Saturday, January 9, 2021

Blackberries: Love 'em or hate 'em

When we lived in Oregon way back when, we had four acres of property. However one entire acre of it was unusable. Why? In a word, blackberries. They had literally covered a quarter of our property with a dense jungle of impenetrable thorns. With no tractor, we had little recourse to control them (except with pesticides, which I'm not keen on).

Don't get me wrong, I love fresh blackberries as much as the next person. But yowza, they spread. And spread. And spread.

In our last home, the only blackberries in sight were those cultivated (and controlled!) in neighboring gardens. However I stubbornly refused to allow a blackberry plant anywhere near our property boundaries. No way, no how.

Here in our new home, I was dismayed to see wild blackberries everywhere. On hillsides. In pastures. Along the road.

The sellers told me they'd bulldozed this patch in one of the pastures a couple of times already. And hey presto, look! It's baaaaack.

I'm not unduly alarmed at this point -- so far we only have that one patch on our property -- but I can assure you we plan to keep this patch contained (probably with the aid of the tractor).

That way perhaps we can enjoy the best of both worlds: fresh fruit, and no tangled jungles.


  1. We also have removed some blackberry patches, but they don’t seem as bad here, as the dang briar patches. Those things will take ahold of you, and before you know it, you are bleeding everywhere! I do use the tractor and then follow up with the dreaded chemicals! Last year I tried using salt water instead of chemicals, and the blasted things grew bigger... go figure!

  2. One corner of my yard was being overtaken by blackberries, then I got three Nigerian Dwarf goats a month ago. There are no leaves left, and I'm confident they'll keep eating them as fast as they grow. I imagine you'd have to be a bit more involved to keep down a larger patch, but goats love blackberry plants.

  3. Patrice, they will grow at The Ranch rather productively if left out of check. It is a constant battle. Goats are a great idea.

    They are delicious though.

  4. You might try the cut and dab method using full strength brush killer. Cut the stems to the ground and immediately dab the cut end using a small disposable paintbrush. Works well on berries and even everlasting peas which can be invasive. Obviously not easy to do on large populations but it can stop it from spreading into the garden. Good luck!

  5. Another plug or goats here. They love them!

  6. I don't mind our blackberries - they grow at the edge of the woods all over our property - I just have to cut them back each year and then make sure they get mowed before they get tall enough to scratch whomever drives the mower. That leaves enough for me to pick at least 10 gallon jugs worth and make lots of jam every year... What REALLY annoys me are the wild roses that are just a mass of thorns and prickers, and are usually ugly because of whatever disease they get that kills off half the branches. And they spread terribly... I wish I had goats to eat those!

  7. Borrow a few goats for the season. They'll take care of bramble fruits, multiflora roses, poison ivy...

  8. Not only do we have tons of blackberries, there are also raspberries. Huckleberries, also. That's Idaho for you.

  9. I have them on all the fence lines on my acres in N Fl. As well as bits here and there throughout the property. However bushhogging three times a year keeps them in check, as well as horses do enjoy them. In fact once they rippen I am in a rush to get what I can before the horses, dogs and bugs descend on them. And these are wild blackberries with the thorns. So far no major or really minor cuts after 13 years.

  10. Many years ago a close friend had five acres in Oregon with an acre or so overrun with blackberries. We were working on cleaning it up but were frustrated with the progress. So he fired up his ancient pickup truck and backed thru the edges of the blackberry forest working his way in a few feet at a time. At one point he barreled through a particularly dense section and just missed a shed buried in the blackberries that he didn't even know was in there.

  11. Have you read "Wilding" by Isabella Tree? She expounds mightily about the blessing that thorny scrub is to biodiversity.

  12. Growing up on Washington's westside, we had an extensive blackberry patch on our 9-acre property. As a dairy farming family, we kept our young stock in the field with the blackberry patch- they did a credible job of keeping it contained. They didn't eat the leaves or vines (go goats!), but just their presence moving about the field seemed to deter the brambles from taking over.

  13. Hi Patrice!

    Don't worry about the blackberries. You can control them, but NOT with Crossbow (yeah, get over the aversion to using "pesticides"). Crossbow only kills the growing part of the plant. Blackberries are like Aspen: the majority of the plant is ALL underground, so you have to kill the roots to eradicate this invasive plant.

    We have 5 acres in Washed-a-ton, and there are two (2) types of "pest" blackberries: "himalayan" , and tanglefoot. The stuff called "himalayan is actually a native North American blackberry, but from back east. The "tanglefoot" is actually called "trailing" blackberry, and is the native Washed-a-ton vine.

    Both can be very aggressive, and take over lots of territory IF you don't pay attention. So, you DO have to pay attention.

    Crossbow only kills the above ground part of the plant, is VERY expensive and has to applied multiple times to get any results. I recommend Ortho Poison Ivy and Brush Killer (disclaimer: I am NOT affiliated with, nor do I work for Chevron Chemicals) to eradicate any blackberry problems you might have. Had terrible bb problems when we lived in Sonoma, and the ONLY thing that killed the bb's DEAD, and KEPT them DEAD, was the Ortho stuff. The main two (2) reasons I recommend this stuff is that: (1) it WORKS, and (2) it doesn't seem to harm anything else.

    So, to protect your property, give it a shot.

    Btw: I LOVE blackberries, but just NOT growing all over my property.


  14. I do understand the problems y’all have with bb bushes. But be thankful you can just go outside and grab a healthy snack free of charge. What a blessing that would be!
    You see, I live where the tumble weed is the menace. Oh, don’t get me wrong, they make great “snowmen” ;-). And growing our own food, well that’s another whole story
    So if you need someone to take those bb off your hands send them my way, I love them!