BLACKBERRY

In the north and in Scotland this fruit is known as the bramble. It was popular in private gardens before commercial cultivation began — probably in the late nineteenth century. Many species of blackberry are found in hedgerows (over 100 are native to Britain).

Cultivation:

Blackberries, loganberries and other hybrid berries will flourish on most soils and they tolerate poor drainage better than raspberries. Plenty of moisture and generous manurial treatment are necessary for really first-class crops, as the fibrous roots extend over a very wide area. One- or two-year-old plants are best and should be set not less than 12 ft. apart — Himalaya Giant needs at least 15 ft. Blackberries are grown against walls or fences or trained to climb up posts, arches, trellis or on wires strained between posts. Whichever method is employed, they should be given the maximum possible space. The canes must always be well supported, as they are stronger and far more vigorous than raspberry canes.

Blackberries resist drought better than most soft fruits, but a mulch of manure or compost is desirable for first quality crops. The flavour of ripe blackberries seems to vary according to the weather at the time of fruiting. Old canes should be removed after fruiting, and the new shoots tied in their place. With extra vigorous varieties such as Himalaya Giant, it is a good plan to leave 2 or 3 old canes for another year — this 6$ usually reduces the vigour of the plant so that the total crop is heavier.

How to Pick Blackberries:

When gathering blackberries and loganberries, the ‘plug’ or core is removed with the fruit, whereas with raspberries it is left on the cane. Blackberries, unlike raspberries, seldom need protecting from birds.

Propagation:

The usual method is to layer the tips of the canes, and this operation is best carried out in July and August. Bend over the young canes, burying the tips about 3 or 4 in. deep in the soil, and press down firmly. The burried tip continues to grow and will soon produce roots. The tip may also be buried in a flower pot sunk to its rim in the ground and rilled up with soil.

Sever the rooted dps in February and transfer to their permanent quarters. Avoid disturbing the fleshy roots which have very little fibre at this time of year.

Choice of Varieties:

Bedford Giant. Ready towards the end of July. The young growths require careful handling, as they are rather brittle. It is rather ‘choosy’ and does not crop heavily in some areas.

Himalaya Giant. Probably the heaviest cropping variety. In season from late August to mid-September. A very strong grower and should be planted at least 15 ft. apart. Often fruits on two-year-old shoots as well as on one-year-old wood. Berries rather seedy and the flavour is not outstanding for dessert, though excellent for preserving. John Innes. The best late variety. Can be picked from the middle 0 August to the beginning of October. Heavy cropper with dark black berries of good quality, though early autumn frosts may spoil the last fruits. Seeds very small.

Merton Early. An excellent mid-season variety of superb flavour and strongly recommended for gardens. Young growths are rather easily bruised. Fruiting canes usually die after cropping. Comes true from seed. Merton Thornless. A blackberry which is completely devoid of prickles. In season from late August to the end of September. Large berries freely borne. A rather slow starter and appreciates generous feeding with farmyard manure or inorganic fertilisers.

Pests and Diseases. Blackberries are liable to be affected by the same pests and diseases as the raspberry and the loganberry. Control measures are identical, with one exception. The raspberry beetle which attacks both raspberries and blackberries is controlled on the latter by dusting or spraying with a derris preparation during the first and third weeks of July.

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