Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Pruning workshop at Center for Environmental Farming Systems

The Center for Environmental Farming Systems holds a series of workhops each year. Last weekend I was invited down to present a workshop on how to grow and how to prune blackberries. We spent some time inside learning the basics on how to grow blackberries, then we headed out to the field to prune some blackberries, one of my favorite jobs.

First we had a lesson on getting your equipment ready, clean, sharpen and lubricate your pruners now before the season starts. There are a couple of websites associated with some brand name pruners that can help you with this job.

After our cleaning lesson, we started to prune. I always say "Start with the easy cuts, first." Remove canes that are too big, too small or have obvious insect problems like the red necked cane borer (RNCB) galls as seen in above picture. We saw lots of these galls and removed all the canes that had this type of injury. Hannah Burrack has a nice blog post about  RNCB here

Another easy decision is to remove the canes that are too big. You need to use loppers for those.
Then comes the harder part, which ones to leave and which ones to stay?

I handed out a cheat sheet on pruning at the workshop. You can find it here.

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