In 1884, F.S.K. of Annapolis, Md. proposed an affective method to rid your fields and orchards of Blackberries:
The Cultivator and Country Gentleman
March 27, 1884, Albany, NY
Vol. XLIX, No. 162
Blackberries in Maryland.
EDs. COUNTRY GENTLEMAN - The roots of the blackberry plant are in demand, as they are used by wholesale druggists in making up cholera medicine, and for other purposes. When I was seeding wheat last fall, as the plows turned up these long, horizontal roots, I pulled them out, and was surprised to find so many roots to one blackberry bush. I followed after the hands and gathered up what they left. I do not expect many of those roots are left, and feel confident that the wheat will not be choked by them to any extent.
The best way to rid fields of the blackberry, and the cheapest way, according to my own experience, is to let hogs root them up. They are very fond of the bark of the root, although to my taste it is intensely bitter and astringent. Some of my neighbors lost many of their hogs during the past fall by cholera. I lost none, and none were sick in any way, which I attribute to their eating the roots of the blackberry. It may be well for others to try this remedy when their hogs are attacked by cholera.
F. K. S. Annapolis, Md.
Cholera was a serious disease in the days of the Heirloom Orchardist. It wasn’t just hogs that were affected, people died from cholera. An intestinal disease, it’s caused by the bacteria Vibrio cholerae, which was unintentionally ingested through contaminated food and water. Modern organic gardeners should not think that the Heirloom Orchardist’s days were generally healthier due to the organic farming techniques used back then. (Such as using hogs instead of an herbicide.) Nope, the Heirloom Orchardist rarely had a proper sewage disposal system on his farm. And he rarely thought about what was happening downstream of his farm.
The Heirloom Orchardist was very familiar with Blackberries. Although a prolific fruit producer, the Blackberry plant was not often grown deliberately. It was (still is) a plant that could be relied upon to appear voluntarily at the edge of the orchard or field (in F.K.S.’s case, a wheat field). Think back to what you may have learned about forest succession in an old biology class. Remember the “pioneer” plants that arrive in the early stages of the field’s transition back to a climax forest? The Blackberry plant is one of those pioneer plants, and one that the Heirloom Orchardist was constantly battling without the help of modern chemicals.
But Blackberries do have a redeeming quality: delicious juicy fruit. If you are interested in growing one, I recommend a thornless variety, the Chester Thornless, available here.