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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
oh, it hurts so good.

We have this massive briar of blackberries and there are just so many berries everywhere. Except I can't get to half of them because it is, well, a jungle. Anyone have any advice for how to take a big thorny out-of-control patch and calm it down a little? I imagine the plants would benefit from being a lot shorter and prodcing fewer, bigger berries. We hacked down a lot of it in the spring, and you can't even tell.

I have no idea what to do with them except shove them in my face. Everything I read tells me how to train new plants appropriately, but not how to teach the proverbial old dog any new tricks.

TIA!
 

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Pruning black raspberries and purple raspberries
Raspberries produce fruit on 2-year-old canes, which die after the crop has matured. The pruning of black and purple raspberries consists of:
* Tipping the new canes when they reach a height of 18 to 20 inches, thus forming a branched cane that is capable of producing more fruit than an unbranched cane. Branched canes are also more able to support the crop off the ground than unbranched canes.
* As the buds break in the spring, the branches on the canes should be shortened to 8 to 12 inches (longer if the plant is supported by stakes or a wire trellis).

* After the crop is harvested, the old fruiting canes should be removed at the soil line. (The removal of the old canes as soon as the crop is harvested is a good disease control practice since it removes an important source of infection.)

To be honest, I just prune mine pretty hard when the new branches start getting out of control. I think it's the new branches that do that--and they won't produce any berries that year--so I'm not losing berries by doing this. I did notice that after doing that the last two years, all my berries are on these nice, shorter canes this year!

The only thing I didn't do was to prune back the dead canes (the ones that fruited last season). What a mess. Now I'm picking dead wood out of the brambles. Thank God mine are thornless!
 

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I don't train or trim the blackberries I pick off of because they are wild
I reach the inner ones by carefully bending the canes in front down and stepping on them. We do trim the raspberries we have back pretty hard every year. From what I understand, you really have to keep on top of blackberries and can cut them back hard too as soon as they are done fruiting (like heather said).

Today we went and picked 2 1/2 quarts (just enough to make a batch of jam and have a little left). We also make smoothies out of them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
So when the berries are all gone, can I just go out with the scythe and whack it all down? And then should I rake up all the canes and compost them, or should I leave them over the winter as mulch? One of the reasons I'd like to just hack it up is that we have some apple trees intermixed that died during a really bad ice storm a few years back and I'd like to cut them down this winter and then try to restrain the berries next year as they come up. I'm wondering if I start with a clean slate whether I can stake them up and keep them at a manageable height in the spring.

We're trying to sort of revive a lot of things round here. We bought the place from some 90 year olds who hadn't attended to much of anything for years.
:

Thanks for all the help!
 

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Cut back everything that had berries this year. To the ground if possible. Those long, irritating ones with no fruit this year will probably give you next years crop. Wear gloves and long sleeves.


I think it's easier to transplant to an area you'd like to have them, and train them there. Once theyr'e producing, cut the present ones to the ground. THen you don't miss a year.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
So I guess I'm still wondering whether I can mow them all down or whether I have to just lop off the ones that just fruited and leave the rest alone?

(Or, do I just do what I did this year and let them do what they want and trim them when they get crazy....
I mean, I've already canned 5 quarts, we've eaten about 2-3 out of hand, and there's probably another 4 quarts still out there. It's not like we're hurting for berries.
)
 

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I cut all the old canes down and put them in the burn pile. I don't think I would compost them or use them as mulch... but I have a habit of not wearing gloves when I garden and we have animals that like to lay in the gardens... I would be afraid someone would get pricked.

In my experience... Yes you can mow it all down, and the plants will come back really healthy, but they may not fruit the next season. When we first moved in, we cut everything down to the ground. It was all over grown and crazy, making a huge bramble. The people we bought this house from were not very elderly, but certainly had no interest in garden upkeep. That summer, everything got flowers but no fruit, the next summer we had loads of fruit
 
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