We’ve had blackberries growing in our garden since we moved in. Every year we get a good heavy crop of blackberries, so I thought I’d share some of my top tips on how to grow blackberries. That way if you are looking into how to plant blackberries, you’ll know where to start.
How To Grow Blackberries
When To Plant Blackberries
Pondering when is the best time to plant blackberries? October right through to March is the ideal time. You’ll see lots of fruit trees appearing all throughout the garden centres and blackberry are no different.
How To Plant Blackberries
Blackberries are pretty easy-going plants. They do prefer full sun, but we personally have several plants that grow on a north-facing fence, so they don’t get any direct sun and we still do very well out of these every single year. I will say the blackberry bushes we have on the other fence do produce bigger, juicier fruits, but taste-wise, they are pretty similar.
Blackberries will grow quite rapidly and so will need training along a fence or a wall, so think about where you can position them before you plant them.
When it comes to planting them, you’ll want to soak your bare-root plants beforehand. Then dig a hole big enough to bury each plant to the same depth that it was in the pot you bought it in. Then firm up the soil and water it well. You’ll need to water it well for the next few days, to give it the best chance of bedding into your garden or allotment.
Check the variety you have bought, but as I mentioned, blackberries do grow quite quickly and quite big, so you’ll want to leave around 1.5m between each plant.
The blackberry canes won’t fruit for the first year after planting. They will take two years to produce fruit.
If you plant them in the autumn/winter, you should see new canes sprout from the base of the plant. You can tie these canes into your supports as they grow. The following year, you will also get new canes which you should also tie into your supports. The canes from the previous year should start to flower, which in turn will produce your blackberries.
Caring For Blackberry Bushes
It’s a good idea to give your blackberry bushes a thick layer of garden compost or manure over the root area in late winter. This will help them burst into life come springtime when the new canes should start growing.
I feed my blackberries about once a month with a high potassium fertiliser. I water this in well and I will water my blackberries about once a week, maybe more if we have a particularly dry spell. Blackberries grow fast, so a little extra food will be appreciated.
When To Pick Blackberries
Depending on your variety, your blackberries should start to be ready from July onwards. Ours tend to be a bit later, usually from August onwards, but it will depend on the variety that you are growing. The fruits will start out as flowers, once they are pollinated, they will grow into small hard green fruits, as they mature they will become bigger and will start to turn red at first, then they will go black.
You’ll want to pick them when they are juicy and black. If you leave them, they will dry out and go hard.
If you are wondering when to pick blackberries, you should know that blackberries don’t keep very long in the fridge, so you’ll want to use them quickly. I do find that they freeze well and can be easily defrosted to use in jams, cakes and puddings. I just add them to a big bag I have in my freezer as I pick them and then defrost them as I need them.
Be careful when picking blackberries. They are very juicy and will make quite a mess when you are picking them. If the berries are ready they should just twist off the stem, but they do tend to bleed a bit, so don’t be surprised if your hands get a bit stained – you have been warned!!!
I do soak my blackberries in salted water overnight. I find that we get a lot of bugs in ours, as most people do, so soaking them overnight in salty water and then rinsing them well either before using them or freezing them gets rid of anything lurking in them.
You don’t have to soak your blackberries. The little see-through worms that you might get in yours are perfectly harmless and if you are eating foraged blackberries off the bush, you won’t come to any harm at all. Chances are you won’t even notice they are there, they are so small.
Cutting Back Blackberry Canes
Once your blackberry bushes are established and have fruited in the second year, you’ll want to cut the fruited canes right back. The canes that appeared the previous year will then be the ones that will produce the following year’s fruit.
Going forward, you should always cut back the canes that have produced fruits and then tie in any new ones as they grow. If you let the new canes run along the ground, they will try and take root in the grass or soil, so you’ll want to tie these in early to avoid any problems.
There are lots of different varieties of blackberries for you to try your hand at growing. I’d love to hear which variety you have growing in your garden.
Read more posts in the Fruit Category