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Himalayan Blackberry Composting

 
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Hey all! First post, big question here. I've done some research on this subject, and I think I've nailed it down, but I want fresh eyes to be sure.

Himalayan Blackberries plague the pnw, particularly on my farm. I love the berries, but I want to reuse the organic material, rather than simply tossing the canes into the burn pile.

My new solution is to try and make a system where I can safely and effectively reuse the material by making a compost tea, similar to how i use comfrey.

I'm going to take my ol loopers to the roots, and dump the canes in a barrel. I will also dig up the roots with a shovel (not cleaning the dirt on the roots off), and toss those guys in the barrel too. I'll place the brick on top then fill with water until covered. Cover the barrel. Wait a couple months. Extract the green fert liquid and dilute with water (i've read 1:5 and 1:15; i want a more neutral ph so i'll go 1:15). the remaining organic matter, just to be safe, will be put in a black bag and roasted in the sun for a few weeks.

we do cool composting, mainly horse dung, very little carbon works its way in there. so i figure after the water and roasting, these blackberry canes can be tossed in our compost without threat of seeds.

I only worry about dangerous bacteria forming in the green liquid fert, and thus unusable on our crops, regardless of dilution. is that possible? most things i've read on this forum don't suggest this as a likely possibility and that having a strong smell of urine is a by-product of bacteria that wont be dangerous if diluted well.
 
gardener
Posts: 6240
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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The canes should be dried prior to use in compost heaps, the roots should be cleaned of soil and then dried too, there are compounds in green canes and roots that you do not want in a tea, drying causes these compounds to break their bonds, to complete this process heating the roots and stems is a good method.
Once the parts are good and dried, they can't re-sprout so no worries when using them in compost or making compost tea from that compost. (you could skip the completely dry if you built hot compost heaps, but since you do cold composting, just dry the parts out till they snap when bent.

The other way to use these is to ferment them in a bokashi method.

Redhawk
 
pollinator
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Location: Bothell, WA - USA
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My farm is also very prone to an accidental abundance of blackberry.  But I will tell you that you're overthinking it!  Blackberries are pretty hard to propagate from seed, and just air drying the roots (even with soil) will typically kill the whole plant.  It's not even "easy" to dig a blackberry root and transplant it!
I would recommend digging roots and then pulling the whole long vine into a pile - you can also plant trees inside a 3' high pile for natural mulching.
Spend your effort being vigilant to take out every plant each year if you want successful clearing.  The biggest failure I see is people who put in the effort one year and then don't follow-up the next two years...
 
simon bedford
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Thanks for the help! I'm new to farming; happy to have a place to ask these types of questions! So I'll roast them in garbage bags and compost 'em. I wanted to see if it was possible to get a tea outta them too. Wishful thinking!
 
pollinator
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Location: Southern Oregon
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I've heard that goats will eat them. To be honest, around here seeds grow easily, and transplanting roots, or tapping stems is very easy, but that likely depends on climate.
 
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Around here (Im in the pnw too)you find big mounds of blackberry vines growing over head high in impenetrable tangles that choke shrubs and trees and rip your skin up fairly badly.
I have found that the easiest thing is to use a hedge trimmer to reach in and cut the vines into 2' lengths and let them die.  Then I come back a few months and cut the living ones off at ground level.   The third time I come back wearing heavy gloves and pull the re-sprouted vines out by the roots - no digging required.  You can tame a half acre in a year, although I've been doing it for three years and still have to patrol my yard every few months to keep it in check.  That might be because I haven't replaced the vines with anything much (rental house) and the vacuum gets filled.

Occasionally the tip of a chopped vine gets in good contact with the ground and roots in.  But it is still soft and vulnerable months later.  I don't bother hauling live scratchy vines to the compost but the dead chopped canes and roots don't seem to recolonize once they're in the mix.
 
pollinator
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There was 2 places where the Himalayan blackberries were planted in a nice straight line under a fence by bird poop. So I have trained them like my other berries. The canes now average an inch in diameter and the root bulb is the size of a football.  As the previous poster said a hedge trimmer is the best tool for cutting them back and a chipper is the best way to compost the vines. They grow vine tips all winter trying to reach out and start new plants where thy reach the ground.  Therefore if you are retaining a patch go over it once a month with the hedge trimmer to cut back the tips. The canes may bear a second year so use the hedge trimmer to cut off the previous fruiting tips in the fall and then cut out any brown canes  or ones that are inconvenient.
I ordered a special fabrication of the Meadow Creature Broad Fork narrower with the tines closer together to did up the root balls.  Small roots lft in the soil will regrow so so the ground needs to be cultivated and cleaned thoroughly for at least 2 years.
 
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