Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Varieties of berries How many are there?

New strawberries are being introduced constantly; also, they vary greatly in their adaptation to locality. Therefore it is difficult to advise as to what varieties to plant. Once again a catalog from a reputable
nursery will prove invaluable in selecting the right varieties.
The blackberry, dewberry and raspberry are all treated in much the same way. The soil should be well drained, but if a little clayey, so much the better. They are planned preferably in early spring, and set from
three or four to six or seven feet apart, according to the variety.

They should be put in firmly. Set the plants in about as deep as they have been growing, and cut the canes back to six or eight inches. If fruit is wanted the same season as bushes are set, get a few extra plants--they cost but a few cents--and cut back to two feet or so.
Plants fruited the first season are not likely to do well the following year. Two plants may be set in a place and one fruited. If this one is exhausted, then little will be lost. Give clean cultivation frequently enough to maintain a soil mulch, as it is very necessary to retain all the moisture possible. Cultivation, though frequent, should be very shallow as soon as the plants get a good start. In very hot seasons, if the ground is clean, a summer mulch of old hay, leaves or rough manure will be good for the same purpose.

In growing, a good stout stake is used for each plant, to which the canes are tied with some soft material. Or, a stout wire is strung the length of the row and the canes fastened to this--a better way, however, being to string two wires, one on either side of the row. Another very important matter is that of pruning. The plants if left to themselves will throw up altogether too much wood. This must be cut out to four or five of the new canes and all the canes that have borne fruit should be cut and burned each season as soon as through fruiting.
The canes, for instance, that grow in 2009 will be those to fruit in 2010 after which they should be immediately removed. The new canes, if they are to be self-supporting, as sometimes grown, should be cut back when three or four feet high.

It is best, however, to give support. In the case of those varieties which make fruiting side-shoots, as most of the black raspberries (blackcaps) do, the canes should be cut back at two to three feet, and it is well also to cut back these side shoots one-third to one-half, early in the spring.

In cold sections (New York or north of it) it is safest to give winter protection by "laying down" the canes and giving them a mulch of rough material. Having them near the ground is in itself a great protection, as they will not be exposed to sun and wind and will sometimes be covered with snow.

For mulching, the canes are bent over nearly at the soil and a shovelful of earth thrown on the tips to hold them down; the entire canes may then be covered with soil or rough manure, but do not put it on until freezing weather is at hand. If a mulch is used, it must be taken off before growth starts in the spring.


The large-growing sorts are set as much as six by eight feet apart, though with careful staking and pruning they may be comfortably handled in less space. The smaller sorts need about four by six. When growth
starts, thin out to four or five canes and pinch these off at about three feet; or, if they are to be put on wires or trellis, they may be cut when tied up the following spring. Cultivate, mulch and prune as suggested above.

Blackberries will do well on a soil a little dry for raspberries and they do not need it quite so rich, as in this case the canes do not ripen up sufficiently by fall, which is essential for good crops. If growing rank they should be pinched back in late August. When tying up in the spring, the canes should be cut back to four or five feet and the laterals to not more than eighteen inches.

Blackberry enemies do not do extensive injury, as a rule, in wellcared- for beds. The most serious are:
(1) the rust or blight, for which there is no cure but carefully pulling and disposing of the plants as fast as infested;
(2) the blackberry-bush borer, which burn infested canes; and
(3) the recently introduced bramble flea-louse, which resembles the green plant-louse or aphids except that it is a brisk jumper, like the flea-beetle. The leaves twist and curl up in summer and do not drop off in the fall. On cold early mornings, or wet weather, while the insects are sluggish, cut all infested shoots, collecting them in a tight box, and dispose.

As with the other small fruits, so many varieties are being introduced that it is difficult to give a list of the best for home use.

This is really a trailing blackberry and needs the same culture, except
that the canes are naturally slender and trailing and therefore, for
garden culture, must have support. They may be staked up, or a barrel
hoop, supported by two stakes, makes a good support. In ripening, the
dewberry is ten to fourteen days earlier than the blackberry, and for
that reason a few plants should be included in the berry patch.

The black and the red types are distinct in flavor, and both should be grown. The blackcaps need more room, about three by six or seven feet; for the reds three by five feet will be sufficient. The blackcaps, and
a few of the reds, throw out fruiting side branches, and should have the main canes cut back at about two and a half feet to encourage the growth of these laterals, which, in the following spring, should be cut back
to about one-third their length. The soil for raspberries should be clayey if possible, and moist, but not wet.

The orange rust, which attacks the blackberry also, is a serious trouble. Pull up and dispose of all infested plants at once, as no good remedy has as yet been found. The cut-worm, especially in newly set beds, may sometimes prove destructive of the sprouting young canes. The raspberry-borer is the larva of a small, flattish, red-necked beetle, which bores to the center of the canes during summer growth, and kills
them. Cut and dispose.

Of the blackcaps, Gregg, McCormick, Munger, Cumberland, Columbian, Palmer (very early), and Eureka (late), are all good sorts.
Reds: Cuthbert, Cardinal (new), Turner, Reliance, The King (extra early), Loudon (late). Yellow: Golden Queen.

Picture on top right by Maggie Smith / FreeDigitalPhotos.net