Thornless Blackberries

Today I planted Black Satin and Natchez Thornless Blackberries. I purchased them last spring in the market economy but they were not well rooted and I left them in pots until today. I will continue to look for wild berries but in the meantime I will see how these two do. Natchez is a zone 6 plant and I am not sure it will winter over. I am ostensibly in zone 6 but think my microclimate is zone 5. They are in a protected location so will likely do fine.

Black Satin is good to zone 3.

I have read a lot of pruning advice regarding blackberries, but never bother much with it.  Most gardening books make everything too hard.

I give my garden daily attention because I enjoy it.  Turn your back a minute and it does fine.  In Texas I kept my garden well mulched and used little water.  Here in my Food Forest, I use Hugelkutur.  The secret is optimal water retention.

I cut out dead blackberry canes when I get around to it.  You can cut a cane that has fruited because they only fruit once, but these canes wither back anyway and you do better to cut them when dead.  The plant withdraws nutrients from the cane and uses it elsewhere, so getting hasty just weakens the plant.

If you want to collect blackberry leaves for tea, that is done before they start turning in the fall.  Collect young leaves and dry them in the shade at room temperature?  BlackBerry tea is a medicinal but also combined with other leaves for tea.  Most teas are medicinal and best drunk in moderation.

New blackberry shoots are good eaten as greens.  Since they spread well, take your new shoots quickly while young and delicate.  If you eat the new shoots, the patch does not get out of control.

If you like absolute order, go for blueberries or other orderly bushes.  Blackberries are not pretty, but they have blackberries!

Blackberries seem to be universally known and who could pass on blackberry pie?  I want the native variety to add to my Food Forest up hill.  They certainly help trees evade Mule Deer extinction.  That would be the prickly variety.

The prickly variety can also be part of an edible boundary hedge on larger properties, helping keep out stray people and animals.  Wild blackberries can keep deer out of your vegetable garden in the tastiest way.  In the Pacific Northwest Blackberries get way out of hand and a few people rent goats to come in and  eat them to the ground.

I also planted one Russian Sage in my pinyon/plum tree guild.

Winter Storm Clara is moving this way and I expect snow over the weekend. If it does snow on Thanksgiving it will likely shut the freeway down and still holiday traffic.

I decided where to use my last cement blocks for a raised bed.  Tomorrow I will put a few in place.  Life is good.


About rebeccatreeseed

I am a naturalist raised by naturalists. Treeseed is my earned name, while Rebecca is my birth name. I am of Northern European descent, with a quarter Irish.quarter thrown in. I suspect I was a product of northern invaders into Ireland into Ireland. but hard to say since DNA disproved the family story about Apache blood! I have found some odd ancestors to replace them. Last year I bought 5 acres of pinyon-juniper forest on the side of a mountain in Santa Fe County, New Mexico. I am fulfilling a lifetime dream of a cabin in the mountains and a food forest that will feed me and local wildlife. I want to share this new phase of my life with others that might be interested.
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5 Responses to Thornless Blackberries

  1. Helen says:

    I have a thornless blackberry….. It’s roots have produced thorned secondary plants, but if you want blackberries, I guess it could be worse!

    Hadn’t thought about using the leaves for tea but I’ll give that a go. I’ve still got some leaves which seem impervious to the change in the seasons.

    • Thank you! I have never bought blackberry vines in the market economy, always had access to various species of wild berries. Seems like false advertising if new canes have thornes, since canes only bear once. I am almost content then; however I will continue my search for a native, adapted variety. It is so dry here that high water species are usually above 7500 feet.

      • Helen says:

        I think the case of my bush, it’s the new growth from the roots which have thorns, so it may be because of the rootstock used?!

        Anyway, the best of luck in finding the ones you want.

      • I use as many natives as I can, in part because they are nutrient dense and in part because we have not been able to pass GMO labeling. We don’t know what we are eating. Corporations are trying to pass laws making GMO labels illegal. I am shifting my mix of wild and domestic foods to have a higher percentage of wild, and as many heirloom varieties from good sources as possible. I used to try “new” seeds every year just for the fun of it, but am seed saving now. We are losing most of our corporate battles over here. I will grow all my food before I lose this one, and my garden space will all be raised beds for convenience to my knees!

      • Helen says:

        GMO is scary. At least I know my plant will be safe from that…. Blackberries are native to Britain and I could easily grow my own from a cutting but for the thorns. That said, with blackberries being so prevalent, if my bush continues to trouble me I’ll have it out and just forage for them 🙂

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