Pruning Potted Raspberries

Nate is doing some spring gardening on his balcony in Seattle. The potted raspberry plant that he got last summer is showing signs of life.

Raspberries, as I’ve learned, have a two year lifecycle. The first year, the canes are called primo canes and the second year they are called floricanes. The floricanes are the ones that will produced fruit. After they produce fruit one year they are as good as dead, so you can prune those canes out.

Nate had a couple (and I mean two) raspberries from his little potted plant last year, but it has sent up two very long new shoots that should produce berries this year.

I know you’re supposed to prune out old raspberry canes each year to keep the plant from getting too crowded and thick.

But I’ve also seen some people clip the tips of the new canes back to encourage the canes to branch out and form side shoots that will grow even more raspberries.

We’ve decided to run an experiment…clip one cane and leave one unclipped: which one will produce more raspberries? (I realize this experiment has an N of 2, and is therefore more of a case study.)

First he started by cleaning out the old canes. It’s not a hard task. There were only three.

He trellissed the remaining three long canes against the balcony railing.

Of the two longest canes, he clipped 6 or 8 inches off the tip of one.

The other cane was left unclipped. I’ll have to remember to update you with the results of this experiment come July.

The Community Garden At the End of May

As I was pulling horsetail out of the blueberry patches this weekend (again), I noticed that the blueberry bushes had formed recognizable (not yet ripe) blueberries. So soon?! It’s only spring!

Believe it or not it’s almost June. Here’s a taste (visually) of how the garden is doing:

Snow peas and Sugar snap peas are thick and *nearly* ready to harvest
Butter lettuce – we’ve been harvesting it this week
Romaine lettuce – we’ll be harvesting this next week
Tomatoes have been planted
There are other tomato plants scattered throughout the garden, wherever we could fit them (see the romaine lettuce bed above)
Potato Progress
This bed of potatoes is lagging behind
They’re a different variety, however, so maybe that’s to be expected

Not pictured: asparagus and rhubarb are still going strong; the garlic is tall and looking good; chard, collards, and kale are producing nicely; and the onions are still growing slowly but surely .

We have plans to plant cucumbers and squash within the next week or so. We also have sweet potatoes slips that we’re attempting to plant for the first time. We’re supposed to wait for the soil temp to reach 60 degrees before planting them – not sure we’ll ever reach that.

A Tidy Raspberry Patch

I love love love raspberries. One of my favorite memories as a kid was eating raspberries straight off the bushes in the backyard, one after another, until I was so full I couldn’t possibly eat another. At our house in Wisconsin, the raspberries grew in a bed along the fence at the back of the property. In my dad’s current house, however, the raspberries have spread all over the yard.

…more raspberries…
…and more raspberries…
and more raspberries!

They’ve become a bit of a nuisance, growing where paths should be, and just generally looking untidy. I would love to have a nice neat raspberry patch like one of these:

Raspberry Patch: Friend or Foe? - Gardening - Chowhound
Image source
Image source

I’m not entirely sure how realistic this is. At the very least, I have my work cut out for myself.

First, some things to know about raspberry bushes:

Diagram of the parts of a raspberry plant. Roots, rhizome, primocanes, floricanes, suckers and fruit are labeled.
From UMN Extension
  1. Each raspberry cane lives two seasons: during the first season, it is called a primocane, and during the second, it is called a floricane.
  2. Some varieties of raspberries are summer-bearing and others are ever-bearing. Ever-bearing varieties produce fruit on both primocanes and floricanes. The fruit on the primocanes comes later in the summer (because they’re have to grow from nothing that season), whereas fruit from floricanes comes earlier in the summer. If you have a summer-bearing variety, only floricanes produce fruit, so you will only get a harvest in early summer. The everbearing varities will give you a floricane harvest in early summer and then a primocane harvest in late summer.
  3. Floricanes should be cut back to ground level after they have fruited.
  4. Lastly, raspberries like to spread. They do this by sending out underground runners from which new shoots sprout up. Fortunately, these new shoots aren’t that fast nor are they hard to pull, so with a little maintenance, raspberry bushes can be contained.

We’re planning to construct a trellis system to corral all of the raspberries in this area. The backyard is pretty sloped, and this area has several terraced beds. This is actually where the raspberries started out, and we don’t really have a better place to put them, so we’ll keep them there.

Check back in a week or so to see how it goes!