Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Anybody grow their own blackberries or do you pick the wild ones? I don’t have any places that I know to pick wild blackberries, so I planted some of my own last spring. When I lived in South Florida, I grew a variety called “Brazos” which did very well, very large berries, but also fairly large seeds as well. The worst part though was the thorns. Every time I would pick blackberries I would come away looking like I had tangled with a cat and the cat had won.

So, when I decided to grow my own blackberries here in Tennessee, I chose a thornless variety called “Arapahoe”. I ordered 10 plants from Ison’s nursery in GA and thought I would have time to prepare a bed to plant them in before they arrived. But, they were shipped almost immediately after I placed the order and the order arrived about 3 days after I called them. Unfortunately I did not have the bed prepared so I just had to dig some holes in the lawn and plant them anyway since the instructions said to plant as soon after arrival as possible.

This the way they looked right after planting (and this one looked best of all, most were single stems, no branches). I planted all ten bare root plants about 2-3 feet apart and hoped for the best. The buckets are there to cover them during the late freeze we had in April.

I did get the grass dug out, added compost and constructed a frame to enclose everything and define the bed. I added some 1” PVC pipe to anchor the frame and to construct an enclosure to cover with bird netting if necessary or add some sort of support to hold the vines off the ground. (They are supposed to be erect type plants not trailing).

After about a month or so the plants started growing and started looking like they might make it after all.

By July they had all sent up primo canes from the roots and I definitely knew I might get some blackberries about June of 2009.

The latest picture was taken after we had 3 or 4 frosts and freezes. You can see how much growth was made in August, September and October.

From what I read, the primocanes that came up this past summer will now be called floricanes and will produce the fruit next year and then must be cut back to the ground. New primocanes will then come up in June/July and produce the fruit for 2010. And on and on (I hope). I am looking forward to picking blackberries and not having to battle the thorns.

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Anonymous said...

Yikes! Blackberries without thorns? It's like the tenth wonder of the world. This is Carolynp, can't get this place to take my url...

Dan said...

I wish I had some space for blackberries. I made a black berry cheese cake this past summer and it was amazing.

Good idea to used coiled pvc for the hoop covers. I have mostly seen pvc conduit used which is a little to stiff to bend.

Nice blog, I will add you to my blog list over at I don't have many veggies to blog about at the moment either but they will be growing again soon enough.

Anonymous said...

I wold love to grow these but I am not sure if I have enough space. Are these shrubs ot do you have to add posts and wire for the canes to grown on? Bettyinga

Sinfonian said...

You've got it right on the blackberries. It's a three-year cycle, maybe two. Simply cut to the ground any cane that you just harvested.

I've got a bramble of wild blackberries right behind my house so I haven't planted any thornless, though that's definitely the way to go! Great work.

Just make sure you keep up with it, they grow like weeds, at least the wild ones do.

engineeredgarden said...

Skip - I have 1/4 acre of wild blackberries next to my property, and that's where I picked 8 gallons from this last summer. As you can imagine, my hands and arms really get scratched up badly from all of the thorns, and I pick thorns from my hands for weeks afterwards. But, I don't mind....i've been doing it this way for 30 years, and am quite used to it. My wife thinks i'm insane, because I usually wade through the undergrowth in nothing more than a pair of shorts, with flip flops. Yeah, I know....just like a redneck...heh. Anyway, i'm thinking about transplanting some of the canes to our property, but will need to build some boxes with trellises first. Gotta have my blackberry jam!


Skip said...

Carolynp-I still don't completely understand how the commenting process works. I will believe "thornless" when I pick some berries next summer.

Dan-I appreciate your comments. I have been following your blog for about a month now. Just haven't made myself known.

Bettyinga-They are supposed to be self-supporting.

Sinfonian-The growing like weeds part I have already experienced

EG-I actually like will berries better especially in pies & cobblers.(smaller seeds). But, when houses are all around, you do what you can and when I have a choice I'll take thornless. If they were behind my house for free, I'd be wading in like the redneck I am. Maybe not in shorts and flip flops though.


tina said...

Always nice to find another Tennessee blogger. I spotted your comment on Dan's blog so thought I'd come say hello. You have quite a nice garden. I simply love the neatness of it all. Good luck with the blackberries. Nothing better. Are you registered with Blotanical yet? If not, it id a good resource. Take care and have a great day on this chilly day.

Skip said...

Tina-Thanks for your comments and Welcome to another Tennessean.

engineeredgarden said...

Hey Skip, i've got a question for ya, about dirt getting into your pvc pipe supports...Does the dirt get into the pipe from the top, or bottom? I'm looking at all of my options right now, before I start constructing something.


Skip said...

EG-Mostly from the top when I am weeding/raking/cultivating the bed. So far only small amounts.

engineeredgarden said...

Ok, i'll put some more thought into it, before I construct mine.Thanks, Skip.