Raspberries are one of the easiest fruit to grow and take care of. Some varieties produce fruit for several months (ever bearing) while others only put on fruit for a month or so. I started my raspberry patch eight years ago. I was enthralled by my neighbor’s beautiful raspberry plants that bordered their entire back yard. The berries were huge, some and inch long, and I was determined to have some of this production on my side of the fence.
Raspberries send out runners and quickly spread so I already had a few volunteer plants in the area I chose to make the bed. Birds also deposit raspberry seeds in their manure so new plants end up sprouting in random places througout the yard. I dug up all the random plants and replanted them approximately a foot apart in my new bed which I edged with plastic. Over the years the bed has produced a lot of delicious berries.
My raspberries only produce fruit from the middle of June to the middle of July. The foliage stays nice and green until the weather turns cold in the fall. Pruning and caring for the bed is an easy project which I will go over in today’s blog.
The first step in the clean-up is to cut out all the dead wood and trim the green canes down to a foot or so. You can tell the dead wood as it will usually break away easily when you bend a cane. If your not sure if the branch is dead just cut it back to twelve inches. Exam the cut and if you see a green ring around the cutting the branch is still viable. If not cut it off at ground level. The picture below shows the green ring around the outside of the stem.
Weeds that vine tend to like to live in the undisturbed raspberry bed so a little weeding is necessary. Once I have the patch pruned and weeded I place a four to six inch layer of homemade compost over the entire bed. The nutrients in this material will be taken down into the soil through weather and worms and will be available for the new plant growth in the spring. I also used pine needles from my front yard which I placed over the compost. The acidity from the needles will benefit the raspberry production.
Some people trellis their raspberry patch by using wires or strings throughout the bed. My raspberries outgrow their area but I have not found a need to trellis as they stay pretty much upright. Blackberries, on the other hand, are a bramble species and need some kind of support to keep them off the ground and orderly.
This clean-up process is indeed simple and pretty hard to mess up. My main suggestions for those who plan to add raspberries to their garden are to work in a good compost mixture prior to planting and plant in a triangle pattern with plants about a foot to a foot and a half apart. They will send up new shoots and will fill out the bed in no time. The people I have talked to who are disappointed in their raspberry production are those who only plant a few plants in a straight line. You need to fill in the area with new plants to get production going quicker. You can always thin out plants if they get too thick but I have never found that to be a problem with raspberries.
Birds do love to eat raspberries but I have not found that to be a big problem as their are plenty to go around so I don’t bother with any bird netting during production time. Next year I am going to add blackberries to the mix, I just need to find a good location where they can be contained. Finding space for new plantings seems to always be a challenge but it serves to occupy my mind during the cold winter months.