Thursday, April 5, 2012
Yes, I realize blackberry plants are not exactly trees though I have some that must think they are given their height. Tree or not, these woody plants often take the space of a tree in our landscape whether we grow them on purpose or not or for fruit or ornamental reasons.
The homestead we bought is rife with wild blackberries. Never one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I thanked God for this bounty and set about learning what to do with them. I found out in short order that they were to be respected (Ouch!! Thorns!!) and tamed. Left unsupervised, these things can spread to take over your entire yard (or farm).
The first few years weren’t too bad, a few stray plants turned up in places where I didn’t want them. Thank you very much little birds! But once we got chickens, fuhgeddah ‘bout it! I have blackberry plants coming up everywhere. I also learned you need to remove them promptly. Once they get established, they are difficult and painful to remove.
There are still a few plants growing outside our blackberry patch that need to be removed but we finally have it under control. It takes diligence though. If you are considering adding blackberries to your landscape of orchard, be mindful that you will need to monitor their spread. In many places they are considered a noxious weed because they are capable of choking out the natural vegetation.
In order to successfully remove the blackberry plant, you have to get the entire rhizome out. A rhizome is like the root structure for the blackberry and it resembles the ginger root or the rhizome that an iris grows from. Leaving even a tiny piece of this in the soil means new blackberry shoots will come up.
Obviously mowing and burning are not good methods of removal for this reason, though either can help control the spread and the bramble for a time and with repetition.
To maintain a blackberry patch you must be diligent about harvesting of the berries so they don’t fall to the ground and seed themselves or that birds and animals don’t spread them for you. You must also monitor it to prevent new canes from sprouting in places where you don’t want them.
Blackberries are beautiful when they blossom as each 2 year old or older cane is covered in white flowers. The berries range from large and sweet to small and tart depending on the variety and the bushes provide a wonderful habitat for birds and other animals in the wild. Plant blackberries with care and know what you are getting into before you do.
Do you have any tips on controlling blackberries?