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Berry Culture and Growing Instructions




Kentucky Blackberry Jam Cake recipe

Blackberry Cobbler Supreme

Raspberry Wine

Strawberry Culture

There are two different systems commonly used for strawberry culture.  For June-bearing strawberries, the the matted row is recommended.  For Everbearing or day neutral varieties, the hill system is sometimes used.

Matted row system:  In the row, space the plants 18 inches to 2 feet apart in rows 4 feet apart. These plants will produce runners that will fill in the row. Be sure to leave a pathway about 18 inches wide down the center between rows. Remove or move any runners that root in your pathway or within 6 inches of an already rooted runner or plant.

Hill system: Space plants 1 foot apart in three rows that also are 1 foot apart, with 3 feet between each set of three rows. Remove all runners!

Frost will NOT harm your plants!  Plant as early as the soil can be worked to get them off to a good start!  Try to do your planting  in the afternoon or evening to reduce wilting. Do NOT trim roots or remove any healthy leaves.  However, DO remove flower buds, runners and damaged leaves before planting. Fan out the roots of the plant, and place the plant in the ground so that the soil level is even with the crown.   Too deep or too shallow will result in a failed planting!!  Press the soil firmly around the roots to eliminate any air pockets.  Water each plant deeply after planting.   Be careful not to wilted leaves into the soil.  Some wilting is normal and the plants should snap out of it in a day or two.  Be sure to keep watered.

Keep weeds down by hand weeding or hoeing. You might also consider a herbicide such as Preen or Dacthal. Apply this carefully according to label instructions.  Mulch also works wonders at keeping weeds out.  We use grass clippings and rarely have any weed problems.

First Year Care:
Remove all the blossoms that form at least once on the hill system and twice on the matted row system. This diverts the energy in the plant into producing a stronger plant and root system which will give you more and bigger berries next year.  In the matted row system, this will encourage more runners. These plants will then bear more fruit than those allowed to fruit the first year. Later in the season everbearers or day neutral varieties will bear a light crop the first year.

In early July,  fertilize the crop with 1 pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet. How does one figure that?  We use Lawn fertilizer without the weed killer  in a formulation of about 25-10-10.  This would require 5 pounds for the 1000 square feet. If you broadcast the fertilizer, drag a rug or old blanket over the foliage to knock off the fertilizer and then water well.  Failure to remove fertilizer from the leaves will result in fertilizer burn on the foliage.  Do this again in September. Do not apply fertilizer in the spring before fruiting as it results in soft fruit and is not recommended.

Life of the bed:
As a rule, keep a strawberry bed for three years. For the matted row system, if the plants are still insect and disease free, you can plant a new bed in late August or early September by carefully removing good, healthy, rooted runners and using them for the new bed. If the plants are not healthy, order new plants in time for planting a bed in the spring and try to locate them in a different location.

Keep the soil damp until the first fall frost, then withhold water to help harden off the plants for winter. In severe winter areas and temperate areas where snow cover is sparse, cover the bed with clean straw 4-6" deep after the ground has frozen.  Rake this into the pathway and spread around the base of the plants in early spring.  This also keeps the berries clean and discourages slugs from feasting on your berries.


This should be a no-brainer!  Only added suggestion is not to pick before ripe.  Strawberries do not ripen after being picked!


Red and Gold Raspberries


Red raspberries, black raspberries, and blackberries belong to the family known as  “brambles”.  Brambles have the same general requirements as strawberries--well-drained soil and full sun. If your soil is heavy or not well drained, then planting on raised beds will give better results.


Some areas have naturally rich soil and very little needs to be done to improve it. Most soils however, need some help. Follow the suggestions below for best results:

Start by digging a hole about 8 inches deep and about 2 to 3 feet in diameter. If your soil is fairly good, mix about half of what you take out of the hole with old finished compost.  Do not use fresh manure or hot compost!  Plant the bush in the center of this bed, mulching around it about 3 feet. Making the mulch about 4 to 6 inches deep.


Planting Brambles
Set red raspberries 3 feet apart in the row with a minimum of 8-10 feet between rows.

Black raspberries can be set at 2.5-3 feet apart in the row with 8-10 feet between rows.

Set blackberries 3-4 feet apart in the row and allow at least 8-10 feet between rows. See below for additional information on Thornless Blackberries.

Set container grown and bare root plants 1-2 inches deeper than they were in our nursery. The soil line around the stem will indicate their nursery depth. Care should be taken that the hole is large enough to allow the entire root system to be covered. Spread the roots out and set at about 2 inches deep. The fine root system should not be allowed to dry during the planting process. This can happen very quickly on a warm, spring day. We suggest soaking
the plants for up to 1 hour prior to planting and keep the plants in a pail of water as you plant.
Special Note: New growth on raspberries may not appear for 4-6 weeks.
The cane portion of the plant may seem like it will never never leaf out and it may not, as new canes may be formed from the roots replacing the old cane. Check for root development by gently digging 2-3 inches out from the cane of the plant. During this initial establishment period, maintain good soil moisture until plants are growing well. During the growing season, cultivate regularly around plants, but not more than 3 inches deep.  The root system of raspberries and blackberries is quite shallow. Mulch helps to conserve soil moisture and cuts down on weed competition.
For optimum growth and production, apply light amounts of compost or fertilizer prior to planting.  1/2 - 3/4 lb. per 100 square feet of 10-10-10 fertilizer is sufficient.




For best results and ease of pruning and picking, all brambles be supported by a trellis of some sort. A "T" bar trellis consisting of three wires 1 foot apart and two feet off the ground works well.  If you mow off the canes at the end of the season (only on fall or ever bearing types!!)), a single row trellis or staking will make this task easier.  We have found that Heritage if grown as a fall bearing only, does not require any support.




Summer Bearing Raspberries

These varieties carry one crop of berries on the over wintering canes (2 year old)  during the summer months. For

best yields, prune out the canes that fruited directly after harvest.

Thin remaining new growth to 4-6 strong, healthy canes per running foot of row.



(Primo cane-bearing, Everbearing) (Heritage)
These varieties will have two crops. The largest is borne in the fall on the tips of canes which grew throughout the
summer. A second crop is then carried lower on those same canes early the next summer. To have two crops, the
planting must be pruned as a summer bearer .
Most everbearers will produce an even better fall crop if not allowed to fruit in early summer. To treat these plants as fall bearers, mow off all the canes after the canes have lost their leaves in very late fall, or wait until early spring. Be sure to cut the canes as closely as possible to the soil surface, leaving as little stub as possible above the ground. The new, strong canes which grow again that summer will bear an abundant fall crop. This is what we do with 99% of our raspberries.

Black Raspberries and Purple Raspberries

Black raspberries and purple raspberries break buds from their crown region in the hill and send out few, if any, suckers. Prune plants to 4-6 canes per hill. Both of these types of raspberry plants respond well to  tipping (pinching out the tip.   The 1-year old canes are tipped as they reach a height of 5-6 feet. This encourages fruiting lateral branches to grow from the main cane and also helps keeps plant height in check. Laterals can also be tipped in the spring to 10 inches or less if desired.   Staking may be necessary on some varieties.  If the tip of the cane is allowed to touch the ground, it will form roots and grow there!  This is a good way to get more plants, but can result in a tangled mess of brambles if left unchecked.  Hence, the story of Peter Rabbit!



Thornless Blackberry



Blackberries respond very well to proper application of fertilizer applied at blossoming time. Blackberries also thrive on organic fertilizers such as compost and composted barn yard manure. Good soil moisture must be maintained by irrigation if necessary  for the first year after planting. Your berry production will also benefit if good soil moisture is maintained up until the fall rains in following years.


Planting Instructions:

One year old bare root transplants should be planted in March or April. Our container grown plants can be planted from spring through late summer.  Late fall is fine in zones 6 and further south.  Plant the transplants at about the same depth the plant grew in the pots, covering any white sprouts arising from the crown. Avoid "scrunching"  the roots in the planting hole if using bare root transplants.  Spread them out evenly.  If using container grown potted transplants, do NOT break up the soil ball or trim the roots.  They will expand into the surrounding soil just fine as they are.  Cutting or pruning the roots on these as they may give rise to several suckers and delay fruiting by a year.  This variety normally does not sucker freely.

 As the new canes begin growing in the Spring, they should be moved in alongside the row on occasion to keep them out of harms way until they are ready to be trained. These canes will not bear fruit until the following summer when they are two years old. After harvest, the two year old fruiting canes are removed as close to the ground as possible without injuring the new forming canes.  These will be next years crop.


Training Thornless Blackberries

(Thornless and Semi-Erect)

A trellis system or staking is a must for our thornless blackberries in order to keep the fruit clean, easy to pick, easy to prune, and to minimize canes breaking from wind or heavy fruit set.


Trellis system:  A 3-4 wire trellis can be used and is easy to build.  String three to four wires across 4" diameter

fence posts set 10 feet apart.  The posts should be five feet tall after setting.  Space the wires 12-18" apart.

  • Tip (pinch out the growing tip) 1st year canes when they reach about 5 feet high in midsummer. That is late July here in zone 5. 

  • Canes that have fruited can be removed anytime after they have been harvested. They will not bear again.

  • Thin the remaining canes to 8-10 canes per running yard of row. If grown in "hills", thin canes to 6-8 canes per hill.

  • Tie the laterals formed along the canes to the wires before Mid-September, otherwise the canes become woody and brittle making it difficult..

Staking system:  Our thornless blackberries are managed by staking each individual "hill".

  • In this system of staked-hills , the canes are tied to a stake 1 x 1  inch square, tied in 2 to 3 places, and cut off to the height of the stake at 5 feet above ground level.

  • The plants are set 4 to 5 feet apart in every direction and kept restricted to a "hill".

  •  This system is easy to maintain and also makes pruning easier.

  • Tip (pinch out the growing tip) 1st year canes when they reach about 5 feet high in midsummer. That is late July here in zone 5. 

  • Canes that have fruited can be removed anytime after they have been harvested. They will not bear again.

  • Thin the remaining canes to 6-8 canes per hill. Tie the canes to the stakes before Mid-September, otherwise the canes become woody and brittle making it difficult..

  • In milder climates (Zone 6-9), they may be trained to stakes or trellises in late summer or early fall after the fruiting canes have been removed. The one year old canes are easier to handle in the fall as opposed to the following spring, and if trained well ahead of the first hard frost, they will mature better than canes left to lie on the ground through the winter. 

  • In  Zone 5 and the southern parts of Zone 4, the canes are best protected if laid on the ground and mulched before severe cold sets in.  While the cold will not kill the roots, it may damage the fruiting canes. 

  • Protection from critters, especially rabbits, during snow cover is another plus by having them laid down and mulched. 

  • So, therefore, In cold climates, Spring training is a must as canes left on the ground over winter are less apt to be damaged by cold. The ideal time to spring train is after the danger of hard freezing weather and before the leaf buds begin expanding. That is usually late March here in Zone 5.

Blackberry Cobbler Supreme

1 cup all-purpose flour 1/4 cup sugar 1 teaspoon baking powder 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/4 cup butter 1 cup sugar 2 tablespoons cornstarch 4 cups fresh or frozen blackberries, thawed 1/4 cup water 1 teaspoon lemon juice 1/4 cup boiling water Light cream or half-and-half or vanilla ice cream

Step 1: In a medium mixing bowl stir together flour, the 1/4 cup sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut in butter till mixture resembles coarse crumbs; make a well in center. Set bowl aside.

Step 2: In a medium saucepan stir together 1 cup sugar and the cornstarch. Step 3: Stir in berries, the first 1/4 cup water, and the lemon juice. Cook and stir till thickened and bubbly. Keep warm over low heat.

Step 4: Stir 1/4 cup boiling water into flour mixture just till combined.

Step 5: Transfer hot berry mixture to a 2-quart square baking dish. Drop batter in 6 spoonfuls atop hot berry mixture.

Step 6: Bake in a 400 [degrees] oven for 20-25 minutes or till dumplings are golden. Serve warm with cream or ice cream. Makes 6 servings.

Kentucky Blackberry Jam Cake

1 8 1/4-ounce can crushed pineapple 1 cup raisins 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves 1/2 cup shortening 1/2 cup butter, softened 1 cup granulated sugar 5 eggs 1 cup seedless blackberry jam (12-ounce jar) 2/3 cup buttermilk 1 cup chopped pecans Sifted powdered sugar Fresh blackberries (optional) Mint sprigs (optional)

Step 1: In a mixing bowl combine undrained pineapple and raisins; cover and let stand 1 hour.

Step 2: Stir together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves; set aside.

Step 3: In a very large mixing bowl beat shortening and butter with an electric mixer till well combined.

Step 4: Gradually beat in granulated sugar until fluffy.

Step 5: Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Step 6: Beat in jam.

Step 7: Add the flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to beaten mixture, beating on low speed after each addition just till combined.

Step 8: Fold in pineapple mixture and chopped pecans.

Step 9: Pour batter into a greased 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Bake in a 350 [degrees] oven for 50 to 60 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Step 10: Cool cake in pan on wire rack. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving. If desired, garnish with
blackberries and fresh mint. Makes 16 servings.

Raspberry Wine

4-5 lbs. gold or red raspberries
-1 lb. finely granulated sugar
tsp. malic acid
tsp. pectic enzyme
water to make 1 gallon
1 tsp. yeast nutrient
1 sachet Lalvin 71B-1122 (Narbonne) yeast

Sort raspberries and discard any that are unsound or unripe. Dissolve sugar in water and, if heated to assist dissolving, allow to cool to room temperature. Put berries in nylon straining bag and lightly crush in primary. Add remaining ingredients except yeast. Cover primary and wait 10-12 hours, then add activated yeast. Ferment about 7-8 days (until specific gravity drops to 1.030), remove bag and drain squeezing lightly. Recover primary and let liquid settle overnight, then rack to secondary and attach airlock. Rack, top up and reattach airlock after 30 days and again after another 30 days. Thereafter, rack every 60 days until wine clears and no new sediments appear in 60 days -- not even a thin dusting. Stabilize, sweeten if desired, wait 3-4 weeks to ensure no refermentation, and bottle wine. Age at least one year.