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Volunteer Rubus (Bramble) Bushes care and feeding questions...


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#1 Phineas_Carmichael

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Posted 13 July 2021 - 09:48 AM

So, I've been neglecting a corner of my property for a good long time...

I noticed last summer that there was maybe some Rubus growing at the corner of my shed around a pile of landscaping stones that I might or might not give away or do something with in the future...

1-Overview.jpeg

 

Here's another angle showing just how overgrown that corner of this shed is:

2-FullBush.jpeg

 

They're definitely some kind of Bramble berry, and this year's crop is mostly on the ground in the overgrown grass:

3-LowBerries.jpeg

 

But last year's Canes are really huge and healthy, ready to bend over and clone next year's low canes.

Notice the flowers, trying to be berries later this summer:

4-ThickCane.jpeg

 

I gorged myself as I foraged, but there were about a dozen delicious berries leftover from my breakfast today:

5-Berries.jpeg

 

I certainly don't mind sharing them with the skunk family that lives under my front porch, the raccoons that happen to wander by, and the birds that surely get to them long before us mammals do, but I'd like to turn this corner of my neglected "back 40" into a berry patch so I can make some pies or some jam next year!

 

Do any of you homesteaders have any advice for me? What's the best way for me to domesticate this patch of 2 year-old volunteer Rubus? G-d knows which berry they are, biologically speaking, but I'm inclined to call them dewberries (based on my location) or blackberries (based on the behavior of the Canes) or skeptically "black raspberries" if I was trying to harvest and sell them at the local hippy farmer's market... 

 

One of these days I'll get around to cutting the grass around here, does anybody want that 150-lb dog house? Free to a good owner if you pick it up...


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#2 YoshiTrainer

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Posted 13 July 2021 - 12:32 PM

What luck Phineas, those look delicious! In the mountains around here, they grow wild and only seem to need water and whatever nutrients wash their direction. The wild ones grow in huge clumps, if you chose this route, you'd need to keep paths or picking spots clear of vines for access. If you chose to put in the work, I'd imagine you could trellis them for a cleaner/more confined patch. If the OCD kicked in, you could probably make a pretty serious labyrinth maze out of them! :) If the birds get selfish, white, 20% shade cloth on a PVC pipe frame will frustrate the heck out of them. Just be sure to wrap it underneath a bit, they will try to get under it.

Good luck!
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#3 August West

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Posted 13 July 2021 - 06:07 PM

If it really is a type of Rubus (it doesn't not look like it based on the pic ;) you can probably just plunge the tips of new growth into the ground and propagate it that way. Once the tips get established you can cut somewhere (in the middle?) and have new canes. You should then be able to dig the established canes and replant in a more formal matter if you desire. I would consider adding a nice (2-3" deep if your looking for a "commercial" crop) base of compost around the plant (and any other new plantings you want to produce). A good fertilizing once per season (at least) and some water (especially when establishing the new crop) and you'll probably be fine. It looks happy so it likely won't take much work. The more you do, the more consistent your harvest, obviously.

 

There are apps you can get where you photograph your plant and load the picture into the app. They're pretty accurate ime. Though my experience has always been with someone else's app because I don't tend to intentionally use apps that can use my input to build my profile more efficiently.

 

You likely knew most of what I've offered here but...there you go...

 

Berries look good.


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#4 Juthro

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Posted 13 July 2021 - 08:13 PM

The canes look like the Himalayan blackberries (Rubus armeniacus) that I remember from my time in Oregon,  but I'm no berry expert, so that is just a best guess.   Consistent watering, especially during fruit production will help yield bigger, and juicier berries.  A good fertilizing in the spring with a well balanced fert (10-10-10), and some compost/manure mulching in the fall will also go a long ways to producing a healthy crop.

 

Also, if you put in a couple of fence posts, and some wire they can cling to, they can be trained for easier maintenance, and harvesting. 

 

Like August said above, they already look happy, so it wont likely take much effort to get them to produce very well for you.

 

 


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#5 August West

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Posted 13 July 2021 - 08:51 PM

I can't make out thorns, (Which Himalayans have. At least around here. Maybe Oregon applies the name to a different variety?) on Phin's photos but maybe they're there. I think they have tri-leaf foliage , typically. Phin's look more like a cultivar of some sort. The real key to me is that, if they're Himalayan, you won't have to do ANYTHING to propagate them. In fact, depending on what Phineas means by, "...a good long time..." he may not even see his backyard anymore, let alone his house house. They are one of, of not THE most invasive things I've ever dealt with. Typically the question people ask about those is, "How do I kill them?", not propagate them.

Edited by August West, 13 July 2021 - 08:54 PM.

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#6 Juthro

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Posted 13 July 2021 - 09:11 PM

I see plenty of thorns in Phin's pics, and they also remind me of what I remember about Himalayans, and while you're correct that they tend to start out with tri-leaf foliage, but as they mature they grow additional leaves to form a cluster.

 

But as I stated above, this is just my best guess, you can take it or leave it for what it's worth.

 

EDIT: Pic from Wikipedia  

Attached Thumbnails

  • Himalayan_Blackberry_5_leaf_example.jpeg

Edited by Juthro, 13 July 2021 - 09:14 PM.

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#7 August West

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Posted 13 July 2021 - 09:39 PM

Ha! I just came back from my drive home to edit my post on the foliage...good call on the immature vs mature. I drove past miles of it climbing up and pulling down old farm buildings in various states of disrepair so I stopped to look more closely. It's actually amazing how different the foliage can look in the same area.

I agree with Juthro, now, since I've also actually gone back and looked at ALL 4 photos, not just the first two (what a concept! What an asshole!). After stopping on my way home and seeing the 2nd two photos, they do look like Himalayan.

I will be curious to know how long it's been since Phineas dealt with them. Even though the berries are pretty damn good, I've never heard of anyone trying to propagate them, only kill them.

Edited by August West, 13 July 2021 - 09:40 PM.

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#8 Juthro

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Posted 13 July 2021 - 10:01 PM

It's all good August, no worries from my end.

 

If that is what they are they do make damn fine berries, but they will try to take over the world if left unchecked.  I've seen them pop siding off of buildings, work underneath roofing, as well as rip down fences, and choke out desired plants.   It is also considered an invasive weed in some areas, and you can get a fine for having them growing on your property.

 

They can be hard to control once they are established, and it generally requires a lot of labor, with the addition of a little herbicide (something I try to avoid if possible) to make them go away.  If it comes to that, I suggest using a growth hormone based herbicide, like 2,4,-D amine, or Crossbow, as glyphosate (IME) is not very effective against them.


Edited by Juthro, 13 July 2021 - 10:03 PM.

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#9 Phineas_Carmichael

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Posted 14 July 2021 - 12:33 AM

Well, fuck. A little Googling tells me that these are most likely R. armeniacus & I'm not about to go through all the trouble in trying to get rid of them, so it looks like I've got a blackberry patch now. I'll get some more pictures with an eye for ID confirmation next time I feel like breakfast berries, but I'm 98% sure that's what I've got. A little history of my neglected eigth acre...

3 summers years ago (2019) we redid the front porch landscaping and pulled out 60 or so paving stones that the previous owner used as a flower bed border. Never one to throw away good brickwork I stacked them next to a shed by my pile of walnut scrap that the neighbor dropped over the fence when he took down his tree. He offered to get rid of it but I figured fuck it, I've got the fire pit right there, I'll burn it up. Well, that didn't happen and I ended up with a slightly messy side of my shed at the end of 2019 because I couldn't efficiently weed-whack around the piles.

Then 2020 happened and I only mowed that portion of the yard like 4 times over the whole summer because, 2020. In the Fall I noticed some Rubus shoots peeking up among the hoarded landscaping stones and thought, "Cool, free berries next summer maybe."

Over the course of this spring my little Volunteer has exploded and absolutely absorbed the pile of stones. I guess I need to switch to a containment mindset; like I said, I dont want to fight that fight and I like pie... What's my best bet for keeping her in her own area do ya reckon? Cut the 2nd year canes back to the ground and trim this year's growth to a manageable size in the fall? I certainly wouldn't mind an 8-foot blackberry patch along that side of the shed. I'm not in this house at the end of my 5-year plan & the first thing a new owner's gonna do is tear that eyesore down; if my blackberries do it for them, so much the better :laugh:

The wild ones grow in huge clumps...
If the OCD kicked in, you could probably make a pretty serious labyrinth maze out of them! :)

Don't I know it! During my undergrad I helped with some ecology fieldwork on a population of box turtles outfitted with radio transmitters. We had to track each tagged individual once a week & gather data like weight, GPS coordinates, nearby vegetation, etc. This time of year it seemed that 5 out of 6 turtles were eating themselves silly on Rubus (they look like adorable murder turtles with the berry stains all around their little beaks) and right in the middle of one of those clumps. "Turtle was in a Bramble thicket" is not a good data point so when the radio pointed to one we had to wade in & find the little suckers, mostly to make sure they were actually in there & didn't just drop their transmitter. So many superficial wounds... So much iodine...

It was always a relief 6-8 weeks from now when the blueberries started coming out & every turtle in a 2km radius headed for the one spot in the park where they grew!
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#10 August West

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Posted 14 July 2021 - 01:19 AM

What's my best bet for keeping her in her own area do ya reckon? 

 Of all the questions pertaining to attempted crimes that have been posed on this website over the years, this may be the most egregious. I can't be a party to this level of malfeasance ;)


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#11 Juthro

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Posted 14 July 2021 - 02:46 AM

 If you would like some starts of red, or golden raspberries I would gladly share with you, just send me a  PM and I'll get a priority box ready.  It's a good time of year for it here, as all members of this family are somewhat invasive, and I'm keeping my berry patch from invading my yard.

 

If you've got an area that can be mowed around on a regular basis, the rhizomes can easily be kept in check (or you can dig some up and share with friends)

 

 

 

 

 

 

  






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