Friday, January 01, 2016

New Year's Day. Clearing Blackberries. Rain Water Barrel. 1.1.16

For New Year's, cleared more Himalayan Blackberry bramble.  I might be half way through them now.   Those haystack-looking mounds are blackberry brambles that I cut up with pruning shears.  It's not physically hard work at all.  Does require patience, persistence, and falling into a rhythm.  Ultimately I think I will pile all of them into one large, hidden-in-the-woods compost pile.  Blackberry bramble stems are not woody, even the very large, thicker than my thumb and 20 foot tall ones.  The stem is pithy.

When this area is cleared, the back / North end may get some Cyprus as a privacy hedge and to hold soil.  Downhill from that is a ravine.  More within view and  a little south of the Cyprus, I want to plant some diverse types of trees.  The remainder of horticultural remediation for the Himalayan blackberry thicket monoculture, will involve planting grass seed and frequent mowing until blackberries are fully dead and no more self-regeneration from seeds or underground roots or runners.  Then maybe let it go a little more wild with wild flowers.  I may not follow that plan as my thoughts evolve.

Cat was hiding in the brambles.  I hope she finds a good place to hide otherwise.  We need a predator for rabbits and voles and moles and t mice.

I placed the first of the black plastic sod-killing weed-killing sheets.  Rather than tilling or applying weed killer - no damn way - we put down the big plastic sheets for about 4 or 5 months.   All of the plants under the plastic die.  On removing it in Spring, the soil is soft and easily dug.  Far easier than any other method, effective, and no poisons used.  We will create, maybe, 4 or 5 beds, for sunflowers, sorghum / broom corn, amaranth, and Indian corn - all of which are for experiment for  home-grown chicken feed.   Plus they all look interesting and beautiful.  The Indian corn will need to be a big distance from the sweet corn, so neither gets pollen from the other.

I installed a rain water barrel that has been sitting unused after hauling it from the old place.  This one is 57 gallons.  Now that I am comfortable with the installation, I want to install a much larger water harvesting and storage system.  There are reused food-grade plastic containers that hold several times more, for much less.  Will post when I buy one.

2016 is expected to be hotter and more dry than 2015.  We are on a well, but the water, especially in summer, is very mineral rich and full of iron sediment.  The filters clog quickly, and are expensive to replace.  Harvested water will be much less expensive in the long run, avoid run-off, and is plenty pure enough for garden and chickens.

This was a Fiskars unit, bought a few years ago at Home Depot.  There has been no leakage but algae does grow in the barrel  during summer.


  1. Daniel, you ARE industrious! Ridding that area of blackberry vines looks difficult, despite what you claim. "Br'er Rabbit will lose his hiding place.
    That's a pretty fancy rain barrel. But, it furnishes nice, soft water, rather than harsh well water (like mine, too). Perhaps the weather forecasters will be wrong in their 2016 predictions.
    Don't overwork and knock yourself out!

  2. Randy, it really is just standing there, pruning, a lityle at a time, and piling up the prunings. I can only do a couple hours at a time. I can only do this when I have extended time off from work, do is during vacation weeks. Really interested in seeing how it looks this Spring and Summer. This is an area I didn't really grasp the size, because the blackberries obscured it all. I feel like we were given the gift of a patch of wild space, sort of.