Blackberry Vines
Plato, MO

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The vines are all gone now, and I miss the satisfaction of successfully propagating them at the end of the season. I so enjoyed the process, and watching the roots develop. It was like watching God in action as He shows just one small aspect of His glory. Even though the vines were a lot of work, I'm contemplating establishing some vines (just a few this time) for the fun of watching the propagation process.

The "Blackberry Vines" were planted on the side of a gentle slope which overlooks the valley of the western fork of the Roubidoux creek. They seemed to prosper with the warmth of the morning sun and limited exposure to the afternoon sunshine, but this was not the case with their progenitors.

The first blackberry cuttings I received were destined for a very difficult existence. They came to the farm in coffee cans, some plastic, some metal, but all without holes. I should have noticed and put holes in them but I had other fires to put out and just put them in a depression on the side of the hill where I had planted a small vineyard. Winter was approaching and I thought I could get them through by just mulching them with grass clippings that had piled up.

Well, for the most part, I was wrong. Out of the ten plants, there was only one lone survivor when spring arrived. The rest had drowned (because there were no drain holes) or had died because they were eaten by some creatures.

Wow, what do I do with just one plant? Once again, I was so busy trying to get a vineyard going and I didn't have time to plan a blackberry patch. Besides, how far could one vine take me?

Little did I know then that this one hearty little plant would be the beginning of almost two acres of "Apache" blackberries.

The Apache vines are a trailing variety which are trellised and have a natural spread of about twelve feet from the base. As the primacanes (new first year growth) grow they are tied to the trellis and then the tips are pinched off. Pinching (or cutting) off the tips causes the vine to push out more lateral canes, but that gets into pruning which we'll cover in another page.

That first surviving plant was planted in the northwest corner of what was to become our small berry patch. I thought this poor little thing needed some shade from the heat and protection from the wind so I would put it in a somewhat protected area.

That one plant did great and by August there were about six canes that were three or four feet long. I propagated six cuttings from that first plant and built a 104 foot trellis to plant them under.

Those seven plants turned into about thirty the next year. Planting them eight feet apart allowed me to fill out the first trellis and a couple more. I wound up putting in seven rows in what we now call the small patch. Some of the vines get full sun for most of the day, but some get full sun for only part of the day.

Well, from those vines came enough propagations to put in 28 rows in another area. Those vines are spaced 24 feet apart and the rows are about 200 feet long.

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