I’ve had such fantastic growth and fruit production on my blackberry bushes I thought I’d share it with you. I planted two 30 foot rows of ‘Ouachita’ thornless blackberries three years ago. They were purchased from a nursery and came to me in 4” pots. I planted them 3 feet apart in the row and 6 feet between rows. For the first two years, the deer pruned them heavily. I thought they’d never amount to anything. Looking back, it seems the pruning just caused many side shoots to develop and look at them today! (I probably should have planted the blackberries 8 feet between the rows!)
Did you know there are more than 200 varieties of blackberry (Rubus L. genus)?
The USDA says that blackberries are best grown in a temperate climate and that some type of blackberry grows in every state. Blackberry roots are perennial – they live year to year. Their canes are biennial – they grow the first year and produce fruit the second year. First year canes are called primocanes; second year canes are called floricanes. In late fall, all the energy from the leaves travels down the stems and stores in the roots, and the plant lays dormant until spring. Each year I mulch my blackberries with compost made from maple leaves, horse manure and worm castings. Last February I even laid down a bit of chicken manure. I think they liked it! This summer I side-dressed them with some worm tea and I’m deep watering weekly to help produce large juicy berries.
The flavor of these thornless blackberries is not as distinctive as the wild Cascade or Himalayan blackberries that grow in my area, but I’m not getting poked with thorns when I pick them either, so I’m ok with the trade off.
I’ve picked 8 ½ gallons from my blackberry vines and I’ve been freezing them in plastic bags. I like to make blackberry wine and give it away at Christmas. I’m going to need 10 gallons to make a batch of wine. I also like to make blackberry jelly and blackberry cobbler.
Eleanor Burns’ Blackberry Cobbler is the best recipe I’ve found! I hope you like it.
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup flour
2 cups sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1 cup milk
Pinch of salt
1 Tbsp lemon juice
Several dashes of cinnamon
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Pour melted butter in a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking dish. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, pinch of salt, and lemon juice and mix well.
Stir in the milk, mixing until just combined. Pour this batter over the butter but do not stir them together. Pour the blackberries over the batter but do not stir them together.
Sprinkle with cinnamon as desired.
Bake in a preheated oven for 35 to 45 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
Serve warm or cold with whipped cream. (or French Vanilla Ice Cream)
(I use a glass baking dish. I put a cube of butter in the baking dish in the oven and let it melt there. I don’t add salt to my recipe. There’s enough salt in the butter. I bake my cobbler in a 350 degree oven for about the same amount of time listed. And I’m generous with the cinnamon.) Enjoy!
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