Monday, February 15, 2010

The Great Blackberry Caper of 2010

So hubby and I visited his folks at their house in Western Carolina this weekend.  The snow was outrageous and so beautiful.  Well, beautiful for those of us got to leave it behind on Sunday as another 4-6 inches was dumping on top of the 12 inches already on the ground.  Not so beautiful for his folks who have to live and work in it! 

All that aside, we haven't been to their home in a few months and we were long overdue for the quiet woods and seclusion of their house.  They live on top of a mountain in a completely off-grid solar home.  Their lot is mostly surrounded by State Forest Land and other large wooded lots with houses.  The view from every angle is beautiful and the air is silent.  We weren't expecting so much snow, but aside from getting stuck in the driveway and having to "suit" up every time we went outside, it was a great trip. 

While visiting with his folks, we had planned on finding some blackberry bushes to bring home.  Hubby's dad had a stand of wild blackberry bushes just off the top of their driveway, so in the deep snow and cold air, we set out to accomplish the Great Blackberry Caper of 2010.

The caper begins here at home where hubby and I had decided to cut down some fir trees growing behind our garden.  The purpose was two-fold, the trees were partially blocking where we are going to build hubby's shed and they were growing in a precious sunny spot in our yard.  We (and when I say we, I mean my hubby as he cut down and drug away all the trees) left a row of 3 small trees to continue to provide a visual barrier between our yard and that of our neighbor's.  These trees will come down in the fall and be replaced with some that are slightly more aesthetically pleasing and useful.  But in the meantime, we decided to plant a blackberry patch in the space between the garden and the remaining trees.  Hubby loves some blackberries and I would have to say that this girl is pretty fond of them too.  We also figure this is one way we can add to our plants from which we produce food. 

Instead of purchasing bushes from a nursery we decided to swipe some from the folks-in-law.  Their blackberry bushes handle cold weather and extreme winds, and are currently growing in little to no soil on a rock face.  This created a formula for an interesting experiment.  How will these bushes do when planted using compost and pruned yearly?  Will they flourish and be manageable?  Because our fir trees have left behind trunks and roots, we figure these blackberry bushes may be able to compete a little better than the more delicate ones we would purchase.

Of course, we were not expecting 8 inches of snow on top of 4 inches from the previous weekend, equaling more than a foot in places where the snow had not melted.  Lucky us, the blackberries were growing in shallow soil so we decided that digging them out of the snow was not going to be all that hard.  We suited up and headed out to the rock face in the 15 degree weather.  Believe it or not it did not feel nearly as cold as it does here when the temperature is so low. 
briar-patch.  We trimmed off the old canes.  Many of the plants have new canes, which will produce fruit this year.  We cut these back a little but left some with the hopes of getting a little bit of fruit this year.  Here is a picture of Hubby digging up some of the bushes.
We placed the roots in landscaping pots and covered the pots in snow to insulate from the cold night coming up.  

We loaded the bushes in the truck and brought them home the next day.  Today, at home, I placed the plants in the leaf litter to cover their roots.  I hope to plant them in the ground tomorrow.  We are hoping that these bushes will take off this summer and give us lots and lots of juicy blackberries next year.  Stay tuned for more on the Great Blackberry Caper of 2010...

Here are some other pictures from the snowy weekend!



  1. I did that once. Give them compost and sunshine and you will have a barbed wire fence by next spring.

    Thornless blackberries are worth the price.

  2. Yeah, we considered the thornless kind, easier to work and worth their weight in gold come harvest time, but I have not found many better tasting berries than these. Plus we have dogs that like to lie on and chew on any new additions to the yard, hoping the thorns will keep them at bay!