What's not to like about blackberries? ... except maybe the taste!
People often assume such a large, plump, shiny berry will be overwhelmingly sweet, but there is certain tartness that can be as strong or stronger than the sweetness. This causes surprise, even shock and many a puckered face, but a second taste usually convinces customers that they love blackberries.
Blackberries can of course be very sweet - wild ones especially. But who wants to deal with all those thorns! Our plants are thornless and much easier to pick, but the trade off is less sweetness. The longer the berries hang on the canes the sweeter they become, but also softer and quicker to spoil. A good picker chooses berries at just the perfect stage - and eats any too soft to sell!
Our thornless plants are also less hardy than the thorny ones. Cold temperatures and desiccating winter winds can kill the canes. We seem to lose our crop about every 6 or 8 years.
Spring is the time to prune & tie blackberries. Here's a few pictures I took this morning of our blackberries - before & after.
Blackberries were never really in our plans.
A neighbour had some in his backyard, but was very protective of his plants and would not share. He liked to tell the story of how he brought his original plants to Canada from the old country, hidden in his socks. One day for reasons unknown he decided we should grow blackberries and brought us some rooted cuttings. He showed us how to plant them, grow them and train them on the wires - and so we became blackberry growers.
Blackberries are labour intensive. First the pruning & tying in spring, then we mulch them with straw to hold in the moisture and discourage the weeds. They require a lot of water so we irrigate when necessary with drip irrigation under the straw. Picking begins in early August and continues through September - usually every other day. Blackberries are a big seller at the markets, plus we have u pick at the farm. Any extras are frozen or become jam, syrup or an amazing bbq sauce.