Eliminating blackberries in the Pacific NW

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by crisw, Oct 15, 2006.

  1. crisw

    crisw New Member

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    Anyone got any success stories from the war?

    We purchased 10 acres of land in La Center, WA. Of the 4 acres of forest, about half is overrun with Himalayan blackberry up to 8 feet tall. Now that the original owner's cattle are out of the 3 acre pasture, they are creeping in there as well, about half the area has blackberry tendrils, and a few small bushes are popping up.

    We have a pretty good plan in place for the forested area. But the pasture is harder. We know that repeated tilling will kill them, but we're worried about erosion and topsoil loss. We also know that one tilling will just make root fragments that will grow even more berries. I'd rather not use broadcast herbicides; they are an option of last resort. In addition, the best time to spray blackberries has just passed, and if we wait a year to spray them they will take over!

    We need to renovate the pasture; there' s not much desirable out there after 3 years of cattle.

    Anyone got an idea for what might be the best crop to plant, if we till once, to smother the berries, prevent erosion, and increase soil fertility? In 3 years, we'll have goats in there, but right now we're 1200 miles away. Also, are we best off tilling this fall or next spring?

    Any help/ideas will be much appreciated!
     
  2. mrglock27

    mrglock27 Well-Known Member

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    I would just till them and then mow them about once a month. I read an article that said if you mow them every 2 weeks for 3 years you can starve the root system. You could rent a tractor with a front loader and a brush cutter on back for about $400 I've used this setup and it works great. Just let the brushcutter cut them all up and let them fall and decompose. I clear blackberries for a living but most of my jobs are smaller, around houses and in yards, on steep slopes. I just cut them by hand into 3 foot pieces and stack them up about 3 feet high then grab the whole pile and put it in my utility trailer. I would till them now while they are kinda dormant. If you're worried about erosion do the brushcutter and let it all fall and cover the dirt. I think the U.S. needs to use blackberry canes, english ivy and kudzu to make ethanol instead of corn!
     

  3. birdie_poo

    birdie_poo Well-Known Member

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    The grass is always greener, or so they say...some of us would kill to be in your shoes.

    My black raspberries are coming up everywhere, and I can't get enough of them! This year, we actually had enough berries that we didn't have to fight with the birds for them. The wild rabbits were pretty happy, too.

    I remember when I was 12 visiting my grandparents in Anacortes. Still have pictures of my reaching into the berries to pick them...it was the first time I had ever seem a real berry and been able to pick them.

    BTW, I also remember the cutest smallest wild strawberries up on Mt. Baker...made freezer jam with those.
     
  4. Nellie

    Nellie Well-Known Member

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    Could you get goats to eat it? Our Jacob ram eats them. The vines get stuck all over him, he looks so cute.

    [​IMG]
     
  5. ozark_jewels

    ozark_jewels Well-Known Member Supporter

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    GOATS!!!!! Good for the ground and they'll eat all the blackberries plants they can get. :)
     
  6. mayfair

    mayfair a yard full of chickens

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    I can't remember where I read this- but somewhere around Seattle (maybe Olympia or Tacoma) the city rented a herd of goats to clear brush and blackberries for them. Maybe you could find out who rents goats out and hire them to clear it for you?
     
  7. mrglock27

    mrglock27 Well-Known Member

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    He said he'd have the goats there in 3 years. Till then I'd just till and mow. Even if you kill most of the roots, the millions of seeds that have been dropped on the ground are viable for approximately 30 years. The biggest cane I've seen this year was bigger than a 50 cents piece, the longest were going up a tree about 40 feet. At a job I did in August the berries were the size of quarters, I ate about 75 of them that day, yum. The bigger canes make good kindling for the wood stove when they're dried out.
     
  8. kesoaps

    kesoaps Well-Known Member

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    Either mowing for years, or get some goats or highland cattle. (No way will sheep eat them down.)

    Wendy, these blackberries appear to be innocent, sweet tasting berries of summer. But the fact of the matter is, they're pure evil sent up from the depths of Satans playground to provide misery to poor, innocent and unsuspecting homeowners :p
     
  9. westbrook

    westbrook In Remembrance

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    I ditto birdie-poo... it is so hard to grow them here but I would love them!

    so since you want to grow a crop that produces... why not dig these up, cut back, wrap roots in newspaper and sell them on ebay! I'd buy a couple!

    probably less labor in digging and selling then digging and throwing away or letting goats eat them.. which they would.
     
  10. mrglock27

    mrglock27 Well-Known Member

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    Himalayan Blackberries are an invasive weed, but they have the biggest sweetest berries. I love them beacause I live in the northwest and I make $5,000 a month during the summer clearing them from people's yards and around their houses.
     
  11. Wildwood Flower

    Wildwood Flower Halfway, OR & Wagoner, OK

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    No one in their right mind would sell Himalayan Blackberries on eBay...and if there's not a law against it, there should be.

    Yes, the berries are delicious--I grew up on them--blackberry pies, blackberry jam--YUMMY! But I (we) also spent years trying to erradicate them from our 3 acres in Oregon--chopping and mowing.

    I remember reading that the berries were first brought by early settlers (seems like from some Scandinavian country) and the brush was thrown in the rivers, thus spreading them throughout the Northwest.

    That photo of the goat eating the blackberry vines--not the same kind, I don't think. Himalayan Blackberries have bigger and broader leaves, and hardier stalks---oh, and BIG THORNS! OUCH!
     
  12. kidsngarden

    kidsngarden Well-Known Member

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    Oh I am laughing so hard Kesoaps! I'm thinking slugs are from the same place. I had a BIL who moved here from Vermont and would lift the slugs with paper out of his garden and put the someplace else - OH NO! Then I told him that they can do serious damage so he's a little less nicey nice with them.

    I always look at the posts with titles like "planting Blackberries" and think "you actually WANT those in your GARDEN?!!!" I know, I know, they aren't so prolific when not wild and I do love to eat them, but GEEZ! They seem to grow everywhere you DON'T want them too here!

    kids
     
  13. mrglock27

    mrglock27 Well-Known Member

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    Himalayan Blackberries are not on the Washington State noxious weed list. They said it would be useless to try to make people eradicate them because they are way to far out of control. You could open a u pick berry farm, buy a bunch of little plastic baskets from the dollar store and charge people like $5 per basket of berries in July and August, you could put some signs out by the road, and advertise on crags list for free, and in the little nickel for cheap. Or you could spend a few days picking them yourself and sell them at a farmers market, I've seen them sold for $2 for a little tiny basket full. You could rototill or tractor trails through the big patches that way there would be more area for people to pick from and it would be cool like you were in a corn maze or something.
     
  14. lgslgs

    lgslgs Well-Known Member

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    I sure miss our blackberries! We used to have them all over our 15 acres.

    Year 1 - it took us over a month to cut to the back corner of the land with a machete. Brush cut a swath of land under the powerlines.

    Year 2 - we got two baby goats. Fenced the 15 acres and made them a night pasture of about an acre. Brush cut paths and enjoyed blackberries and hazelnuts. Brush cut the swath of land under the powerlines again.

    Year 3 - got 3 more baby goats. The night pasture is blackberry free. Goats making a dent in catbrier, blackberries, multiflora rose, honey locust and hazelnut bushes. Goats are keeping the paths open. Didn't have to brush cut under the powerlines.

    Year 4 - got a mama goat with 2 more babies and a calf. We didn't need to cut paths or under the power lines.

    Year 5 (this year) - For some odd reason none of the trees have any branches below about 6 feet and there's no little saplings all over. Blackberries, multiflora rose and hazelnuts are gone from all 15 acres, as is most of the catbrier and the worst of the honeysuckle. Dry brush in the woods has been trampled into the ground and we've only mowed the backyards and paths 3 times this year. We've got walkable, goat width paths weaving up steep (60 degree) hill slopes. The critters keep the area under the powerlines nice and clean. Paw paw trees are springing up and not getting munched away. Pat and I are missing the blackberries, but enjoying the way the landscaping crew has taken over most of our land maintenance work (except for cutting up downed trees or mending fence.)


    It's been about 2 years now since we've had our ankles torn up by catbrier or bramble canes. Can't say I miss that part of it a bit.

    Goats LOVE thorny food! I'm still amazed at how they will happily munch things that are so thorny that you can't even handle them with gloves. And it doesn't take many - most of our land clearance was done with a number of our goats still in the "little tyke" stage.

    Lynda
     
  15. lgslgs

    lgslgs Well-Known Member

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    Just saw your timing.

    If I were you, I'd just wait and let them keep growing. The goats will appreciate it and it just CAN'T get too overgrown for them to clean up.

    Ours used to actually "swim" into the brambles and just eat their way through. If they got trapped up in them they'd happily munch their way back out.

    Maybe take a brush cutter to your fence line, but if goats are on the way in three years there's no need to keep the growth in check. And they'll turn all of that brush into fertilizer - and even sprinkle it around for you!

    Lynda