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Blackberries

It's blackberry season.  And blackberries are our garden favorite!
So much so that I had to make a sign to start of the season.

Truth is, signs are fun to make
so the blackberries were just a good excuse.
I made this one out of a broken fence board.  It was already painted with white farm paint so I just sanded the edges for a weathered look.  Then I painted the lettering and berries on with exterior oil based paint (just in case it ever finds it way outside).  Exterior satin wood sealer finished it off.

It's perched happily on the open shelving in the kitchen where I hope to have bowl fulls of blackberries soon.

But the blackberries aren't doing as well as last year.
Some research over the weekend told me where I went wrong.
Pruning ~ or rather, lack of it.

Turns out, blackberries need to be pruned every year.  The crowns (the base of the plant) live for many years but the canes (branches) only live for two years.  This is our third year for this fence row of berries.

We have 1st year canes that are growing but not producing yet.
They will bloom and berry next summer.

And we have second year canes that are producing fruit.

And then we have third year canes that are producing tiny berries but also shriveling up and dying at the same time.

So after berry season is over the second and third year canes need to be removed at the base.  This will allow the first year canes to berry next year and give next years new canes room to grow in.

So for my other first year blackberry row, I have moved all the canes to one side of the fence.  This will help me keep them seperate.  Next year they will bloom and fruit and the new canes will be tied to the other side of the fence. 
Then every year, I will cut all the canes on one side and the other side will fruit.  And the next year I will do the opposite.  It will be a lot easier than trying to figure out what is what like I will have to do this summer. 

Then maybe we will have berries like these again!
One picking from a 16 ft row last year (2 yr canes)

Look at the size of those!
There is always something to learn about hobby farming.
Grow and raise and live and learn ~ that's what we seem to be doing on our little farm.

Comments

  1. WOW those berries are HUGE!!!.. We just planted a dozen of these, looking forward to the fruits of our labor!....

    the sign is really neat, good job!

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  2. Love those GIGANTIC berries and your sign is beautiful:)

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  4. I love your sign! And those berries look absolutely delish!

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  5. those look delicious! sorry your crop won't be quite as bountiful but look out next year!

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  6. Oh Kim those blackberries are HUGE! Our second year raspberries didn't do well this year so hopefully next year they'll make up for it. I have one old bush that was here on the farm when we moved here...that's the only one really doing anything. Good luck with yours! Enjoy your evening...Maura :)

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  7. I am SOOOOO sorry that I missed it....thanks for letting me know. :)

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  8. We had someone prune our blackberries WAY back. I thought we'd never see another blackberry again. They grew like crazy the following summer. I guess they just like to be pruned!

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  9. So much to know about blackberries! I like the sign. You did the berries free hand? You are good!

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  10. Those look so yummy! Love your sign! I've been keeping my eye on the wild blackberries around my house. I hope to get some this year!

    Have a Great Day!
    Angela

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  11. Those are the biggest blackberries I have ever seen!!

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  12. Good stuff to learn. I just pick wild blackberries, but they will never get as big as yours!

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  13. I so want blackberries. I'm planting some next year even if I can't find any for a zone 3. I've never been one to read instructions. I love your sign I have an old keep out sign on an aspen tree that fell over this winter. I'm seeing Bonnie's Bees and Berries for the working end of my garden. You are inspiring me.

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  14. Those blackberries are enormous in your hands..unless you have very small hands! I hope you get a better crop next year.

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  15. Thanks for the pruning lesson...I planted our bushes this year, and the berries are just now beginning to come on! (Sounds like this makes them 2nd year canes and they should be pruned; right?) And I'd love to have a farm sign for us, hmmm, maybe I can give it a try! -Mary

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  16. Wowee, your blackberries are enorrrrrmous!! And I'm confused that they're very early early compared to ours, which aren't ready until September. Hmmmm......

    I'm coming over...!

    Sarahx

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  17. I'd love to have a pie with those! They are beautiful. I think you have your hands full with all your crop coming in. I know you stay very busy. Debi

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  18. Kim I just watched a show on PBS about raising blackberries.They said to trim all brown canes close to the ground...the green canes are the makers for next year.And when the green canes try to bloom on top..trim them off..this will make the growth sprout out lower on the canes.

    It was very interesting.I can't wait to plant some for us.Yours are sure big!!

    Cindy from Rick-Rack and Gingham

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  19. Delicious! I've got a bunch of wild blackberries in one of my pastures. There is nothing better than fresh blackberries on homemade vanilla ice cream. Yum!

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  20. Does pruning them back help check the growth of new canes? Out here in Oregon, we have massive problems with the Hawthorn berry spreading like wildfire. I've had past issues with raspberry bushes spreading across the yard as well, but I can't say I was any good about pruning them back then. I'd be willing to reconsider having cane berries in my yard if I could control them better!

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  21. Cindy,
    Thanks for that advice. On further inspection it would be all the brown canes that would be removed after berry season is over.
    Trashmaster,
    I also read that keeping the first year or new canes trimmed back to 3 to 3 1/2 ft will help during that first summer will keep them a managable size and help them to bush out rather than get extremely long.

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