Monday, October 12, 2009

Raspberries 2009 Overview

I got a couple of questions about my raspberries today on the harvest post. So this post is to answer some of them and be the first post to go over how the year went with this crop. I planted the raspberry patch 18 years ago. I had two sections (each about about 6' long by 4' wide) started in raspberries. I planted three canes of each type. They were bought from Pinetree.

I planted two different kinds one in each section. Lanthum is a summer bearer. It didn't last long in the garden. It never grew well and got diseased and was unhappy. I eventually ripped it up.

September berries

The other variety I planted was Heritage. It too got the same disease as Lanthum (something that makes each of the segments of the berries not ripen all at the same time and also makes them crumbly). It just didn't seem to care. I would lose a few berries to it , but not many. It would produce well anyway.

The first year that the raspberries grew they didn't produce much. The second year was OK. After about three years they had filled their space up and were producing like mad. Raspberries send runners underground. Once they get settled they act like weeds. A few times a year I have to go out and rip out roots that are trying to take over other sections of the garden.

Raspberry canes right before pruning back

My berries are planted in partial shade right at the edge of the woods. They do not get full sun. In the summer they probably get about four hours of full sun. At this time of the year they would be lucky to get about an hour of sun, but I haven't timed it. Since they grow well I don't worry about it. One side of their bed is raised with a small little poorly made rock wall. Which means it was put up by me. I'm the opposite of EG, I try to engineer everything so it just barely works. The least amount of effort to make it work right is my motto. MIT, my alma mater, is probably ashamed of me by now. The other side is bound by the driveway which is just slightly higher than the bed.

I have fertilized this bed exactly once in five years. I like to keep the leaves that blow into the bed there to mulch it. In the past decade we had a landscaping service that would blow them out even if I asked them not to. Now I'm doing it myself so they will once again be left in. There isn't a lot of work involved with the raspberries bed. Once a year I cut out the spent canes in July and at the same time thin out the new canes. In addition in March I usually clean up the bed of any canes broken over the winter by snow and prune off the old flower heads if I didn't do it in the fall. If it didn't try to invade its neighbors so much it would be the easiest bed in my whole yard.

The Heritage plant produces berries in July on year old canes. It does this in a very short time over about two to three weeks (this year July 14th- Aug 2nd). This year it produced 6.5 lbs of summer berries. Then starting in late August (Aug 25th this year) it produces fall berries on new canes. It will keep producing for quite a while. Frost won't stop them. It will kill the flowers, but the fruit that has set will still ripen. A true freeze will shut them down though. Last year I was still harvesting in early November. When it gets cold they do slow down a bit. So far this fall I have harvested 6.4lbs of berries. I have plenty of berries on my cereal every morning and still some left over to freeze.

As to problems with the crop, I had more than usual. The fall berries were more moldy and rotting than usual. I had to toss a lot of the berries in September as they would mold and ripen at the same time. The October berries seemed better. Also in September I had wasps (some kind of paper wasp) start eating the raspberries. At their height they ate about half the crop. They had disappeared by October.

Raspberries love rain, so our weird wet weather didn't bother them in the least. In fact they probably grew better than an average year.


  1. So if I read this right, you must have planted this bed of raspberries while you were in grade school?! LOL! 18 years is a long time to stay put enough to enjoy such a long lived perennial planting! I have planted three beds of raspberries - of which two are being enjoyed by someone else (at least I imagine so) since we moved from those homesteads. Same is true with asparagus beds.

    The current raspberry patch is in it's first year and just barely getting going. I have almost always planted Heritage too. Good producer and I like the double crop. I need to replace four of my raspberry starts that did not make it. I may go do that today in fact.

    Thanks for the nice recap of your raspberry bed history and performance. Lots of tid bits of good information contained therein.

  2. Hehe. Nope I moved here when my kids were 2 and 4. Lets just hope I wasn't 18 at the time. We wanted a place we could bring up the kids with a good school system and we could stay here until they were out of the house. I love the place since it is such a safe neighborhood for the kids to play in. There is never any crime in this section of Winchester. Of course now that the kids are gone we want to be closer to the middle of a town. It will be bittersweet when we do finally move (some year, I'm just too picky). I wish I had put in asparagus beds when I moved in. I was just never willing to give up the space for them. I almost did it so many times.

  3. Wow, that's a lot of berries !
    I got a small plant from a neighbour a few years back (a trade). I couldn't decide where to put it, so I planted it in a 'temporary' bed where the poor thing didn't thrive very much. It's getting its own spot in the patch next year. I'm hoping it comes back with a vengeance. I can't wait to see it produce.

    Thx for the post.

  4. I can only dream of gardening in one area that long -- we've moved a LOT. I'll cross my fingers for the front yard berries!!

    It sounds like you and the berries have worked out a perfect set of compromises. I need to cut canes soon.

  5. mmmm - looks so tasty, they take a while to get going though dont they. had a good crop from my autumn bliss plants from this year thou. xx

  6. Thanks for the info, Heritage is on the list!

  7. Miss M, good luck with those berries. I hope they thrive in your new bed.

    Stefaneener, I so hate moving. I'm glad we stay put for a while. I'm sure when we move again we will once again stay there for a long time.

    Anon, yes most fruit take a while to get going. At least they aren't like blueberries where you aren't supposed to let any fruit set for the first two years.

    hembogle, I hope you like it.

  8. Thanks for the great info, Daphne! Having someone describe their particular experience with a variety is much more informative then reading the catalog description. I love that it produces two crops.

    Question though, do you cut the 1 year old canes to the ground after they fruited? I'm assuming that after one year, that cane stops producing right?

  9. Daphne,
    This post is much appreciated. I planted 5 raspberry canes last year, and they really took off this summer/fall. I was beginning to wonder what the heck I need to do with them. Which, I am happy to find - not much!! : )

  10. I'm wondering how you prune your canes too. I had an early crop which I cut those vines out after they fruited (2-year-old-canes). Some of the vines that grew this year fruited in September/October, but the squirrels (argggggg!!!!) got most of them. So, now I'm wondering how to prune/if I should prune the canes that grew this year and fruited.

  11. It looks like I missed some questions.

    Thomas, yes I cut the canes that fruited in the summer down to the ground. They will die anyway.

    Cheryl, I do thin the new canes that are coming up. I cut out any weak canes and make sure they aren't too crowded. If I had my druthers they would all be 6" apart in all directions, but they don't grow that way. They come in clumps so I try to average that kind of distance. Some are closer, some farther apart. But if they are week they come out regardless.