Q: Is it hard to grow blackberries here in Colorado and what is a good variety ?
A: It is very easy to grow blackberries here in Colorado if you provide them the right growing conditions. There are two types of blackberries, trailing and erect. Erect are somewhat supportive, but trailing need support. I will be discussing the trailing variety because that is what I grow in my garden with huge success. One of the ways to provide support is to provide a trellis. This can be done many ways. The way I chose for mine was to dig in two poles, one at each end of the bed and then strung galvanized wire between the poles. I used the wire to train the canes. Training the canes helps keep the fruit off the ground and makes it easier to harvest the fruit.
They are a lot of different vairities of blackberries on the market. The variety I chose was “Black Sating”, one reason it is a thornless variety and second it is very sweet.
When selecting a site to grow your blackberries make sure it gets full sun. Blackberries will grow in partial shade, but they produce more fruit with full sun. They also require soil that drains well. Blackberries do not like wet feet and will die if they are subjected to poor draining soil.
Prior to planting your blackberries make sure you till in plenty of compost or well aged manure. Blackberries are perennials and with just a little care will last for 10-15 years. Plant your plants at the same level as they were in their containers. Plant your plants 2 feet apart and in rows 7 feet apart. Ensure you give your plants a couple inches of mulch to prevent weeds and retain moisture. Once the plants start to bloom ensure they get at least one inch of water per week.
Blackberries produce fruit on second year canes. Harvest the fruit once they start to loose their glossy color to ensure the sweetness of the fruit is at its peak. In the fall cut the fruit bearing canes down to the ground and thin the others to about 4 canes per plant. The canes that did not produce fruit this year will next year.
Contributed by Rich Young, Colorado Master Gardener. For information, contact the Master Gardener Help Desk at 636.8921 or CSUmg2@elpasoco.com. Photos by usagardener.com and Rich Young.