Blackberry Post-Harvest Maintenance

As soon as we finished picking the last of the blackberries, we started cutting out the old fruiting canes and tying up the new canes for next year’s crop. 

While the root system and crown of blackberry bushes are perennial, the canes of the plant are biennial.  During the first year of the cane’s life cycle (primocane year), it grows and initiates fruit buds.  The second year (floricane year), the canes will bloom and set fruit, then die once the fruit is ripe.  Primocanes and floricanes are present at the same time in a bramble patch.   So we are currently cutting out the dead floricanes, and tying up the primocanes for next year.  It takes two people about three hours to clean up a row of 100 bushes.



Debris in the Middle
Still found some berries

August 4 Harvest Update

All of a sudden, everything is ripening at the same time!

  • BLACKBERRIES:  Still picking and processing blackberries.  As of today, we have picked about 1700 pounds of berries.  Grammy and Koty came to visit for the whole week and helped to pick.  They took a trunk full of berries back to Bedford County. Tina made 4 batches of jam yesterday and the rest of this weekend’s berry harvest was frozen.

  • POTATOES:  All our potatoes were harvested this week, we ended up with over 18 bushel.  They are spread out on the upper floor of the barn to dry, before we put them in crates and keep in a walk-in cooler for the winter.

  • CORN:  Yes, our sweet-corn batch #1 is ready.  We’ve been eating it all week, but the individual kernels were not really filled out yet.  But they were today.  We sold some at the produce stand and then husked and blanched 4 bushel.


The reason we have not posted anything on our blog for a while is that the blackberries have ripened.  We picked nearly 900 pounds of berries in the last week and the only reason we did not reach the 1000 pound goal is that we got rained out today.   We made it through 11 of our 13 rows one time so far.  That means we have two rows to go and then we will start over for the second picking.

So what do we do with all these berries?  The perfect ones get picked into quart or pint containers, which we sell at the produce stand, via Craig’s List and at two local produce auctions.  We had flats of pints at the auction on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.  Each flat hold 12 pints, and this past week we took 648 pints to auction!

The imperfect berries get sorted out, washed, drained and frozen.  Freezing the berries ruptures the cell membranes of the fruit and more juice can be extracted.  We will use these frozen berries for jelly and wine later. 

Leif (who is visiting with Anja this week)  LOVES berries and is a real helper.  He knows how to pick just the ripe berries, and though he loves to eat them,  he picks them and puts them in boxes, just like  the rest of us! 


Blackberries in Full Blossom

We came home from our vacation and were stunned to see the drastic changes that took place at the farm in just one week.  Everything had grown so much (including the weeds).  But the most amazing sight was an acre of blackberry bushes in full blossom: 

Spreading Lime – Manually

We recently bought 3 tons on lime (that is 6000 lbs, which sounds a lot heavier).  We intended to use our lime spreader, and pull that behind the tractor between the grapes and blackberry rows.  Turns out, the lime spreader does not really work with the lime we got…it just plugged up.  So this weekend we shoveled lime onto the small wagon, which Jeff then pulled slowly with the tractor between the rows, while Lars and Tina shoveled the lime back off, “flinging” it along side the plants. (Some of us were better “flingers” than others)  One wagon load of lime was enough for 4 rows at a time.  We could manage 2 wagonloads, then we needed a break.  At this point, we are nearly done, just more more wagonload to go – what a great upper body workout!