Michael Cox wrote:Hi Lindsey,
A few immediate thoughts:
There is a very good video out called "the permaculture orchard: beyond organic" or something like that. In his mixed fruit orchard he plants every third tree as a honey locust to provide nitrogen fixation for all his other trees. He controls the vigour of them, so they don't get too big, by training the branches downwards.
In my experience of blackberries, spread underground is fairly slow, but the canes will root wherever the tips touch the ground. A cane can easily grow 5m in a year, rooting in multiple places, each turning into a new plant. Key to stopping the thicket spreading is to stopping those canes rooting. Monthly maintenance in the growing season should stop the situation getting worse. Of course you could turn the blackberry 'problem' into a bonus by pruning and cultivating them. The long tangled briars are not good for fruit production. Fruit forms on the previous years canes, not the current seasons. If you cut the vigorously growing canes back to about 2ft in length early in the growing season then they will stop growing longer and will bush out below the cut. Next year you will get a bumper crop of fruit on a short and fairly accessible upright cane that doesn't need body armour to get to. We have been casually managing a wild thicket like this over the past few years and done quite well from it.