Sunday, August 2, 2009

Raspberry Chores

After picking just 4oz of raspberries in two days I decided the raspberries were slowing down. They were also the most diseased and yellowed summer raspberry canes I had ever seen. It was time to cut them down to make way for my fall berries.

I have Heritage raspberries. They are called ever bearers. In reality they have two harvest seasons, summer and fall. The summer crop grows on last year's canes. After they crop the canes die. The fall crop comes on the new canes that have grown this year. These new canes tend to get a bit crowded out by the old canes.

The earlier I cut down the old canes the better. I often don't wait for the last of the summer raspberries to finish. I find that the fall crop tends to be better if I'm a little proactive. This way the mildews and diseases don't build up in the canes. In addition at this time I also thin out the new canes. I get rid of all the weak and thin canes and make sure there aren't too many close together. This makes for a better, healthier, easier to pick crop.

The cut canes are separated into old growth and this years growth (including new growth on old canes). This years growth gets tossed on the compost pile. This is most of the biomass. The bare canes from last year, now stripped of their foliage, gets tossed on the brush pile. It would take way too long to break down the woody canes in the compost pile so I don't even try anymore.

Now the raspberry patch looks a bit pathetic compared to the lush old growth. It is healthy however. The new canes have already started to bloom. The bees are having great fun. All this work required just under an hour to complete. Except for picking and taking off the spent blossom clusters in the fall that is all the work they require. They are such an easy crop to grow here in our wet climate.

Don't forget Harvest Monday tomorrow. I hope you will all join in.


  1. That looks much better! I have a summer bearing variety, so my pruning out and thinning comes early in the spring. I kind of like that, as I'm pretty gung-ho at that time of the year.

  2. That looks great. I really need to find a spot to plant raspberries. I love them, and they are priced dearly even at the PYO berry farms up here. Thanks for the report. What variety do you have?


  3. Annie's Granny, I do confess it would be easier to do it in early March as soon as the snow melts. I'm always so eager to garden then and have plenty of time to do it. Right now I have a million things to get done on my list and have very little time. I did have a summer bearer before, but it didn't grow as well and it barely produced anything so I ripped it out a couple years ago.

    Ali, I know. So easy to grow, but so expensive. I'm growing Heritage. I love it because we have some diseases and a virus around here. It just ignores them all and grows.

  4. Good idea! Cutting down the spent canes is on my "to do" list. Maybe that will help the ragged patch.

  5. You have many large raspberry plants, mine is still small and I have to thin the old branch, so that I can get more berry next year. Have a happy harvest!

  6. We just put in a patch of Heritage plants this spring. Chose them for all the reasons you have stated. I need to replace a couple of the bare root plants that did not make it though. Probably do that this fall if I can find some Heritage plants at my local nursery.

  7. The pruned bed looks very neat now. I wish I had space to grow fruit.

  8. Stefaneener, it does make it look a lot neater.

    vuejardin, I hope yours grows and takes over just like mine. Mine is such a weed. It is trying to take over the newly planted blueberries.

    kitsapFG, if you can't, it really isn't much of an issue if you have a wet climate (or keep them well watered, I know you have been watering a lot recently). They send out a lot of runners and spread. My patch was just three canes. They looked so pitiful the first year then they took over.

    Dan, this is just a 6'x4' spot. Not very big. I've gotten over 6lbs of berries so far and I still have the fall harvest to go. I could see a little 3x4 patch giving a nice amount. Hmm well I should say the ground they occupy is that large but the canes take over the driveway and lean way into my neighbor's yard.