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Invasive Blackberries Are Trying To Kill Me!

 
Posts: 101
Location: Lewis County, WA
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If ever a plant were sentient and murderous, it would be these damn invasive blackberries!

One border of my property is a riverbank, and the bank is about 25 feet high with an 80-90 degree grade with giant rip rap at the bottom. I have slid down this bank on my butt and on my stomach and once right into a blackberry bramble. Luckily, my descents have always been feet first, and I didn't break any bones on the rip rap. I should buy overalls, though, because you do not want to know what was caked on my body after these adventures. The only way I can find purchase to climb up the bank is barefoot while my dog throws tennis balls at me. I've considered rappelling down the damn thing, but I don't know how to do that.

So

Most of the bank is shaded by big leaf maples, doug firs, an evil black locust (yeah - it's gotten me, too), some type of redwood, and some volunteer horse chestnut trees. There are about 15 feet where the blackberries are legion. I trim back as much as I can with loppers, while sitting on my butt. Still I slide.

I can't make peace with these things. I just can't.

I've lived her for two years, and the person who was here before me used to dump his grass clippings down the bank. Piles and piles of compacted grass. We almost fell down the bank before we realized that the old grass clippings were obstructing our view of the slip and slide. I found it odd that there was only one fern on the bank. Now there are about 10, so that's good. I'd rather have them go hog wild.

I don't use any chemical on my land. I have 16 ducks pooping and digging and having a grand time.

I've attached an aerial photo of my yard. Does anyone have any suggestions about a safe way to control these things that doesn't involve killing me and the good stuff in the soil and river?
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Posts: 106
Location: Fryslân, Netherlands
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Recognisable! I've once heard a farmer view blackberries as carnivorous plants. Imagine a small mammal, like a lamb, getting caught in the thorns. By struggling to free itself, it may only get gripped tighter into the blackberry branches. Hopelessly wrapped up, the lamb will bleed to death. Its life blood will penetrate the soil and feed the plant.
I don't know if this carnivorous property is a deliberate design of the plant, but I can definitely see how someone can imagine this, and a sheep farmer with blackberries scattered around his land needs to take care!

Sorry, I don't know the safest way to get rid of them. Goats may eats emerging shoots, not established branches of course, but I have heard of goats being used to control blackberries at least somewhat. A real answer I don't have, hopefully others will come with more helpful insights.
 
pollinator
Posts: 433
Location: Zone 8b: SW Washington
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Here's how I got rid of mine, without chemicals: https://permies.com/p/11304

I still have a few seedlings pop up now and then but they are easy to manage.  But you will need to be persistent.



 
pioneer
Posts: 208
Location: California Coastal range
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just trim it back every year with a weed wacker with a metal blade.  Then it will not progress and take over the rest of the property.  This is what I have to do with mine on my property edge.  A chainsaw will also work.  This is to just keep it in its place on the steep slope and keep it from taking over the rest of your land.  

The good thing is that the berries are fantastic.  Fresh berries, can berries for back berry pies in the winter.  Freeze them.

They fruit on last years wood, so it is best to cut back half each year, agressively, and harvest from the other half
 
Beth Johnson
Posts: 101
Location: Lewis County, WA
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They're growing from lower on the bank and making their way up. The bank isn't stable, so using a motorized metal spinning thing or jumping on a board could have terrible results. The bank is so steep that I can't even pick the berries.

The bank is almost vertical to the ground. The berries haven't invaded my yard, but they're climbing up the trees that are growing out the the bank.

I'm at a loss. Flame thrower?
 
Sue Reeves
pioneer
Posts: 208
Location: California Coastal range
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I dont think you can or should try to kill them on the steep bank.  

What I recommended is for when it reaches the top of the bank.  Once they are at the top of the bank, you will be able to pick them, and cut them back every other year so they do not invade past that point.  

Blackberries are to me, in a place like that,  something that I see as just part of that environment, because I believe you are right and there is no way, outside of nasty chemicals that would pollute the waterway, so there is nothing to be done about it.  SO, make the best of it and harvest lots of good berries ( once they reach the top) and at the top, where it is safe to stand, you can draw your virtual red line -- no blackberrries past that point.  

I guess I am used to seeing this,  it seems a normal thing now on many stream bank, you have a blackberry patch
 
Beth Johnson
Posts: 101
Location: Lewis County, WA
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Sue Reeves wrote:
Blackberries are to me, in a place like that,  something that I see as just part of that environment, because I believe you are right and there is no way, outside of nasty chemicals that would pollute the waterway, so there is nothing to be done about it.  SO, make the best of it and harvest lots of good berries ( once they reach the top) and at the top, where it is safe to stand, you can draw your virtual red line -- no blackberrries past that point.  

SNIP

[Y]ou have a blackberry patch



I have a blackberry patch, and soon I will have lots of good berries! Thank you for reminding me to work with my environment instead of against it. You brought my stress level from 11 to 0. If I had an apple to give, I'd give it to you, Sue. :)
 
pollinator
Posts: 240
Location: West Virginny and Kentuck
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I was at first appalled by the invasiveness of the blackberries on my 5 acres.  They cozied up to the house itself, growing up through the deck boards.  I've learned that managing them with mowing (and glass mulch under the deck) is the best I can hope for, and now I style myself a blackberry farmer.  In their proper locations, I coddle the canes, clearing competitors (Japanese honeysuckle, etc.) and mulching and building paths through the brambles.  My blackberry cordial is in great demand and I call it liquid summer.
 
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Not a permanent solution, but:
Fire is your friend!
Lay out hoses with spray nozzles in strategic spots, set soaker hoses, and sprinklers in the areas that simply must survive, and light it up!
The lay of the land will be made apparent and any old debris/mulch/will be consumed.
Chances are your predecessors will have created steps/paths that are now simply overgrown.
If you have an overactive neighborhood call the sheriff/fire authority prior to your burn.
They will start growing back immediately so be proactive in your crusade of hatefulness towards them, rumor says goats will eat young brambles but avoid mature canes....rumor also says; goats need to have few alternatives to be induced to eat blackberry...
It will take a couple of years to become overwhelming again, and three or four years before they accumulate enough dead matter to burn well again.
 
Posts: 60
Location: Western Oregon, Zone 8b
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We allow the blackberries to do their own thing on steep banks. They're holding the soil in place and provide delicious berries every August.

That said, we did clear some from pastures and structures. Our main method was goats. They like the leaves and growing tips. Once the canes were stripped we would cut them down and then run the goats through spring and fall to eat new growth.

Pigs, apparently, will root them up and eat them. I'm not sure if I would run them by a river though.
 
gardener
Posts: 2646
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
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Letting them cover that bank does seem sensible.
In the meantime, can you harvest the river side of the patch?
 
Posts: 1
Location: Trebinje, Herzegovina
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You could try using a pole pruner (manual or mechanical) from the safety of the top of the bank.
 
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I agree with Sue, as I’d love to even HAVE blackberries to pick (too far north for them to grow here), to make jelly. I’m also puzzled by a couple things. Why are you worried about what’s happening on this steep bank? Do you need to go down to the river for some reason? Does the dog go down there and get tangled? Otherwise it seems like an ‘out of sight out of mind’ kind of thing, and you only need to manage the top edge with a mower or weed wacker. Also, not that it matters, but steep as it may seem, the slope is probably closer to 60 or 70 degrees if you can slide down and climb back up. 85-90 is literally vertical- ain’t no sliding down that!
The invasives I’ve had to deal with are cow parsnip and devils club. In both cases the solution is constant mowing, initially with a walk behind brush mower like the DR or Billy Goat. Eventually grasses take over and you can go from there, but if you’re in a hurry, a heavy mulch like cardboard or even osb sheets can be laid down for a season. I like cardboard and then a foot of wood chips. I’ve also has success, after mowing, with spraying new leaves/growth with a strong (5%) vinegar solution on sunny days, or burning with a roofing torch (think- 1’ wide by 5’ long flame). Most of these invasive plants, maybe all, have strong and persistent root systems that take a few seasons to die out. Where I grew up it was burdocks, which are pure evil if you have dogs with long fur!
 
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In my experience sheet mulching followed by diligent pulling is the best way to control blackberries. That is probably not an option on your steep slope. You don't want to be dumping loads of organic material into the stream below or climbing it. I am inclined to agree with the other replies that say not to worry about them. They are doing their job stabilizing the slope and providing bird habitat and food while they're at it. (Without blackberries, Seattle probably would have slid into the Puget Sound by now.) A long term solution would be to start inter-planting the area with more doug firs and other natives to shade the blackberries out. (This will only marginally slow them down and will take decades to actually displace the blackberries, but it I believe it would work). Another thing Ive always wanted to try is fighting bramble with bramble. Try inter-planting thornless varieties of raspberries, boysenberries, tayberries, marionberries, whatever you can find. Then you'll at least have some variety and get poked less. Finally, if the area is sunny enough I'd try a climbing vine that is able to 'float' in your sea of blackberries. The soil under your blackberries is probably too good for bindweed to grow vigorously, but maybe a clematis would.
 
pollinator
Posts: 761
Location: Southern Oregon
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Most people around here use goats to control blackberry. If they are growing in a stream bed, a permit is required before removing them, where I live. One place i visited the woman put down sheets of plywood over the huge brambles so that the goats could jump on them to access the brambles. I worked great.
 
Posts: 83
Location: Ohio 5b6a
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We let trees grow up in certain spots that shade them out and give us something to hang on to while picking them in the steep spots.    We like oak and maple because they have big leave and shade well.  Shade may not kill them fast, but sure slows them down.
 
Ruth Meyers
pollinator
Posts: 240
Location: West Virginny and Kentuck
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Christopher Shepherd wrote:We let trees grow up in certain spots that shade them out and give us something to hang on to while picking them in the steep spots.    We like oak and maple because they have big leave and shade well.  Shade may not kill them fast, but sure slows them down.



I haven't seen that yet.  The biggest, juiciest and most prolific berries on my place grow under pines and tulip poplars.  Of course, that has been coming on gradually.  I just looked at photos from a decade ago, and it was shocking how little cover there was.  I'm trying to balance the open and shade.  Some canes are so long, they do best if they can support themselves on a tree trunk.
 
Posts: 97
Location: KY
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Glad I saw this thread in the email update! If one were to take all the patchy areas of thorny brambles (which I think are mostly blackberries) and group together it'd probably be a couple acres worth that are out in our fields. Some areas way more dense than others.

It's great to see the paths animals make to and among the patches that must produce good berries :)

On a steep bank I certainly wouldn't mess much with them, and do like what was mentioned keep them "edged" to the point of "too steep to do much with" - but if there were some areas I could stand comfortably then maybe from time to time I'd hack and trample some down, especially if I noticed some trash or something tangled up in there that needed removed. In fact, if you keep the stuff within easy reach cut back, they will likely produce more and better berries there!

I'll bet thick brambles make good safety spots for critters and I've seen everything from bird nests to box turtles in them, so leaving some go seems ok.

Not really relative to the OP since they are working with such a steep bank - In our areas surrounding the thickets, I plan to just keep mowed like paths...hopefully that will do. It's rough hilly terrain but I pull a mower behind a 4x4 utility ATV.

I'm just starting now to drive the ATV over the areas I intend to start mowing, guess I'm lucky I can crush it down with the machine first, makes getting through and assessing the patches less painful! Eventually the idea is to have access to tons of berries, but still leave it relatively wild for nature's sake. Maybe do a little experimenting with pruning here and there.

The previous owners were making some hay and bushogging to keep acreage clear but I want to change up the plan with selective path/section cutting done minimally instead of full on mow downs 2-3x a year.

It's a fun journey trying to combine our personal interests with nature into something we call permaculture - I'm usually willing to give the favor towards nature/non-human creatures in areas not directly affecting a garden, house, shed, or trail/road etc :)

I understand you gotta do what you gotta do! What about covering them? Might be too tough to do considering your steep hill, but we stake down some huge heavy tarps over garden areas sometimes during a turnover. We have several and they are each around 25' x 15' and will kill off any plant life underneath after a few weeks down during summer. I imagine established brambles don't die so easy but maybe longer term covering would eventually do the trick?


 
Posts: 5
Location: Port Hadlock, WA
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Have any folks fussed with the timing of cutting back blackberries?  Mine are the Himalayans here in PNW.  I'm finding that if I cut the new stems in the Spring (in trying to tidy up the meadows for Summer) they just laugh and snicker at me and grow back even faster and thicker.  However, if I'm achingly patient (and this is hard) and wait until the mature canes have just finished flowering and then hack them off, the plants have a much weaker effort in growing back, especially in the shortening season.  I'm thinking not about what I see aboveground but what's underground with their huge thick rootstocks (and I mean huge!).  Then I try to keep on top of their small regrowth during the winter to keep up the pressure on their energy reserves.  Of course, I'm not harvesting those cut-off canes, but on 4 acres there's sure to be plants I've missed so there's always blackberries in case of the (hopefully unlikely) Cascadia earthquake when the whole county (Jefferson in WA) shuts down for a month. Am I on the right track or should I just keep hacking away all the time (which does give me some evil pleasure)?
 
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I wasn't struggling with them overgrowing on a steep bank but I used chickens last summer to eat blackberries and roses back to a manageable patch. I was amazed how well they did at it. These were heavy birds I raised for meat. What they did not devour were dead canes I picked up and composted. I moved them in and out of parts of the area I wanted to clear. They gradually ate their way through with no ill effects for them or the land.
 
Ruth Meyers
pollinator
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When I first started to recognize the variety of wild cultivars present on just my few acres, I wanted to learn the taxonomy.  I wasn't successful in that, but I did start getting the NARBA newsletter.

Their website may have some useful information:
https://www.raspberryblackberry.com/

I see their conference is in St. Louis this year in March.
Next years will be in Maryland/DC.  I might attend that one.
 
pollinator
Posts: 1079
Location: Longbranch, WA
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Bill Haynes wrote:Not a permanent solution, but:
Fire is your friend!
Lay out hoses with spray nozzles in strategic spots, set soaker hoses, and sprinklers in the areas that simply must survive, and light it up!
The lay of the land will be made apparent and any old debris/mulch/will be consumed.
Chances are your predecessors will have created steps/paths that are now simply overgrown.
If you have an overactive neighborhood call the sheriff/fire authority prior to your burn.
They will start growing back immediately so be proactive in your crusade of hatefulness towards them, rumor says goats will eat young brambles but avoid mature canes....rumor also says; goats need to have few alternatives to be induced to eat blackberry...
It will take a couple of years to become overwhelming again, and three or four years before they accumulate enough dead matter to burn well again.


Fire is an effective management tool for this particular species. However it can be very dangerous.  The vines bear fruit the next year after they come up and re-sprout fruit branches the third year then they die and make a scaffold for new vines. The dead vines are very strong for about 3 more years but are very flammable and burn with intense heat. An old patch wil have crown roots underground often the size of a football.  So they will come back up and can be trained and managed better.
My advice if you are going to burn a patch is to make it a controlled burn with the fire department involved before you start and not after it gets out of control as happened when a renter started a burn pile too close to a patch.
I manage 2 patches that came up in a fence line. [Birds sit on fences and plant them.] Maintaining the fence posts with a wire along the top and the crowns about 4 feet apart I tie and train them along the wire. They have to be managed during the winter to cut off the tips of the vines so thy do not reach the ground and start a tip root and new crown unless you want one.  It is just part of regular maintenance on Qberry Farm with Loganberries on one side and Boysenberries on the other.  The domesticated Himalayas bear fruit for 2 to 3 months in contrast to the named verities which bear fruit 2 to 3 weeks. With the berries al hanging in a row at 4 to 6 feet off the ground I can fill a three gallon bucket in 20 minuets.
I am glad the original poster has decided to embrace then in their bank protective role.  I suggest a row of steel posts along the top of the bank with a wire on top and train them as I have. They make a very productive living fence so no more sliding down the bank. Of course you can also make steps down the bank with the same arrangement on each side.arr Boysenberries with Himalayas on right side
 
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Katie Green wrote:We allow the blackberries to do their own thing on steep banks. They're holding the soil in place and provide delicious berries every August.

That said, we did clear some from pastures and structures. Our main method was goats. They like the leaves and growing tips. Once the canes were stripped we would cut them down and then run the goats through spring and fall to eat new growth.

Pigs, apparently, will root them up and eat them. I'm not sure if I would run them by a river though.



Nope, pigs will not eat them.  Blackberry thickets make great pig fence.

If YOU chop and drop the canes, then pigs will happily root up what's left.  But they won't go through standing canes (although they might use them as back-scratchers.)

And yes, please don't run hogs in a riparian zone, especially not one you share with other people.

It sounds like the blackberries are the only thing keeping this unstable river bank from washing away.  If that is the case they should be left alone.  They won't grow in the shade of the trees anyways so they are unlikely to spread if there are all the trees there that OP described.  In fact the best way to get rid of blackberries permanently may be to encourage trees to shade them out.  Takes a while, of course.
 
Beth Johnson
Posts: 101
Location: Lewis County, WA
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DAILY-ISH! Sweet! Thanks, Nicole!

I'm on a break from work, so I'll try to answer as many questions as possible.

1. Bank grade: Not positive about that, but at parts, it is a straight drop.

2. Stairs: I've lived here for two years. A neighbor told me that there were once concrete stairs, but they were removed when the rip rap was dropped. I could ask for a permit to install stairs, and I might at some point. On the right of the photos I uploaded, you can see the river go under a road. People often sleep under there. I don't have a problem with that as long as they don't leave trash in my yard. We have an understanding: don't hop the fence. There are three ways to get under the bridge. Installing stairs might be too attractive if they're allowed at all. I'm not sure how we'd get stairs down there. It's in the back of my mind as an idea.

3. I have water rights to pump 0.5 cu acres a year. That's how I end up sliding down the bank - trying to position the intake hose so that it's not at the bottom sucking up frogs or salmon eggs. I use a 3" pump, and I have to get down there to get the doggone thing past the rip rap. I don't pump anything close to that, and I didn't pump at all last year. If I *don't* use the surface water once every five years, I lose the right.

4. The most prolific blackberries are on the left, but there are blackberries all over the bank. The ones to the immediate right of the creeping patch all the way to the bridge on the right are further down the bank. My dog and I get stuck in those. When my dog sees a log, like one that fell off a logging truck, floating down the river, she tries to fetch it.

5. I will definitely try the trellising trick.

6. Yes - I think the river otters like hiding in various holes in the bank and appreciate the protection for their wee ones.

7. I was joking about fire - I started a chimney fire once. I still send the fire department thank you notes ;)

8. In the pictures you can see a strip mall parking lot across the street. I'm not sure why I think that's relevant. Meh.

9. Yes - the trees do a great job shading out a lot of the bramble.

10. I have also slid down the bank when trying to pick blackberries for my ducks. I don't do that anymore :)

Okay - work calls.

Thank you thank you thank you!

Beth

ETA: Goats - that was an idea until the person who was going to rent her goats to me saw how steep and unstable the bank is.
058D48DD-7D69-4CE1-AB79-34E1A8A4A50F_1_201_a.jpeg
dog with big bone
Joy, The Swimming Dog and Log Chaser
 
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Beth, Goats are your answer. Steep grades are a playground for them. Hence the term "sure-footed as a goat." We had a couple goats years ago and it freaked me out the first time I saw them munching happily on wild rose and blackberry canes. Those buggers looked like a kid at the county Fair munching on cotton candy...they also like junk mail
 
Posts: 118
Location: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
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As they are covering a large area, and likely stabilizing the bank removal would need to be done in stages over many years.

It took me about three years to clear a 25 foot wide swath along the fence, 300 feet long - the key was digging out the damn roots (dig, grab, PULL) and burning every leaf, twig and cane. Each spring the missed roots would sprout and have to be dug and pulled. Worked great for ten years - then my husband insisted weed whacking and mulching was easier and just as good...yeah, after three years of his method we had a ten foot high blackberry forest again this summer!

The first section to tackle would be your water access: cut/prune a six foot wide swath, using a metal rake sweep/compact /roll into bundles for hauling out and BURN the vines. Blackberries happily root off left behind pieces. Next dig and pull all the roots/runners. Once berries appear alongside the path, cut all easily reached berries off (preferably while green, so they can't seed) and dispose in fire.

Once the path is established, maintain it, and slowly, a few feet at a time, enlarge it. BUT get local advice on what to plant for soil stability along each side.

If you really want to clear the whole thing, each winter cut new strips, separated by intact blackberry strips,  infill with the soil stabilizing plants, and clip green berries as they appear along the edges of these strips. It is critical to not clear huge sections until the newly planted vegetation takes hold.

I would get a good strong rope, knot it every few feet, and tie it to a something solid (tree/vehicle?) so I had something to hang on to going up and down. Steps could be cut in with logs/stakes to retain them, and might not require a permit.
 
Ruth Meyers
pollinator
Posts: 240
Location: West Virginny and Kentuck
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Lorinne Anderson wrote:
I would get a good strong rope, knot it every few feet, and tie it to a something solid (tree/vehicle?) so I had something to hang on to going up and down. Steps could be cut in with logs/stakes to retain them, and might not require a permit.



That's a great thought, but I'd like to refine it.  Safety harness, bought or built.
I'm out on my slippery and steep metal roof often enough to have permanent rigging.  I created a padded and adjustable safety belt for my brother when he was having serious physical therapy.  It has D rings incorporated.  I use that and tie-down straps fitted with snap links.  Allows for hands-free safety.  
 
Lorinne Anderson
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True enough! I too made a simple step in 'crotch/waist' harness out of one inch stuff from the outdoor store and climbing caribiners (sp?) AFTER rescuing an owlet from a cliff face behind a waterfall using dog leashes!

Last summer I scored a wicked, heavy duty, full vest/crotch (I dunno what they are called!?) safety harness off Amazon for under $50.  I've not used it yet, but when I DO need it I'm sure it will be the best $50 I ever spent!
 
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Hi Beth, Here I have what I believe is wild black raspberries.  Yummy but tart with giant seeds.  I ignorantly paid them not much mind at first, they were never too badly behaved - they were in the shade.  One year a few canes made it to the sunshine and everything changed.  The canes grew thicker than my thumb and they began leapfrogging across my yard, 15 feet at a bound.  I used to think my chickens could shelter from hawks under them but they were afraid of them.  I have seen video of sheep who had been caught in them, were completely  trapped and became berry fertilizer. In one year it became obvious they were going to take over my whole property if I didn't do something.  My solution was to keep a fire going and spend literally every single free moment of my time digging them out by the roots and burning them.  I pretty much eradicated them in the course of about 6 weeks.  The scars on my arms are nearly invisible now, lol.  I do have one pop up from some root I missed or perhaps from a bird contributing some seed from somewhere else but now I catch them early and dig them out as soon as possible.  Having seen their worst my attitude is to show no mercy!  You might also try keeping goats but you'd probably want to maintain them there for several years to kill the roots.  Bets of luck!
 
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Goats are the organic way out with blackberries.  They love forage,  and can handle the bank.  Don't leave them too long such that that "over pollute" the stream.   A little us okay,  a lot is problematic for those downstream.  If you can,  consider goat diapers or physically removing poo yourself.  Additionally,  goats leave the roots intact,  so the bank is stabilized.  It will need several "treatments" by goats.  You will also need to plant some thing to take over.  Not sure what is allelopathic to blackberries,  but research couldn't hurt.
 
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Can you simply cut a stairs into the dirt? and stretch a rope or 2 from top to bottom to act as hand rails?

As for the brambles it is interesting how one person's trial's are anothers dream.  I would love to be able to grow any sort of bramble here.  Would prefer raspberries but would love either.  Soil and weather combine to make it very difficult right where I live.
 
Hans Quistorff
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Addressing the invasiveness, They start in new areas by bird dropping seed. They take over an area by tip rooting, "leap frogging'." Control of seedlings when first started is easy with a hoe and tip roots will pull out easily when caught early. Like many other invasive plants in permaculture that have useful characteristics as well planing and maintenance are necessary for permaculture success.
My parents bought a berry farm in 1944 when I was 4 so I have grown up with berry vines and planing and managing them. Even the most domesticated of them will fill and dominate their niche until their role is is overtaken by something more dominant. We humans have been endowed with the capacity to culture  as in permaculture; Therefor dominate our domain for benefit. Applying permaculture design science, observe weigh benefits and detriments then plan and take action. For example The Black Caps mentioned by previous poster, I have a few that showed up in my Boysenberries which is convenient because I can maintain them as I do the rest of the vines. Cut off tips so thy do not spread and cut out finished canes and misplaced vines so the berries are accessible. I only need a few to make an extract or tincture to draw out the flavor and the nutrients in the relatively large seeds to fruit size.
 
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A question and a few thoughts.

You mention that the blackberries are trying to kill you... but it sounds like you are trying to clamber up/down a stupidly steep bank. It sounds more like the blackberries are a symptom, rather than the cause. If the bank is steep people are not going to be willing to tend it, so thickets of something are an inevitable result. Do you NEED access to the water, and if so can that be achieved in a more human-friendly way? (investing in a more permanent bit of landscaping to make it less precarious? or a stepped path with paving stones that can be more easily maintained?)

Now the thoughts.

1) Blackberry canes, especially the super long ones that you find in thickets, can be a valuable resource for basket weavers. They were the traditional binding material for straw skeps for beekeeping.

2). Thickets of blackberries become unmanageable when the long long strands are allowed to grow unchallenged for too long. In our place we have areas that you might consider proto-thickets. A few plants that if left unattended for a few years would doubtless send out runners to root and root again. I make no particular effort to deal with them, beyond giving them a quick snip back once or twice a year when I happen to be passing with my secateurs. I tend to prune them for a fruiting shape - sturdy upright stem around 4ft high, that I allow to send out a few fruiting side branches. Sometimes I remember and come back and get fruit. Others the birds get them.

3) One area that became massively overrun before we got this property was a pain to deal with. We hacked it back in stages down to stems about 1ft tall, hauling the material off for a bonfire. There was a huge amount of material, lots of it dead and dry. A month or so later the stems had all put on a foot or so of regrowth. Some we cut back, some we dug/pulled up if they were poorly placed, some we left to allow to form a smaller controlled fruiting patch. This initial taming took some effort, but after that it takes maybe 30 minutes a year to keep under control. It isn't a massively yielding patch, because they are a wild variety.
 
Julie Reed
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. 3. I have water rights to pump 0.5 cu acres a year. That's how I end up sliding down the bank - trying to position the intake hose so that it's not at the bottom sucking up frogs or salmon eggs. I use a 3" pump, and I have to get down there to get the doggone thing past the rip rap.

Okay, so if I understand correctly the only reason you have for going down there is setting up the pump? You mentioned the height is about 25’-  Could you simply make a ‘V’ trough out of plywood, 25’ long and stake it at the top, then slide the intake hose down that into the water? Once you know the proper depth for the hose you can make corresponding marks on the hose and the trough. Now you can remove and replace without ever going down the embankment.
 
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if you cover them with some old plywood or some other way to keep them from getting any sun it will inhibit growth
also it might help if you take an old Clorox bottle or some other kind of float and piece of rope to suspend your water intake from the bottom
 
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This year I had a vigorous blackberry patch that was completely destroyed by honeysuckle, it just grew all over it and suffocated it to death.
When I removed the honeysuckle, there were only dead canes left underneath.
Don't know if that would be a solution as the honeysuckle is probably even worse, but at least it has no thorns.


 
Beth Johnson
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Julie Reed wrote:.
Okay, so if I understand correctly the only reason you have for going down there is setting up the pump? You mentioned the height is about 25’-  Could you simply make a ‘V’ trough out of plywood, 25’ long and stake it at the top, then slide the intake hose down that into the water? Once you know the proper depth for the hose you can make corresponding marks on the hose and the trough. Now you can remove and replace without ever going down the embankment.



It's not the only reason - it would be nice to be near the water. It would be nice to fish.  It would be nice to swim in the river. It would be nice to go down there and pick up trash that was washed up on the rip rap.

I've lived here for two years. I am from Philadelphia. When I hear "invasive species," I think, "BadBadBad!"  I am very new to permaculture, and quite frankly, I'm new to living in a house. I'm new to thinking in a different way about my environment.

Plus these aren't your normal blackberries. They are delicious, and the thorns are horrific. You can be walking along minding your own damn business, and they will reach out and grab you. But I will trellis them like Hans suggested. That's a quality set up. I plan on using four or five T-bars and trying to get them in the ground while it's wet.

I totally dig the safety harness idea (I was thinking about a knotted rope at one point), and I can use that to not necessarily eradicate the blackberries (I have a blackberry patch, and that's kind of cool), but I can try to plant stabilizing understory plants in the areas that are shaded by the conifers.

I appreciate everyone's help and suggestions.

I bought this house because of the river. Maybe that was a mistake.

 
Hans Quistorff
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I've lived here for two years. I am from Philadelphia. When I hear "invasive species," I think, "BadBadBad!"  I am very new to permaculture, and quite frankly, I'm new to living in a house. I'm new to thinking in a different way about my environment.


Welcome to a world where we don't think it is a problem just a solution we haven't thought of yet. Permaculture is a design science, observe,research, design, plan implement, repeat.
 
Michael Cox
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Beth Johnson wrote:
I bought this house because of the river. Maybe that was a mistake.



Hell no, a river is a fantastic asset! You just need to take your time figuring out how to make good use of it. All of your comments about wanting to get near the water - fishing, pumping etc... - make it sound like you need to prioritise securing some kind of safe and easy access. How about steps down and some kind of floating pontoon to work from? Something you can potentially take off the water in times of high rainfall/storms?
 
Beth Johnson
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Hans Quistorff wrote:

I've lived here for two years. I am from Philadelphia. When I hear "invasive species," I think, "BadBadBad!"  I am very new to permaculture, and quite frankly, I'm new to living in a house. I'm new to thinking in a different way about my environment.


Welcome to a world where we don't think it is a problem just a solution we haven't thought of yet. Permaculture is a design science, observe,research, design, plan implement, repeat.



Thank you, Hans :) It's an interesting world. When I was thinking about how to get rid of the lawn, I found several books about permaculture in the local library. And I started reading, and reading, and then I found this site and thought, "Hmmm...permaculture makes sense..." I'm a newbie, and I'm trying not to become discouraged.

Michael Cox wrote:

Hell no, a river is a fantastic asset!

You just need to take your time figuring out how to make good use of it. All of your comments about wanting to get near the water - fishing, pumping etc... - make it sound like you need to prioritise securing some kind of safe and easy access. How about steps down and some kind of floating pontoon to work from? Something you can potentially take off the water in times of high rainfall/storms?



Thank you, Michael. As I told Hans, I'm trying not to become discouraged. I have an infinitesimal amount of land, not even .75 acre. My family back East think I'm nuts for even having this much.

Later I'll post pictures of the bank and the nasty rip rap. Think of an L with the bank being the l, and the rip rap being a super-jagged slick and mossy  _ . Interestingly, there are ornamental plant growing on part of the bank that were intentionally planted. I'll take pictures of those, too.

ETA: Sections of the bank are L-shaped; some not so much.

Duty calls.

I am grateful for this community and the patience, creativity, and wealth and breadth of knowledge you unselfishly share.

Okay, signing off to go work for The Man. :)

Beth
 
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