My husband and I moved into our home in August 2015. We were both excited about owning a home with a great backyard and immediately started inspecting the state of our backyard and all its vegetation. The first thing that drew my attention was a 10-foot section of fence flanked with a vining plant. I inspected it closely and found some overripe blackberries. Jackpot.
I had zero experience with growing berries. I did a lot of Googling on how to care for them. And I was suddenly exposed to the world of pruning; another thing I knew nothing about. More Googling ensued. And now, here’s what I know…
A blackberry plant produces canes. Let’s say you go inspect a blackberry plant during the peak of its production. You will notice the plant has two kinds of canes; one with fruit and one without. The canes with fruit are two years old. After they fruit they will never fruit again. So by early fall – once you’ve gotten all your berries – you want to prune those back to nada. The canes without fruit are one year old and they will produce fruit the next year. The first-year canes almost look like a weed or a sucker; their thorns are slightly different, they have a thistle-like head… they look like they don’t belong. In the spring, when the first-year canes start getting too tall, you want to prune the tip of the head; this encourages the plant to branch off, which will increase berry production for next year.
So I chopped away last fall. I tried my best, but was not very confident. Winter came and the plants went dormant. I knew they would, but it still made me nervous.
Then spring came. The blackberry plants seemed to rejuvenate overnight. Everyday more and more green popped up. Then…. flowers. There had to be at least a hundred of them! Beautiful, little, white flowers. The bees loved it. As the flowers shed away, they left mini, bright-green berries. The berries turned pink and then they turned an opaque black.
I’m still getting the hang of picking the blackberries at the perfect time. If I can get a good eye on the berry, I check that its not just black but pearly. Before that, the berries almost have a glassy look to them; they are edible at that point but a little tart. If it looks like it might be ready I give it a slight twist. If it comes off, perfecto!
I’ve had so many berries so far. I go out and harvest every day or two and come back with a solid one-to-two cups of berries. It has been amazing. My husband and I have been snacking on berries, we made a blackberry shallot sauce, and …. drum roll please… I made a blackberry pie! It’s been blackberry heaven over here, and I’m lovin’ it.
The only thing I would love more is if I had some chickens to hang out with…