Blackberry is a hardy and fine old plant that more and more people are rediscovering. When it thrives, it gives back a lot and the black berry is both beautiful and tasty. So why not take up an old tradition and plant a plant – it can give you good berries for up to twenty years.
Blackberries have been part of our diet for a long time, the oldest evidence being perhaps the traces of blackberries found in the stomach of a 2500 year old female body found in a dry bog in Haralsdskaer, Denmark. Blackberries are also said to have been used for wine in England during the 17th century and in traditional medicine in Greece. Nowadays, blackberries are used more often in delicate desserts, jams, jellies, creams and juices and, unlike raspberries , it is also possible to eat its white center.
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Many kinds of blackberries
There are close to 400 varieties of blackberries, both wild and garden varieties, the latter being less prickly and often sweeter. Blackberries are part of the rose family and can grow upright, bent or horizontal depending on the variety. There are also hybrids, mixtures such as tay berries, which are a mixture of blackberries and raspberries.
Common to all blackberries is that they are not really berries but drupes, where each «berry» forms a cluster of 50 smaller drupes. Most varieties are hardy up to zone 2 but there are varieties that are hardy up to zone 6.
This is how you make the blackberry thrive
Blackberries love good humus-rich soil and can survive for nearly twenty years if given the right conditions. The plant likes to grow against a fence or a trellis in a sunny position and thrives best in a mild climate. Every year the bush sends up new arching shoots that bear berries the following year.
After the harvest, the old shoots that have borne berries must be cleared away, as it is last year’s shoots that bear fruit.
If you grow one of the more common varieties and live in a higher zone than 2, you should protect the plant during the winter, for example by pressing it down to the ground and wrapping it in fir rice.
You can plant blackberries from spring to autumn. Feel free to dip the entire root ball in water before burying it and then water regularly until the plant is established, then it only needs to be watered in case of prolonged drought. The need for fertilizer is not great, a given fertilizer in the spring is enough. Let the plants grow next to a support, for example a wall where they can be tied up in a beautiful way.
It is easy to propagate blackberries by cuttings, just bend a branch down to bare soil and put a rock on top so it stays there, when the branch has strong roots after a month or so you can cut it off and replant it in a new place. Wow, you have a new bush!
You can also propagate blackberries by cuttings that you take during July-October, then you choose a new non-woody branch (20-30 cm long), which has not borne berries or flowers. The leaves at the bottom are removed as well as the soft top and the branch is then put in a pot in a shady place, preferably with a plastic bag over it. It is important that the humidity is kept even, the soil must not dry out, but also not get too wet. Rooting takes about a month.
loved by bees and butterflies
Blackberry flowers have maximum values of both nectar and pollen, making it a favorite among pollinators such as bumblebees, bees and butterflies. For some butterflies, the bush is also a host plant and nursery for newly hatched larvae. Blackberries thus contribute to a sustainable garden full of butterflies.