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Raspberry Patch: Friend or Foe?

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I live in the north east (zone 6A) on the coast and am planning a garden of edibles...we have 3 acres, so lots of space with different options for placement, isolating the raspberries from other crops if necessary.

I have fond memories of a raspberry patch that lived quite happily at the bottom of my grandmother's garden when I was a kid...seemingly effortlessly. But, like I said, I was an oblivious kid and don't know how hard they worked to keep it going.

So, raspberry growers, what is the story?

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  1. I have a raspberry patch surrounded by a low box hedge on three sides and a driveway on the fourth. I've had very little trouble with canes popping up in the lawn. The only effort is cutting back the canes after they bear fruit, a bit of weeding, and adding compost a couple of times a year. Pests aren't a problem for me. The berries are delicious; much better than store bought. Only thing is that now, after more than 10 years, the plants are less vigorous. I've added a few new canes, but I probably should have added more.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Glencora

      My parents have for many years kept a huge and carefully maintained red rasberry patch in Ohio. It is well mulched with chips supported with wires and pruned as needed and inside one of the electric fences they use to keep deer out. Mom harvests large quantities each year summer and Fall (its probably Heritage that they are growing) I will talk with them in May for their secrets, but it doesnt seem too intimidating. They used to grow black rasp in a separate part of the yard but it got too shady over there so they stopped that part of the program.

    2. Glencora: you don't say where you are from so it may not be relevant, but do you recall what kind you planted?

      JenKalb: do deer go for raspberries? or is the placement of the electric fence just co-incidence/convenience for your parents?...we co-habit with a small herd of white-tail deer. I hadn't thought of tucking the raspberry patch inside our fence (with the carrots and such) but I can plan for that if I know in advance.

      4 Replies
      1. re: LJS

        Deer will eat most food crops you want to grow- I dont know about the berries, but deercertainly like tender shoots, - parents have also needed to have their rose bed within an electronic perimeter . In fact all of their growing areas, for fpereennials, etc are now electronically contained (not beautiful) Its a big investment of time and work to get a row of raspberries growing and you woulnt want to get all the new growth chomped off. In this context, I am very happy to live in NYC and to have fewer plant eating animals to contend with. The deer population is a new thing (since I grew up there) in my parents suburban area, and their impact on gardening pleasure there has been profound and discouraging.

        1. re: jen kalb

          "...and their impact on gardening pleasure there has been profound and discouraging"

          tell me about it. when we bought our place out on the east end, one of the things i was looking forward to was to try my hand at some gardening.

          there was not a thing that the deer didn't eat. anything we planted was devoured come winter. the only thing the deer haven't touched are 'prickly' evergreens; the softer white pine for instance were that much grist.

          our fence really can't keep them out: we are restricted to no more than 8 feet and the deer laugh at that height.

          if you can share details about electronic perimeters i'd much appreciate it.

          1. re: howler

            Here is an article about electric fences I found online.
            There seem to be a lot of online kit sources - maybe your garden center on the east end can advise.

            1. re: jen kalb

              Here are a couple of pix of the electric perimeter fence my Dad installed - as well as one of the rasberry trellis. Dad said that you only need one wire, 30 in high to deter deer. It will not harm them but they just touch it once and they will not challenge. In order to get a shock you need to be grounded - i.e. touching the ground. So birds can sit on this type of electric fence - unless they are sipping nectar from a flower- that is enough to ground them and give them a shock. the second picture is one of the gate structures - the wire runs over it so that you can enter and leave without the system being turned off.

      2. Raspberries are great. Since they really don't ship and last all that well, they are a bit on the expensive side so growing your own becomes cost effective.

        The problems I've had in the past have to do with drainage and squirrels. Raspberries like moist soil but get root rot quickly if the soil gets saturated. Mine are against a fence which makes a dandy highway for the local rats with bushy tails angling for a treat.

        2 Replies
        1. re: EdwardAdams

          it sounds like you may need to lighten up your soil with organic matter, etc and not water too much. or do something else about the drainage. My parents soil is clay but they have mulched heavily over the years so arent seeing this problem (in Ohio with, I think 30 in of rain on average per year)

          1. re: jen kalb

            I ended up raising the grade to plant them in since it was the winter rains that got to them. Only two years in with the latest planting and we have had low rainfall years recently in N California. We shall see if a 6 inch raised bed will do in a wet year when that comes.

            Mine are against the fence. I use posts and wires to hold them upright on the other side.

        2. So any particular variety that growers would reccomend?

          2 Replies
          1. re: LJS

            I've been doing some research, and it seems like a good idea to plant different types that bear at varying times so you don't get deluged for a few weeks and have nothing the rest of the season.
            White Flower Farm has a mixture

          2. I would like to grow raspberries, but definitely have a deer problem -- and rabbits and a big fat groundhog. I read that the thorns should deter, so I may give it a try without fencing.

            Here's an informative blog post on growing raspberries -- in a raised bed to contain them.
            I don't want the bother of establishing a large raised bed, and figure I could just brush hog the canes that get unruly.

            I'm wondering how to use the wires to support the raspberry canes. I've seen half hoops, but wonder if you need to attach the canes or lop them over or what?

            2 Replies
            1. re: NYchowcook

              Here's a great resource compilation on Rasberry cultivation
              see as a starting point the Taunton article

              1. re: jen kalb

                Here is a pic of the way my parents trellis their everbearing (light summer, more fall) raspberries

            2. From what I am reading lately, it seems that black raspberries don't sucker/spread the way other varieties do. Can anyone confirm/deny this notion?

              10 Replies
              1. re: lisa13

                I put in three red and three black raspberry plants a few years ago. All three red ones died (may have been bad plants, I got them all from Home Depot), all three black ones thrived and have spread vigorously. I'm in an urban setting (Boston) so I have no problems with critters other than squirrels, who don't touch raspberries.

                1. re: BobB

                  don't get me started on the squirrels...those little !@#@#$^%$^^&***

                  But yes, I am in Boston too, in a very small space, which is why II'm looking for something that doesn't spread too much. Sounds like the black varieties are not "it" for my yard =(

                  1. re: lisa13

                    Squirrels used to dig up and eat my tulips until I learned a trick that really works. When planting the bulbs, dig a larger hole than you actually need, put the bulbs in the center of it and cover them with 2" - 3" of dirt, then lay down a piece of chicken wire fencing (the kind with the one inch holes) making sure it extends at least a few inches beyond the bulbs on all sides, and then fill in the rest of the dirt. The flowers easily grow up through the holes in the wire, but try as they might the squirrels cannot dig down through it! I now have tulips galore.

                    1. re: BobB

                      they dont knock off all the tops like our NYC squirrels do??

                      1. re: jen kalb

                        No, they only seem interested in eating the bulbs, they don't touch green shoots.

                        1. re: BobB

                          You are lucky. Our squirrels here in NYC tend to randomly knock the flower heads off tulips. Why I dont know. Not the green shoots, the flowers. They dont eat them just knockem off.

                          1. re: jen kalb

                            I've had them do that to my tulips, too! One morning I looked out and most of the tulip heads were off--as if someone just snipped them off! It took me awhile to realize it was the squirrels. My first impulse was to blame the unruly local teenagers :)

                            1. re: choco_lab38

                              And I see you're in New Jersey. I don't know, I've never had a kind word for the squirrels of New England, but after reading this I have to say thank god they're not as vicious as the squirrels of the Tri-State area! (And I'm trying very hard not to add any comments here about growing up in the streets of NY...) ;-)

                              1. re: choco_lab38

                                sunflower heads too - we complained about vandals in our community garden a few years back until it was realized that it was the squirrels.

                        2. re: BobB

                          you know, I never had any problems with tulips and squirrels - once they relocated a bulb for me, but that was it.

                          The problem I have is that they like to dig up anything I have just planted. So I often put out my seedlings, only to find them quite neatly dug up and gasping in the sun next morning. No freaking idea what the point is. They keep digging up my carrot sprouts too! Chicken wire helps, but they really like to get under it if they can...just to destroy my little carrots, WONTONLY!


                          little bastards

                  2. We started our raspberry patch with a gallon tub from the local nursery. It was so long ago I don't remember the exact variety but I think they were one of the Everbearing. If you don't cut the canes back in the fall or spring you get a small crop off of them in June. We now have two full 35 ft rows and a third row which we started a couple of years ago with a variety pack from White Flower Farm. It is just starting to fill in. To contain the canes we have put down stone around the beds and pebbles between the rows. It just keeps the canes from running amok.
                    Luckily the deer around here don't go for our raspberries so they don't need to be within the electric fence which protects the rest of our edible garden. The woodchuck isn't interested in them.
                    Our main problem is humidity and mold during the fruit ripening stage. I can get a gallon of raspberries two times a week but if it is humid I could lose most of it to mold. If there is a lot of mold I pick what I can salvage and freeze them immediately. Those go for purees, jams, BBQ sauce etc. If we have a dry September my friends are thrilled to receive raspberry brownies.
                    To answer your original question, in my case raspberries are my friend.