Appalachia Appalachian Dialect Weather

Brrr…It’s Blackberry Winter!

blackberry blooms

Blackberries blooming behind the chicken coop

Blackberry winter arrived in Brasstown this week. This morning we woke up to a chilly 31 degrees and a light frost and there’s freeze warnings in effect for the next several mornings.

Last weekend I planted a few squash and cucumber plants that I started in the greenhouse. We covered the plants with buckets last night and they made it okay. I’m keeping my fingers crossed they survive the next few days of cold. We direct sow most of our plants, but I can never resist trying to get a jump start on a few. Thankfully our tomatoes and peppers are still safe in the greenhouse.

Here’s a video I filmed several years back about Blackberry winter for an organization I was working with at the time.

Seems like this year’s Blackberry winter is colder than most.

Hard to believe my car warned me the roads might be icy on the 7th of May 🙂


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  • Reply
    Auther Ray
    May 9, 2020 at 10:08 pm

    My Grand mother always worried that there would be an Easter Snap and kill the blackberries.

  • Reply
    Glenda C. Beall
    May 8, 2020 at 11:42 pm

    I enjoyed your reminder of blackberry winter and dogwood winter. I was complaining today about the changeable weather and had forgotten we usually get these cold spells every year. I will go out now and rescue my deck garden. Love the video. It is good to see you.

  • Reply
    May 8, 2020 at 8:24 pm

    It sure is blackberry winter…brrrrr it is….had to cover some things also….I’ll be ready for some warmer days too 🙂

  • Reply
    Ed Karshner
    May 8, 2020 at 3:40 pm

    We haven’t started our garden, yet. A day of sun and 60s brings a week of cold and rain. As a matter of fact, we’ve got some snow flurries going on right now.

  • Reply
    Sharon Schuster
    May 8, 2020 at 3:25 pm

    Margret Mead, noted anthropologist, wrote a book entitled,” Blackberry Winter.”

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    May 8, 2020 at 12:49 pm

    Do blackberries get frostbit when it’s blackberry winter?

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    May 8, 2020 at 12:10 pm

    My little bench-legged Jack Russel likes to get up in my computer chair and I tell Whisky “I Love Him.” He really soaks that up. I remember asking Daddy one time, “What makes a Dog turn Round and Round before he lays down.” Without hesitation he said, “One turn calls for another.” He always had an answer. …Ken

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    May 8, 2020 at 12:09 pm

    I’m beginning to despair of ever gardening this year. Chilly rain this morning and we have rain for the next week and a couple of very cold nights–they’ve revised the forecast up a little to above freezing. My friend in Alabama was struggling yesterday to cover her blooming tomato plants.

    I’m still in quarantine–haven’t been out at all since the stay at home started. If we could garden, it sure would lift my spirits!

  • Reply
    May 8, 2020 at 11:19 am

    I think those who garden just pay closer attention to signs of nature in general. It seems to me this has just been a colder time than in my recent memory. I always used my Mom’s warning to mostly plant tender plants after the 10th of May. After mothering many of them under lights and near the window I usually was hesitant and would wait another few days.
    I only became familiar with Blackberry Winter and Dogwood Winter after reading your blog, and always appreciative of anything pertaining to Appalachia. I heard expressions such as “cold May rains” or “Sheep rains.” I just had to google and found this interesting tidbit. So glad I was taught to stay in tune with nature. It will give us all the clues we need if we just watch and listen.

  • Reply
    harry adams
    May 8, 2020 at 9:38 am

    Several years ago we planted tomatoes and peppers too early. We got the message of a freeze warning for a night. Instead of covering them, we dug them up and put them in large pots. We learned to just leave them in pots until all the cold was gone. Now we buy plants and remove them from the tiny starters they are root bound in and put in two quart pots. The plants thrive until we can safely plant outside. At least one more week.

    also note the extreme weather is close to a full moon. It can be cold or hot.

  • Reply
    gayle larson
    May 8, 2020 at 9:37 am

    I put some of my house plants out a week ago so yesterday I had to drag them all back in. Will be glad when I can sit out and feel the sun on my face .

  • Reply
    May 8, 2020 at 9:27 am

    It was in the mid 40s when I got up this morning and not expected to climb much higher the rest of the day. I got my buckets and totes ready to cover my vegetables and flowers for tonight’s freeze. It looks like Dogwood winter already got most of my fruit. ‘Staying safe at home’ wouldn’t have been so bad if the weather hadn’t been so dreary for the past couple of months.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    May 8, 2020 at 9:24 am

    I think I mentioned it here before but my thornless blackberries were blooming at the same time as dogwoods this year. Usually there is a break between them. And again this year redbuds and dogwoods were blooming at the same time, as they did last year. And I think the thornless blackberries have bloomed longer this year.

    Anyway, as you say Tipper, dogwood winter and blackberry winter are real things. It makes perfect sense to me that people who relied on being able to understand the seasons would make relationships with natural ‘signs’ to time their farming. I expect AW has heard the one about planting corn when “white oak leaves are the size of a mouse ear”. It works well in eastern KY anyway. Seed packs just say “after all danger of frost” which is a lot less helpful. Getting it right was serious business for our ancestors.

    I suspect the first American pioneers adopted a lot of nature lore from the Indians. But they probably recast it into English terms so it lost connection with its source.

    • Reply
      aw griff
      May 8, 2020 at 12:42 pm

      Ron, Dad always said that and used it for a reference for planting his corn. Now that I thought about that for a minute I’m not sure if he said mouse ear or squirrel ear.

  • Reply
    May 8, 2020 at 9:18 am

    We talked to my wife’s sister in Arizona yesterday and she said it was 106 there on Wednesday. I’ve gone out and hunted most of the day in temps as low as 15 degrees and made it just fine. I was tougher back then. We’ve all gotten softer as we’ve had all the modern comforts.

  • Reply
    Margie Goldstein / SUN DIPPER
    May 8, 2020 at 9:08 am

    Welcome to my very cold APPALACHIAN world! Lol. I watched a spectacular sunset off the west coast of FLORIDA last evening and the weather here is balmy and in the 80’s! I am glad to have left the cold behind for a while as I get some much needed disease killing and cleansing sunshine not to mention FRESH FRUIT and seafood. I will be thinking about you all in the hills. I hear it’s cloudy and cold again in WV—- imagine that! God bless you, the family and the garden! BTW I need a report about Chitter’s ( or is it Chatter’s) little chickens. Being a mama is difficult albeit to ANY CRITTER!!! Glad your CUKES made it—- they’re tricky little delicate boogers I must say in the beginning….

  • Reply
    aw griff
    May 8, 2020 at 7:35 am

    I’ve always heard this cold spell called blackberry winter. My wild blackberries are blooming and the tame thornless ones bloomed a few days ago. Their petals are now dropping off.
    Here in E.KY. over the next few days the temperatures will be dropping into the low thirties and sat. night into the high twenties.

    • Reply
      Margie Goldstein
      May 8, 2020 at 9:10 am

      Plumb ridiculous for MAY, don’t you think? My blooms and leaves on my blackberry don’t know what to do!

      • Reply
        aw griff
        May 8, 2020 at 12:49 pm

        I shore hope we don’t get that freeze and kill my young muscadine for the second time. I think I’ll cover it.

  • Reply
    Granny Sue
    May 8, 2020 at 7:34 am

    Good morning, Tipper! The cold arrived at your place before it has reached here. 52 this morning but cold on the way. The blackberries are not yet in bloom in this area, so maybe that’s a good thing. We haven’t planted tomatoes or any of the less hardy plants–except purple beans which haven’t come up yet–although they may stick their heads out today. I believe our frost is predicted tonight. It will be so sad if that happens. It’s been years since we’ve had frost or freeze this late.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    May 8, 2020 at 7:18 am

    I think it feels colder than usual, but I’m not sure I don’t think that every year. I’like your video, I like to hear you talk about Appalachian things.
    I’m ready for real warm summer. I’ve had enough of the dark and dreary of course then I’ll probably complain about the heat!

  • Reply
    john t
    May 8, 2020 at 6:59 am

    Tipper, sounds like you have my Minnesota weather down there. It is 30 degrees out here now with a snowy mix forecasted this weekend. I had planted a few things too early and had to cut the bottoms out of a few plastic milk bottles to cover them with.

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