It was touch and go with the early varieties this spring! The weather here in Georgia was so beautiful, so early, that the Arkansas Freedom Blackberries decided to bud a bit too soon. In fact, we had little helpers out in the berry patch, helping to trim up the Freedom, as they began blooming in the middle of March, which wouldn’t have been bad if the weather had held. But, the weather didn’t hold. It was warm and then cold, with wind and storms all through the month of April. The early blossoms on the Arkansas Freedom Blackberries froze. But, these resilient plants sent out new blossoms. It seems the season was still too early, though, because there weren’t any bees out to pollinate the majority of the blossoms. As a result, the majority of the early Arkansas Freedom Blackberries didn’t set. It’s too bad that we won’t be seeing a large, early crop from the Freedom, as they are the largest berry we grow, and so much fun to pick! Thankfully, they bear twice in a year, so we will see more from them in late July!
Blackberry Winter in Northwest Georgia
Of course, as it always does here in North Georgia, Blackberry Winter came calling. If you’re not familiar with Northwest Georgia weather, let me explain. There are three “winters,” here in Chatsworth, GA. This weather phenomenon probably applies to the entire Northwest Georgia geographical area, but I’m most familiar with Chatsworth and Murray County, so I’ll limit my claims to the immediate area.
We have regular winter. It begins in December, like everywhere else in the northern hemisphere. We don’t get much snow, which is disappointing to all of the kids counting on snow to shut down the school system, but we do get a lot of cold nights and rain. Somewhere around the middle of February, the weather will warm up and everyone in North Georgia starts breaking out the shorts and working on their tan. It doesn’t last long, however, and we go through several weeks of bipolar weather, alternately frying and freezing, day after day. This goes on for several weeks, until the beginning of March, when things seem to be honestly warming up.
Just as the bushes and trees seem to be getting serious about turning green again, the dogwood start to bloom. This is a favorite time in the North Georgia Mountains. The dogwood trees look like lace out through the forest, and daffodils pop up everywhere. The promise of spring seems so real. And, every year, just as the dogwood bloom and we all start to believe that winter is over, it gets cold again. EVERY SINGLE YEAR! This is known as “Dogwood Winter” and you can count on it as regularly as the sun coming up each day. Every year, when the dogwood bloom, everything will cool off and it will feel like winter again for four or five days. You can take it to the bank.
After dogwood winter, every thing warms up and you’re sure that spring has sprung, at last. But, don’t hold your breath. the last week and a half of April, just as the wild blackberries are getting ready to bloom, it gets cold and stormy. It happens every year. You think things are warm, and you might even start to think about opening the pool. But, don’t get in a hurry just yet. It will get cold again. For just a few days, to be sure, but it will get cold. This year, as Blackberry Winter hit, we couldn’t help but worry that the storms and cold would hurt the berry set, but so far they seem to be doing just fine!
Ready For Spring
All last week, we had workers out in the field, weeding and tying up plants, to make everything ready for a great growing season. It takes a lot of work, and a lot of hands, to keep things looking nice and producing at top levels. But, it will all be worth it when those delicious blackberries come ready to harvest!!!