by Alan Detwiler April 12, 2013
Blackberry trellis with deep soil:
It gets so hot and dry during many summers here in eastern Ohio that blackberries and other cane berries do not produce full size fruit. In particularly dry, hot summers the canes are stunted and fruit is sparse, small, and seedy.
Blackberries and raspberries growing in especially deep soil do better during hot, dry weather. A couple of years ago I dug a 2-foot deep hole, about 20-inches wide and 4-feet long. Filled the hole with alternating layers of topsoil and organic material - leafs, twigs, grassing clippings, and etc. Three raspberry plants were set in the fill-dirt. The following year those plants produced berries that were four times larger than the fruit on other nearby canes growing in 10-inch deep topsoil.
So last year I dug 2-foot deep trenches for red raspberries, golden raspberries, blueberries, boysenberry, and blackberries, filled the trenches with alternating layers of organic material and topsoil, and set plants in the fill. It was a lot of work and time but was good, healthy exercize that likely would produce other tangible, positive results. We'll see.
I dug about 100 feet of such trench during 2012 plus about 12 feet of 4-feet wide 20-inch deep trench. I could have just about buried an elephant in that one (not really). I just wanted it as a place to grow a little bit of grain that might do well during drought. Also in 2012, I dug 240 feet of 14-inch deep trench in soft soil in my garden proper. Okay, I probably over did it. My left foot has had some swelling lately, may be something like rheumatoid arthritis from favoring that foot to use as a stomper to pound a shovel into hard, clayey subsoil. I plan to put less stress on body parts from now on. I've done a little reading about arthritis. Arthritis is definitely something to be avoided.
Anyway, here's a couple of photos of the blackberry trench and the trellis to support the large (hopefully) canes that will grow this year and produce large, abundant berries next year (hopefully).
The 20-feet long trench, 24-inches wide, 24-inches deep. Foreground shows 10 feet of the trench, background is the filled other 10-feet with posts set to support a trellis.
View of the trench after filling, placing posts and 200-amp electrical cable for a trellis, and setting about 10 tiny blackberry plants. I'll tighten the cable up a little to make it a bit neater looking. The heavy logs at a 45 degree angle press against the end post to counter the pull of the heavy electrical cable.
Contributed by Alan Detwiler. Bio at
Words and phrases descriptive of the contents of this post: blackberry trellis, drought resistant blackberries, growing blackberries in dry weather