Garden View – Beautiful Blackberries
Autumn’s scent is sweet and sour. There is a definite tang in the air which indicates that summer is drawing to a close. Don’t be sad though, autumn has its compensations, especially at harvest time: picking early apples, cold from the tree and dappled with dampness is one of life’s little pleasures. But if you don’t grow fruit in your own plot you don’t have to miss out, just look to the hedgerows. As kids we used to dig out an empty ice cream tub and go blackberrying in the autumn. It seems to have died-out a bit as a family pastime but that means there’s more for the rest of us! Don’t worry about breaking any laws. If the fruit is growing in the wild it is anyone’s for the taking.
But why stop at wild blackberries. How about growing your own? It’s very simple. My dad used to grow them over two discarded wrought-iron gates he found in a skip! You don’t need anything quite that elaborate. Rig up a simple post and wire frame. Two 2m / 6 foot posts knocked into the ground 2m / 6 foot apart and joined together with horizontal strands of galvanised wire spaced about 45cm / 18 inches apart will do. You can also grow them over sheds and walls.
Plant the blackberry plant in manure, or compost-enriched soil at the base of the frame and gradually train the plant up it, tying in the shoots as they grow. It will spread to cover the frame and provide an annual crop. Remember to cut out old fruited stems each autumn and tie in the new ones.
If space is limited there are some lovely new compact varieties available.
There are plenty of thornless, highly flavoured varieties. Ashton Cross produces a heavy crop of intensely flavoured fruit and Merton is a compact thornless which produces enormous blackberries and is very suited to a small space.
I encourage you to plant a blackberry bush this year and in the future you will enjoy one of the purest pleasures autumn can offer.