Raspberries & Blackberries are among the most delicious and desirable Brambles you can grow. They are sometimes treated as gourmet fruit because they don’t ship well. Easily grown in your own backyard, they can produce fruit for 10-15 years. Choose cultivars that have the characteristics you want and are suited for East Tennessee.
There are two types of Raspberries: Summer bearing and Fall bearing, yet the seasons may overlap. Red & Yellow cultivars are Summer or Fall bearers. Black & Purple Raspberries are all Summer bearers. The Red & Yellow varieties are the easiest to grow & their fruit is very sweet.
Blackberries are divided into general groups: erect & semi-erect types. The erect types have strong upright canes that have thorns and don’t require support. They are more winter hardy and produce large sweet berries. Semi-erect Blackberries are thornless and more productive than erect types. Most grow better if supported on a trellis of some sort.
To plant your Brambles incorporate as much organic matter to your soil as you possibly can (compost or soil conditioner) Plant in very early Spring (Feb-March). Plant in rows about 5 feet apart to allow sunlight, air and you to reach the plants. Each plant should be at least 3 feet apart in the row.
Brambles ripen in early Summer. Red Raspberries tend to ripen first, then Black Raspberries. Blackberries ripen even later, around the 4th of July. Berries do not continue to ripen after harvest, so for best flavor wait until they are fully ripe to pick. Pick in the early morning while they are cool. If wet, let them dry before picking. Always handle gently, place not drop them into a shallow container and refrigerate immediately. Now you see why these delicious, fragile berries are so expensive at the grocery.
It’s late February and time to get back out in the garden to plant those berry crops! You will find them at Willow Ridge Garden Center and plenty of other early vegetable crops as well. Garden like you mean it and enjoy the Fruits of your labor!