Blackberries are a great source of antioxidants. Some fall in the groups of polyphenols and anthocyanins, both known to help fight against free radicals that cause damage to blood vessels, heart disease and many types of cancer. Anthocyanins give the deep color. Blackberries are also solid sources of vitamin C and magnesium. Vitamin C, an antioxidant, helps maintain healthy immune system by protecting cells from oxidative damage. C helps reactivate vitamin E, a fat-soluble antioxidant in fatty tissue/liquids. Trace mineral magnesium promotes bone health by increasing the absorption of calcium and the proper functioning of all cells. Great source of fiber, promoting smooth, healthy digestion, regulating blood sugar and lowering cholesterol. Vitamin A protects eyesight, boosts immune system and maintains elasticity in epithelial cells inside internal organs, especially blood vessels.
Vitamin and Mineral Content
Vitamins – C, K, E, B9 (Folate), A and B3 (Niacin)
Minerals – Manganese, Copper, Potassium and Magnesium
Medical research (but not clinical studies) suggests blackberries in the diet may help prevent cardiovascular disease, lung inflammation, clotting deficiency, diabetes and many types of cancer especially colon, breast and cervical.
How to Grow
Blackberries have extensive growth range. Varieties grow in the Deep South, while others endure harsh northern winters. Self-fertile, so only one variety needed for fruit. Plant in early spring or early fall. Choose a soil site with plenty of sun. Blackberries prefer deep rich soil that holds lots of moisture yet drains well. Needs pH 6 or just below. Work in plenty of well-aged compost and/or planting mix rich in organic matter, especially if soil is sandier loam. Dig a hole about 1.5 feet deep and 2 feet wide. Place compost or planting mix in the bottom, followed by the blackberry plant. Refill the hole with amended soil and top off with a couple handfuls of nutrient-dense fertilizer like seaweed extract or bone meal. If planting more than one, separate trenches by about 10 feet. Trim plant down to about 6 inches tall after planting. To train, use wire and two 6-foot posts per row. Place the posts roughly 5 feet outside the last plant in each row. Connect the two posts with the first wire about 3 feet up the posts. Successively place more wires to the top of the posts at 12-18 inch intervals. During first year, regularly train shoots to one side of the post. The following year, train new growing shoots to the other side. This keeps new growth away from the fruiting wood. In late winter, place a mulch layer of compost, manure or other all-encompassing source of nutrients around the bushes. After harvesting fruit, cut the fruit bearing shoots down to the ground.
Blackberry pests are aphids, raspberry beetles, Japanese beetles and birds. See Strawberries for aphid control. Raspberry beetle larvae feed on fruit as it ripens. They are seen when fruit appears damaged. The only way to treat is to spray an insecticide like pyrethrum when the flowers open. Be careful not to use an insecticide that kills bees, which pollinate the flowers. Japanese beetles are a shiny blue-green color about one-half inch in size. Shake them off the plant early in the morning, set out baited traps, and/or apply floating row covers. Floating row covers also stop birds, which can eat a lot of berries in one session.
Make blackberries a part of your fruit intake.