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Blackberry companions

 
Posts: 45
Location: Northwest Missouri
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Hi all, happy to be venturing into this world of permaculture! I've started planting a little food forest of 6 trees interspersed with nitrogen fixing shrubs. The blackberry row comes next and it has me wondering, does anyone leave gaps in their blackberry row to plant nitrogen fixers there? (and if so, any suggestions?) Otherwise, it's just a long row of monoculture that I'll have to fertilize. Zone 5 here, planting Primocane Traveler blackberries.    
 
pollinator
Posts: 3126
Location: Toronto, Ontario
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Welcome to Permies, Matt.

I wouldn't worry about nitrogen-fixing bacteria hosts, honestly. If you provide too much nitrogen, all you get is excessive branching at the expense of fruiting.

Most suggestions for blackberry companion plants are pollinator support plants like bee balm, borage, chives, and mint. To this, I would add mulberry trees, mostly because of the fact that they can bloom for three months straight. The more pollinator food and habitat, the more pollinators, and the more fruit your efforts will yield.

Literally, just look at the different trophic levels present, or the spaces available, and pick one plant for each niche. Put shade-lovers in the shade of taller plants, and sun-lovers out front.

I would make sure that you have sufficient organic matter in and on top of your soil, and then make up some fungal slurry and apply it around your berries and shrubs. Just the ends of culinary mushrooms, whole culinary mushrooms, or whatever random ground-growing mushrooms you find in wild spaces adjacent to your property, should there be any, will do, thrown into a blender with water and blended up. The fungi in the soil will act to move nutrients and minerals to where they're needed.

More information than anyone can easily digest is available in this wiki of Dr. Redhawk's Epic soil threads. Most pertinent in this case is any mention of fungal slurries and oxygenated compost extracts.

We are happy to welcome another into the fold. Pictures are always appreciated. Keep us posted, and good luck!

-CK
 
garden master
Posts: 980
Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
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Welcome to permies Matt!

I've grown them at the edge of my fruit trees, and they do so well that I have to remove some blackberries occassionally because they spread so quickly!
 
Posts: 235
Location: Richwood, West Virginia
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I ran across this in my travels:

Cj Sloane wrote:Anyone know what fits in the Hazelnut guild?

Here's what my notes say:

Oregon White Oak forests(?)
California Hazelnut; Pacific Madrone; Mazzard Cherry; Black Hawthorn; Saskatoon ServiceBerry; Creambush oceanspray; Round leaved Snowberry; Thimbleberry; Trailing Blackberry; Sweetbriar Rose; Broad petaled strawberry; Verba buena; Sweet cicely; American Vetch(Nitrogen fixer)

 
pioneer
Posts: 93
Location: Southeast Missouri
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Thanks for the tips about companion planting.  I planted blackberries and was wondering the same thing.  I have some chive seeds left over from our kitchen herb planters, and the borage sounds like an interesting plant also.
 
Matt Todd
Posts: 45
Location: Northwest Missouri
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Thanks all. I do see now that berries do not have the same nitrogen and guild requirements as trees. I will just plan on feeding them compost once a year. There will be a silverberry plant on either end of the blackberry row, so it will be interesting to see what effect they have as a long term experiment.
 
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