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Napa Valley Style Trellis for Brambles?

 
Posts: 75
Location: NW KS/NE CO State Line
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So, as always seems to happen when I have a surplus of windshield time, my brain ran amuck over the course of a couple thousand miles I've put in in the 3 weeks since Christmas.  We're in the process of moving 350 miles, a full frost zone, and double (+20") precipitation in conjunction with a transfer my wife just took.  We're looking for property with acreage ala homestead/farmstead scale (<20 acres) and found what I would describe as a suitable property of 5 acres with residence and outbuildings in a small community of 600 people.  The property has approximately 1.25 acres of "yard" and about 0.40 acres of "hill," with the balance being a wood lot/sylvopasture/recalcitrant orchard (I haven't physically walked the property yet, so can't speak beyond what I can glean from satellite imagery and driving down the street in front of the house.)
I was gifted Gabe Brown's book Soil to Dirt for Christmas, and so my mind was in a bit of a tailspin trying to find a suitable function for the (Guesstimated off Google Earth)
40% slope 80' by 120' hill on the east edge of the property (drops down to the cross street, which looks like it probably drains directly into the river at times.)  Processes I ran through as potential usage included:
*Terraced garden beds
*Pollinator Paradise
*Perennial without terraces (primarily asparagus and rhubarb due to demand for those products)

Then it occurred to me.  It often seems every "calendar worthy" pic we see of a Napa or Italian vineyard involves trellis on contour made of groa stake-cross beam frame with grapevines running up the stake and then across the horizontal space.  Because we're moving to a new community, I want to use the slope for something both productive and aesthetic.  What could be more aesthetic than a Napa Valley style trellis amidst a cover crop of pollinators?  A combination of wildflowers, aromatic herbs, and green manure crops as covers for trellised/terraced raspberry & blackberry bushes?

I know that other producers in my state grow brambles on a swinging arm trellils under plastic, but I figure they can't sell themselves if you can't see them.  Has anyone tried the grape trellis approach for other vining fruits?  

 
pollinator
Posts: 572
Location: Southern Oregon
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I trellis my blackberries, but not on a grape style trellis. I would think that wouldn't be large enough for blackberries. My blackberry trellis is 8 ft. 4x4's with lathe crosspieces. Every year I remove the old growth and weave the new growth through the crosspieces. Makes harvesting easy.
 
Chris Palmberg
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Location: NW KS/NE CO State Line
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Stacy Witscher wrote:I trellis my blackberries, but not on a grape style trellis. I would think that wouldn't be large enough for blackberries. My blackberry trellis is 8 ft. 4x4's with lathe crosspieces. Every year I remove the old growth and weave the new growth through the crosspieces. Makes harvesting easy.



That makes sense.  The next question would be what is the spacing between 4x4s (I presume yo.u use a linear bed rather than a patch) and how long are the crosspieces?  
 
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Location: In the woods, West Coast USA
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You might want to keep in mind, when trellising a hillside, to make the tiers or rows wide enough for what you are growing PLUS the width of a mower/cart/wheelbarrow with some room to spare so you can walk easily between the edge of the tier/row and the cart or mower that will be next to the crop without falling down the hillside.  In the long run, having to do all weeding/harvesting by hand and hand-carrying out everything in crates will be a lot of work.   Don't skimp on the width because it's exciting in the beginning, or you are young and don't mind twisting yourself like a rubberband on slippery mud to be a crop warrior, or getting as many tiers/rows as possible by shrinking everything, it won't help in the long run.  

It seems trellises are as much psychological as they are practical.  I sure haven't wanted to replace them every 10 years, which might seem like a long time, but it will creep up on you very quickly.  You'll have lots of other things to do as time goes on, like building maintenance, fruit tree maintenance, driveway maintenance, other crops, canning/cooking your harvests, rodents getting into stuff and making a mess, water emergencies, and so be careful not to make everything a major event when planting/harvesting/maintaining comes around each year.  
 
Stacy Witscher
pollinator
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Location: Southern Oregon
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Chris Palmberg - I'm currently in the suburbs, so I have them trellised along a wall of my house, with a path in front of them. The 4x4's are spaced anywhere from 4-6 ft. apart, the crosspieces are a little longer than the distance between the 4x4's, and staggered.

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Chris Palmberg
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Cristo Balete wrote:You might want to keep in mind, when trellising a hillside, to make the tiers or rows wide enough for what you are growing PLUS the width of a mower/cart/wheelbarrow with some room to spare so you can walk easily between the edge of the tier/row and the cart or mower that will be next to the crop without falling down the hillside.  In the long run, having to do all weeding/harvesting by hand and hand-carrying out everything in crates will be a lot of work.   Don't skimp on the width because it's exciting in the beginning, or you are young and don't mind twisting yourself like a rubberband on slippery mud to be a crop warrior, or getting as many tiers/rows as possible by shrinking everything, it won't help in the long run.    



After reading Gabe Brown's book recently, I've come to the conclusion that a diversified cover crop mix of perennials and annuals as a base upon which the brambles will be planted.  From what I can tell, a good mix of ground cover legumes (clovers, alfalfa & vetch) carbonaceous grasses for biomass, and wildflowers should improve soil conditions, improve erosion control, and attract pollinators which will also benefit the bramble production.  
Part of the reason for this approach is that I'm not as young as I used to be, both chronologically and physically, and I believe the polycultural covers will eliminate much of the traditional back-breaking labor, and improve the productivity of the crop.  
 
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