There are some jobs that I absolutely dread doing in our edible garden.
Not too many, but some that are so difficult, horrible, or painful that I just don’t want to do them.
Pruning our heritage Boysenberry plants is one of those jobs.
I don’t mind digging around in the worm farm, shoveling compost and making fish fertiliser (oh the smell!) but when I know it’s time to cut back the Boysenberries, somehow weeks and months drift by and I still haven’t done it.
Which means that it was totally overdue to be done and with one month of Winter left, time was running out.
So, last week I finally got onto it.
Well that’s not entirely true actually.
Last week I managed to convince my wonderful husband to help me get onto it and with secateurs, heavy gloves and more training wire in hand, we ventured into the chaos that was our Boysenberry patch.
Since Summer, things have gone a bit feral with the Boysenberry plants. New growth has taken off and spread itself far and wide and becuase of my aforementioned aversion to playing with these guys, I hadn’t trained them.
Plus, I knew we would eventually cut them back so I pretty much just let them go.
Which produced this:
A bit of a mess, I’m sure you’ll agree.
Winter certainly hasn’t been kind to these plants either and between the old, dead leaves and the wandering arms, it was a prickly mess.
So it was time to tame the Boysenberries, and get them back into some order before Spring led them into a lot more new growth.
How To Prune Boysenberries
First and foremost, you don’t have to hold off pruning your Boysenberries like I do. It is recommended that you prune them anytime between Autumn and Winter, once all fruiting has finished.
Boysenberries are a variety of Blackberry (crossed with a Loganberry) and therefore, many of the same principals of pruning Blackberries, apply to pruning Boysenberries.
The first thing to do is to cut back all of the canes that fruited in the Summer just passed. These canes will be dry, brown and becoming woody. Cut them right back to the ground and remove them.
Also cut back any damaged or diseased canes. You don’t want these to remain for your next fruiting season.
Once you have cut back all the unwanted canes, start trimming any canes that have got too long or wide for the structure. Take off the extra length so that you can maintain some form with your Boysenberry plants. If left unclipped, they will travel and spread for miles.
Now the interesting part comes. Make sure you have you gloves on for this because you need to take hold of the new canes and train them into place so that they are tidy and spread out, so they receive enough light, air and also make it easier to pick from.
There are a few different patterns that are common for training Boysenberry canes:
Once fruiting has finished you cut the outer canes off and then train the new canes out.
This is kind of how we work with our Boysenberries.
With this shape you let the new canes trail on the ground while the fruiting canes are trained up.
Once fruiting has finished you cut the trained canes off and then lift the new canes up to be trained.
With this shape you train the fruiting canes to one side, and the new canes to the other side.
Once fruiting is finished you cut the left canes out and then let the new canes on the right fruit the following year.
You then training the next lot of new canes up the left side.
This last option takes a lot more room but makes things very easy.
The End Result
As mentioned, we tend to kind of follow the second option above, training in our fruiting canes and letting the new canes drape along the ground.
So, after cutting back all the old canes and training the new canes, this is what we ended up with:
You can see that things are looking a LOT tidier and in the detailed picture below, you can see that the new canes have plenty of room to grow, leaf up, blossom and fruit.
I’m so happy that this job is finally done.
Not only does it look a lot better, but I know our lovely heritage Boysenberries are in their best state to produce another load of fresh, sweet, juicy Boysenberries.
Boysenberries are one of my favourite fruits so in the end, despite the torture they inflict, I have to keep them growing happily so I can reap the rewards.
And hopefully those last few thorns that are embedded in my husbands hands will come out soon.
Any tips for extracting prickles, without having to dig them out?