Got a lot of blackberries? Then check out this recipe for Blackberry Mojito Fruit Leather.

I'm not a huge fan of fruit leathers, but this turned out super good! And, really, you can't go wrong with blackberries, mint and rum.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Contained blackberries

Call me crazy, but I really want to grow my own blackberries. Yes, I know they grow like weeds around here, but I want to pick blackberries from a bush that doesn't bite me back. And eat berries that aren't covered in car exhaust (why are most of the blackberry bushes around here off of major highways?).

We've gone blackberry picking at a farm with thornless bushes, but that gets expensive. I want my own bushes, dammit. And I want a bush where the kids can graze without getting poked since I know they will pick it clean.

Everyone I've talked to cautions against growing my own, simply because of the nature of blackberries to spread far and wide. Since I don't exactly have the space to deal with meandering blackberry bushes and since anywhere I plant them they would be very close to my neighbors property line, I'm going to try an experiment.

When I went to the plant nursery last weekend to pick up some floating row covers, I saw that they had bare root blackberry plants on sale. So, I picked myself up a Triple Crown Thornless blackberry plant. Just one. I figured it can't hurt anything, right?

Well, my plan is to grow the blackberry in a large container to, uh, contain its growth. Needless to say, I'll keep you posted on my experience with this technique.

For those of you interested in learning how to grow blackberries in a container, you can check out this article as a start. A lot of people who live in apartments or condos and don't have the space will grow blackberries or raspberries in pots on a deck or patio. So, if you love berries and don't have a yard, you might consider it yourself!

What's your experience with growing caning berry plants? Have you tried out the thornless varieties? Have you tried growing them in containers?

24 comments:

Jenn said...

No thorns? They can do that? Personally, I've never had a problem with blackberry thorns. Harbin Hot Springs has some of the most awesome blackberry bushes - and I just grab a cardboard box from behind the store/cafe, flatten it and push right into the bush - in shorts and short sleves - it's never resulted in blood loss, maybe a few mosquito bites - but cardboard boxes are THE way to go - you can just push right into the bush and not get pricked.

I mean, unless that's your bag, baybee! YEAH!

Sparkless said...

Blackberries make great fences especially if they have thorns. Not many people are going to jump that fence. So people who have large properties will use blackberries on their fence lines and thus along highways.
I'm curious to see how your growing in pots works.

flutter said...

Please, please keep us updated on how this experiment goes. I have fond memories of picking wild berries from my youth, and I would just DIE from joy if I could have blackberries no matter where I live.

meg said...

Let us know how it goes! The babylady and I pick gallons of blackberries from areas that aren't sprayed, etc. But the damn thorns threaten my wrist tattoos! =)

Robj98168 said...

Sorry- my only experience is with the thorny variety. And I got the scars to prove it. I did make a berry picker that allows me to get the higher berries and not get scratched so much!

Laura said...

I have imagined a sort of stilts contraption that would allow me to pick all the berries that are in the huge seas of blackberry bushes too lond and wide to get to. No patent yet.
I am happy to get some scratches and rinse the exhaust off of mine. ;)

Jan said...

Well, I've only had experience with the ones growing wild on our property. I must say, I tried canning for the first time last summer and blackberries make the BEST jam!

Oldnovice said...

I'm curious to learn if they'd last more than one year in a pot, simply because they put out the next year's growth by starting another cane nearby. I planted two at the side of the house, but while they spread some, nothing's made it past about 6" tall in two years. They might be getting mowed down, might not get enough sun there, or might need richer soil. Planted a few in the back last year and at least one survived. Can't remember if it's thornless or not.

Tree Huggin Momma said...

I will be very interested to see how this goes. What type of containers are you looking at?

Lisa said...

The pots are an interesting idea but I hate blackberries. I mean I love to eat them but they can be such a pain.

I have been battling them on our property for the last 15 years and I still have not completely gotten rid of them. It doesn't help that the neighbor behind us still has them.

We did have the thorn less variety although and occasional thorned cane will show up (they may be a dropped seed from a bird.) I would make one suggestion of covering them with bird netting once the berries get close to being ripe. The birds used to get to ours far more often then we were able to.

Greenpa said...

You might also try growing it in a "root bag" . They were really popular some years ago for nurseries- a heavy geo-textile bag that prohibits roots passing through, but lets water pass. You just put it in the ground. Still around, but I think they turned out to be a little pricey for big nursery production.

Big advantage is- water. In any container, you run the risk of SOMEDAY forgetting to water- then it's dead, and your investment lost. The root bag can pull water from the soil it's buried in, and doesn't dry out so fast in the first place.

Chile said...

I don't think the ones we picked up are thornless but our specific need was ones that will grow in a hot desert. Surprisingly, there is a variety that will. They are currently in containers, awaiting transplanting into the ground whenever we finally find our own place. We're not really encouraging them to grow right now, though, just to hang in there.

Turtle Oak said...

thornless, huh? very interesting...

i happen to have a giant clay pot i've been wondering what to plant in - was considering a peace tree - will have to get the family involved and see which they'll vote for.

personally though that Miracle Grow stuff kinda freaks me out - i'll stick w/ dirt and compost and hope for the best.

Julie said...

I have a "pet" blackberry(thorned) in my yard.It grew up out of a pile of boulders I threw to one side when tying to create a vegie patch. Every year I cut it back to a stem or two and then let do it's thing, clipping only when it menaces me. I think it like the heat the rocks at its base hold 'cause those are consistently the biggest sweetest berries I pick. Course it helps that it is getting the water that seeps down from my vegie patch. It's not in a pot but it is "contained" ;-))

DramaMama said...

A pot? My blackberry experiment didn't take. Something about being here in WI by the lake makes a lot of things funky. But a pot...I might do better w/it in a pot...

Farmer's Daughter said...

Invasive plants often grow along roadways, because they grow faster than the native plants that have to deal with natural biological contols.

And you really should NOT eat berries from along the roadways. There are heavy metals in the soil that are picked up by the plants, which come from years and years of car exhaust.

Old Wise One said...

They should do OK. We have a blueberry and Satsuma in containers. Use a much larger container than you need to allow for new cane growth and to give a cushion for the days you forget to water. One thing we have found is fruits require more fertilizer to produce in a container. If you choose the urine idea you will appreciate the thornless variety when peeing in the container - LOL.

Dale said...

I'll put up with the thorns for the best tasting berries to be had. Wild blackberries are right up there with home grown watermelons for Summer favorite things.

Farmer John said...

I've been growing berries in 15 gallon containers for a few years now. Thornless, thorned, blackberry, raspberry, logan berry, ... I have 8 different varieties. I don't get buckets full, but I get a few cups full here and there, and they all ripen at different times so there is usually something ready to pick all summer long.

I'm also ready to start divining up the canes and start new buckets. I've even rooted some cuttings from a couple of them.

So my advice? Go for it!!!

Farmer John said...

P.S. Just try to stay AWAY from the Himalaya Berry that grows wild all over the west coast. It's VERY invasive and almost impossible to get rid of since it spreads from seeds in bird droppings as well as creeping roots and vines that will root. It has the nastiest thorns too!

Jen said...

I've had raspberries in pots for three or four years. Some in 5-to-7 gallon pots, some in 10-ish gallon size. I should re-pot this year with new soil. I'll ditto what someone else said about needing to watch the watering; and I need to re-pot this year with some new soil. But they flower and fruit just fine, And send up new canes every year.

I have had a couple root through the pot bottom and send new canes outside the pot. More canes for fruit!

Kimberly said...

We've just done raspberries here, but they do spread. Of course, I LOVE that!

Eren said...

Oh, I will patiently follow your experiment. We have a blackberry bed and I am constantly digging up the new growth that come up in my yard and other flower beds.

But the berries in the summer are SO worth my trouble.

i heart spinning said...

Hi Crunchy,
I can attest that you do need AT LEAST a 10 gallon container for these. I've had my raspberries in a 5 gallon for about 2 years now and they end up yellowing and withering every year and only producing like 3 berries. I'm going to end up putting those in the ground once I confirm that they're not going to take over my whole yard, since I'd rather have berries than wilted withered yellowed leaves and 4 berries per year. I can also attest to the fact that the plant has profusely multiplied in it's little container just in that small amount of time. It's probably insanely pot bound and can't wait to be free. I'm in Seattle too so hope that helps.

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