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Getting Rid of Blackberry Brambles  RSS feed

 
Dan Malone
Posts: 12
Location: Bonney Lake, WA (Zone 8a)
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What is the best way to get rid of Wild Himalayan Blackberry Brambles? & dealing with the leftover biomass.


Anyone not living in the Pacific Northwest is probably wondering why anyone would want to get rid of a great edible like black berries......For those of us living in the Pacific Northwest, you know that Black berry bushes grow rampant like "The Blob" and can easily engulf cars, houses, and entire hillsides. I have a wooded 10 acres that has large impenetrable areas fortified by black berry bushes. I am looking for the best way to clear some of these areas to grow other things. Some of my concerns are listed below:

1. Chop and Drop will just propagate more of this prolific primocane.
2. Hauling it away may be quite expensive.
3. Making burn piles may quite labor intensive and risky.
4. No property fencing for goats
5. Vines can be up to 1" thick, and plants can be 8ft tall.
6. Working with thorns? maybe welding gloves?
7. Heavy Machinery is OK, but what to do with the biomass
8. Of course NO chemicals
9. Hot composting it could be labor intensive and may re-propogate

I am not talking about clearing a small area my backyard, I am talking about going to war against a very worthy adversary.



(One potential option at http://tallcloverfarm.com/3547/brambles-gone-wild-how-to-remove-blackberries)
 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
Posts: 6786
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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I have conquered large areas with hedge cutters. Cut through the canes every 6 inches. They fall to the ground. Compost in place. Fencing animals in the area could finish the job.

http://www.permies.com/mobile/t/37947/gear/Cordless-hedge-trimmer?foo=a

This hand tool is ideal for handling brambles.

The view of the lake was not visible before I cut the Himalaya berries.
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Rose Pinder
Posts: 410
Location: Otago, New Zealand
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What are you wanting to grow?

Permaculture co-founder David Holmgren has been working with land that is overgrown with blackberry (the other one), using the blackberry to establish trees. He's also working with succession in that process (bareland, to gorse, to blackberry, now to trees).

This video is looking at blackberry management in the context of establishing a more fire resistant landscape, but the principles are the same and could be adapted into other situations. They're working with the blackberry, using it to create the best conditions for trees to establish and grow, with the least effort from humans, and using techniques that promote the health of the land rather than destroy it.


Blackberry management interview and action with David Holmgren

David Holmgren explaining a low cost technique for revegetating eroded gullies without heavy machinery or chemicals. The technique turns thick, fire-prone blackberry cover into useful fire-resistant trees on what was a landscape completed denuded in the gold era. Working bee action in the background. Thanks to Dan Palmer of Very Edible Gardens (VEG) for this video.


http://holmgren.com.au/spring-creek/

Permanent video link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5r13x3lmIhI


 
Jay Grace
Posts: 238
Location: Nauvoo, AL
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Goats and hogs
 
Rebecca Norman
gardener
Posts: 1273
Location: Ladakh, Indian Himalayas at 10,500 feet, zone 5
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food preservation greening the desert solar trees
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Dan Malone wrote:
1. Chop and Drop will just propagate more of this prolific primocane.


I've done some invasive vine removal at our house in Massachusetts, and although I was afraid that the piled up vines would reroot, they rarely did, and when they did, they were easy to pull because they were rooted in such loose stuff. So I'm not sure you should be so afraid that chop and drop will just propagate more or them.
 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
Posts: 6786
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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Growth of the cuttings, has not been an issue here. Wet winters that favor sprouting. The material dries out in the summer sun. Regrowth is much softer than the original canes. They make good animal fodder.

One good swing of a mattock, removes each root ball.
 
Dan Malone
Posts: 12
Location: Bonney Lake, WA (Zone 8a)
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I may rent a large wood chipper for tree branches. If I carefully chip the blackberry bushes into a pile of chips, do you think it will be likely to re-sprout? Could I use the blackberry chips to mulch a logging road? If they start to sprout, I could mow the road fairly easily.
 
Michael Cox
Posts: 1667
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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In my experience here in teh UK cut canes do not root, however the growing tips of canes will often hit the soil and root. If you cut these off from the parent plant they already have a root system in place. They do usually pull up by hand easily if they are not too heavily established.
 
Ken W Wilson
Posts: 465
Location: Nevada, Mo 64772
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Instead of renting a chipper, you could just rent or hire a small tractor with a brush hog. I have a 35 hp tractor and blackberries are pretty easy to grind up. The older and bigger they are, the less they seem to grow back. I back over the taller clumps. Rocks could be a problem if you have any. Very few here. Actually if you aren't experienced with a tractor, it'd be safer to hire it done. I don't think it'd cost much. It wouldn't here. Then you can get on with more fun projects on your land.
 
Mike Turner
Posts: 329
Location: Upstate SC
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A brush hog to knock down the existing growth followed by pasturing either sheep or goats to eat the regrowth. After a year they will be completely gone, although seedlings will pop up for years afterward that will need to be either grazed or pulled. I used this method to clear multiflora rose thickets from my property.
 
Peter Ellis
Posts: 1432
Location: Central New Jersey
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Any possible solution to any problem has its drawbacks.

Your list seems to put a fair bit of emphasis on how much work different options entail. The least amount of human labor is probably the heavy machinery option, i.e., have it brush hogged down. Not sure whether your topography is compatible with doing that, but to the extent it is, get it cut down by machine, then pile it up by machine in a location where you can leave it for some time to compost.

Expect that you may need to cut back some new growth out of the pile set aside to compost, but remember that will be much less work than dealing with the original condition

Add other vegetable matter to the pile as available, burying the canes as much as possible over time and encouraging the decomposition process.

In the original areas, where the canes were cut back with the brush hog, expect some regrowth. Cut it back when it appears. Be patient and persistent.

The other relatively low human effort option involves using goats and that means putting in fencing. If fencing is an option and if fencing is something you see yourself wanting at some point in the future, then you might want to go ahead and put in fencing now, then use goats to manage the blackberry.

Personally, I would not burn it, nor would I have it hauled away. Why would I not keep all that nutrition for my soil on my property?
 
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