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Blackberries aren't only delicious, they are also extremely healthy. Packed full of antioxidants and fiber, they're one of the top super-foods. Blackberries are expensive to buy in the store but so easy to grow. They are a perennial plant, one that comes back year after year, so it really makes sense to grow your own if you can.
Note: If you've decided to grow your own plants, I highly recommend choosing a thornless variety. This means less worry about getting poked each time you need to handle the plants or pick berries. Although you can find certain varieties of blackberry plants to grow in any U.S. zone, the thornless varieties are most hardy in zones 6–10.
Blackberries are easily propagated, so you can make many plants out of one. There are many ways to do it, but below I describe two: tip rooting and stem cutting.
It's important to prune your blackberry canes. They can become a tangled, overgrown mess if you don't.
Knowing when to harvest blackberries is easy. They will have turned from green, to red, to black. When they are a deep purply black color, hold the berry between your thumb and forefinger and twist it. It should easily remove from the stem. Harvest time is usually between late spring and early fall.
Blackberries are very delicate and do not have a long shelf life. Store them in the refrigerator for up to 4 to 5 days. Wait to wash them until you are ready to eat them. They do freeze well. You can wash them, let them air dry, then put them in a single layer on a cookie sheet and freeze them. Once they are frozen, you can store them in a freezer bag.
Blackberries contain many vitamins: K, C, E, A, B1, B2, and B3. They also contain many minerals such as potassium, niacin, zinc, phosphorus, iron, calcium, riboflavin, piridoxine, copper, and magnesium. They are packed full of fiber and amino acids.
Blackberries have large levels of phenolic flavonoid phytochemicals too, like gallic acid, tannin, cyanidins, anthocyanins, ellagic acid, kaempferol, salicylic acid, pantothenic acid, catechins, quercetin, and pelargonidins. These protect against neurological diseases, inflammation, aging, and cancer. What a powerful little fruit!
Sweetie pie plants are a great thornless variety. This is the type I've been growing for more than four years. I've not had trouble with any pests, fungus, or issues with the plants outgrowing the bed they're in. Occasionally, a runner will pop up a foot or so away from where the berries are planted, but I just pull those up by their roots and plant them back where I want them, with the others.