There is an overwhelming satisfaction that comes with going out into your yard, picking something off the vine and eating it right there. Somehow food just seems to taste better when you’ve planted, tended and nurtured it yourself. Blackberries are always tasty, but they are particularly delicious if picked fresh – and surprisingly easy to grow in the desert.
Thanks to Texas A&M University, there are four varieties that have been developed to do well the desert: Brazos, Brison, Rosborough and Womack.
Soil and planting
December and January are the perfect months for planting blackberries. Plant in compost-rich, well-drained soil. Because they have nasty thorns, you will want to choose a spot that is off the beaten path – else you will have a full time job of trimming and keeping them at bay. Give them plenty of room by placing three to four feet apart. Be sure they have afternoon shade, such as on the eastern side of the house.
Water generously when plants are first set out. Water deeply once or twice a week for the first two months and then every two weeks thereafter. Water more frequently during hot weather, when plants are flowering and when fruit is maturing. Note that berries on drip irrigation systems may require more frequent watering.
Blackberries need nitrogen to thrive. Fertilize plants one month after planting. Use a balanced fertilizer such as a 10-10-10 or 13-13-13 ratio; feed again in June or July. In succeeding years, fertilize plants in March and July.
Blackberry canes (branches) are biennial. First year canes (primocanes) do not produce fruit. Second year canes (floricanes) produce berries and they die after fruiting. For this reason, remove all floricanes in summer, after fruit has been harvested. Beginning in the second year, to encourage lateral growth, prune primocanes to a height of three to four feet after fruiting. Remove no more than two to three inches of growth and keep in mind that plants may require trimming more than once.
Berries will start ripening in May and continue for about a month. They are the sweetest when they appear dull and black.
Blackberries require patience because they take time to produce, but they are well worth the wait. Imagine serving the piece de resistance at your next dinner party: a dessert made with your very own, homegrown berries … yum!
Order blackberry plants online
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