Himalayan blackberry seedlings - Help

Discussion in 'HortForum' started by zinzara, Apr 22, 2004.

  1. zinzara

    zinzara Member

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    Port Coquitlam, BC
    Good Morning.

    I live in Port Coquitlam. Last summer my husband and I removed a large area (20 x 20 feet) of blackberry from the yard of the house we purchased. The yard has a creek running through it, half is covered with beautiful old forest, the other half was covered with blackberry. We removed as much roots as possible (an impossible amount still remain in the soil). We have removed new growth and any roots as growth has appeared. This area of streambank has slowly started to come back to life and counts many ferns and lillies amongst the survivors which popped up this spring after so many years of being smothered...

    I attended the native plant sale last week and purchased a few items to add to this area, in hopes of one day fully restoring the forest.

    Now the problem... a beautiful carpet of new green growth appeared on this cleared area and we had hoped it was any other sort of weed or plant popping up, but no, it is (alas) zillions and zillions of baby blackberry seedlings (all about 2cm high) and covering the ground like a carpet!!!

    It's like a horror movie! I expected seedlings but not like this!

    What do I do? Pulling these seedlings one by one will take the rest of my lifetime! Can I "scrape" them or hoe them? I can't (and don't want to) use a herbicide for obvious reasons.

    I was so excited about my efforts and suddenly am SO discouraged!

    I know it's going to be a long battle and any help or suggestions will be
    greatly appreciated...
  2. Bill

    Bill Active Member 10 Years

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    West Van
    I had blackberries 10' (3 m.) high in my back yard - and the only was to get rid of them was to cut them and then spray them with herbicide, wait a year and then plant. We are still pulling up the odd one, but are mostly free of them now.

    Now if I could just find something that would take out morning glory, short of a tactical nuke......
  3. douglas

    douglas Active Member 10 Years

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    princegeorge b.c
    There are other ways than herbicides. Check your local rental center try to rent a device called herb stick. It is a device that uses infra red (ie heat) generated from either propane or butane. The idea is that you NOT not burn the plants to the ground but rather singe them so the natural proccesses cannot happen. (Ie enough heat to burst the
    protoplasmic cells) and starve the plant.

    This will be an ongoing for problem that you are dealing with.Start with it about every 14 days and you may have to keep it up for a few years.

    Remember that these seeds can remain dormant in the soil @10 to ?years.
  4. Harry Hill

    Harry Hill Member

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    Roberts Creek, BC (Sunshine Coast) Zone 8
    Killing weeds with flame or steam

    Using a chemical herbicide is a bad idea anywhere, but ESPECIALLY beside a creek where it leaches out of the soil into the water. Lee Valley Tools http://www.leevalley.com sells a weed torch (PT605 in a recent catalogue) that would serve your purpose. Another excellent method is blasting the area with steam or hot water to kill seeds and seedlings - you would have to do some research as to where you might rent a steam weed killer.

    Here's something I found on the Web:

    WEED STEAM, Posted June 20, 2003

    Weeds make Kelowna’s Parks Department steaming mad. Now it's trying steam to get rid of the nuisance plants. Parks employees are testing a machine that uses steam and boiling hot water to kill weeds as an environmentally friendly alternative to chemicals. "We’d like to use a machine like this for environmentally sensitive areas. Situations that are maybe close to water, and just basically get away from any chemical use," says Don Stolz of the Parks Department. The steam machine is on loan from Osoyoos. Kelowna Parks employees will use it as much as possible for the next month before deciding whether to purchase one.
  5. zinzara

    zinzara Member

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    Port Coquitlam, BC
    Thank you for all the suggestions

    I really appreciate all the suggestions. I had already been toying with the idea of a burning them and so forth, I will have a look in my Lee Valley catalog for the weed torch.

    My concern with burning them is 2-fold, will burning them do enough damage to the root systems or will they just pop up new growth a few centimetres away from where they have been burned? and then I am also concerned with burning in a forested area, ok for now while things are damp, but much too dangerous as the ground dries up throughout the summer.

    For now I think I am just going to tenaciously remove them by hand methods and I have enlisted the help of some extra hands for this job. This weekend is Blackberry eradication weekend!

    I also know that the seeds remain viable for a long time and that I will be dealing with a lot of seedlings over the next few years, and I suppose in a practical sense, the more seedlings pop up now, the less I'll have to deal with next year, it just seems so overwhelming, like anything else, before you start.

    Thank you all.
  6. mr.shep

    mr.shep Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    San Joaquin Valley, California
    Hi Zinzara:

    You may want to read this article.


    Non-chemical weed or brush control requires a long-term commitment
    and it is not any fun but in order to effect changes we have to really want
    those changes to come about.

    Harry Hill:

    "Using a chemical herbicide is a bad idea anywhere, but ESPECIALLY beside
    a creek where it leaches out of the soil into the water".

    After being called in by the state several years ago to bust an Apple grower for
    illegally dumping Pesticide residues in a creek that others down stream were
    using as a direct and indirect water source (well water) I cannot agree more.
    Thank you for reminding people about that hazard!!!

    Last edited: Apr 23, 2004
  7. Ted


    This is probably a terribly irresponsible thing to do, but I've given up on eradicating the himalayan blackberries in our yard and started enjoying them for their fruit as well as their impenetrability.
    I try to train the canes into a narrow strip along the fence that separates my yard from that of a neighbor who has a very mean dog. It's prettier and more effective than barbed wire, and my kids get to (carefully) pick the berries for almost three months of the year. The berries are fantastic, much better even than the ones we get at our local organic food co-op.
    This is the only fruit I've had any luck with here on the west side of San Francisco. Fog and wind make it hard to grow anything but potatoes around here.
    It's been tricky (and painful) to keep aiming the canes where I want them, but it's worth it. I cut back the canes in October after they finish fruiting, and I hand-pull the shoots that try to come up farther from the fence line.
  8. fish&ferns

    fish&ferns Member

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    Pitt Meadows
    It sounds like a big job to undertake but it is wonderful that you are working to improve the streamside vegetation on your property. Streamside vegetation, often referred to as riparian vegetation, is a very important component of fish and wildlife habitat.

    There are community groups that may be interested in helping you with your project as there several Streamkeeper organizations in your area. I have attached a link to their homepage where you can find contact information. http://www.pskf.ca/home.html

    They often have volunteers interested in removing invasive plant species and planting native species. Sometimes they even have funding to purchase native trees and shrubs for planting. Best of Luck!
  9. Articulady

    Articulady Member

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    Lake Monticello, Virginia
    Hi Zinzara,

    Eradicating the Himalayan blackberries is nearly impossible, but it can be done with dilligence, patience and effort, effort, effort. If they get sun where they are, have you considered making lemonade from the lemons so to speak, as Ted has? The berries are absolutely fantastic and prolific, although the canes are quite thorny. I grew up surrounded by Himalayan blackberry, and have the fondest memories of jam, pies, sauces, fresh berries, and being shoved into the brambles by my mean brothers lol. (Not one of the fond memories). I'd love to bring some here to Virginia where I now live, but.. it would be so wrong! Not very many people appreciate ultra-invasive thorny plants, and my conscience won't allow me to introduce them here. *sigh*

    It does sound like a lot of creekside space to surrender to the berries, but you are in for a huge, long fight. Possibly install a large arbor or other structure for them to climb on (ok, take over) and work around it? I know it's not at all what you had in mind but perhaps you could settle for co-existence...? It's just a thought, instead of fighting berries for the rest of your life....
  10. Eric La Fountaine

    Eric La Fountaine Contributor Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    sw USA
    With the great number of Rubus species that grow in N. America, you should be able to find a suitable substitute for the Himalayan monster. Here is a link to Rubus info from the USDA:


    If someone finds similar info for Canada. I would like to see it. There are a good number of Rubus growing at UBCBG. It would be great to see a full collection of Rubus to compare types of this interesting and delicious plant.
  11. Get a goat, or borrow a goat from someone. Tether him or her up to a tree in the area you would like the blackberries eaten. They absolutely love blackberries. They may eat some of your other plants too though.

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