Garden Nemesis: The Evil Himalayan Blackberry!

I’d sure like to have a word with the chumps who carefully packed seeds or canes or whatever they brought with them from the Old Country and then carefully cultivated new Himalayan Blackberry patches in land formerly unplagued by these monstrous beasts. Apparently, (at least according to the Royal BC Museum website) the fool who muled them here in 1885 was an American botanist! Surely a botanist should have known better?????

Expect to see a lot of this kind of action around here over the next little while...

Expect to see a lot of this kind of action around here over the next little while…

Yes, the berries are sweet and delicious and wonderful for making jam and pie (I believe that was the original motivation for import), but are they worth the havoc the dense thickets are wreaking on our native species? The stands of lacerating canes are so dense and vigorous it doesn’t take long to choke and/or shade out whatever might otherwise be growing (Garry Oak groves, for example).

Fighting the prickly canes is a miserable task. Anyone who believes plants can’t think (plot/scheme/have it in for us) hasn’t fought with barbed tendrils that wrap around you, entwining your entire body in search of exposed skin or, even better, loose hair, or even better than that, a key artery.

Blackberries be gone!

Is there anyone who is happy about this abundance of invaders? Indeed, yes – the goats! Unfortunately, the area we are clearing at the moment isn’t one that I can easily fence or we’d just let the goats come in and strip the canes. They happily wade right into the nastiest of thickets, noshing all the way and will eat all but the oldest, toughest stalks when given half a chance. After they are done, the hogs are great at using their powerful snouts to dig out the roots, which they eat with gusto. Such a shame this isn’t really a livestock-friendly area. Not wanting the creatures to be left out of all the fun, I hauled several wheelbarrows full down to the goat pen and they were happy to help us out with a bit of pre-compost processing.

Alas, it’s up to us humans to first hack the beasts off at the knees and then get in there and dig out as much of the roots as we can.

Chickens at WorkThe red layers love helping whenever we are out in the garden. They race over and see what we might have dug up. They are very good at taking care of slugs and bugs and also turning over the top layer of soil while fertilizing and are great to run through garden areas at this time of year when the annuals are done and there isn’t much they can damage.

Soon, though, when we re-seed the lawn and put in our new rockery they will have to move down to the poultry field with their fancy rolling house and take their place with the other birds. I’ll miss not having them so close to the house, though it will be great not tripping over six or seven at a time as they vie for the opportunity to untie my shoelaces and peck at my calves every time I go outside!

13 responses to “Garden Nemesis: The Evil Himalayan Blackberry!

  1. Similar harsh words to those who introduced rabbits to Australia!

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  2. We have several imports that wreak havoc in our area. I was just reading an article last night about using goats to rid our property of an imported wild rose that grows here. Then there’s the Kudzu. Sadly, many of these old imports have taught us to be cautious about non natives, but do we listen? Nope. New invaders are brought in every year!

    Good luck with your quest to slay the beast!

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    • Thanks! It is a bit ridiculous that we keep making the same mistake over and over and over… So far we haven’t had to deal with kudzu, but I suspect it’s only a matter of time. Apparently Tennessee is experimenting with goats for kudzu control.

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  3. And then there’s the crazy Scots who decided it would be lovely to have broom growing all over the island. Geesh!

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  4. We have some blackberry growing in spots around here. I have a small patch that doesn’t spread just at the edge of the yard. I harvest and eat them in the short time they are ripe. Your plants sound really aggressive. The conditions must be prime for them to grow.

    I like the layer crew in that picture. They are busy cleaning up.

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  5. English ivy, daphne, starlings… BROOM…but I agree, the blackberries will outlive us all, never seen a plant so skilled at regenerating multiple ways.

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  6. The Editors of Garden Variety

    Wow…it’s massive. That is truly an experience I hope I never have to endure!

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    • One of my least favourite garden tasks, I have to say. Down the road is a patch that is taking over an entire acre of an unused field. I`ll have to take some photos down there to give an idea of the scale of what can happen when it`s unchecked. The stuff of nightmares and horror films…

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  7. Oh, yes! We have lots of those nasty types here…not only weeds, but birds and bugs. Grrrr

    Linda
    http://coloradofarmlife.wordpress.com
    *♥´¨) ¸.-´¸.-♥´¨) Happy Valentine’s Day¸.-♥¨) (¸.-` ♥♥´¨

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