I love growing things that have a practical purpose, along with being beautiful. So we have many fruit trees and berry bushes in the yard. One of the best buys I’ve made so far has been the Chester Blackberries.
I picked this type of blackberry because I read in a few forums that Chester is one of the most hardy. Not the most flavorful berries apparently, but as a beginner gardener, I’d rather have less sweet berries than no berries at all. So hardy blackberries it is!!
The bed they are in was what I used to call “rosebush skid row”, because I just couldn’t get the roses there to be healthy. So I pulled out the roses, added some peat moss and yet more fertilizer (this was a rich bed due to my efforts to save the roses) and stuck in the blackberries.
There’s a lavender there that I put in between the roses in an effort to discourage bugs from the roses. This area of the yard gets full sun. The bushes are probably 6″ tall, planted in mid-May 2013.
The bush on the right did flower and produce a handful of berries in 2013.
Here they are on July 20, 2013. The bush on the left has grown a bit more and started to run into the lavender. They’ve also grown a good foot and change, that’s a good amount of growth for their first season in the ground.
One year later, on June 24, 2014, the bushes are much larger. The lavender didn’t make it through the insanely cold winter we had, but it was 4 years old and probably near the end of it’s life anyway. More room for the blackberries, so that worked out.
The Chester on the right is growing at a much more rapid rate than the one on the left. I think it gets more sun, that the one on the left is shaded later in the day by the air conditioner. The one on the right is starting to get a bit out of control, so I’ve staked it up for now. I may prune it back once it’s done fruiting, need to research the best way and time to prune blackberry plants.
I have the blackberries and raspberries at the side of the house, where they are far away from the vegetable patch. I understand that there are some diseases that these bushes can catch from tomatoes and other veggies.
A friend of mine who is a gardener from BC tells me that they’ve had almost no luck growing blackberries here in Ontario. I recommended the Chester, since it made it through that horribly cold winter we had. If it can get through the ice storm, wind chills down to -30C, and 36 Extreme Cold alerts until mid-March, then it’s a survivor for sure.
Plant Information, in my Opinion:
Blackberry ‘Chester’ (Thornless)
Height: 4-6' Width: 4-6' Zone: 5-9 Location: Sun Water: Average Fruit Time: Mid-late summer Special Needs: None really Difficulty: Easy / Beginner