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Raspberries, Blackberries and Black Raspberries…

How are they so different?

How interesting to know, that although these berries all sound similar in names they are completely different plants. You may think that the raspberry would be exactly the same as the black raspberry, just a different colour. Unfortunately, not. They are very different from each other. So how can I tell the difference between these berries? Not only do they all taste different, but they all have a different look from each other, whereas the berry itself, does show some resemblance.

 

Black Raspberry

One of the most interesting facts about this plant is to see how it changes from a small green plant into a bigger bush with a stem that becomes a waxy white, as if someone painted it. How incredible is it to see what nature does on its own?

Also known as the common blackberry this plant grows to between 1 and 3 metres in height. These berries are much smaller than that of the blackberry with a higher sugar content. Black raspberries are a superfood known to slow down the growth of certain cancers. They contain three times the levels of antioxidants than that of blueberries.

Black raspberries need to be trained using a trellis or structure. This will keep the berries manageable and easy to harvest. A good time to prune black raspberries is late winter to early spring, as soon as new buds form on the branches.

Black raspberries in comparison with blackberries, fruit on and off throughout the year. When picking a black raspberry, a piece of the inside of the fruit is left on the stem leaving a hollow core in the raspberry.

 

Blackberry

When planting blackberries keep them away from peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, potatoes and strawberries. Blackberries are perennial plants, thus the roots survive year after year. The top of the plant above the soil Is called biennial. This means the canes grow vegetatively for a year, bear fruit the next year and then die. The dead canes are then replaced with new canes  from the plant.

Pruning these canes that have given fruit is so important, as it improves your harvest and avoids a messy plant.

It is important to train the blackberry on a trellis as this will keep the plant manageable and easy to harvest. There are many different trellis structures you can use in order to train the blackberry and it could even be a visual attraction.

A ripe blackberry is deep plump with a slightly tender feel. If the berry is red or purple it is not ripe yet. A ripe blackberry will pull free from the plant with only a slight tug. The skin of a fully ripe berry is dull black and this is when the berries are their sweetest. In comparison to black raspberries, when picking blackberries, the entire fruit comes off the stem, showing a white or green core where they were attached to the stem.

 

Raspberry

Raspberries are incredibly easy to grow, and just like the blackberry they will grow fruit and then those canes will die. One exception though is that they will make new plants all over the soil in the garden sprouting from the roots, similar to that of strawberries. You can be assured that if you look after your few plants you will most certainly have lots of new plants very soon.

It is important to understand that the branches of the raspberries that bear fruit will only live for two summers. This is again why it is very important to prune your berries. During the first year a new green cane (primocane) grows and becomes dark brown going dormant in winter. During the second season it becomes a floricane and produces fruit  whereafter it will eventually die.

No need to worry as this is not the end of the plant. New primocanes are produced every year. In order to increase your yield you need to ensure that you regularly prune your raspberry plant. After the floricanes have produce fruit and dies, it is necessary to prune these canes about 10 centimeters from the ground. You may think that you are killing the plant but you are actually opening up more light for the new canes to grow.

Just like all the other berries a trellis or structure to grow on will most certainly assist the plant to do better. There are also many insects and diseases which can be very harmful to your berry plants. So pick the berries as much as you can and remove the rotten berries that have fallen as this will attract unwanted guests. There is no need to wait in order to pick the berries as you can always freeze them if you want to save them for later.

For the best flavour, harvest your raspberries when it is cool and dry, when it is not raining and after the heat from the midday sun has passed. We tend to pick raspberries early in the morning just as the sun rises and then again late in the afternoon before the sun has set. A ripe raspberry has a deep colour with a soft but firm feel as it will pull easily off the plant with a slight tug. The centre will remain on the plant leaving a hollow core inside the fruit.

Mulching

When it comes to mulch it may seem like it is just another task to do whilst gardening, but it is in actual fact a very important task. Mulching will create a healthier ecosystem and reduce the amount of time needed for other maintenance tasks. Mulch is a biodegradable layer of organic material added to the top of soil. It is essential to mulch around the berry plants as this assists:

  • In retaining moisture
  • Preventing erosion
  • Creates humus
  • Helps to Fertilise
  • Suppresses weeds
  • Makes an attractive top dressing

We all know about pine needles or pine bark mulch as a mulch. But what about living plants to use as a mulch. The following plants can be used as a living mulch around your berry plants.

  • Comfrey
  • Rhubarb
  • Thyme
  • Oregano
  • White clover
  • Chickweed
  • Chives
  • Dandelion

Now you may notice that some of these are weeds. Dandelions for instance heal bare earth by dredging up nutrients with its deep roots. You can thus take advantage of this by mulching and fertilizing with dandelion leaves. To use weeds for green mulch, cut the leaves off from the base leaving the roots intact to feed beneficial soil organisms. Chop the green matter roughly into small 5cm pieces and lay the mulch on top of the soil beneath (not touching) the garden crops. For a more attractive look green mulch can be covered with a layer of leaf mulch or pine bark.

 

It may not be a great time to plant these berries in the cold temperatures we have now but if you look after the plants throughtout the winter you will surely see a great transformation as soon as summer arrives. Come and choose your favourite berry or even different varieties of berries. It would truly be interesting to taste all the different flavours between them all. But remember to make it stand out by getting a handmade trellis. Once they start growing and you train them it will look absolutely stunning. Log onto our website and order your plants today. We will help you with all you need including the soils and mulch. Happy planting.

 

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