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brambles in guilds

Posted by MrsGalihad z6b Pa (My Page) on
Thu, Jul 7, 05 at 21:06

I purchased the book Gaia's Garden and read it cover to cover about a week ago. I'm hooked on the concept and want to begin planning and implementing the ideas on my property. I'm working on ideas for a Black Walnut guild since I already have one on my property and two next door right near my tree. I've read that black raspberries will tolerate the juglone so that is one thing I'm planning for the shrub layer. What I'm wondering is how and how much do you control the spread of brambles in a guild or food forest. I have two year old raspberries in another spot and they are already threatening to out grow their space.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: brambles in guilds

Hey there,

I don't know about you, but around here berries of that nature are about $4.00 for 1/2lb in the grocery stores;and they grow wild around here! So, on that note, you probably can't have enough of them. If, however you can't keep up with what you have, I wouldn't plant more. There are other things that you can use that won't get itself killed by the aleopathic walnut roots. As for upkeep, berries are produced on two year old vines, so you need to cut back half of the brambles every year (the ones that produced berries already). So, to answer your question, you shouldn't plant anymore if you are afraid of them taking over. Those buggers not only grow long (with thorns!), but they clump too, and are pretty darn agressive. If you want to grow them for food, then the usual rule to use is plant more than you can use. Typically, if you only plant enough, then when it is harvest time, the only way you can get enough is if there wasn't a disease/pest/drought/whatever that foiled your plant.

Good luck,

RE: brambles in guilds

Thanks for the response.
I'm with you in that you can't have too many raspberries. The only reason the ones I have are too much is I didn't know enough and planned too small of a spot. I suppose what I am wondering is how they work interplanted with other things. I have a whole list of possibilities for the area under and around the walnuts. I guess I'm wondering where the balance is going to fall between maintaining them for my own use and letting them do their own thing. Does that make sense?

RE: brambles in guilds

...maybe I'm thinking too hard about it.....

RE: brambles in guilds

I have some 'Fall Gold' raspberries in pots that I have been waffling about where to plant, and worrying about them taking over like the wild blackberries do.

Then I thought about those large colorful tubs with the rope handles that you can get for $5-8 at WallyWorld or K-Mart. Instead of putting drainage holes in the bottom, I plan to put them on the sides, about 3" above the bottom. Theoretically (!), any roots that come out the holes will be air-pruned. And if they don't, they would be easy enough to just hack off so they don't spread.


RE: brambles in guilds

After thinking about it;

I don't think I would put the berries in a guild, unless the guild was something that you didn't want to access. The thorny branches, even if you do keep them trimmed up, will catch on just about everything. They would be better off in a zone3/4 area of your yard. IE, somewhere where you can get to them, but not somewhere you want to have that "Groomed" look.

If there are specific places you would like to plant them (and make them stay there), I would treat them like bamboo. Bury something as a barrier at least 12 inches deep, like a 2"x12" framed box without a bottom. Enrich the soil in your box, and plant accordingly. Belgianpup has a good idea too;Container gardening.

Perhaps behind the trees, more like a background planting than actually within the drip line of the trees (especially if you want to harvest the walnuts).

Happy gardening,

RE: brambles in guilds

I think the key to being a happy raspberry gardener is to figure out how you're going to control them before they get big enough to need a trellis or stakes or whatever. My raspberry bed is 2 feet wide, and I've been thinking of making an aisle in the middle of it so that I can both control the brambles better, and pick the berries more easily.

I'd also make sure they are getting enough sun if they are under the walnuts.

I don't have any root barriers, so the raspberries are coming up in surrounding areas, but they are easy to pull out. In fact, they are the only thing that comes up through the mulch, so it's kinda nice to have some weeds to take care of.

A couple thoughts on guilds.

I planted a row of Moonshine yarrow alternating with garlic alongside one edge of the raspberry bed (because I had a lot of yarrow to plant after dividing one plant). The garlic did not get enough sun, though the yarrow flourished and was low enough not to be in the way when I was picking the berries. I ended up not watering the garlic/yarrow area much, and the yarrow did better there than in another part of the garden where I paid more attention to it.

One thing I have thought about planting at the edge of the berry bed is peas, particularly since peas can produce fall and early spring crops here. THe peas can climb on the low fence surrounding the berry bed, add N to the soil, and ornament an otherwise abandoned-looking section of the garden while the brambles are dormant.

RE: brambles in guilds

Berries are great as part of a blocking hedge or living fence. We don't much grow raspberries this far south but bet they would act much the same as blackberries. Brambles within a hedge system need no maintance, are supported by the surrounding brush, deter animals and people from moving through that area and are mulched by the brush foliage drop. I have dewberries growing in this way and they do great. The only negative would be harvesting before the birds rob ya blind ;o) I would also add that if grown within a guild with fruiting bushes you will add a major negative come harvest time. Thorns!!! I would think twice ... than a thrid time ... about adding brambles to a guild containing fruiting bushes.
As an aside, in commerical fruit production blackberries are more and more being grown on a hinged trellis'. Just like with roses a horizontal berry stem will produce more flowers and thus more fruit. So come flowering time the vines are laid out horizontally then for easy of harvest, after the flowers have faded, are raised vertical to pick the berries. After harvest fruited canes are cut back to ground level and the current years growth are trained up the trellis.

RE: brambles in guilds

Just so ya all know... In Oregon, there are two or three kinds of blackberrys. The native ones arent much use for farming because they dont produce much. Himalayan blackberries on the other hand are incredibley INVASIVE. If I were ever to catch someone in the act of planting himalayan blackberries I would think long and hard of evil things to do to them. Dont ever let anyone tell you that you can contain this nasty bugger. Birds will eat the berries and spread seeds all over heck and back.
KNOW YOUR ENEMY. I would advise only planting native plants in your garden. If you must use non-native plants then PLEASE go out of your way to be shure they are not invasive.

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