So, the time has come to plant the raspberry canes in our prepped patch. A few weeks ago, the farmer and I cleaned up our existing site by weeding and de-grassing, cutting out the old canes, and adding a bit of composted manure. (If you are just tuning in, you might want to read about that here.) Since we are doing this at the complete wrong time of year, I decided it was still best to prep the soil, and let it sit for at least two weeks before we plant the canes (I didn’t want to shock the plants even more!).
We are getting our raspberry canes donated to our farm, from some friends up the way that would like to thin out their existing patch. But, as mentioned in Part I, if you don’t know your sources, its best to buy your canes from a reputable nursery to ensure your plants are certified disease-free.
We decided it was best to take young, 1st year canes, with no existing buds on them. During this 1st year of growth, and especially because we are transplanting, I will let the plant focus on (and encourage) root growth.
In order to take the raspberry plants cleanly out of the ground, I made a small circle with the shovel, to get around, and as much of, the root that I could without damaging the plant. This meant taking some weeds and grass with me too!
After my bin was full, I came home and laid my canes out along my patch, about 3-4 inches apart. Normally its best to dig a trench to plant the raspberries, but it just seemed like we were fighting the existing trellis. So, we decided to use the same technique we use for planting potatoes:
- The farmer inserts the blade of the shovel in the dirt.
- The farmer loosens the soil by moving the blade back and forth in order to create a “pocket” between the soil & shovel head.
- As the farmer starts to pull out the blade, the farmer’s wife pushes the root end of the plant deep into the soil, insures that the plant is straight, and then anchors the plant by tamping down the surrounding soil.
Later, I came back to water the plants in. To encourage root growth, and help with the distress of transplanting at this time of year, I added 2/3 of a cup of Agrarian Organics Trace Minerals to my 2-quart watering can, before drenching the soil around the plants.
Raspberries come in two types: summer bearing, and everbearing. Summer bearing raspberries bear one crop from early to midsummer on canes that grew the season before (2nd year canes). Where as Everbearing raspberries produce berries from midsummer to fall on the current season’s growth. And bud-bearing canes (on everbearing) that survived winter also bear light crops in late spring.
Raspberries also come in many colours; as well as the traditional red berries, there are also black, purple or yellow raspberries. If all these decisions seem hard for you, you can always select cultivars that ripen at different times to spread out your harvest.
It is somewhat important to know which type of raspberry you have selected though, as they have to be pruned differently. For summer bearing red raspberries, and black and purple raspberries, after harvesting in the summer, prune the cane tip back to about 4 feet to encourage lateral branches to grow. This stimulates the heavy growth of buds for the following year (berries grow on 2nd year canes). For everbearing, the tip of the cane will produce berries in the fall, but then there will be buds farther down the cane that will survive the winter, which will fruit during summer. Because of this, you can prune the tip of the cane in the fall, and then cut back the remainder after you harvest in the summer.
For both the summer and the everbearing raspberries, the canes will naturally die after they fruit. So to keep your patch clean, and with good airflow & sun penetration, it’s best to cut off the spent canes after fruiting.
Happy raspberry planting! …but early next spring, okay?