I’m hoping the someone here has been through this and can give some feedback based on experience.
We have an opportunity - as part of getting a fence installed - to rip out our old raspberry canes and starting over. This is appealing because the patch was planted over 20 years ago by the previous owners, and the plants are now way too dense, and have all grown into each other. The plants are no long thriving, probably due to over crowding.
I’ll have a guy here with a digger who can lift he roots for me. But because the roots have all grown together, and I don’t know the original varieties anyway, I can’t separate the various varieties from each other.
So the questions:
1) is ripping them out and starting over worth it? Will I get much more vigorous growth and fruit afterwards?
2) Can I save a few of the old roots for replanting, or should I start over from scratch?
3) If I start over, would you have a trellis system to recommend? Currently they are unsupported and collapse each summer.
Moderator, Treatment Free Beekeepers group on Facebook.
Best way in the world to reinvigorate an old patch! First year is so so growth while they reestablish. 2nd and 3rd years are usually amazing. The one caviot is to believe you are fairly clean of disease.
Mixed fruiting habits are a pain. And I would begin to work to separate them. You will want to prune everything back anyway transplanting. Separate to individual plants and build your rows. Then keep track of the plants that fruit on first year wood and mark them somehow.(ribbon around the base, jar ring around the base, bale twine rings around the plant or something) Then look at each row in the fall or next spring. I would them move the plants that there were the least of, out of that row while filling gaps as best reasonable from another row of the other type. The goal being to create rows that are the same and ideally to completely separate the plants into individual patches again. Try to minimize your work while maximizing your gain here. You will mess some up. Just do your best.
If you watch the plants really close watching the bark of first year wood you may be able to sort of sort the plants because some of the time the bark looks a bit different. With Latham and Heritage for example here Heritage near the base has bark that is usually a bit smoother looking and slightly lighter. So while moving plants even if I wasn't sure I would try and sort bark that looked alike into groups. It costs very little time or effort wise and might prevent needing to move stuff another year.
Michael Cox wrote:No disease, but I know that I have at least two varieties with different growth habits. A primocane and a floricane. It’s been a real pain pruning them because they are all mixed together.
Raspberries and blackberries are all about the root system. If pruning is a pain, just hack the entire patch down in late winter, and let new canes come up afresh. That'd be my normal suggestion, if yours weren't *also* rootbound. I intentionally just ran over my raspberry canes with a lawn mower a few days ago, since they needed pruning.
Primocane raspberries *also* produce on their floricanes. If the presence of fruiting floricanes is the only indicator, you might just have a single species there.
As the raspberries seem healthy, I'd keep some of the raspberries.
What I'd do is:
1) Whack everything down to about 4" from the ground, to get the canes out of the way.
2) Put the canes in a pile where they can dry and be used as smoking wood for your BBQ. =P
3) Dig up all the raspberries, hacking through entangled root systems with wild abandon.
4) Loosen the soil underneath the bed to a decent depth - a foot or deeper.
5) Put kitchen scraps (especially bananas), coffee grounds, aged manure, grass clippings, whatever you have available that can compost in-place. Might want to accumulate a week's worth of scraps leading up to the operation.
6) Supplement with good soil if you have any available, maybe several bags of store-bought stuff if you don't have anything for free.
7) Mix up the loosened old dirt, kitchen scraps, and new soil.
8) Replant the raspberries you want to keep, and any new species you are adding (I also like to put half a banana directly underneath each blackberry or raspberry plant).
9) Cover everything with two inches or more of woodchips, and water deeply.
10) Dig a small trench in the loose soil inbetween some of your newly replanted raspberries, and as you produce more kitchen scraps for maybe a month after planting, dump them in the trench and cover with dirt to let them compost in-place.
I'm not an expert, so this is advice from a complete amateur!
They were originally planted at different ends of the same rows in blocks, but the original 3 rows were way too close together and the whole area filled in and the blocks send runners into each other.
I had the chap up today who will do the digger/auger work to get the postholes in. He is going to rip the roots out with the digger while he is there, which will be a huge labour saver. The whole patch is about 8m by 3m of dense roots. Once he is done I will move the roots to the side and I can rotovate it a few times and work in some of our compost from the chickens.
The suggestion to let new plants grow, and then assess them in the Autumn makes sense. I'll have a think about the best way forward.
Moderator, Treatment Free Beekeepers group on Facebook.
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