Brambles are plants whose fruits can be enjoyed all summer and then on into the fall until weather turns frosty.
Knowing something about the different types of brambles is one key to a long harvest season.
So-called ''summerbearing'' brambles bear in summer, beginning with black raspberries (also called blackcaps), then red and yellow raspberries and finally blackberries.
After production of summerbearing brambles tapers off, ''fallbearing'' (''everbearing'') brambles begin production. Fallbearing brambles include certain varieties of red and yellow raspberries. These varieties can actually bear two crops each season, one in summer and one in fall.
The second key to healthy and productive brambles is annual pruning. Although bramble roots live on year after year, individual canes of all types die after bearing fruit in the summer of their second year.
An obvious first step in pruning, then, is to cut to ground level any canes after they bear fruit this summer. Do this anytime from right after the harvest is over until late next winter.
While you are pruning the old canes, you could also remove excess new canes so they don't crowd each other. Again, do this in summer or late next winter before plants start growing.
Remove enough new canes so that the planting is a narrow row, no wider than a foot and with 6 inches between canes, or else in individual clumps 3-to-5 feet apart with a half-dozen new canes per clump.
Black raspberries, purple raspberries and blackberries need another couple of steps in pruning. During summer, use your thumbnail to pinch the tip off of any new cane that reaches a height of about 3 feet. This causes branching. Late next winter look over the plants again and shorten all these branches to a length of about 18 inches.
The best thing about growing brambles is, of course, picking them. A mere 20-foot row should yield 5 gallons of delicious fruit. At the peak of the season for any type of bramble, ripening could be fast enough to warrant picking twice a day.
Make your first pick early in the morning before berries have shaken off the night's chill. Then pick again late in the day when the sun's warmth has swelled the berries with aroma.
For more details about pruning brambles and other plants, see ''The Pruning Book'' (Taunton Press (800) 888-8286.
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