How to grow blackberries and raspberries
Nutritionists suggest that we eat a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables daily. That's because these foods are not only good sources of nutrition and fiber, their rich color (a result of compounds known as phytochemicals) boosts our bodies' ability to protect and repair itself. And few foods are richer in phytochemicals than colorful blackberries, raspberries, and their relatives.
The bad news is, store-bought berries can be prohibitively expensive for many of us and, unless frozen, they perish quickly. The good news, however, is that blackberries and raspberries are fairly easy to grow in the home garden.
Varieties can be classified as trailing, semitrailing or erect. Trailing and semitrailing types need to be supported with a trellis system.
Varieties: While all varieties of blackberries should all do well across North Carolina, where you live is important in determining which raspberry varieties to grow. In regional test plots, some varieties that yield a tremendous amount of fruit in one area might produce very little if grown elsewhere! Regardless of where you live, however, planting a combination of suitable varieties can greatly extend your harvest season.
Planting: Both raspberries and blackberries grow best in full sun exposure and well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter.
Brambles are tolerant of most soil types, growing best with a pH of 5.8 - 6.5. Try to avoid sites where strawberries, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers or eggplants have been grown within five years to reduce the chances of verticillium wilt.
Plant dormant plants in early spring. Spread roots out in the hole and set the crown slightly below the soil level. Space plants 3 feet apart for erect types and 6 to 8 feet apart for trailing and semitrailing types. Keep watered the first summer.
Maintenance: Fertilize in early spring when new growth starts and again in July.
Fruit is borne on 2 year old canes. In other words, a cane grows from the crown one year, and bears fruit the second year, then dies at the end of that second summer. During the summer, when new shoots reach 30 to 36 inches in height, cut off the tips to encourage branching. After harvest prune out the spent canes.
Bearing age, average yield and life span of blackberries and raspberries:
|Fruit||Type||Bearing Age||Avg. Annual Yield per Plant||Sugg. # of Plants for Family of 4||Life Expectancy|
|Blackberries||Erect||2 years||4 pounds||6||5-12 years|
|Semitrailing||2 years||20 pounds||2||5-20 years|
For more information see:
How to Grow Raspberries video, University of Maine
How to Grow Blueberries video, University of Maine
Raspberries in the Home garden at: http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/hil/pdf/hil8204r.pdf
Growing Raspberries in North Carolina: http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/hort/hil/ag569.html
Pruning and Training Thornless Blackberries at: http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/hortihillpdf/hil8206.pdf
Blackberries and Raspberries: http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/GARDEN/FRUIT/blackberries.html
Back to Basics: Small Fruit for the Home Garden, Linda Blue, Agricultural Extension Agent, Buncombe County, NC