How to grow Kotataberries

kotataberry-2Kotataberries, Kotata Berries or Kotata Blackberries were released as a possible replacement for Marionberries.

Kotataberry is a blackberry cultivar selected from boysenberry, wild Pacific Northwest blackberries, an Eastern US blackberry species and loganberry.

Flavor of Kotataberry is very good and they are similar in appearance to Marionberry. Kotataberry is more vigorous and has slightly greater cold tolerance and fruit firmness than Marionberry, but, canes are very thorny.

Kotataberry fruits are black, slightly elongated and have a glossy skin. On average, fruits have 6-7g with medium size seeds. Main season in Oregon (where it was developed)  is between July 1 and July 24. Kotataberries can be grown in USDA hardiness zones 6 through 9.

Kotataberry is thorny, trailing blackberry variety. Each year it grows new canes, which spread close to the ground, while second-year canes are the canes that bear fruits.

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The easiest method for growing kotataberries is growing them on the trellis - poles should be separated 10-20 feet (depending on the garden size, plans, size of the poles etc), with 3-4 horizontal wires. Wires should be positioned 2,4 and 6 feet above the ground.

New canes should be left on the ground until they can be wrapped around the wires - these canes will bear fruits next year. After growing season, remove second-year canes, to make more room and light for new canes.

Like other blackberries, kotataberries can live up to, or even more than 15 years. It is very vigorous plant and spreads easily - if you are not careful, and you let it spread, it can overcome other plants in the garden. Hence, growing kotataberries in containers is one way of preventing them spreading all over the garden.

Growing Kotataberries in Containers

Erect berries are better choice for growing in containers, since they don't require additional support. However, if you really like kotataberries, they can be grown in containers, too.

kotataberry-1Kotataberries prefer sunny positions, protected from wind and well drained, organic, slightly acidic soil with pH between 5.5 and 6.5. They are very vigorous plants which require constant moisture for bearing healthy tasty fruits.

Best pots for kotataberries are around 24 inches (60 cm) high and 24-32 inches (60-80 cm) wide. Larger pots and containers can be used, of course, but such large pots are harder to move around, if and when it is required. Smaller pots can be used, too, but plants in such pots require greater care and they are in danger of falling over if wind blows or kids/pets play around.

When preparing the soil in the pots, there are few steps to do:

- make enough drainage holes in the bottom of the pot - kotataberries like moist soil, but to much moisture can lead to roots and other problems,

- on the bottom, put 1 inch (2-3 cm) thin layer of gravel - this layer will help any excess water to easily drain away,

- fill the rest of the pot with good soil mix, rich in humus/compost. Add some NPK fertilizer with gradual release of nutrients. Kotataberries are not very picky and will tolerate various soils, but they grow best in such soils - well drained, well aerated, moist, but not soggy.

- stick wooden poles in the soil before planting the kotatas and make strong and decorative cage. Plant the berries in the soil and water thoroughly. Depending on the size of the container, plant 2-3 kotataberries in a single container.

Growing kotataberries is very similar to growing other blackberries: keep the soil moist, remove old canes, if days are hot and windy, add a layer of organic mulch to protect the soil and prevent excessive evaporation, add organic and NPK fertilizers in the late winter and some NPK fertilizers around or after flowering. And that is all.

When grown in mixed garden, pest and diseases on kotataberries are very rare.

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