Outside of the easily-identified blueberries and strawberries, the world of berries can be very confusing. You have blackberries, black raspberries, red raspberries, and yellow raspberries. And don't forget boysenberries, loganberries and marionberries, which are all closely related. How do you tell them apart? Berries whose core stays intact are blackberries. Berries that lose the core and resemble a thimble are raspberries. But then...a few berries are a cross between the two!
The similarities don't stop there. All bear fruit on two-year-old wood, except for the ever-bearing raspberries that also fruit on first year growth. These are also called two-crop raspberries because they bear a late summer or fall crop on the first year growth and a second crop the following spring on the two-year-old wood.
Different types of wood? What's that all about? Ok, it may help clear up a lot of confusion about blackberry and raspberry culture if one remembers that after flowering and fruiting, any cane that bore fruit dies back to the crown. All the new growth will rise out from primary buds just below the soil line.
Now here's the good news, blackberries, raspberries and any other favorites will thrive in most locations and soil types, but good drainage is desirable with most varieties. Just give them some room to ramble because they do like to spread out. As far as cold-hardiness goes, raspberries tolerate very cold temperatures better than blackberries.
Most berries like being fed at blooming time, with a follow-up feeding in early fall after the plants have finished fruiting. Just use a well-balanced fruit food. They prefer staying moist, and should be watered regularly if rainfall is insufficient.
The new canes that grow out each spring will not bear fruit until the following summer when they are two years old. After harvest, the two-year-old fruiting canes will start to die back and should be removed as close to the ground as possible without injuring the new canes.
In mild climates berries can be trained to stakes or trellises in late summer or early fall, after the fruiting canes have been removed. In colder climates, the canes should be left on the ground over winter--making them less likely to be damaged by cold. The ideal time to "spring train" is after the danger of freezing weather and before the leaf buds begin expanding.
We have berry plants that grow well in our local area. The bottom line is that all berries are easy to grow and they taste great. So don't stress about all your different choices. Just plant some berries and enjoy!
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