The Raspberries are Coming!June 08, 2011
Raspberries are pretty much an afterthought in my garden. They aren’t my favorite fruit, but we put them in years ago & they continue to produce well despite how little attention they get around here.
I have no idea what variety we’re growing. My neighbor was pulling his canes out because his dog kept eating all the fruit. I took said canes and put them into a stupidly tiny strip of planting area adjacent to our driveway. We built a post & wire trellis system to mostly keep them from falling on the driveway. Then I began ignoring them.
A couple years later, when I studied horticulture in college, I learned to prune raspberries in late winter and train them on wires to maximize fruiting. I learned to fertilize them with lawn clippings to help build strong new canes each spring. And, I experimented with adding a little zero nitrogen fertilizer as they bloomed to encourage more flowers & fruit.
Pretty quickly — after I’d applied my college learnin’ to these berry canes & tired of even that small amount of work for a fruit I could take or leave — my husband took over the pruning because he likes the fruit. I figured out that really these weedy plants don’t need to be fertilized, so I stopped, and they kept on putting out fruit. (I do mulch them a bit each year from the pile of mulch that always gets dumped on the driveway right next to them; it’s easy, so I don’t mind.) Oh, and I don’t really have lawn anymore, so there really aren’t any clippings to give these fruity weeds.
Still, the plants are booming. They’re filled with lots of wild bumblebees and some of our honeybees right now. The great thing? Once the bees finish pollinating the plants, they don’t keep coming back. So, once the fruit is ripe, there’s very little threat of getting stung when reaching into the dense foliage for fruit.
It’s a late year for our raspberries. But, they’re coming on. Little, hard green fruits are swelling. Next year’s canes are growing strong. And by the time we’re ready to roast marshmallows in our outdoor firepit, it’ll be time to harvest the berries. It’s something even I look forward to: a melty toasted marshmallow with a juicy, just-picked, homegrown berry inserted inside. Truly, a taste of summer. And, I’m ready for it!