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using judo on the blackberries?

 
Pierre de Lacolline
Posts: 37
Location: New Hampshire; USDA Z5
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Ok, I don't really know anything about judo, but isn't there supposed to be something about using the momentum of your adversary?

I was hacking at some of the wild blackberries that are out of control here and wondered if I'm taking the wrong approach. We do like to eat the blackberries... what should I be doing to the canes to encourage more (or better) fruit? Is it worth it? I have no intention of planting cultivated blackberries.

(I'm still going to hack some of them down, but maybe we can come to some sort of truce in a few areas here.)
 
Galadriel Freden
Posts: 341
Location: West Yorkshire, UK
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From what I understand about blackberries, they will produce fruit on 2 year old canes. The advice I've read suggests putting in a trellis or wires or some sort of support for them to climb, and tie this year's canes to the right and last year's canes to the left. That way, you won't accidently prune out this year's fruit; you'll know which canes fruited last year and can prune them to the ground. If you can't figure it out in the whole mess, I would suggest just hacking at it indiscriminately until you can wrestle it onto supports, then implementing the system. You probably won't get as much fruit the first year, but next year should produce a lot more.
 
Lj Damron
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We have lots of wild blackberries here as well- what I do is either in the fall or very early spring, I'll do some aggressive thinning of every cane that fruited the previous year. It should be relatively easy to see where the fruit was; the spent fruit clusters/stems should still be visible with everything bare. I also cut out anything that's headed for the trees; I don't do it for the berry aspect but because the plants are considered a noxious weed here in WA. You can either cut them back to the ground or just go in to a node, it's up to you and depends on what kind of control you need. I usually leave a foot or two, myself- I don't want to encourage any more growth from the roots than I have to.
 
Leila Rich
steward
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Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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I haven't had goats, but I understand a goat's stomach is a worthy adversary for blackberry's momentum...
That thought introduces a raft of issues like animal husbandry, fencing etc etc though!
 
Pierre de Lacolline
Posts: 37
Location: New Hampshire; USDA Z5
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Leila, we have considered goats for exactly that purpose, but ultimately rejected the idea. Commitment, housing, fencing, feed ... and if you end up deciding to maintain a flock, milking, births, butchering, etc.
 
Bobby Patton
Posts: 9
Location: Snohomish county, Wa.
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I've be fond of the idea of making trails through fields of black berry and then making "blocks" of canes about 8' by 8' so that the whole acre sized mess of berries is easier to harvest. a picking grid so to speak.
 
Heidi Hegwer
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I've seen the fenced in "picking grid" idea that Bobby mentions. Actually it was a deer-protected apple tree that got Himalayan blackberry[Rubus discolor] canes grown up to a height of approx. 10 feet inside of the 5x5 deer cage. It worked pretty well for keeping the blackberry canes erect and pickable from outside the cage. It didn't work so well for making the apple fruit pickable. ha ha.

One thing you may want to look into, is identifying exactly which blackberry you are dealing with. In our area, the native blackberry [Rubus ursinus] is entirely less invasive, smaller thorned than the Himalayan. It can be handled without leather gloves, which is a must with the tougher berry. We have to dig Himalayan up from it's underground trunks sometimes with a digging steel or a pick axe, and watch it all night long with a flashlight so that it doesn't touch down and root itself from the top of the cane bending over near the ground. It's reported they know when you go out to a friend's house for dinner, and use the opportunity to root then. For anyone considering desperate measures, the selective use of super-concentrated acetic acid to burn the roots can be a tool to use. It's not patented by Mon-Satano.
 
Pierre de Lacolline
Posts: 37
Location: New Hampshire; USDA Z5
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"Blackberry cages" -- there's a good way to use the momentum! I'm not to the point where I have fields of blackberries yet. I'll keep the grid in mind...

My blackberries have the big prickles, so based on your description I guess they're the Himalayan.
 
I agree. Here's the link: https://richsoil.com/wood-heat.jsp
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