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Growing for Your Kitchen: Raspberries & Blackberries

Every home gardener knows that picking and eating fresh berries out of your own garden is a special delight! Some people wouldn’t guess it but as High Desert Gardeners, we are able to grow many different types of berries. Many varieties of Strawberries, Raspberries, Blackberries, and Blueberries grow very well here and can provide a sweet and fresh summer crop in the warmer months. In this article, we’re going to discuss growing the Rubus cousins: Raspberries and Blackberries.

If you’re interested in learning more about growing other berries in Northern Nevada read our article about Strawberries here or about Blueberries here.

Types of Raspberries for Northern Nevada

Here in Northern Nevada, Raspberries are among the best small fruits for home gardens. There are many varieties of Raspberries that have proven successful in our climate, below are some of our favorites:

  • Autumn Britten – This is a fall-bearing raspberry that produces a bounty of flavorful, bright red fruit that is consistently ranked among the best tasting berries available. This plant is disease resistant and can be pruned to the ground in late fall after bearing all of its fruit.
  • Fall Gold – This produces very sweet yellow berries that are juicy and firm. This is a primocane variety or everbearing because it produces two crops on the same cane: in late spring (the top 1/3 produces fruit) and in fall (the bottom 2/3 produce). If you’d like one bigger crop, prune the canes down to the ground before it buds in spring (end of winter or early fall is a good time).
  • Heritage – This is another primocane (everbearing) variety that is a favorite because of it’s larger, more flavorful fruit size. It produces a moderate yield in mid-summer and a bigger yield end of summer/early fall.

Types of Blackberries for Northern Nevada

Although Blackberries are slightly less cold-hardy we have had great success with a few varieties. We do not suggest pruning Blackberries as we do with Raspberries, many Blackberry varieties produce fruit on last year’s canes which pruning will prohibit. If pruning, use caution and do so minimally for shaping purposes.

  • Black Satin – This thorn-less variety yields super-sweet, medium to large berries in mid to late summer. This variety is very vigorous and disease resistant.
  • Chester – This thorn-less variety produces sweet and firm fruit that ripens through the summer and yields end of summer. It is self-pollinating and cold hardy.
  • Darrow – This is a reliable producer of attractive, firm, juicy and sweet berries that are great eaten fresh or made into jams and jellies. This self-pollinating plant is hardy and grows upright.

How to Grow Raspberries & Blackberries in Northern Nevada

So how do you grow raspberries and blackberries? Both Raspberries and Blackberries like sun, fertile and evenly moist soil along with proper fertilization. We suggest amending the soil with G&B Organic’s Soil Building Conditioner. For stronger yields, fertilize your plants early spring (we suggest using G&B Organics’ Bud & Bloom Fertilizer).

Pruning is not required for Raspberries or Blackberries but there are several methods that can be used for different results. For many Raspberry varieties that produce once a year you can prune your Raspberry all the way back to the ground. This results in full harvests each fall and better control of the size of plant. To train a Raspberry or Blackberry variety that is ever-bearing, you can use a trellis and prune any canes that do not fit your desired shape, which will result with two harvests (spring and fall) per year.

For Blackberries specifically, controlling their size can be difficult. Constructing a root barrier can help control the spread of your Blackberry. A root barrier is a cylinder with no top or bottom that should be buried around the base of the blackberry. Think of it as a buried pot with no bottom and the Blackberry will be placed in the middle. It should be buried so that the top of the lip is covered by dirt and not seen. This will help control the blackberry from spreading.

If you’ve ever seen wild Raspberries or Blackberries, you know that berries are prolific growers! They are very forgiving of mistakes and will provide bountiful harvests even with the minimum amount of effort.

If you have any specific question about care for your Raspberries or Blackberries or want more information on varieties to plant, stop by any one of our three Moana Nursery garden centers or contact us online.

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