Blackberry Bushes The Prudent Homemaker

The blackberries above grow in a space only about 12 inches wide next to the wall. This is the side of the house that has the air conditioning units, and it was a slope when we moved in. We cut it back, poured concrete, built a wall, and brought in new dirt to go next to the wide concrete footer of the wall between us and our neighbors. This spot gets afternoon shade, which is essential where I live to keep the berries from getting burnt on the vine. 

Last year I cut the new shoots to four feet tall, to encourage them to branch out more. It was the first time I have done that and just like with fruit trees, it made a huge difference. I have so many more berries than last year. In the last couple of weeks I have been cutting the new canes  to four feet to encourage them to branch out. It is a double win–every year the top two feet of berries were small and cooked in the sun, turning hard and brown before they ripened. The berries towards the bottom of the bushes have always been triple the size of the ones at the top. 

My plan is to grow grapes on that top wire, which will also help shade the berries from the normally intense heat of this time of year. The concord I transplanted from further back in the corner last year is finally growing (it needed more sun) and I have grapes on it finally! I took several cuttings from it last year and two took; they are growing up the wire and I am pruning off all side branches until it gets to the top wire; then I will train a branch on either side of the wire to grow there. I also have several Thompson’s seedless vines that I took early this spring that have taken and trained to do the same thing. I’ll then have more blackberries (which will also be larger) and the addition of grapes from this space.

This morning I awoke to overcast skies and a tiny sprinkle of rain. The forecast said cloudy with a 0% chance of rain. This unusual weather is a huge blessing to the garden, as well as to our electric bill. The rain stopped almost immediately, but came back a couple more times for a few brief minutes. I doubt it will be anything measurable, but I turned off the drip and sprinklers for the day anyway. We have the windows and the back door open and are enjoying the lovely smell of rain and cooler temperatures than normal (it’s been between 5 and 15º below normal this month).

I went to Winco last week to pick up the items on my list, and to my surprise, I found out that they did still have dahlia tubers! They had just moved them from the front door to their seasonal section inside the store. Instead of being $4.49 each, they had lowered the price to $1.49 each! I bought two pink ones.

I bought two used pots from a Facebook garage sale page last week for $5. I’ll be filling those this week.

Dorsett Golden Apple and Poppies The Prudent Homemaker

My Dorsett Golden apples tree is heavy laden, even after I picked several baskets of tiny thinned apples earlier this year. Looking at this photo, I can see a couple of spots where I missed thinning properly. These apples are almost ripe.

My poppies only grew really well under the apple tree this year, and I have enjoyed looking at them each day. I fell in love with red poppies in Clermont-Ferrand, France, in another May many years ago, and this is why I grow them.

The gangly mess on the left is one of the chard plants I am letting go to seed. When the garden goes to seed, it looks wild and messy, but that is what is needed to colect seeds to plant in a new season. I have some onions going to seed there as well. The seeds are not quite ready to be harvested, but once they are ready I will tear them out and plant something new.



1. Plant dahlia tubers

2. Fix leak in the drip line. I thought I had fixed all of the leaks but it looks like I have multiple problems in one spot of tubing where I will have to replace the tubing.

3. Plant apricot tree after tubing is fixed (otherwise the tree will drown)

4. Dig up three euyonomus bushes I started by tip layering and transplant them into pots.

5. Plant more seeds

6. Collect dill seeds

7. Pick blackberries as they ripen

8. Continue to take off infected leaves from grape leaf skeletonizers. This is a long and time-consuming task. Despite spraying before, the caterpillars are alive. I am seriously considering spraying again this week before the temperatures climb back up to their normal above 90º temperatures. 

9. Transplant some seedlings from one pot to another



1. Mend 5 items

2. Make one pair of pajama shorts for Ezrom

3. Make one project from my Pinterest project board



1. Clean desk (and nearby areas where the mess has spilled over)

2. Photograph and list at least 5 items for sale on Facebook garage sale pages

3. Hang two pictures



1. Order some schoolbooks online

2. Try another local place for church shoes for Winter

3. Trip to the thrift store for a couple of items for myself and Winter

4. Possible trip the to nursery for a specialty piece to fix irrigation



1. Edit photographs, take more photos, and work on 3 blog posts





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  1. I just adore your photos! I always look forward to you weekly accomplishments, too. Also, I wish you would post names with your children’s pictures on the beautiful family photo. You have such unique names. How did you decide on them? I would love to hear the story. You amaze me with your talent, energy, and the ability to see beauty. Thank you!

  2. I am jealous of your fruit- filled Dorsett golden apple tree. I feel like I made a rookie mistake 2 years ago when I planted a 4 in 1 apple tree that was marketed as low chill, but two of the varieties are 400 hours which isn’t enough for my area. Therefore the Dorset golden branch and other very low chill branch are doing great but the two higher chill limbs are doing poorly. Makes me wish I would have stuck with a single variety tree-like Dorset golden. Or just cut off the 2 limbs that arent low chill enough? What do people think i should do?
    My zinnias and dahlias and sunflowers have a buds that should open in the next week or two I’m looking forward to being able to cut flowers to bring inside!

  3. The tree is beautiful, i have to say that I am enjoying the wild garden. I love a less manicured look sometimes.
    I have to look for a good resource on blackberry bushes. It’s our second summer with them and I have read we are supposed to cut them back. I had planned on training them into an arch but maybe that is not best for them.

    This week I am horribly behind, on laundry, on cleaning, on baking, and weeding the garden. Today I was unpacking from our trip and cleaning the bathroom. Tomorrow I have to bake a dessert or the children will revolt. I might join them actually, I miss cookies too! I also have to weed the garden, finish unpacking, store the suitcases, mop the floors( spring + children whew),and clean the upstairs bathroom. I have to supervise my older children as they clean their room, and I have to sort and store the winter clothes. It’s finally really warm enough not to need in between clothes so everything has to get packed away, that poor chore has been begun and put aside so many times.

  4. I have lots of planting and repotting to do this week. I would also like to get to a few thrift stores if possible because there a few items we need as the weather gets warmer.

    I am so happy with my lettuce seedlings that I have grown from seeds that I collected last year. I would never have thought to let my lettuce plant go to seed after it bolted if I hadn’t found your site. I have a dozen lettuce seedlings potted already and am going to start some more soon to keep us supplied all summer. Thank you so much for the inspiration and the information!

  5. Did you know you can take those young, thinned apples & slice them up , place in pot with enough water to cover halfway & simmer till syruppy…it makes the best pectin..just in liquid form. If you get more than you can use at the moment, just freeze or can…

  6. When Brandy posted her tutorial on how to thin your fruit trees, someone asked if there was anything you could do with the thinned fruit. I had read about making pectin from green, unripened apples, but didn’t know if these tiny apples you would be thinning could be used for this. Thank you for confirming that yes, you can use them for making jam!

  7. It all looks great. I made your Cranberry Almond Granola. We love it. My husband puts it on his oatmeal and I enjoy it on my yogurt. Thanks so much.
    blessings, jill
    ps. we have been having rain on and off around here too…strange, but a blessing for sure.

  8. I have been working on getting things ready for this summer this week. My son has two more weeks of school, so I have been making apple and pineapple chips for snacks this summer. I also made some applesauce. I also hope to go through all of our clothes, to make sure we have everything we need for this summer.

  9. Celia, they are not good for an arch. The first year they make a cane. The second year it fruits. Then you cut back the cane that fruited, as it will die. If you cut back both canes, you will not have any fruit. If you cut the first year cane to four feet tall, it sends out more side branches that will fruit the following year.

    This is the excellent article I read last year on blackberries:

  10. In low-chill areas, multi-type grafted trees do poorly, according to the extension service classes that I took.

    The option is up to you–but for more fruit, you could always take the tree out after these ones ripen and plant a new, low-chill variety, like Dorsett Golden or Anna.

  11. Thanks so much!

    I was thinking of you this morning while reading the article 60 Great Ideas for your Garden by Martha Stewart. Number 31 was to fit some window screening in the bottom of a planter to allow water to drain but to prevent soil loss.

  12. Amazing what you do with such an arid climate, Brandy! We used to have more blackberries than we could pick, then the last two winters were so cold that the canes died back to the ground. But at least the plants are still alive. Your apple tree looks wonderful! Ours are just beginning to blossom here. Hoping for a big crop this year!

  13. Your gardens are just beautiful. We woke to rain and temperatures in the mid-30’s, so I have covered plants to keep them safe. I planted seeds this weekend, so I hope the weather warms before they spoil. I had set out my little basil seedlings that I started at home, so I did what I have learned from you and made a ‘cloche’ for each little group with a glass jar. This is late for us to have cold temps like this, but not unheard of.

  14. Wow! You have a long to do list this week! Good luck!! I am trying very hard to only tackle a few things. Lately I have been over extending myself and feeling frustrated and burned out, so this week I need to get the laundry out away, clean out our junk cabinet and clean my car 🙂

  15. Celia, you should find a recipe for icebox cookies. You shape them into a roll and then wrap well and freeze. When you want cookies just pull them out, thaw a bit, slice and bake. They slice best when chilled.

  16. Blackberries grow wild here. We had another frost/freeze warning for overnight so brought herbs back in. The hoop houses take all the worry away out in the gardens. Days in the 40’s and nights in the 30 are kind of slowing things up. They are predicting 70s and sunny for the holiday weekend, though that is what they will always say.

  17. I smile when I hear you talk about blackberries. Here in Australia they grow wild on many properties, and are considered a nuisance because snakes love to hide under them. Friends of ours had so many wild blackberry plants on their property they bought goats to eat them. I freely admit I am a sucker for blackberry jam and blackberry juice.

  18. I followed your suggestions from the pruning fruit trees post. My fruit trees really appreciated being pruned. The trees were beautiful and full of fruit until my neighbor installed a bird feeder close to my fence line. The squirrels invade the feeder and have invaded all my fruit trees as well. Any suggestions to deter them elsewhere will help. I don’t mind sharing some of the fruit:):) I will try the blackberries and grapes together also.

  19. Your garden looks beautiful, especially to those of us still having colder temperatures. Poppies are a favorite of mine, also. I have adopted your habit of setting goals for my accomplishments for the past couple weeks, making an actual list on paper, and I like the way it is working out. At least I feel that I can say what was accomplished during each day. It’s not always as much as I had hoped, but I am accomplishing things, and prioritizing a little better I think. I have actually gotten through some drawer cleaning by deciding to skip trying to clean one room at a time, and going with the jobs I feel need doing the most. I wiped the kitchen island down with Murphy’s Oil Soap, and managed to clean out two drawers, reducing the contents slightly, and getting everything back together before time to make dinner!! I did the same with a couple of drawers in the dresser in our bedroom as well. Monday will be a fun day if the weather permits, but otherwise I plan to concentrate on gardening for the weekend. Frost warnings tomorrow, but the vegetable garden can be raked and prepared, even if the seeds and plants cannot go in until Saturday. My husband did turn it over for me, and helped with the weeding after I started it. By making DAILY goals, I can convince myself that “I’m not finished yet” with what I wanted to do, and keep my lazy self going a bit longer!! I find it too easy to be led astray by the computer sitting there and calling to me to play. After 53 years of married life, including about 27 years of working full time outside the home once my children were partly grown, I find housework to be pretty darn boring! I’ve been retired for 12 years and should be able to clean and still have time to enjoy life a bit.

  20. Your apple tree looks fantastic Brandy! And reminds me of how neglectful we are of our pruning chores. :p That being said, both of our trees look like they might bear a fantastic harvest this year which is making me feel wonderful since my husband may be out of work soon. Ugh!
    I grow golden raspberries in my garden. It’s a job to ensure they don’t take over the backyard (literally!) but completely worth it! They are the most delicate, delicious things ever. We have wild blackberries and raspberries on our property and I make jam from them every year. We love our wild fruit…
    My 13 year old son picked up a job cleaning classrooms after school every day for $50 a month! He goes to parochial school and they highly encourage this kind of activity so it’s readily available to any boy who asks. My middle daughter is applying for work at a local restaurant as well. It’s so wonderful so see my kids old enough and motivated enough to work! I paid them to clean up the debris from a gigantic limb that fell from one of very old trees this winter; this is how they get their spending money and money for any extras that I don’t feel obligated to buy outright. It works for us and I think has created a nice work ethic in them!
    Our grapes also look like they might give us more fruit than usual this year; I wonder if an extremely harsh winter has this effect on fruiting plants…I also took the Cooperative Extension Master Gardener course, Brandy, but I can’t remember. Do you? Certainly my rhubarb has benefited and I know they require that long, deep freeze so maybe others do as well.
    Praying for a stay of unemployment here in our house. Among other things. 🙂

  21. Melissa-
    I live in the U.S., Oregon more precisely, and blackberries grow wild here as well! You can see whole fields of them taking over. Its great though, it helps out our bees and if you find a good spot, free to pick!

  22. What a brilliant way to grow berries. I am kinda glad that my black berry bare root didn’t live after seeing this…. Now I want to implement this idea. Thanks for the inspiration.

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