Bramble clearance

Question ...

I have obtained an allotment that is very overgrown with blackberry bushes. It has been slashed and burned. The allotment secretary has offered to spray it with weedkiller when the shoots come through, to kill all the roots. I wish to grow organically, and do not want the ground to be sprayed. I have no idea how to get up those thick deep roots, let alone stop it coming back. Any suggestions would be very gratefully received.

Answer ...

Don't be tempted to use weed killer, brambles and blackberries can be eradicated by other means. Dig up young plants as soon as seen and older ones where possible. When they are too tough too dig out, brambles will not survive long if the tops are regularly removed to ground level. Invest in a pair of loppers or other sharp implement to cut them down. This can take up to 3 years, but it is worth it - and you have avoided using toxic chemicals, which not only leave residues in your soil, but research has shown can also inhibit nutrient take up. See Glyphosate. See also our advice on how to prepare your new growing area.

Garden Organic members can see our expert factsheets for further advice on organic gardening. Access to factsheets requires a members' password.