Glorious Blackberries

More Berries

It seems I can’t resist the call of sweet berries in the summertime!

I spied a blackberry plant on sale at my local grocery store. I just couldn’t resist. Reasonable price. Nice looking young thang.

And here it is, my very own Triple Crown thornless blackberry baby.

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FYI

The Triple Crown Blackberry Plant:

  • Grows medium sized, sweet fruit through the summer
  • Is thornless- we can all agree- that is a plus
  • Likes full sun
  • Is happy in USDA Zones 5-9
  • Will probably require some trellising and support

 

Trellising? Oh Dear!

I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I have this bad habit of going to the nursery/grocery store/pharmacy/anywhere and purchasing plants. Just because I think they are pretty and beautiful and perhaps they will be yummy on my plate.

And then I get home. And I begin to research. And then I have to go back out and purchase soil amendments (my compost is still a-cooking). And then I get home. Amend the soil. Plant the stupid beautiful plant. Water the stupid beautiful plant. Fall in love with the stupid beautiful plant. Find out I have to buy a trellis for the stupid beautiful plant. And out I go again. All this with a toddler. She is mostly alongside digging or watering and being my gardening version of a wingman. She is awesome.

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Miss Toddler being my garden wingman

What Not to Do

My blackberry plant is finally in the ground- with some magical, acidifying organic… grey looking…. stuff… the lady at the nursery gave me for… free… Now that I’ve actually written that sentence- I’m a little worried. What on earth did I amend my soil with? The lady at the nursery was very helpful and she did say it was organic, but really that was a rookie mistake not knowing what I was amending my soil with.

Perhaps I’ll create a new category- “things not to do when you are learning how to ‘culture hortus’. Or however the Latin goes.”

What to do

  1. First, give your blackberry plant a nice talking to. Tell him/her (this variety is considered to be self-fertile) not to grow too fast or too crazy.
  2. Dig a hole about 1 foot by 1 foot and remove the plant from its pot gently.
  3. Put the plant in the hole.
  4. This step is important– add a soil amendment. When you do, it is preferable that you know what that soil amendment is– peat-based potting mix was recommended on my instructions.
  5. Water it well and keep that baby moist until shoots appear. After that, water 1-2 times per week.
  6. Fertilize with acid fertilizer- again know what your putting in your soil (I am totally addressing myself here).

You can choose to build a trellis to start training your blackberries and supporting them as they grow. I am currently working on one myself. Here is a video I recommend watching. Short, informative and to-the-point, and you’ve gotta love the guy:

Has anyone had experience growing blackberries? Feel free to leave your advice.

Happy Gardening!

Ready, Set, Seed!

How to Start From Seed

For me, one of the most simple decisions I made when I started gardening was to start plants from seed whenever I could. Why?

  • It saves so much money.
  • There is much more variety in seed choices than there are pre-grown seedlings at your local nursery.
  • It’s magical to watch those babies sprout into beautiful plants that you one day get to munch, crunch and gobble.
  • Just look at how pretty these sweet basil seedlings  are.

So say you, “how the heck do I make a seed into a plant?” It might not be as simple as ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ might have you believe- but it’s still relatively easy.

Purple Opal Basil

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 First I gathered together some seed starting mix and a tray. I re-used an old seedling tray.

When you do this, be sure to scrub the tray clean with soap and hot water to ensure that you do not spread any nasty plant diseases.

Next I lined my tray with newspaper (totally optional)

My packet instructions called for seeds sown:

1 inch apart and 1/4 inch deep

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So I made small holes according to the instructions.

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I poured some of the seeds out of the packet- I like to use a white ramekin because then I can see all those teeny-tiny seeds.

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I placed one seed into each hole.

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I then covered my seeds lightly and wet my seed tray thoroughly.

These two steps were points of contention for me, as I’m fairly certain I upset the seed starting mix and moved those seeds around a little.

Next time perhaps I should water the seed starting mix first?

 I’m hoping that this wont mess up the germination of these purple basil beauties.

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I placed the top over the tray, which allows for the environment to be controlled as the seeds germinate.

I can’t wait to update you on how these babies go. The packet instructions say that germination will take place in 7 to 14 days.

 Are there any seeds that you have started lately? If so feel free to comment and leave a link to any posts you have about seed starting.

Happy Gardening!

Semi-permanent, Semi-raised Vegetable Beds- a seriously easy DIY project

Are you a renter?

One of the challenges of renting is that you can’t make huge changes to your garden.

Reasons:

  1. Your landlord probably doesn’t want his front lawn turned into a tropical landscape complete with banana trees.
  2. You don’t know how long you’ll be renting your property- 1 year or 5 years- a huge investment in landscaping is just not worth it.
  3. You don’t know how to grow banana trees.

The good news is there are so many shortcuts to making your garden more horticulturally friendly whilst still respecting your rented property.

One of my projects in my Concrete Backyard was the construction of slightly raised vegetable beds. This is a project I  am super proud of. They are certainly not sleek nor  are they professional-looking- but that’s part of the fun! They are completely temporary, probably taking about two days of work to return the garden bed to how I found it (with significantly amended soil, might I add).

Today I want to show you how I achieved my slightly raised vegetable beds:

Step One

Have a a garden bed- of some sort. I kid you not, this helps immensely. Building your own raised beds over lawn, or other challenging scenarios  like that, are worthy of their own posts. But if you have some sad, neglected garden beds lying around, this project is for you.

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Step Two

Prep your materials. All I used was:

Garden Edging- bought from a Big Box Store, I painted mine white

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A trowel,

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Soil- which, is hopefully already there, and

Compost or other amendments, as a little added bonus

Step three

Dig yourself a shallow trench, a little larger than the garden edging.

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Step Four

Place afore-mentioned garden edging into trench. Use soil to secure garden edging in place.

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And Viola

This was the last of my “semi-permanent-semi-raised” beds.

And here is my ‘Before and After’ 

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All I have left to do is amend the soil in the area of the vegetable bed that I just created. The other side of the bed, (where there are already flowers planted) has already been double-dug and amended with manure and compost. This end of my skinny concrete backyard is aimed at attracting butterflies and other pollinators. I am also nursing a baby blueberry bush back to life here- but that is another post for another day.

So that’s it. If you’ve been staring at an uninspiring patch of soil in your garden, here’s your chance to change that. Let me know how you go.

Happy Gardening!