Today’s non-fiction writing contest entry, was written by the mem
I’m talking brambles (raspberry, blackberry, boysenberry, lingonberry, loganberry, .wine berry*, etc.) There are several ways to do so. The first is to spend tons of money and buy a bunch of plants; plant them in well-drained soil rich in compost and let them spread naturally. This is NOT my preferred method since I am cheap frugal. For those people who wish to use brambles for perimeter security these methods will definitely help with the budget.
Be sure that you are taking cuttings from disease free plants. If you are familiar with the mother plants, and they appear healthy, cut away, if not beware. That said, my current raspberry patch was salvaged from a dying stand a couple of years ago, I coddled them and was extremely fortunate. If you are buying plants, I recommend a local nursery’s certified disease free plants.
First, if I can’t trade or get plants from a fellow gardener, I like supporting local businesses. Second, I actually got a better deal on my current blackberry patch starter plants than I would have gotten from the big-box stores or Chinamart. Third, and most importantly, big box stores usually have plants shipped in . . . from a galaxy far, far away . . . and so those plants usually are not as acclimated or suitable to your area as ones from a local nursery.
Next, consider what the main purpose of your patch is going to be – if they’re for eating, not shredding intruders apart, go for thornless cultivars.
Now, to the business of making babies . . .
Pots to transplant – I love the tall 1.5 quart size that perennials are often sold in nowadays. Love them best when I can scrounge them from friends/family/strangers on the street. I have reused milk/iced tea cartons and jugs, making sure to put adequate holes in the bottom for drainage. If you are reusing containers wash them thoroughly with a 10% bleach solution, rinse well and let air dry before putting in the growing mix.
Growing medium – I find the following to be a good mixture for raising the canes until they are ready to be transplanted. Mix thoroughly 2 parts premium seed starting medium (there’s frugal, then there’s stupid – in this case I spend the money), 1 part compost and 1 part coir (available at your garden center.) Saturate the growing medium (if using municipal water let it stand for twenty four hours to give the chlorine time to evaporate) and press the soil down gently into the container and let stand until the soil is moist but not soggy.
Growing conditions – place all new babies in bright indirect sunlight, where daytime temperatures are between 68⁰ and 75⁰ F and night time temperatures do not fall below 62⁰ F.
Helpful Hints– Use wet newspapers (people used to get news from them before the internet –google it if you don’t know what I’m talking about) to keep the cuttings moist while you are harvesting. Do not be afraid to try to propagate brambles – unlike real babies, they are forgiving of many things. I have still had success even when I couldn’t spend a lot of time tending them.
I Love Suckers! Raspberries (usually red, sometimes purple) and a few blackberry and loganberry cultivars develop suckers and are, in my opinion, the easiest way to get new plants. This method can be done during the entire growing season, but if done very latein the season have a warm place for your babies to overwinter. Using sharp pruning shears, from the end of the cane, diagonally cut a 6” – 8” section of the sucker off the mother plant. Snip off all but 4-6 leaves from the cutting. Dip your shears in the bleach solution between cuttings to prevent the spread of any disease.
I have made more than one cutting from particularly long suckers (cut 6”-8” inches for the next section, remove all but 4 leaves from the top) When you insert into the soil, make sure that no leaves come into contact with the soil. I spray a little fish emulsion solution on the leaves and use rooting hormone on the end of the cutting to help stimulate growth.
Insert a tongue depressor into the center of the soil, pushing to one side to make a space, gently place the cutting between the back of the trowel and the soil. Or you can use a pencil/dowel and make a hole to insert the cutting two to three inches deep. Tamp the soil to remove any air pockets. Put the pot into a clear plastic bag, making sure the plastic does not touch the plant, secure with a twist tie to keep the humidity high. Check daily to make sure that humidity remains high, and the soil moist, but not soggy. In four to six weeks they should be ready to transplant.
Working for tips – tip cutting also known as softwood cutting – works for brambles that do not produce suckers. In the late spring cut off 6-8 inches of pencil thin, vigorous growing canes. Remove all but the top two or four leaves. Make sure there is are two nodes (leaf brackets) on the cutting. Use the transplant method above. Tip cuttings are prone to wilting, maintain high humidity in the bags, misting the leaves if necessary and resealing the bags after misting.
Tip layering – may be done anytime during the growing season, but works best in the spring. Bend thin, supple canes down to the ground. About 12” from the end of the cane, place a mark, also mark the ground at that spot. Dig a shallow hole and add compost. At the mark on the cane, scrape away about a thumb’s width of the outer bark away from the bottom and sides of the cane.
Remove leaves about 12” back from the mark on the cane. Drive a thin stick or bamboo stake into the ground 2 to 3 inches from the spot on the ground. Bury the scraped away section about an inch or two into the compost, heaping more compost on top. Press down firmly- you may put a rock on top if it’s handy. Gently bend the cane tip up along the stick and attach with a strip of pantyhose or twine. Keep well-watered.
As the tip grows keep securing it to the bamboo stake. After a couple of months check to see if roots have formed by brushing away (use your hands, not a tool) the compost. If roots have developed, cut away from the ‘mother,’ dig up, and transplant. If they haven’t yet, replace the compost and check again in four to six weeks.
Rooting for the home team – This method allows for lots of plants to be started. In early spring dig around a well-established, healthy plant. Using either a scalpel or sharp pruning shears, cut one – three roots that are about the diameter of a pencil. Return the soil and mulch to the mother plant. Cut the roots into 1” – 2” sections. Sprinkle with a rooting hormone.
Using 3” pots, plant horizontally no more than an inch from the surface in the soil mix mentioned above. Keep the growing medium moist but not soggy. Root cuttings benefit from compost tea and/or fish emulsion applied weekly. When plants start to send up shoots transfer to 6 inch peat pots (or ordinary pots) filled with a 1-1 mixture of potting soil and compost. Plant in the garden when they reach approximately 12” high.
*Please note that Asian wine berries, are listed as invasive species in some states and it is illegal to propagate or cultivate plants.
Prizes for this round (ends August 11 2014) in our non fiction writing contest include…
- First place winner will receive – A $150 gift certificate for Fiocchi Ammo courtesy of LuckyGunner, and a Wonder Junior Deluxe grain mill courtesy of Kitchen Neads.
- Second place winner will receive – 15 Live Fire Original – Emergency Fire Starters courtesy of LPC Survival and a Survival Puck courtesy of Innovation Industries.
- Third place winner will receive – a copy of my book ”31 Days to Survival: A Complete Plan for Emergency Preparedness“ and “Dirt Cheap Survival Retreat” courtesy of TheSurvivalistBlog.net and copy of “The Survival Medicine Handbook” courtesy of www.doomandbloom.net.