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How I am Establishing My New Raspberry Patch


On January 31, 2020, I wrote an article in the Yard and Garden News about how to prepare soil for planting blueberries. Today, I want to provide some tips for establishing a raspberry patch, based on what I am doing in my own garden.

Twin Cities households consume 132 percent more raspberries than the average American household (Source: Driscoll's). My husband and I contribute to this just as much as the next family. Therefore, it is high time that we plant a (second) raspberry patch in our yard to supplement the small planting I installed last year. 

This year, I will be planting a row of fall bearing raspberries on the south side of my yard, in a sunny, highly productive spot. 

I will be testing a new variety from Cornell University that we do not yet recommend for Minnesota. It is new and currently untested here, and it is unknown whether it will survive in USDA Hardiness Zone 4. I am also working with four farms, starting this season, to test it in high tunnels and open field settings.

Layout of my new raspberry patch

With any new garden planting, it is important to my husband and I that we are able to efficiently mow around it. Therefore, these raspberries will be planted in a single 2-foot wide row rather than a rounded patch.
The area destined for raspberries in my yard. This area is always sunny. 
Photo: Annie Klodd

Plant quantity and spacing

Based on our expected consumption, I will be planting 10 raspberry plants. Recommended spacing is between two-to-three feet for home garden plantings. We will be planting them at two-and-a-half foot spacing, based on these recommendations and our own space restrictions. Red raspberry plants spread by sprouting new suckers from underground, so the plants will fill in the row over time.

Buying raspberry bare-root plants

Rather than buying potted plants, I prefer to work with bare root plants. They are more economical and practical if planting more than a couple of plants. It is easy to source bare root plants online from local Minnesota-based or national nurseries.

Preparing the soil

Raspberry plants can either be planted in individual holes, or in a tilled row or trench. Since I am planting 10 plants in one row, I will be tilling up the entire row in a two-foot wide strip, and then planting the bare root plants into the tilled soil. Tilling the row first also serves to loosen up the soil so that the roots can grow easily. 

Lawn soil is often very compacted, making it difficult for plant roots to explore and expand. Therefore, digging individual holes directly into lawn soil without working the soil first could significantly stunt the growth of, or kill, your plants.

After the soil is tilled and the turf layer is broken up, I will spread compost (one cubic yard per 100 square feet) over the row and till again to incorporate it.

Planting 

Raspberry bare-root plants should be planted just deep enough that the roots are underground, but the stem of the plant is above ground. More information on planting raspberries can be found here:
Growing raspberries in the home garden

Mulch and managing weeds

New fruit plants do not compete well with weeds. This goes not only for raspberries, but for other fruit types as well. It is especially important to keep the area around the plants weed-free for the first two seasons in order to support their growth and future fruitfulness. Mulch or landscape fabric are two good ways to do this.

I strongly urge gardeners to support your local garden centers all the time, not just during the coronavirus period. Many garden centers offer high quality bulk mulch and bulk compost. My local garden center even offers free delivery for mulch and compost during the month of April! 

In my case, I already have wood chips in my yard from two trees that were removed in November. Therefore, I will be recycling these wood chips by using them for mulch along my new raspberry row.

Supporting the plants - Building a raspberry trellis

Without a support system, raspberry canes will simply topple over, and fruit will end up on the ground where critters will happily have at it. The goal of a trellis system is to hold the canes upright and contain them within their row. 

Building a trellis for raspberries does not have to be fancy, it just needs to do the job. A simple T-post on each end, with twine or wire strung between, will suffice for short rows. Raspberries can also be grown along an existing fence. 

My trellis end posts will be a shorter (four foot tall) version of the end post shown in the photo below, using five inch diameter treated posts. These end posts have "T" bars every one-and-a-half feet, allowing for twine to be strung across the row at multiple heights and hold up the plants well.

A post hole digger, either hand-operated or motorized, is needed in order to dig two-to-three foot deep holes for the posts.
Raspberry trellis posts at Untiedt's Vegetable Farm. Photo: Annie Klodd.

For more information on planting and growing raspberries, visit Growing Raspberries in the Home Garden. 

Author: Annie Klodd, Extension Educator - Fruit and Vegetable Production

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