Care

Brambles are easily injured by too much fertilizer. Apply no more than 5 pounds of 10-10-10 per 100 linear feet of row the first year and no more than 10 pounds per 100 feet in subsequent years. Apply fertilizer only in the early spring before flowering. Sprinkle it evenly in about a 3-foot-wide band over the row. Leave fertilizer on the soil surface because working it in could damage the plants' shallow root systems. Avoid using fertilizers that contain chlorides. For best results, test the soil every two to three years and follow recommendations based on the soil test.

Plants will likely need irrigation between bloom and harvest. Water them early in the day, after they have dried from the morning dew. Plants that remain wet during warm nights are more susceptible to disease.

Better yet, install a drip or trickle irrigation system to avoid wetting foliage. Drip tubes, tricklers, or emitters drip water continuously or intermittently into the root zone around the plant so that the plant receives as much water as it can use but no more. With this system, spaces between the rows remain firm and dry, and the root zone remains moist at all times; very little water is lost from evaporation or wind drift. But you must monitor your system carefully to make sure that the soil stays evenly moist and is not saturated.

Commercial growers usually cultivate the area between rows from early spring to mid-July to control weeds and eliminate suckers. For home plantings, keep about a 3-foot-wide strip cultivated around the plants, and mow the alleyways between the strips. To avoid injuring roots, cultivate no deeper than 2 inches near the plants. Unlike some other fruit crops, with brambles it is not a good idea to mulch the row area. Mulch can retain too much moisture and cause root disease problems.

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