Allotment blackberries

We have a thornless blackberry. Let me tell you, if you’re going to transplant blackberry plants, it’s always worth paying extra for a tasty thornless variety, because transplanting thorned blackberries is painful.

Okay, basic lesson in soft fruit here, which I didn’t know until last week, so I hope it will fascinate you as much as it did me. You can tell if a plant is a raspberry or a blackberry by checking if the core stays in the ripe fruit or is left on the plant when the fruit is picked. Berries with the core intact are blackberries and berries that lose the core are raspberries.

I can hear you scoffing already at the woman who can’t tell a raspberry from a blackberry but bear with me. What’s a loganberry then, clever-clogs? Or a tayberry? See … it is a useful thing to know. In fact both berries are classed as blackberry/raspberry crosses: the loganberry keeps its core intact and is therefore classified as a blackberry. Confusingly, the tayberry has a core that sometimes stays with the fruit and sometimes comes free of it, and is classed as a hybrid.

Now, to the issue of pruning and transplanting. When any of the four berries above have flowered and fruited, any cane that bore fruit dies back to the crown. This means, when prune, you are simply working to make space for the primary buds just below the soil line to grow and bear fruit. Everything above those buds is cane that the previous summer and is now two years old but will still try to produce fruit at the expense of the new canes that have grown from soil level.

So quite obviously, transplants need to be cut back hard, to get good growth. In addition, any transplant will suffer stress – think about how stressful it is for you to move, and then think about the plant – same process! So cutting back allows the plant not to put all its strength into old grown so it can concentrate on settling in and producing new growth that will be adjusted to its new conditions and that new growth should appear within 4-6 weeks.

We moved this blackberry a week or so ago, but because we didn’t have its blue screen in place I didn’t cut it hard back, or we wouldn’t have known where it was when it came to siting the screen for it to grow up. Now the screen has been fixed to the fence, I shall prune the blackberry back (taking care not to cut so far that the parent, thorny, plant is live above the graft) and watch it take off in spring).

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Posted by The Allotment Blogger on Tuesday, December 16, 2008

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