Growing your own blackberries can provide a fun experience yielding years of flavorful fruit. The methods for growing blackberry bushes differ slightly depending on the variety and growing region. Optimal planting times vary by growing zone; the USDA recommends planting in early spring for Zone 5 and north, and early summer for Zone 6 and south. Once you meet the initial conditions for planting, these bushes provide long-term results.
Choose the type of blackberry bush you want to grow; some bushes require a trellis, while others stand alone. Use a wide open space for trailing blackberry bushes and a more narrow location for erect bushes.
Choose the site to plant the bushes. Find a site that gets a full amount of sun without shading. To allow the most warmth from the sunlight, plant on the western face of gently sloping hills. Check the pH level of the soil; blackberry bushes need a pH level of 6.0 for optimal growth but can tolerate pH between 5.5 and 7.0, according to the North Carolina State University Extension. Bring the soil to within this range if all other conditions are favorable.
Use the shovel to dig an 8-inch hole for each bush you will plant. Set the soil aside. Place 2 inches of compost and 2 inches of soil conditioner into the bottom of the hole. Work the compost and conditioner into the hole to form a base. Space the bushes at least 4 feet apart. The Oregon State University (OSU) Extension recommends a maximum spacing of 6 feet for erect bushes, while trailing bushes require a maximum spacing of 10 feet.
Fill the bowl with warm water. Remove the bush from the container it came in. Shake off most of the soil from the roots. Set the roots into the bowl, and allow them to soak for two hours.
Trim the top of the blackberry bush to a height of 6 inches.
Set the bush into the hole. Backfill the soil into the hole, covering the roots until the hole is 2/3 full. Tamp down the soil lightly. Water the soil until it begins to settle. Fill the hole back up with more soil, and water the soil again until it becomes damp.
Put the mulch around the bush to a level of 1 inch deep with a 6-inch diameter; use either pine straw or wood chips. If you are using the trailing variety, continue on to the next steps.
Place the trellis into the ground behind the bush. Use the yarn to tie a few canes to the trellis. Tie the yarn in a loose bow tie; tie it tightly enough to support the cane but loosely enough to adjust it as the bush grows.
Apply fertilizer to the soil twice each year; fertilize in the spring and then again in the summer. Use a 10-20-20 fertilizer per 100 feet per row, as recommended by the OSU Extension.