I just dropped the price of
the permaculture playing cards
for a wee bit.

 

 

uses include:
- infecting brains with permaculture
- convincing folks that you are not crazy
- gift giving obligations
- stocking stuffer
- gambling distraction
- an hour or two of reading
- find the needle
- find the 26 hidden names

clickity-click-click

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scything brambles?  RSS feed

 
master steward
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I have one heck of a Himalayan blackberry patch in a corner of our yard.  Standing at the base of the briar patch, the blackberries tower almost 20 feet above me.  IT IS HUGE!

As much as the goats love blackberries, they can only eat so much.  It's time for human intervention. 

I read recently that a scythe can tackle blackberries.  Please tell me more.

What kind of blade is best for blackberries?  Is there a special technique? 
 
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You're going to want a brush blade, thick blackberry stems will destroy a grass blade. the ones I'm familiar with are thick-about 5mm (1/4 inch-ish?) at the back- and fairly short- 50-60cm (18-24ish inches)with less of a curve to the blade. I tend to use a more upright stance when cutting brush, as it makes it easier to get out of the way of falling tall thorny stems, and use my arms, shoulders and upper back a lot more than when  I'm mowing grasses.

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pollinator
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I agree with the brush blade. Mine is American and slightly thicker. On the other hand I have found a hedge trimmer is most effective for cutting anything above waist height.  Take it in sections from as high as you can reach downward.  Let the goats and sheep eat the newly exposed leaves then come back with the brush scythe and cut the large stems.  When you have worked back into the thicket some then use a broad fork to pry up the roots unless you intend for it to regrow for the feed. With a stand that high the root crowns will be the size of an american football.
 
pollinator
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Hans Quistorff wrote:I agree with the brush blade. Mine is American and slightly thicker. On the other hand I have found a hedge trimmer is most effective for cutting anything above waist height.  Take it in sections from as high as you can reach downward.  Let the goats and sheep eat the newly exposed leaves then come back with the brush scythe and cut the large stems.  When you have worked back into the thicket some then use a broad fork to pry up the roots unless you intend for it to regrow for the feed. With a stand that high the root crowns will be the size of an american football.


Glad to see you mention the issue of getting the roots out of the ground. Scything or goats or anything else is only temporary if you don't get those out. And yes a patch like the OP described would have some massive root crowns.
 
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No need for a bush blade if used with good technique, but I'd suggest using a machete, corn hook, or a pole-mounted billhook/slasher for removing them in volume. You'll have an easier time using those tools in the air.
 
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I've cut 'regular' wild blackberries with a grass blade.  The stems are hollow and not particularly tough.  First-year growth is quite tender and cuts easily.
 
pollinator
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For brush I have a cane knife. It has enough heft to wack through most brush and a built in hook for anything on the thick side.
 
pollinator
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This is a great time of year to cut blackberries with a scythe.  Even the tiny ones are easy to spot if you have a little snow on the ground.

I only have a grass blade, and it works fine.  For the bigger vines I slide the blade in until I am touching the target vine with the sharp edge of the blade, then give a quick tug towards myself and it slices through.

Hedge trimmers are indeed helpful for cutting vines into smaller pieces. 

I also recommend smashing the vines down with a heavy board, with you standing on the board.  This is easiest when they are covered with snow or ice.

I have never dug the roots.  You will have to keep mowing/scything/browsing the area for a few years anyway until the roots and seeds are exhausted.   After a few years of mowing, the roots die.

There will be a few seeds sprouting every year for decades, just mow them down every year.
 
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