Around Fourth of July, after the plants stop producing, Jason cuts all the blackberry canes back to the ground and starts the training process over again. The vines grow back rapidly, and by late August or early September, they will completely cover the trellis.
Planting and Care
It is best to plant blackberries in November or December, but you can do so anytime as long as they are watered during dry periods. Many new, improved selections are available at nurseries and garden centers, but if you can't find them, they can be mail-ordered.
Jason says the plants are really tough. Once established, they need little water and have few problems with pests or diseases. Ripe berries will attract hungry birds, so you might need to throw netting over the plants when berries are present. Jason fertilizes in spring with an all-purpose, slow-release product such as 12-6-6 at a rate of 8 tablespoons per plant. After the Fourth of July cutback, he lightly fertilizes plants with calcium nitrate to force new growth.
Find a sunny spot in your garden, and plant a few of the new, improved selections. Grow them on a fence, wall, or trellis, and you won't have to wade through thorny thickets in search of summer's favorite berry.
- Select the two largest canes, and cut the rest to the ground. Allow one cane to grow a few inches above the 24-inch wire and the other to grow a few inches above the 48-inch wire. Then cut each cane 1 inch below the wires.
- Side shoots will sprout at the cutoff point and should be trained to the horizontal wires.
"Bigger, Better Blackberries" is from the June 2003 issue of Southern Living.