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I mentioned earlier that in June, I had given the Raspberry patch a thorough weeding and clean up. At this time of year, it is very easy to just pull up any new shoots that are “out of order”. If you don’t tidy up your patch in Spring, you will be amazed at how difficult it will be for you to get in there and pick berries later in the season.
It’s a really good plan to do this again once Fall arrives. By this time, you can easily tell which shoots have had fruit on them this year. Look at this first picture below:
How to prune Raspberries
The Raspberries are inside the fence on the far right side. See how you can easily differentiate? There are two sets of Raspberry plants in there – Last year’s Suckers – these are the shoots that are a paler green. They had fruit on them earlier this year. And there are this year’s Suckers – Don’t pull all of these out as these are the shoots that will fruit Next year.
Once Berry season is over with, get in the patch and cut all those paler green shoots (the ones that gave you fruit this year). Cut them down as close to the ground as you can. We just throw ours in the bush next to the Berry Garden, but you could put them on your compost.
It goes without saying that you need to wear a long sleeved shirt and gloves for doing this. I always have a long sleeved lightweight shirt hanging on a fence post or in the Greenhouse, so I can quickly grab it when needed.
Here’s the Raspberry Patch after those paler shoots have been cut down. It’s starting to look better but the job isn’t done quite yet. There is still some thinning of the canes to be done.
Thinning the Raspberry Bed
Get in there and pull out every single Raspberry shoot that is not within the rows you had planned. Raspberries are notorious for sending up new shoots willy nilly all over the berry patch. If you don’t do thin the canes, you will again face the problem of battling your way through them in order to pick.
Imagine fighting your way through this mess to get at your berries! Picking Raspberries should be a relaxing homestead chore, one that takes time and of course, you have to stop to eat a few every now and then.
If you did a good job of cleaning up the Bed earlier this year, then it won’t take you long to pull out any shoots that grew in since. Be ruthless when it comes to pulling shoots – you will always have lots of Raspberries.
Here’s the finished result – there’s a definite pathway, which will make it easier to amend the soil with some well composted manure. Come Spring when the new growth starts, you’ll more easily be able to get to the plants to pull out any extra shoots. Keep this up and Raspberry picking will be a delight, not torture.
What to do with the extra shoots? The best thing to do with them is add more rows. Is there such a thing as too many Raspberries? I don’t think so – use them in Pies, Crisps, lots to eat fresh, then start making Raspberry Jam. Once you have enough Jam put away for the year, start making Juice.
You can can it or freeze it. Still have more Raspberries coming? Think about making a small batch of Raspberry Wine. A couple of years ago we did a Saskatoon Berry/Raspberry wine blended together.
We still think it is the best wine we have produced here in the Valley. We made an eBook out of the recipe and process.
Planting Raspberry Shoots
Back to the matter at hand – you’ve decided you do need more Raspberry plants. In the Spring, when you pull out all the new shoots coming up in places you don’t want them, just move them to where you do want them.
Prepare the new bed with native soil and a good amount of well composted manure. Dig through it thoroughly so the soil is light and airy. Transplant the pulled shoots directly into this bed. Make sure you leave 3 feet or so between the rows – the more the better.
If you don’t have a lot of extra room to give up for the new patch, then you will just have to get in there and weed more often once the plants are established and sending up new shoots of their own.
I don’t bother digging up any shoots I want to save for replanting elsewhere. I just pull the plant out and it usually comes out with lots of root attached. So, dig or pull, whichever you feel like. Raspberries are hardy plants, they will survive almost anything.
Transplant them, firm up the soil around the new planting and then add some water. Add some old hay, straw or sawdust as a mulch to help keep the weeds down. Next year, you will be glad you did this because you will be enjoying the fruits of your labour.
Raspberries are a wonderful inexpensive addition to your backyard – once you feel you have enough, then start giving away those extra shoots you pull. Really, you should never have to pay for Raspberry plants, they are often shared amongst neighbours and friends who want to add them to their own gardens.
Raspberries are one of the easiest fruits to grow. They offer quite a few health benefits such as improved immune systems, better vision, disease prevention and more.
Use them in jams, fruit crisps or make a refreshing sweet Raspberry Kvass, like Autumn does with fresh or frozen berries!
Raspberries do take a bit of maintenance, but it won’t amount to more than an hour (and usually much less) when you do have to weed or move plants. The rest of the time, just enjoy picking and eating them!
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