to propagate the additional growth because I had another idea. Get my propagation tips here.
Growing Tip #3 – Sunlight
Once these plants were placed in good living conditions nothing could stop them from growing. They absolutely love the sun so don’t be afraid to plant them in direct sunlight.
Blackberries can handle 10 plus hours of sunlight a day so let them have it.
Look at those flowers can you believe with just a little love and care these vines have blossomed into something amazing!
These vines are currently producing fruit and sprouting new flowers for more fruit; they’ve exceeded my expectations.
Growing Tip #4 – A Strong Trellis
Make sure to install a heavy-duty structure to support their growth, I used a piece of cow panel in one location and rebar with welded wire in another. The support of both is really good especially when these vines are full of fruit.
Rod iron would also be a good option; wood is another option but may need to be replaced at some point which could be difficult with established plants like these.
Just look at all those berries, those vines are loaded! Dixie and I like to walk in the garden and snack on the ripe ones. The growth is getting a little ridiculous, it’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before. Oh, and the berries… they are so, so tasty!
Growing Tip #5 – Propagate Once a year
Last year was my first real harvest and it was exciting.
After fruit production ended the vines continued growing at a massive rate. I wasn’t sure what to do so I decided to root new plants.
You see, I had this other structure and even though I knew we were selling the farm I imagined this space loaded with vines.
Instead of rooting each cutting in separate pots (I did that too) I placed them directly in the ground against a rebar and welded wire structure.
It wasn’t until this February I started to see green appear and wow was I ever excited. How to root new cuttings can be found here.
What’s even more amazing these new plants are already producing fruit which was a complete surprise. I won’t get to see the finished result of this project but I know by the end of this summer those vines will reach the top because that soil has been fertilized really well and they’re in direct sunshine.
If you live in colder climates you may have to adjust some of these tips and it’s possible during the winter months covering the vines with protective cloth may be necessary.
Use your judgement and don’t second guess yourself because you know your climate better than anyone.
For more on growing Thornless Blackberries look at our Garden Up Green Magazine Articles. We have a growing inventory!
What happens if you don’t want more plants?
Then be generous and share with gardening friends and family or if you’re moving like we’re planning, then take some with you.
There’s no shame is propagating plants to move as long as you leave something nice behind.
There’s also the possibility of selling your berry starters to small nurseries or you could set up a road side stand. There’s no reason to waste, inspiring others is fun!
Finally, if you’re starting from scratch purchase plants in nurseries from February – May because they could be difficult to find afterward unless you shop online.
My original plants came from a local nursery unfortunately, I don’t remember the variety, they’re sweet but not overpowering, like when you were a kid and just picked from the roadside. Remember those days?
This blackberry project was one of my favorite gardening experiences at the farm and I may miss not seeing the end result just a little.
With that being said I’m taking these 5 easy growing tips with me to the next place. I know that gardening with blackberries hasn’t ended it’s just the beginning. Want to join me?