That is to say, the raspberries want to stand alone. I read years ago that raspberries don’t like competition from weeds, and this year I’m finally understanding what that means. A few areas of my raspberry patch don’t thrive as well as the rest. These areas have been infested with quackgrass, which is a fast-growing grass that forms a thick bed of roots and spreads via long runners. After a few years of inadequate weeding in the raspberry patch, the quackgrass has now taken over in some spots. I started weeding those areas, trying to get a handle on the grass before the raspberry canes start leafing out and make it hard to get in there. What I’m finding is that I have to literally tear out the top layer of dirt, which is totally matted with grass roots. In some cases, I’ve had to actually dig out the raspberry plant, remove all the matted roots and replant it. This is a long process and my neck starts to hurt after a while. In an hour, I can only get about a square foot done! It’s no wonder some of my poor raspberry plants haven’t been doing so well…they were choking on grass roots. So I have a bit left to do, but after this I hope to be able to keep up on the weeding a bit better.
Other things I’ve learned about raspberries:
1. Tie up the canes to each side in early spring, leaving the middle open for new canes to grow. It’s easier to harvest the fruiting canes that way as well if you make rows.
2. Fertilize with mature compost early in the season and water heavily.
3. Replace old plant with runners after about 5 years. You will always have plenty of young runners every year. I usually dig them up and give them away. This year I’ll be replanting them.
4. Frozen raspberries thawed out in the middle of winter taste like sunshine!