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Taming the Raspberry Jungle

Hello Everyone. 

As you can see, I have now become yet one more creator of self-indulgent ramblings and shall be posting blogs about my garden (mostly) on a regular basis (mostly).

The hope is to be informative and your feedback is welcomed. 

Here is the first one - with the way everything bursts into growth when spring arrives, more will follow soon.

Happy gardening

 April 10th

First real day in the garden this year, and I spent most of it pruning raspberries.

I love them. My favorite summer fruit by a mile. The house I grew up in in England had a

big garden and an eccentric Irish gardener called Mr. Pierce. The raspberries grew inside a

netted cage. It was intimidatingly hard to get into and the paths between the rows of plants

were piled with smelly grass clippings. None of this stopped me. Gorging on berries, with goo

from rotting grass squishing up between my toes, is a still fresh memory.

So when I bought this place, one of the first things I planted was a mass of raspberries -

way more than I could ever eat. I started with planted rows and lost control of them almost

immediately, despite friends who helped prune in exchange for berries. Picking fruit has been a wounding experience - battle with the jungle yielding equal amounts of lovely fat berries and bloody scratches.

Over the years some of the big patches started to fail - viruses and old age apparently as

hard on a raspberry patch as they are on all of us. So we pulled out a couple of blocks and

planted four new rows, with a solemn pledge that discipline would be established and

maintained over the new recruits.

The pictures tell the story.

a picture of raspberry bushes in spring
A remaining old patch - before pruning

Raspberry bushes after spring pruning.
The same lot after a day’s work - old canes removed, weak new ones removed and tops snipped off the big ones. They look quite tame but by fruiting time it will be a prickly thicket.

Raspberry patch with stakes to keep bushes organized.
The new rows - massive investment in structures to keep them organized. We’ll see how that works.

These are all June-bearing varieties - (actually July, in Maine. Le Quatorze Juillet is indeed ‘Le Jour De Gloire’ here - it’s when the berries are at their best). This means they bear fruit on one-year-old canes, which makes for the pruning challenge (aux armes, les citoyens)when the canes that bore fruit last year have to be cut out and room made for the year-old ones to fruit, and new canes to grow for next year. The fall-bearing varieties fruit on the current-year canes and are so much easier to manage as the whole lot can be cut down once they have fruited. Since my craving for fresh raspberries goes well into the fall I have 19 pots of fall-bearing plants ready to go in when I get around to it. They came as tiny starts from Fedco last spring and all but one made it - I am hoping for an October treat this year.

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