In the beginning there were brambles. And what I had been blissfully unaware of until we began to tackle this problem was how tricky they are to get rid of. I started googling “getting rid of brambles”, “kill the brambles”, “die brambles die!!!”. This resulted in a feeling of hopelessness, desperation even. All the people in the whole world were convinced the only way to get rid of brambles was to spray them with some evil mist or dig them out. Well the evil mist doesn’t really come under consideration, apart from the recent findings about how very evil it really is, I was from the start unkeen to spray bad stuff anywhere near where I might one day want to grow food. And we have young kids so, just no. But considering our plot of land is around 9000m² and about a third of it is occupied by brambles I didn’t really fancy the idea of digging them all out by hand.
Turns out I needn’t have worried. We just needed swords.
No, really. Well no, actually. But all it took was cutting it, first with the strimmer, then again with the strimmer, then again with the strimmer. We didn’t do this all in one go because in the beginning we were living in Berlin and visiting our land 3 or 4 times a year when on holiday staying with my parents. But still there was progress. The more grass peeped through the brambles the easer it was to cut the next time we came. We also found that depending on when we cut the effect could be more or less depending on the whether afterwards. The results of these very scientific undertakings was that although it was absolute killer to do so, our greatest victories were won slogging away under the summer sun. Everything that was cut then died back around the edges and essentially shrunk much more than purely what we had cut. Oh, except the bit along the fence which was helpfully watered by the neighbouring farmer’s corn irrigation meaning it felt like it had had a good prune ready for a rampant expansion!
Na ja. You win some you lose some. But on the whole we are winning. And I’m going to share with you our winning technique for clearing big areas of brambles fairly quickly.
The problem with those pesky blighters is that they are leggy and lanky and long and you get to the point where you don’t know what is worse, the thick robust stems of the mother root or the spindly long new shoots that are just sitting ready to pounce and claim fresh blood. And though they take up a lot of space once you crunch them down there’s not much to it. So here’s the recipe:
Big Bramble Clearing
2 people (with the strength and determination of ten bears)
Strimmer cuts a small channel from top to bottom into the brambles as far as the strimmer will reach in without having to climb in. Make sure you are wearing goggles and cover your arms and legs as there will be nasty little thorns and debris splintering off in every direction. Then strimmer person starts to cut underneath the neighbouring section right at the bottom again as far in as you can comfortably go.
Now here’s the magic bit. The rake person now pulls with the rake in the opposite direction up from the bottom allowing the strimmer operator to cut across the bottom further into the jungle. Once that is cut, trusty rake pulls again revealing more low stuff to be cut. Strimmer can then cut around the edges and rake can pull that section of brambles away in a big ball revealing the floor which can then be recut a bit more carefully to get rid of as many brambles as possible.
We have been doing that then coming back and cutting it again. Last year we made a huge win by having someone cut it when we weren’t there. This was awesome as it meant we arrived and didn’t have to fight our way in but could advance out to conquer new territory.
And when the brambles get too much we just head off down to the river for a change of scene and a relax.