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Home grown brambles
Mike & Katrine Juleff
genus Rubus, subgenus Eubatus, which includes Logan, Boysen, Young, Marion, Silvan, Lawton, Dirksen Thornless, Lockness, Karaka, Thornfree, Chester and Smoothstem blackberries.For ease of discussion I will use the term brambles for all cultivated blackberry types.The ones I know about are American Brambleberry (same as silvans, karaaks, etc.) Youngberries, Marion berries, Boysen berries and Loganberries.They all require well drained, organic rich slightly acid soil in full sun.
Brambles begin to leaf in September and flower in October. Logans fruit first then American brambles with the Boysens, Youngs and Marions in succession. They begin to ripen in early December with a fruiting period leading into late January.
The end of season depends on the weather. It is easier to establish the posts and wires after preparing the beds but before planting.
Figure 1. Establishing beds
June and July are the ideal months to plant into well composted soil. Plants should be spaced at 1.5 to 2metres in a straight row. After planting trim back new spring growth to encourage branching and more runners to tie up to the first wire the following season A third wire can be added lower down to hold drippers and keep them out of the way of the canes. Mulch well late winter to keep down weeds Fertilise with organic fertiliser and compost during every autumn and mulch well.
After the second season the runners are tied around the two wires See figure 2 Brambles are all pruned and tied up the same way They have summer canes which we tuck in under the rows whilst fruiting is occurring on last years canes (which we tied up last autumn/winter).After harvest allow them to grow freely.
Pruning involves removal of dead fruiting canes plus suckers growing beyond the well-defined crown of the plant. Care must be exercised to avoid snapping new canes which may be tangled in the old canes. We untangle and lay new canes out in between rows while we cut out old canes.
The canes which produced last season’s crop have been left to dry out and are cut and pulled from the trellis. Old and new canes may be recognised by the different colours of the bark, plus the presence of dead fruiting laterals (on old canes) and the presence of dormant buds on new canes.
To avoid spread of disease we suggest black bagging all prunings of both raspberry and brambles and allow them to rot before putting in green waste.
Training is the practice of arranging new canes on a trellis.
The standard weave method: canes are trained around two or 3 wires, by leading them over and under in a series of loops, as shown in figure 2. Canes may be handled singly or in bundles of two or three. Start by training a cane from the centre of the crown, pass it over the top wire, under the lower wire, up and over the top again until it is all restrained.
The remaining canes are progressively woven to create an even distribution of canes along the wires. This will result in an even wall of foliage, and encourage fruiting laterals to grow outward away from the trellis, thereby making picking relatively easy, particularly of thorny cultivars.