growing black berries

growing black berries

PostBy: lowfog01 On: Tue Jul 05, 2011 11:39 am

Does anyone have any tips for growing black berries? I have a couple plants I put in about 3 years ago and they don't do much. They didn't die which is good but they don't produce either. They are basically one long stem with one or two short off shoots. I looked on line for tips and discovered that they should be trained to follow a trellises. So I put in one like they had on the internet - four corner posted with four lines of wire - two high, two low - between them. Then I placed the long stems on the wires, winding them around it. Maybe now they are off the ground it will do better. I have them in well drained ground that is mulched with leaf mulch. They get several hours of mostly midday sunlight. Any suggestions will be welcomed. Lisa
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Re: growing black berries

PostBy: wlape3 On: Tue Jul 05, 2011 1:25 pm

They used to grow wild outside my house in PA. Didn't think they were hard to grow. Same thing near my cousin's house in North Jersey just outside of Newark.
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Re: growing black berries

PostBy: lowfog01 On: Tue Jul 05, 2011 2:09 pm

That was my original thought, too. I remember during basic training the instructors always designed the orienteering route through the wild blackberries. I figured that growing them was something anyone could do but apparently that's not true. I'll see what happens now that they are up off the ground and give it a while longer. Thanks for reply, Lisa
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Re: growing black berries

PostBy: freetown fred On: Tue Jul 05, 2011 8:31 pm

I hate to say it lisa, but I've never seen any store bought bushes do any good :( can't tell you why--you can come & get some of these along the creek--about a 1/2 mile worth, enough for me AND the deer :)
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Re: growing black berries

PostBy: lowfog01 On: Wed Jul 06, 2011 5:42 am

Thanks for the offer - I may take you up on it; I have a wedding I'm going to up that way in the fall. I'm disappointed to say the least. Maybe the trellis will turn the trick but I'm not holding my breath. Take care, Lisa
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Re: growing black berries

PostBy: Sting On: Wed Jul 06, 2011 8:07 am

amend the soil ph more to their tolerance
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Re: growing black berries

PostBy: lowfog01 On: Wed Jul 06, 2011 8:49 am

Sting wrote:amend the soil ph more to their tolerance


Great idea! That never crossed my mind, I'm going to stop at the HD and get one of those soil testing kits. That just could be the problem. The soil is very bad here. It was a dairy farm way back when and before that nothing. Thanks, I'll let you know how it turns out. Lisa
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Re: growing black berries

PostBy: SMITTY On: Wed Jul 06, 2011 12:50 pm

I know with blueberries you need a pollinator ... or they do nothing.
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Re: growing black berries

PostBy: lowfog01 On: Wed Jul 06, 2011 2:15 pm

SMITTY wrote:I know with blueberries you need a pollinator ... or they do nothing.


Well that's a thought... I'd have to say there aren't very many bees around to do the job although I did get a handful of fruit. I have been considering getting a bee hive but never went anywhere with the thought. My dad kept bees when I was young so I know the work it entails not to mention the set up costs. Before doing that, I'm going to check the PH as Sting suggested and hopefully that will put me on the correct path. Keep your fingers crossed. Lisa
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Re: growing black berries

PostBy: lowfog01 On: Wed Jul 06, 2011 4:27 pm

Well, the PH is on the high end of an acceptable range but I'm going to try to lower it by applying aluminum sulfate. I also discovered that my soil is a clay and it should be a loam, about 2 inches down was bone dry. I will try to work some leaf mulch in the immediate area and see what happens. I won't be able to get really close to the plants that are there but maybe I'll get some new shoots. It's all an experiment now, nothing to lose and everything to gain. Thanks again for all the input. Lisa
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Re: growing black berries

PostBy: VigIIPeaBurner On: Wed Jul 06, 2011 6:30 pm

Mess with the pH first before you do any supplementing with the aluminum sulfate. Check the pH of the leaf mulch. That just might be all you'll have to use and then forgo the aluminum sulfate. Leaf much tends to be on the acidic side, especially if it's from oak variates. Do a few test batchs, blending leaf mulch and your soil together then check how the pH has been changed. Once you home in on the blend, just repeat it on a larger scale around the plant beds.

Got any municipal compost places nearby? All that yuppie yard wast has to go somewhere and that's just the stuff you need too. Pile it on!

Once you get the soil ajusted to target as near to the plants as you feel comfy doing , just mulch near the plants with a few inches of leaf mulch. Keep the entire area moist as they require and most likely earth worms will move in and mix it all together and keep the soil aerated as a result.

Your plant bed isn't too close to a tree line drip edge is it? You would be amazed at how much water a tree sucks out of the ground. It's one of their way of keeping shallow rooted completion on the weak and loosing side.
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Re: growing black berries

PostBy: lowfog01 On: Wed Jul 06, 2011 7:38 pm

VigIIPeaBurner wrote:Mess with the pH first before you do any supplementing with the aluminum sulfate. Check the pH of the leaf mulch. That just might be all you'll have to use and then forgo the aluminum sulfate. Leaf much tends to be on the acidic side, especially if it's from oak variates. Do a few test batchs, blending leaf mulch and your soil together then check how the pH has been changed. Once you home in on the blend, just repeat it on a larger scale around the plant beds.

Got any municipal compost places nearby? All that yuppie yard wast has to go somewhere and that's just the stuff you need too. Pile it on!

Once you get the soil ajusted to target as near to the plants as you feel comfy doing , just mulch near the plants with a few inches of leaf mulch. Keep the entire area moist as they require and most likely earth worms will move in and mix it all together and keep the soil aerated as a result.

Your plant bed isn't too close to a tree line drip edge is it? You would be amazed at how much water a tree sucks out of the ground. It's one of their way of keeping shallow rooted completion on the weak and loosing side.


Thanks for the input. I'm going to recheck the PH again tomorrow. The test kit instructions said to avoid any leaves and other debris but I'll do as you suggested and take a couple of different samples from around the bed. Yes, my county has a municipal compost facility and this year they started offering leaf mulch. There's no telling what's in it though. You park under the conveyor belt and it loads the truck. I've already been once but I'll go back for more and get it worked in. No, there are no trees anywhere near the blackberries. The clay just causes everything run to off. I'm optimistic that I can do this, thanks again, Lisa
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Re: growing black berries

PostBy: VigIIPeaBurner On: Wed Jul 06, 2011 11:38 pm

I'm not sure how those pH kits work. Do they have you adding about 50% water and checking the solution after a period of time? That's what I recall reading about checking soil pH. I didn't mean to check the pH of a few different places although that's good practice. I meant to take a small bag of soil from a known area (cubic inches), weigh it and blend mulch/compost, take a final weight and recheck the pH. If you keep track of how much mulch it took to get to your pH right, you can figure how much mulch it will take to get the garden area right. Good luck with the project :)
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Re: growing black berries

PostBy: wsherrick On: Thu Jul 07, 2011 12:16 am

Blackberries like acid and terrible soil. I grew up picking them with my Grandmother by the gallon. They grow well in the Tennessee clay and they love Railroad Beds. Railroad beds were originally filled in with cinders and clinkers from the ash pans of locomotives. They love the acid from the layer of old cinders and ash that lay under the railroad.
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Re: growing black berries

PostBy: lowfog01 On: Thu Jul 07, 2011 5:08 am

VigIIPeaBurner wrote:I'm not sure how those pH kits work. Do they have you adding about 50% water and checking the solution after a period of time? That's what I recall reading about checking soil pH. I didn't mean to check the pH of a few different places although that's good practice. I meant to take a small bag of soil from a known area (cubic inches), weigh it and blend mulch/compost, take a final weight and recheck the pH. If you keep track of how much mulch it took to get to your pH right, you can figure how much mulch it will take to get the garden area right. Good luck with the project :)


The kit I got has a metal probe - but you are right on - you make a 5/50 mix dirt/soil and then stick the probe in for about 2 mins. You're supposed to "twirl" the probe a couple of times while you're waiting. I'm going to work the mulch in this morning. I also have some stove ash left over in my ash can that I'll work in, thanks for that suggestion, Will. After I get that done, I'll take a few readings and see what happens over the rest of the summer. I'll either have killed them with kindness or will have a bumper crop in the spring. I was thinking, if blackberries like acid, would an acid based fertilizer work? Like a Holly Tone you use on evergreens. Just thinking.... Lisa
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