Best Hardy Raspberry and Blackberry Varieties

| 4/10/2014 2:16:00 PM

Tags: brambles, crop hardiness, raspberries, blackberries, berries, Paul M. Otten,

Close-up bramblesReprinted with permission from the Organic Broadcaster newspaper, published by the Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Service (MOSES)

Bramble berries—raspberries and blackberries—can be great additions to the diversified market farm or orchard. They are a favorite at farmers markets, in CSA boxes, and at pick-your-own operations. They are a perennial crop that will produce for many seasons if cared for properly. Successful bramble production depends on several factors, including soil and cultivar selection.

As organic growers, we know we must build and steward the soil to grow nutrient-dense, health-sustaining, disease- and insect-free crops. Healthy soil is especially important for growing bramble berries since half of each plant resides in the soil. What we see above ground is nearly a 100 percent reflection of what transpires below ground, in the soil environment. We can only do so much about the above-ground environment— temperatures, rain, winds, etc.—but we can do a lot about the environment in which half of our plants live.

Insects and diseases are not the primary cause of problems in berry production. Of greater importance is the environment in which the plants are grown, and no part of the environment is more important than the soil.

Brambles are adaptable and can be made to thrive in most soils. However, it will help us make the wisest site choices if we keep in mind the most basic biological needs of plants. The number one need by far is air. Neither you nor I nor bramble plants can function when this basic need is restricted.

The most expensive machine I have on my farm is a large Imants spader that aerates the soil 17 inches down. It is our primary soil-building tool. Long before I think about other nutrients, I think about air. No amount of NPK or other elements can make up for the lack of air—the most important plant nutrient of all. Faithfully using green manure crops, especially those with massive root systems such as Sudan grass and winter rye, goes a long way in rapidly raising organic matter and thus bringing air to the roots, even after massive rains. (Don’t expect to read about air management because it can’t be patented, bagged or easily sold!)

4/21/2016 3:21:29 AM

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10/25/2014 9:06:21 AM

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10/25/2014 9:04:11 AM

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