Hi, I planted a thornless blackberry last year. It didn't yield any fruit but has grown a great deal. Should I prune it back and am I likely to get fruit this year?
Hello Julie, and welcome
Don't prune it whatever you do! The shoots that grew last year will bear fruit this year. A new load of shoots will also grow, and they will fruit next year. In other words, it fruits on last year's shoots, like summer raspberries, to which it's closely related.
The existing shoots should be trained along a wall or fence in whatever way takes your fancy and suits the way they grow. They all need their fair share of light and air to produce their fruit and stay healthy. The new shoots that grow during the summer should be trained elsewhere until you've harvested the fruit in August/September. One way of doing it is to train the new shoots to one side and the old to the other; another is to tie the new shoots in more or less vertically and tie the old, fruiting shoots to both sides.
Then, in the autumn, cut out the old fruited shoots right down at ground level, and train the new shoots (which will bear fruit next year) to replace them. Repeat this every year.
Since it has to make lots of new material every year it will need plenty of food. Mulch it with compost or well-rotted manure about nowish as it starts to grow; give it some potash (wood ash is a good source) in the summer to encourage it to flower prolifically. And do what you can to encourage your local bees, which will pollinate the flowers.
And then you can enjoy apple and blackberry pie, my favourite autumn food!
Thanks so much Steve, great advice
I hope so. Keep an eye on this in case someone else had a better idea - and let us know how you get on.
All I do with mine is cut down the OLD wood.
I inherited mine when I got my allotment. The first year we had a mega harvest, last year we were on holiday at prime ripe time and came back to not a lot. This year I'm getting rid of half of them because there Is no way that I need, or can cope with that many blackberries!
Logan I had that many that they took up hair of my chest freezer! I gave lots away, chucked a load in the brewing bucket and I still have a load in the freezer now
im quite happy to keep hair of the plants, I just don't need or want that many blackberries ever again