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Vermont Garden Journal: Fall Brambles

09/21/12 5:55PM
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I'm Charlie Nardozzi and this is the Vermont Garden Journal. For years fall was all about apples, pears and pumpkins. Those were the symbolic fruits and vegetables of our autumn. But now edible gardeners can add raspberries and blackberries to the list. The fall bearing varieties of these brambles have made these delicate fruits a favorite in many homes in September.

It all starts with a little knowledge of how brambles produce fruit. Traditional varieties produce a first year cane called the primocane. It just grows strong and doesn't fruit. However, the second year this cane is now called the fluriocane and produces luscious berries in July. Now enter the plant breeders. They found varieties that would fruit on the primocanes the fall of the first year and then again on that same cane next year. Red raspberry varieties, such as 'Heritage' and 'Fall Red', fruity flavored yellow varieties such as 'Anne', and even blackberry varieties such as 'Prime Jim' and 'Prime Jan', now grace our farmer's markets and backyard gardens in fall. For short season areas try a quick fruiting fall red raspberry called 'Polana', which matures before a frost. Fall blackberries are great for cold winter areas where traditional blackberries varieties have a hard time surviving the winter.

Grow these everbearing varieties as you would summer bearing raspberries. The difference is mostly in the pruning. You can stick with the traditional method of pruning out fruiting canes in summer after harvest. Another way to prune to maximize the fall fruiting is to mow the whole row down in autumn after fruiting. You'll lose the summer crop for next year, but get a larger fall crop from all those new first year canes that develop. Keep wild brambles away from your patch as they can spread virus diseases which reduce the viability of your planting.

For this week's tip, weed out perennial gardens one last time, being careful not to remove self-sown seedling of flowers such as hollyhocks, poppies and foxgloves. These will be some of your flowers for next year.
Next week on the Vermont Garden Journal, I'll be talking about lasagna gardening. For now, I'll be seeing you in the garden!

Resources:
Caring For Raspberries
Growing Raspberries and Blackberries
Growing Prime Jim and Prime Jan blackberries

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