If you live in the Pacific Northwest, you know about the bane of gardeners (and all landowners) – the invasive Himalayan blackberry. In this episode we’re in confession mode talking about how we’ve dealt with this scourge in the past and why we’re taking extreme measures in this house. We’re also sharing some updates on the remodeling progress of our hundred year old farmhouse – some really exciting and one kind of scary. There’s food coming in from the garden (yay!), so you’ll find three dinner menu ideas using your harvest, plus some cool things we’ve discovered – and lots more.
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While we aren’t strangers to the wild blackberries that cover the Oregon landscape (we had a patch on our previous cottage’s acre we never could eradicate completely), this huge rock (or rather boulder) wall with the berries growing out of it is new to us. As a reference, I cut this berry back two weeks before taking this picture. As you can see, it’s unfazed – actually looking like it enjoyed the pruning by putting out fresh new growth!
It was kind of hard to describe, but you can see the size of the rocks – this wall was created with machinery and not by hand, that’s for sure. It ranges from about 6 to 8 feet tall and wraps around a corner for about 20 feet forming the base of the gravel bed where we’re building our vegetable garden.
So it’s a major wall. And it has more than 20 blackberries growing out of it at last count. We don’t want it totally taken over, which is what would happen if we left it as is, so that’s why we took drastic measures.
Here is the guide put out by Invasive.org on dealing with Himalayan blackberries (the wild, non-native type we have in the Northwest brought from Europe in the 1800s) that we talked about.
All my favorite gardening tips and practices are based on organic principles which I’ve found lead to the easiest care gardening as well as healthy plants. So while our confession about the invasive blackberries is unusual, it does go along with the organic principle of least-to-most: trying the least impactful methods (in this case, cutting back, digging up, smothering) first before going to more drastic methods if the others don’t work.
Another secret not mentioned in the episode: I do have one other noxious weed that if I see I use herbicide on immediately: field bindweed. This is often called wild morning glory, but it is not like the cultivated morning glory even though it has pretty white blooms. It is so pernicious and fast-growing and if you try pulling and digging it, the small roots you leave will sprout into many more plants. It totally took over and killed entire rose bushes and evergreens in a back corner of my first city garden before I realized what I was dealing with. Terrible. I’ve read it can lay dormant in the soil for 50 years! (One more reason for no-tilling methods.)
Foundation: Our farmhouse’s foundation currently looks like the picture above. Which is why after months of looking we are so excited about finally having a great (more than great!) solution.
Shed: Here is Brian’s technique for moving the 10 x 16 foot shed that was weirdly placed on our property (in between the barn and manufactured home on a hillside that’s not very accessible). He attached wood beams to act as ‘skis’ and then rolled it on the PVC pipes by pulling with our Jeep in 4-wheel drive.
He started with pull ropes on the beams, but it literally split the 4 x 4 beam in two. Going to a pull rope long enough to go all the way around the shed was the answer and he actually got it up over a slight hill, down the other side, and into the gravel garden area. Often coming inches from other structures! It was a little crazy.
Garden: We created one more bed like this one and I’ve planted seed potatoes in a plastic garbage can to see if this method results in a good harvest. I’ll update you more on that as it progresses. Have you used a garbage can to grow potatoes?
Here are the links to the recipes made with the lettuce and spinach coming in from the garden (plus the other recipes to round out the menu ideas):
Dinner menu #2: Spinach, cranberry, sweet onion & feta salad dressed with Balsamic Vinaigrette served with Sheet Pan Roasted Sausages with Onions and Peppers
Dinner menu #3: Orange-Almond Salad served with Sheet Pan Lemon-Garlic Roasted Chicken & Vegetables
This is Really Cool!
Brian’s: Turn your old laptop into a Chromebook using CloudReady. Here’s the article that guides you through the steps. It’s kind of amazing!
Jami’s: The non-homemade deodorant that works – Earth Mama Deodorant in bright citrus and here is the AOC article where I asked if homemade deodorant really works and spilled my smelly secret.
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