Cutting back a rampant blackberry

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Martin Ellis

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Cutting back a rampant blackberry
« on: September 15, 2020, 22:16 »
Hi There, Im a newbie at the allotment game. have just taken over a double plot that is / was massively overgrown. It already had some established fruit bushes such as blackcurrants and gooseberries but also a huge bank of balckberries streching across the whole width of one plot, its getting on for seven feet high and around 20 yards across! It has huge, tall nettles growing through it as well. However, it has fruited massivly and we have a good supply of fruit in the freezer ready for pies, crumbles and jams. My question is how far should i cut this thing back to get it under control again, without damaging the plant and ruining the fruiting for next year, I also need to remove those huge nettles and dig them out. Any advice or guidance would be fabulous.

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Russell Atterbury

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Re: Cutting back a rampant blackberry
« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2020, 05:29 »
I'm new to vegetable growing myself, but getting blackberry down and in control i have been doing since childhood with my father (to earn a few bob as pocket money from anyone who needed it done) We started by  attacking with a spade from anywhere you could get at, and it does come down quite well. Once it's down quite low, you then have to dig root out any way you can. And it might be a case of banging lengths of angle iron in the ground and levering them up, often with a brick behind the lever to stop it pushing into the soil so much. When you get going, it comes good reasonably fast, until it,s the size and shape required. You will not do the berry that's left any harm at all, in fact, it will year on year keep trying to invade the patch you are cultivating......better to get shot of the lot maybe?

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Hungry Caterpillar

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Re: Cutting back a rampant blackberry
« Reply #2 on: September 16, 2020, 07:29 »
What I would do is this:

The most important thing is a good pair of gloves! I use the red leather gauntlets intended for welding...

First work out where you want the blackberries to be growing and cut down any that are rooted outside that area, and also the nettles.

 Then there are two options for the ones that are left, either to put up posts and wires and train them (as the books say you should) or let them grow wild and cut them back to their space every so often.

To train them is more work to start with, but makes life easier when picking them. It's not something I've done but I'm sure plenty of people on here have and can advise you better on the technicalities of doing so. It also means you can weed between them! Basically you'd cut down all the old stems which have fruited and tie in the young new ones to fruit next year.

To grow a wild blackberry patch of limited size, cut back old canes which escape from their space and weave new ones back in as they try to spread. 

Either way you will then have to grub out the unwanted stumps and dig out the nettle roots. When bits of blackberry and nettle you missed grow back (there are always some!) either dig them out our spray them. If you have gaps in your blackberry patch you can transplant some of the spare ones. Spraying regrowth from unwanted stumps is safe, they spread above ground by the stems putting out roots where they touch the ground so the unwanted growth is not connected to the roots of the ones you want to keep.

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Yorkie

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Re: Cutting back a rampant blackberry
« Reply #3 on: September 16, 2020, 13:26 »
You've got loads of advice there - just wanted to say welcome to the site and congrats on your new lotty!  :D
I try to take one day at a time, but sometimes several days all attack me at once...

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Martin Ellis

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Re: Cutting back a rampant blackberry
« Reply #4 on: September 21, 2020, 15:37 »
Thanks to you all for your suggestions, I will definately get some thick welding gloves, thats s great idea!
I think I will take it back and try to train it along the original wires that are under there somewhere (i did catch a glimpse of them the other day while i was picking the last of the good berries off).

Thanks again :-)

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CHRISDONOHUE

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Re: Cutting back a rampant blackberry
« Reply #5 on: October 03, 2020, 01:53 »
A naturally gown blackberry patch usually has dead plants at its centre and only the plants on the outside actually crop well.   You probably only need one or two plants to give you sufficient blackberries for your needs.   These are best sited at the edge of your plot but can be 6m apart taking up very little room.  The main cane can easily reach 8m in a season and should be trained in a straight line so that the crop on the sideshoots can come from up to 14m of length.   There is a technique for removing the main roots:  put a fork in at the side at about 45 degrees and lever upwards so that either most of the root is clear of the soil or the main bulbous part is exposed.  Then either remove the whole root or cut below the bulbous part with loppers.   When cut below, the plant dies.  Larger roots are often easier to remove than smaller ones.



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