Big Texas Blackberries

All about the Doyle thornless blackberry grown by the Severtson family in Wylie, Texas.

| October/November 1999

  • Texas Blackberries
    The amazing berry that has made the farm famous.
    Photo courtesy MOTHER EARTH NEWS editors
  • Thornless Blackberries
    Left: Tom Doyle, the father of our prolific berry. Right: Here I am holding another amazing large bunch.
    Photo courtesy MOTHER EARTH NEWS editors
  • 176-060-01-maddie
    Granddaughter Maddie helps Mary Severtson bring in the harvest.
  • Blackberries
    We recommend growing the Doyle either on a seven-foot post or on a fence. For a small yard or garden, a post is very effective.
    Photo courtesy MOTHER EARTH NEWS

  • Texas Blackberries
  • Thornless Blackberries
  • 176-060-01-maddie
  • Blackberries

You should make a point of stopping by when you're out our way and maybe Mary will have ready some of her special blackberry cobbler or some fresh bread with homemade butter and blackberry cinnamon jelly. Folks drive in from just about everywhere to see our world famous Doyle Thornless Blackberry and to pass the time.

On an average day you could have some coffee with us at about 6 A.M. and listen to the. weather report. After breakfast Mary would probably go out to the greenhouse to check the berry plants and set aside those ready for shipping later in the day.

While Mary is busy in the greenhouse, I usually head down to the berry orchard. There's always a lot of mowing and machinery repair to be done, but first thing daily I check the drip watering system, tie up new berry canes and mulch wherever needed. We mulch our berries with compost to about one-and-a-half feet on each side of the rows to a depth of four or five inches. For a smaller garden, I would mulch with finished compost in a three or four foot diameter around each plant. Also, watering with the hose is fine for just a few plants, keeping the soil moist at all times, but never wet. Once a week we foliar feed our berry plants from a 150-gallon spray rig, which I pull with the tractor. Blackberries respond well to foliar feeding, a method that entails spraying the leaves with a fertilizer. This can be done with a handheld spray bottle on smaller gardens. We use two or three kinds of very effective organic fertilizer, including Bio-Organics and Medina. They are available here at the farm, as well as through our Web site.

Our Farm History

Severtson Farms has not always been in Texas. As long ago as 1850, my great grandfather homesteaded in Story County, Iowa. The original Severtson Farm, the forerunner of our current operation, was in Boone County, Iowa, near the little town of Luther, where my six brothers and sisters and I went to church and school. It was a wonderful place to work and live. Like most farmers during the 1930s and '40s, we milked cows, raised hogs and chickens and farmed with horses until after World War II. We lived close to the land, raising a large garden and gathering lots of wild fruits. Mom canned about 2,500 quarts of food every year for our family of nine.

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