Hanging in loose clusters of tiny dark cups, these lustrous, juicy beaded fruits peek out from green leafy bushes, announcing a delectable wild treat known as the blackberry. These cane berries, similar to the raspberry, require little extra nurturing because they typically flourish under mother nature's expert care. Preparation and monitoring will ensure your backyard blackberry stand is a sweet success.
Choose a site with good drainage and in full sun. Both are requirements for proper growth and healthy fruit production.
Prepare the soil by amending if necessary. Avoid sandy or clay-filled soil, opting instead for a loamy soil with high organic content. Add organic compost and till into the soil to provide nutrients and oxygen for the blackberry bushes. A pH test, done by a local university extension office, may reveal the need for lime amendment if the pH level is not in the 5.5 to 7.0 optimum range.
Plant cuttings or starts four to six weeks prior to the last frost in early spring. Dig a shallow trench or hole, about 2 inches deep, in which roots can be spread horizontally. Do not bend or overlap the roots while planting. Firm the soil around the roots.
Space the plants based on the type of blackberry cultivar. Erect varieties require 2 feet between plants. Trailing types need 4 feet between plants and 6 to 8 feet between rows. Semi-trailing require the most space because they are prolific spreaders, so allow 6 to 8 feet between plants and 10 feet between rows.
Cut the canes back to about 6 inches long to ensure proper development in the coming growth season.
Water 1 inch per week, by irrigation if rainfall does not fulfill the requirement. Newly established cuttings are delicate in drought, but mature stands will not need as much water.
Mulch with an organic material to aid in moisture retention and to discourage weeds.
Fertilize in early spring and when the growth season is complete. Use a balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer, following manufacturer instructions for the correct proportions. Apply fertilizer in a foot-wide circle around young plants and down rows. Use a broadcaster for mature plant stands.