Growing Blackberries and Raspberries

Blackberry Barefoot HerbsAs these berries are so easy and quick to grow and rich in vitamins and minerals, it is well worth finding a spot for them. Although there are thornless varieties, most plants have viscous thorns making them ideal to plant against a perimeter wall or fence. They can become unruly, sending out branches and the canes self-root if they touch the ground, so it is important to keep them under control – especially if you are conserving space.

I have precast walls which are hard to get nails into, so I pushed a few stakes into the ground against the wall and tied rows of strings between them. As the canes grow, I push the branches between the string and other branches keeping them fairly contained. If any branches are too long, I simply cut them off. The branches that touch the ground quickly root and, if they are spreading too far, I dig them up and move them elsewhere in the garden or pot them for selling.

In the first year the canes grow stems up to 5m long, and these do not bear fruit. In the second year, side shoots appear and fruit forms in early summer. When the fruiting stops these canes die and should be removed. After the first year you will have an annual supply as new canes grow every season. Raspberries and blackberries need full sun or semi shade and a well-drained soil.

There are several hybrids of these berries, including logan berry, tayberry, hildaberry, boysenberry and youngberry.

Berries freeze well. Either lay them out on a tray and place in the freezer until frozen. Then tip them into a bag or container. Alternatively, cook them for about 5 minutes with a tablespoon of sugar for each cupful and freeze. This is really convenient for making puddings, mousses, cheesecakes and sauces. A very easy pudding is Blackberry and Apple Cobbler which takes a few minutes to put together and 35 minutes to cook. Serve it with ice-cream, custard or fresh cream for a summery treat

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