Colorado Master Gardeners: Raspberries 101 — winter prep
Your raspberries have just about finished giving you their delightful fruit for the season. Now what? Have you planned your raspberry bed? Maybe you could start thinking about that now.
Raspberries grown in our area are usually biennial summer-bearers. In the summer, each plant has two kinds of canes: vegetative (first year) and berry-producing (second year). Following the instructions below will protect your plants during the winter months so you will have more delightful fruit next summer.
Your plants in your raspberry bed should be about 24 inches apart, with rows also about 24 inches apart. Trellis the plants with 16-guage wire strung along the rows from one end of the bed to the other. At the end of each row of raspberries, bury a 6-foot post 1 foot in the ground, drill two holes at 5 feet and 3 feet and thread the wire through. Undo this wire for winter, remembering you will have to restring it in spring. The link at the end of this column includes good illustrations.
To prepare for winter, you will need some tall, fairly sturdy, 1-by-1-inch stakes, which you will pound into the soil next to each plant. The canes which bore the berries — they will be brown with dead leaves and berry stems — need to be cut to the ground.
Choose three to four strong new canes, and cut out the others. Pound the stake next to the canes, and softly tie up the selected canes with old sheet or old floating row cover strips. We tie a loose knot around a couple of canes, then tie the loose bunch to the stake. This will prevent the snow (we get five feet) from crushing the cane. If you don’t get that much snow, you may not have to stake.
In spring, restring your 16-gauge wire, and carefully untie the sheet strips. Gently, with a foam-coated twist tie, attach the over-wintered canes to the wire above, spacing them to allow for good air and light circulation. Fertilize your raspberries three times in the spring: once in May (first growth), once in early June and once in early July. Apply 20 pounds of 10-10-10 fertilizers per 1,000 square feet. Water one inch per week and even a bit more when the canes are fruiting. Drip irrigation is the most consistent form of watering.
Finally, enjoy watching the new leaves unfold from the dead-looking canes and eagerly await the berries.
For more information and photos, cals.uidaho.edu/edcomm/pdf/bul/bul0812.pdf
Barbara Sanders and her husband, Bill, moved to Steamboat Springs from Hawaii in 1997. She learned about Colorado plants and trees through the Master Gardener program and while volunteering at the Yampa River Botanic Park. Sanders finds native plants most interesting as “they are adapted to our crazy, changeable climate and to our different soils.”
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