Sunday, 4 September 2016
How to grow giant blackberries
I have been gathering a bumper crop of enormous backberries in my garden over the last week. My British readers may be saying "So what!" In the UK blackberries are something of a problem, springing up in any patch of untended ground (and indeed in tended ground such as garden borders and hedges), but here in the Czech Republic I have observed that you are more likely to see wild raspberries than blackberries in the hedgerow.
I have an affection for blackberries that goes beyond my liking for backberry crumble. My affection for them is rooted in happy childhood memories of late summer afternoons harvesting blackberries with my mother. As I grew older, my mother stopped coming with me and instead handed me a plastic container and sent me off into the fields. Even now, with my mother in her late eighties I make a point every year of bringing her a tupperware box full of gleaming black fruit.
I learnt as a child that the best place to get bumper blackberries is where they are in the open but have their roots in a ditch, as they need both sunshine and water to thrive. Maybe this need for water is one reason why they are less frequent here in Czecho, as here the summers tend to be dryer.
The blackberry with its rich sweet smell and sweeter taste is so important to me in marking the seasons that I missed them when I came to this country. I therefore decided to plant some in my garden. My garden has the sun, but is even dryer and stony than most Czech gardens. How could I avoid growing hard seedy fruit? Answer: I took advice from an old Czech gardener and planted the blackberry bush downhill from the septic tank!