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the trouble with cascadia  RSS feed

 
robert campbell
Posts: 31
Location: coastal oregon
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Hello-

One thing I have been struggling with as I try to deal with my property in Coastal Oregon is that if I leave undisturbed vegetation to do its thing, it will 99% of the time revert to blackberry and salmonberry.  Both of these are edible and loved by birds, but they also create intensely thorny brambles and the salmonberry becomes extremely woody and difficult to manage.  These areas of the property are totally unusable for even walking.  I have not figured out a way to manage these plants without completely removing them, and that usually involves eliminating most vegetation around it too, in order to get to their bases and remove the frustrating runners and root systems.  Salmonberry especially is difficult in this regard, leaving behind arm-thick root segments that just continuously send up new sprouts as rapidly as they are cut down.

So what is the permaculturally appropriate method of handling plants like this?  I know that some would run pigs in the area until they are gone, but that is not an option for me.  I've been using more or less conventional organic practices; remove the plants as much as possible to create a new planting area, and then dilliegently weed the salmonberry/blackberry starts as they appear.  This does not work well in a chaotic, permacultural style planted area.  Its much more possible with orderly rows, wide plant spacing, and the other stuff we are chastised for in permaculture writings. 

I'd love to hear what other residents of this area do about these plants.
 
Aljaz Plankl
Posts: 386
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One friend told me that you should beat the plants down. So don't cut them and root them out, bu beat them in the mid summer. In that way they will suffer and the main root will be weak. Then you cover with mulch. It was suggested to use cardboard to not let any sun in but i don't like using it...
 
Matt Ferrall
Posts: 555
Location: Western WA,usda zone 6/7,80inches of rain,250feet elevation
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Things could be way worse!A shade tolorent ,fruit producing,edible shoot producing shrub coming up everywhere!.New shoots can be snapped off at the base but generaly I just have a few bigger areas 1-3 ac.that Ive eleminated it from.The rest of the back 40 is `weeded`of all the 9bark,red elder,ect..to promote hazels,my tree crops,and salmonberr
 
robert campbell
Posts: 31
Location: coastal oregon
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The "beating back" thing does not work with salmonberry.  Perhaps if you catch it when its truly young...  These roots have amazing energy stored in them.  I have used cardboard.  Both these plants punch right up through it.  I have my own answers, but I am hoping for philosophies or experiences for others.  Its might be a very unique aspect to my own property, being old farmland in a river valley with just the right circumstances, and tons of birds dropping the seeds literally everywhere.  Any area which is not constantly groomed will have these plants covering it within a year, and then it takes a lot of work with a machets, loppers, and some stiff gloves to get anywhere near it.  Truly a jungle, and made of extremely nasty thorns.  Another sad note is that while it seems variable regionally, the salmonberry here ranges in flavor from awful to wholly insipid.  I am sure that with enough sugar, a tolerable jam could be made, but I don't bother.  The blackberries, on the other hand, are delicious and I don't mind dedicating some pretty huge areas to their growth.  But as above, the land is useless for other plants, animals, and people if its not kept somewhat in check.
 
                              
Posts: 262
Location: Coast Range, Oregon--the New Magic Land
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I have salmonberry on my property(I'm also in the Coast Range) and it is growing in the proper mix of big trees, shurbs, ferns, other herby plants etc--it's not the only plant growing. Also it's a total salad bar for the deer, which seems to keep it in check by removing the leaves(which collect energy). I transplanted some next to the house(yes I think it's pretty, snort), same thing, the deer stand there are eat it down. It keep getting eaten down and it doesn't spread much at all. Again it was planted among other plants in a community.

Blackberries(himalayan) I have too, as well as a variety of native blackberries. The himalayan don't overtake the natives, even though the conditions are ideal for the himalayans to run rampant. I've reclaimed garden space from the blackberries by digging the crowns and then hoeing sprouts(keep them hoed and the rootlets lose energy and die). That's really the only way to get rid of them in a space, I feel.  I cut the canes back in late winter when they are not leafy and have been mashed a little by the weather(hopefully had gotten some snow and freezing weather to kill more of it).  I leave 6" inches or so enough to mark the crown, then go back and dig them up. Doing it in winter doesn't disturb or harm dormant native plants.
 
Paul Cereghino
gardener
Posts: 856
Location: South Puget Sound, Salish Sea, Cascadia, North America
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I have thimbleberry... salmonberry's smooth skinned cousin.  One year growth only gets around 4' high and is supple in early summer when I come through with a scythe and mow a big swath, piling them in a windrow that turns into mulch around my hazelnuts or a future intercrop (maybe blackcap?)-- after the first go round, I don't even have to break out the brush blade.  So far so good.  What is left is bare ground that is ripe for herbaceous competitors.  I suspect that over time, the annual cutting will work in favor of more low growing herbaceous perennials -- perhaps that I introduce.
 
Kay Bee
Posts: 471
Location: Jackson County, OR (Zone 7)
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any chance some of the thornLESS varieties of blackberry would compete with the wild ones?  may be worth introducing a few of the more productive ones in a couple areas to see how they do.  At out old place, I never saw a volunteer from my thornless varieties, but I had to stay vigilant to keep out the wild thorny ones around the edge of the property.
 
                                                    
Posts: 3
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Plants like this are adapted to disturbed soils. The seed bank will be enormous by this time so the problem will be recurring unless it is in some kind of management that out competes the berries. One of the permaculture principals is to develop/encourage communities. When one plant dominates then you have a monoculture. The community can be a mixture of plants and animals. The easiest thing would be to have animals control the problem for you.

Animals aren't necessarily a long term commitment and you might find that you don't even have to own them. Goats can keep the plants mowed back and slow their growth or pigs can dig everything up. The coast range should be a great place to raise some young animals while providing minimal amounts of feed at this time of year because they will be able to make use of fast growing food sources in the forest during the summer. You might offer to work with some regional meat producers that you can find on localharvest.org to bring their animals to you part of the year to improve them. This could in turn also increase the capacity of the producer at a low cost while providing one of the most humane ways possible to raise the meat. I would use Permanet movable fencing so you can concentrate their efforts and move them as necessary and portable night shelters that can be trailered, towed, or picked up and moved.

Another option is to keep mowing it every few weeks. Each time you mow the plants that grow back will be weaker although you might see the occasional large branch or cane that gets all of the energy of the plant. Eventually the plants will run out of energy and start to die back. If you are going to try a mulch method you need a tight interlocking barrier with no gaps and 12-18" of organic matter on top of that. Wood chips from tree trimming operations work well and can sometimes be had for free. This kind of mulching should be done in the Fall and the field should be mowed at least once first.

Neither of these options are viable if you let the land go back into an unmanaged state. Berries will return to take their role as the first colonizer until larger plants grow to shade them out. If you don't want to manage this land but don't want thickets of berries then see about getting some tree seedlings from the Conservation District and tend them until they get higher than the berries. If you are planting fruit trees then just keep the berries mowed around them until the trees get big enough to claim that space.

Tom
www.camaspermaculture.org
 
                              
Posts: 262
Location: Coast Range, Oregon--the New Magic Land
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another reason why late winter is a good time to deal with canes is hopefully there's been a nice heavy snow that flattens them.

 
Emerson White
Posts: 1206
Location: Alaska
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Some shade helps hold the salmonberries down. Also if you walk on your path at least four times a day the salmonberries will not be able to stand up to the traffic, and you might just give come deer an open hole into the center of the patch.
 
Dave Miller
pollinator
Posts: 416
Location: Zone 8b: SW Washington
15
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I would also spend some time wandering your neighborhood "weed patches" to see if there seems to be any combination of plants which looks to be reducing the density of the "bad plants".  e.g. I recently did some GPS weed mapping at a local wildlife refuge.  One of the main invasive plants that give us grief on the refuge is reed canarygrass, which covers a lot of the refuge.  While doing the mapping I came upon one place where there was a mix of reed canarygrass and stinging nettle.  The density of the RCG seemed to be much lower there than everywhere else.  I'm not sure if it was due to the nettle, but I plan to seek permission to try interplanting nettle in an experimental plot of RCG.  Of course nettle has its own down sides, but it is native and has many beneficial properties for wildlife and people.  Also it is easy to cut down so that other native plants could be interplanted and hopefully would have a better chance of survival than if we planted them in straight RCG which is what we're doing now.  We have of course tried spraying the RCG but it came back after a year.  I am trying to push the refuge managers toward more permaculture techniques for habitat restoration (vs. mow, spray, mow, spray, disc, plant, mow, mow, mow, mow, ....).
 
robert campbell
Posts: 31
Location: coastal oregon
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some great ideas here, thanks!

I am mostly seeking an attitude adjustment, looking for ways to flow with them. 
 
Emerson White
Posts: 1206
Location: Alaska
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Great idea adunca!
 
tel jetson
steward
Posts: 3381
Location: woodland, washington
81
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adunca wrote:
One of the main invasive plants that give us grief on the refuge is reed canarygrass, which covers a lot of the refuge.


source of hallucinogenic tryptamines.  round up some hippies to harvest it.  they get some drugs and maybe help the wildlife refuge at the same time.

this strategy probably won't work for your blackberries, mantid.
 
Emerson White
Posts: 1206
Location: Alaska
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Because no one takes care of the environment like a bunch of stoned hippies. On the plus side when they fail to harvest it maybe the litter they leave behind combined with the untended fires will first burn it to the ground, then smother it.
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4437
Location: North Central Michigan
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great thread..i don't have wild salmon or black berries but i have wild raspberries.

seems that all of these pioneer plants are going to continue to pioneer until there is nothing left to pioneer.

so if you are removing them, it is likely unless you replace them with something else..they will always continue to come back..as it is like God said "go forth and multiply".

As Tom was saying above

Myself, I think the answer is to plant the areas with something that will shade them out after you have mown them down good for a while..and mulched heavily over them.

one thing about some brambles..not sure if it is true of your variety but it likely is. They tend to grow from every node if they are laid flat on the ground and some will tip root..if they bend over..

well if you lay them under a mulch, you are just encouraging the rooting of them at every single node, multiplying each plant by like 10 !..my black raspberries will do that and if they fall over i'll end up the next year with a dozen new baby plants there.

I have noticed that the shadier the areas of the woods gets, the less wild raspberries i have..they seem to more enjoy the sunnier edges ..say back about 50 feet into the woods where there is some sunlight..so try planting some larger trees?  If you want it for annual vegetable crops, you are looking for trouble there..but after several years of weeding out the strays, they'll eventually be gone.

 
Nathan Bernard
Posts: 3
Location: Yachats, OR
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Ahh Mantid, my friend... don't forget one of my favorite Permaculture Principles:

"The Problem is the Solution"

The Green Wave of coastal vegetation can really be a challenge, but I find that it becomes much easier when I consciously work to "redirect natural momentum" rather than resist or try to stop a process that ultimately will prevail. The salmon and blackberries are only relatively brief stops on a much longer and complex ecological process. You mention leaving vegetation to "do it's thing". In this case, the berries are pioneering disturbed land, as Brenda points out. Another part of their "thing" is to build soil to allow the long term forest dwellers to get a foot hold. As you have probably noticed, when you clear an area of thick blackberry you find rich, dark, fertile soil underneath that thorny bramble. Our 99 year old neighbor Lester even calls it "Salmon Berry Soil" and uses it for all of his potted plants and builds up his vegetable garden with it. The same reasons that make these plants difficult for us to deal with (thorns, fast growing, etc...) make for great micro habitat for rodents, insects, birds, etc... which all add to the diversity and health of the soil. I try to think about my long term plans for our property when picking my battles with the "pioneers". Sometimes, if I know that I want the area to eventually be food forest, I basically leave the early pioneers to "do their thing" and just do some spot brush cutting to allow mid stage pioneers like Alder get above the brush. If I'm planting non-native species in an area, I protect them from being overwhelmed by using a brush blade (either motorized or hand) and piling the carnage to compost. I've even begun to use the cut brush to build my own version of chinampas. If my goal is to clear and establish something other than a food forest, I use these steps:
1) Cut brush as close to the ground as possible and into the smallest pieces I can (sometimes I borrow a ridiculously heavy duty brush cutter with a solid 3 blade cutter)
2) Pile the cut brush with a pitch fork
3) Wait for new shoots to emerge and reveal the main root balls
4) Using a mattock, I take a few swings around the edges, then bury the digging blade directly under the main root ball. I use the mattock to pry up the main root ball and add them to my next burn pile.
5) Mulch the area with at least two layers of thick cardboard covered with Alder chips
6) Plant a Guild

By this time, I'm exhausted, dirty, bleeding, and have brush bits imbedded in any part of me that isn't covered with Carhartt armor.

But, I'm reminded once again that: The Problem is the Solution

I realize that I have no need for a gym membership.

Piece by piece, I "steer" the natural process and obtain a yield. In the meantime, I leave the pioneers to build soil.


Nathan





 
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