Every year, my wild blackberry patch puts on a floral show for the ages. Also every year, being on a sandy hillside, whatever fruit may come off it is small and sparse.
If I were to brush hog the hill and compost with several inches of wood chips, what strategy would have the best results? Wait til fall? Do it as soon as possible? Sometime in the middle? Don’t do it… it’s a bad idea?
I’d sooooo love to have the hill be productive!
Edit… hoping to get these guys to produce more and bigger fruit
I missed the whole point of your original post. I thought you were trying to get rid of the berries, but actually you want them to produce better.
I haven’t grown raspberries/blackberries for a long time, but I think that if you want to keep the patch you’ll do well to improve the soil with compost or wood chips, learn to remove old canes, and so on.
There are several different kinds but I assume your wild berries are thorny and ramble. I was thinning out a rambling rose today and was really grateful for heavy leather gloves!
I don’t have any experience doing this, but this is my thought process for this.
I would do it in patches or sections, so you won’t go more than a year without any production at all. Mow down an area whenever the plants are still dormant, add your soil amendments and rake/lightly till it in. If you damage some roots, so be it, they’ll just spread new suckers faster and get filled in. Then the next year, do another section.
Either that or clear paths just to add your rows of compost and till it in deep. Just let the Surrounding plants grow new suckers into the row for a season. When fall comes, Cut down or till all the rest to creat your path between your rows. That way you just work to create your rows, can concentrate your compost, and then let nature plant it for you. The rest will be maintaining the rows and keeping the path clear of canes and suckers
Despite the thorny rambliness that Mark referred to, and the very good suggestion to make rows, I’m feeling like I need to focus on low input techniques. I have 300 semi-standard apples, 10 pear, a handful of peaches/plums, 150 feet of elderberry, 250 feet of aronia, hazelnuts, lots of currants and rhubarb, and what’s supposed to be a garden… the blackberries are there and at least grow/flower well, but Peter our when the summer drought hits 4 years in 5.
I’d like to, largely, forget about the blackberries until I put on the canvas pants and pick a couple of gallons in an afternoon. I have ‘infinite’ woodchips and ample manure that can be spread pretty evenly by tractor.
I would weed, feed, and mulch. Compost with wood chips on top. Refresh once or twice a year. Like what I do to my perennial cultivated fruit shrubs. Except I use shredded leaves with compost on top. It makes for a consistent source of organic material. I use whatever I can. Wood chips are hard to get here. I use pine straw sometimes too.
Nothing wrong with what you’re doing though. To keep them going once the incorporated compost runs out, do what I do.
How about doing the bush hog following soon as you’ve harvested all you intend to this year?
Then, some 10-10-10.
And the manure and wood chips also, if you have plenty.
Then, in one or two years, maybe you’ll have briars taller than you are, I know I do sometimes even with no attention.