We've had some snow/ice storms lately (just a few inches). This makes it really easy to spot every single blackberry plant since most of them still have leaves, while most other things have lost their leaves. Also their stems tend to be perpendicular to the ground, so they stick up above the snow unless the snow is deep.
For smaller plants I like to use my scythe. For bigger plants, I like hedge clippers (hand or powered).
Also if you are wanting to smash them down (e.g. with a board), it is a lot easier to do that when they are covered with snow or ice (due to the weight), and because they are more brittle now (due to the cold).
All of this is certainly true. May I offer an additional thought: my greatest success at controlling non-native blackberry is to get the whole plant out by the root. From now through the end of rainy season, I work to get to the base of a plant and pull it out. Usually, a decent pair of leather gloves is all I need because the plant's thorns get smaller and more fragile at the base. If I cannot pull out the whole plant, my favorite tool to get the root out is a pulaski. Unless you have goats to keep the plants chewed down, getting the plant out by the roots is the only way to get ahead in the blackberry wars IMHO.
I've got about 1/3 of an acre of blackberry canes to remove from my land. Ugh. It'll be the ongoing chore all winter/spring long. I've done some volunteer work removing invasive plants and restoring stream banks, so I know how to dig the suckers out...I'm just not looking forward to it. At least I can use the canes to build my hugelkultur beds. (The roots/crowns are another story...)
I remember a few years ago, I was working as a caretaker for a lady with dementia. She liked to just sit and watch TV all day, so that's mostly what we did. There was a persistent commercial on one channel she liked--some guy selling Himalayan blackberry starts. Every time it came on, I shook my head in horrified amazement. Who were the suckers he was selling those beasts to? If only they knew...blackberries are to the Northwest as kudzu is to the south. Ugh.
Dave Miller wrote:Personally, I never dig the crowns unless I am in a big hurry. Instead I cut the new growth once or twice a year. After a few years of cutting, the roots run out of energy and die.
I normally use a scythe to cut them, but I have also dragged a lawn mower over them.
that sounds like significantly less work. I like the way you think.
I've been approaching this blackberry removal project under the advice of a good friend, who's a stream bank restoration specialist. Obviously his preference is to dig out those invasive root crowns! But I think I can handle just scything everything down and then cutting new growth as it pops up.
Does anybody know about how long it takes for cut brambles to dry out? I'd love to use all this biomass in my hugel beds, but I don't want them to reanimate and go all kudzu on my veggie beds!
Yar! My first hugel was built with a two big logs and 90% blackberry trimmings. I threw them all onto a sun-facing fence for a week until they were very obviously crispy. I put most rootballs in too - I dried them out for about a month, and I suspect one of them powerfully resprouted... live and learn. Id cut the roots with an axe and dry them next time.
Blackberries are wonderful. I waged war on an acre of them to claim my first garden, roots and all, and it was hell. Now I just pluck sprouts and toss em to neighboring goats. Ive never seen organic matter content and visible soil-life amass like Ive seen under our hillside of blackberries thats been covered about a decade now. What was once a bare clay hillside under an oak is now a foot thick with loamy, sweet soil and worms.
Edit: Oh and I have an herbalist friend in Texas who would kill for such access to blackberry rootbark.... so I suspect its medicinal and very desirable outside of where its invasive and annoying :p
"It might have been fun to like, scoop up a little bit of that moose poop that we saw yesterday and... and uh, put that in.... just.... just so we know." - Paul W.