The Q&A Archives: Growing Blackberries and Raspberries

Question: I am new to gardening. I have just purchased a blackberry bush and would like to know how to keep it going. It is planted on the west side of the house so it gets lots of afternoon sun. This is my first attempt at any type of gardening!

Answer: Raspberries and blackberries are among the most delicious and desirable berries you can grow. Brambles can produce fruit for 10-25 years so it's importatnt to choose cultivars that have the characteristics you want, and it's important to prepare the planting bed well. There are two types of raspberries; summer-bearing and fall-bearing. Red and yellow cultivars are summer or fall bearers, black and purple raspberries are all summer bearers. Blackberries can be divided into three general groups; erect, semi-erect, and trailing. The erect type has strong, upright canes that are usually thorny and don't require support. Semi-erect blackberries are thornless and more vigorous and productive than the erect type. Trailing blackberries are the least winter-hardy and need support.

Brambles prefer deep, sandy-loam soil, but they will grow in almost any soil with adequate drainage and a pH range of 6.0 to 7.0. They thrive in soils with high organic content so amend with plenty of leaf mold or compost prior to planting. If yours is the kind that requires support, set sturdy posts at each end of the row of plants and attach heavy wire or baling twine to each post. As the canes grow, train them onto the wires.

For more detailed information about growing raspberries and blackberries, contact the North American Bramble Growers Assn., 19060 Manning Trail N., Marine, MN 55047-9723.

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