Some Berry Good Advice

| 4/14/2016 9:07:00 AM

Of Mice and Mountain MenEarly this spring my friend and mentor, Benny LaFleur, gave me a load of berry starts. These are roots and shoots that creep out from around his established rows. To clean up the rows he digs out these ambitious upstarts. Some of these ended up in my garden. In fact all of my berry plants have come from Benny over the past couple of years. Benny's berry patch is much (much) larger than mine: almost a farm. And he has much experience to share. Here is what he's taught me.

Berries on cereal

Growing Berry Plants

Blackberries (Triple Crown Thornless)

These bear fruit once a year and only on the one year old canes. Once the canes have fruited, cut them off at the ground (after harvesting the fruit). The canes tip-root, so bend the new canes over using a trellis and poke the tips into the soil to propagate.

Black Raspberries

Grow like blackberries: they can be propagated through tip-rooting, and bear fruit on second-year canes. You can improve the quality of the fruit by pruning new canes to 3-4 feet high (except those you want to use in tip-rooting of course) in the fall. This will produce fewer fruit, but they will be bigger and juicier. Cut off at ground level all canes that fruited.

4/16/2016 8:26:19 AM

Pine needles (or oak leaves) will NOT acidify the soil sufficiently for blueberries. If your soil pH is too high, your blueberries will do poorly or die. Get a soil test, follow it's advice. Sulfur is the cheapest, most effective soil acidifier. It needs a year to take effect.