Welcome All! I'm a dreamer, I hope you are too! A Posse ad Esse, or From possibility to reality, is a general state of mind. I hope you'll share your possibilities with me as I will with you. Namaste~

May 11, 2010

Growing Raspberries

I teach quite a few classes every year as a Master Gardener through our local extension service. Every time I teach one of the classes it seems that I get the same questions over and over again.

One of the questions I will get almost invariably, is about raspberries. There's few berries, I think, that are more coveted than fresh sweet raspberries so it doesn't surprise me. That being the case, I thought I'd go over a couple of the basics and take it from there.Here's half of my raspberry patch. I'm standing right where my other half is "supposed" to be growing. Last year it was overtaken by a really bad infestation of field bindweed and needed to be clipped to the ground to let me get a hold of it.

Here are a few basics of raspberries:
1. There are two main types of raspberries, Summer bearing and double or "ever" bearing. The names may sound a lot like the names given to the different strawberry type, but they aren't really the same. I'll get to the reason why in just a minute but suffice it to say that with summer bearing varieties you will get one crop per year from them and with ever bearing you will get two.

2. Raspberry plants are made up of two different types of canes. Primocanes and Floricanes. The primocanes are the fast growing soft skinned canes that grow up to 4- 6 feet tall in one year. You can see one below... You can see the very green tissue of the plant and the healthy flush of new growth coming up from the center of the plant. This is a new cane and it will grow very quickly throughout the summer. At the end of summer this cane should NOT be pruned out. Raspberries, at least the traditional summer bearing ones, will form on these canes the next summer. At that time, when the dry and dormant canes begin to grow, the canes are known as floricanes. These floricanes will fruit heavily in the summer and then will be finished. At this point, the canes can be pruned out.
EXCEPTION to the rule is made for double or ever-bearing varieties. For these varieties the same thing applies to the primocanes growing rapidly throughout the summer months. They will look the same but towards the end of the first year they will grow fruit. The harvest from this fruiting won't be as big as the summer harvests, but it's kind of a bonus one. The next year, as a floricane, it will bear fruit in the summer. Again, this is the last harvest for this cane and it can be pruned out to leave room for new primocanes to grow for next year.

Here's a picture of one of my patches floricanes from this year...Like I was saying, it looks like a dead dry stick. It will be tempting to prune these out at the end of the previous year, or to do so in the early spring but hold off.

As I was saying, after the floricanes have fruited in the summer of their second year, they are expired. They don't fruit anymore after that. At least not enough to warrant keeping them. My hardest thing to keep track of at the end of the summer when I get around to pruning them is which canes to thin out. That explains my little red yard pieces.I decided that this year I was going to mark the canes that are already growing and that I expect to harvest from this year. After the harvest is complete and I have time to prune, I will just go along the bottoms of the canes and thin out all of them that have red yarn on them.
Now, mind you, this isn't a technique that is practical for any sort of larger production. However, it is one of the perks of running a little nano-farm with a small patch. I can do things like this to help manage the patch. I'd like to perhaps find some sort of organic, or plant based paint that I could slap on the bottoms of the canes instead, but for now, this will do the trick.

Hope this clears up a few of the questions that you may have had regarding raspberries. I know it just skims the surface, but that was kind of the point. For more references about raspberries in your area, try checking online to your local extension service.

Best to you all, hope all's growing well!


David in Kansas said...

Thank you for this post! Now I know what to do with my blackberry
plant. How do you deal with the little offshoots or runners? This year I began to find little blackberry shoots coming up all around my one blackberry plant, some as far as 6 feet away. I assume that blackberries and raspberries behave the same way.

Sandy said...

Very helpful post!

baby cribs said...

I want to have those in my garden! I think it is easy to take care these kinds of plants.