Jennifer Garner's early fall garden hobby bursts with abundant health benefits

 Jennifer Garner
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Jennifer Garner may be best associated with Hollywood's hills, but the actress spends much of her time further east on her rustic Oklahoma farm – the setting of her recent blackberry picking expedition.

Beyond her acting roles (most famously 13 Going on 30 and The Adam Project), Jennifer co-founded the organic baby food company Once Upon a Farm. Among her suppliers is Locust Grove, her 'favorite place' (according to her TikTok), which has been in her family for nearly a century.

The farm supplies Jennifer with fresh produce around the calendar, but most recently, she was seen foraging for berries via Instagram (below). And we've never seen the berry-picking process look quite so chic. But in all their tasty (and good-looking qualities), this fruit has unsurprising benefits for our health, too.

Like many homegrown fruits, the antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals found in blackberries make them a staple of a healthy lifestyle.

According to experts at WebMD, the fruit has antioxidants, such as anthocyanins, that have several anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties. Blackberries are also known to help combat diabetes and certain kinds of cancer. So, of course, we're tempted to follow in Jennifer's lead.

Here, horticulturist and botanical designer Nathan Heinrich explains the essentials behind the process.

'The good news is that blackberries are very easy to grow, and there are hundreds of different blackberry varieties,' he says. 'If you're like me and don't like to get a handful of thorns while tending and harvesting your berries, the good news is that you can buy thornless varieties.'

Before planting, however, Nathan reminds us that blackberries and raspberries are both 'brambles' that require the exact same care. 'What's true for one is also true for the other,' he notes.

Blackberries
Blackberries

As mentioned, Jennifer's farm is located in Oklahoma – a temperate, humid subtropical climate with frequent variations in weather daily and seasonally. This sunshine makes for beautiful blackberries, but if we live in shadier shades, our berries will grow even healthier.

'Most berries, blackberries included, love sunshine, but if you give them a few hours of dappled shade in the afternoon, especially in very hot climates, your fruit won't dry out, and your plants will be happier,' Nathan says. And, no matter our climate, he explains that giving our berry plants a support structure, such as a trellis, is always beneficial.

'A trellis is an excellent idea as they like to spread out in all directions, and their canes need some support,' he says. 'If let grow wild your berry canes will flop over root into the ground - sometimes this is actually a bonus because you will end up with extra berry plants.'

Blackberries
Blackberries

After planting in (preferably) acidic soil, Nathan recommends maintaining our berries with slow-release, balanced, organic fertilizers with plenty of nitrogen are ideal for blackberries. 'My personal favorite fertilizer is the Espoma Slow Release Organic Berry-Tone Plant Food for All Berries [available here on Amazon].

'Feed your berries generously 2 to 3 times during the growing season starting in early spring when new growth first appears,' he says.

'Because blackberries only produce fruit on new growth every year, it's important to make sure to feed them early to encourage as many shoots and branches as possible to ensure a bumper crop of berries in the late summer and early fall.'

Last, but certainly not least, knowing when to water plants is key to healthy blackberries.

'Many of the climbing and vining varieties of berries can survive without much watering if you live in a cool, rainy climate. However, if you live in a very hot climate, you will want to make sure that your berry plants stay well-watered and protected from the hot afternoon sun,' Nathan explains.

Will we have our own country-chic moment next fall? With these tips, we can follow in Jennifer Garner's lead, hat, or no hat included.