Renovating an overgrown blackberry patch
It's awfully easy to let
even thornless blackberries turn into an impenetrable jungle.
Just forget to tip
prune them one
summer, then you're unable to mow the tall weeds that pop up under
their arching canes. By fall, the row looks like a wild briar
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The first step in
renovating a patch like this (or any other kind of overgrown bramble)
is to prune out the worst canes. I snip off all of the rooted
canes in the aisle and then cut the plants back to a main stem with
branches six to twelve inches long. Meanwhile, I pull or cut out
dead canes from previous years. I'm not really pruning yet, just
opening up the patch so I can get in there.
Next, I dig out any tall
weeds that rooted within the row. Ragweed isn't a perennial, but
once plants like wingstem get a foothold in your bed, even a kill
mulch will have a
hard time holding them back. I might accidentally dig up a berry
or two in the process, but that's not a problem --- there are plenty of
Now that I can see what
I'm doing, it's pretty simple to prune
the blackberries using techniques I've explained previously.
After a good pruning and weeding job, I lay down a kill mulch along
side of the berries to prevent the bad weeds I might have missed from
encroaching into the planted zone. Then I top it all off with
mulch and mark a remulching and summer pruning job on my June calendar
to ensure the problem doesn't reoccur.
Luckily, brambles are
awfully forgiving of even the worst care. Even though this patch
looked like a jungle last summer, it will probably produce pretty well
for me this year (and even better next year if I manage to keep the
weeds down). Our blueberries are more daunted by weeds, and I can
see a big difference between the plants I managed to remulch last
summer and the ones that got away from me. Maybe next spring,
I'll be so on top of the perennials, everyone will be in good shape.