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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Gardening: Raspberries are in season

UPDATED: Thu., Sept. 3, 2020

By Pat Munts For The Spokesman-Review

About 30 years ago we planted raspberries near our front door. They did well until the deer found them and nibbled them down to just a few hardy canes. Years went by and those few hardy canes took their lumps from the deer.

We just ignored them. We eventually built a deck in the same area and forgot about the raspberries. That is until about five years ago when those hardy canes traveled under the deck and began sending shoots up between the boards.

Out of curiosity, we let them be and the next summer, lo and behold, they produced berries. Last summer we had one cane that grew up to a respectable height of 8 feet. My husband made a brace for it to arch over so it didn’t break under the snow’s weight.

Last week we started picking huge berries from those canes. In a few days we’ll be able to take the morning bowl of cereal out and drop fresh berries straight into the cereal. Life doesn’t get better than that.

Mid-July is raspberry season in the Inland Northwest. Both the single crops and everbearing varieties will bear a heavier crop this time of the summer. The everbearing varieties will have another smaller yields near the end of the summer. The single crop canes will begin dying back after they finish bearing, while the everbearing will begin dying back in the fall. As you finish picking berries, it’s a good time for a little TLC to ensure a good crop next year.

Let’s start with cane pruning. Raspberries are biennial which means that canes that sprout and grow this summer will bear fruit next year.

The new canes are growing up among the fruiting canes and telling the difference can be a challenge when it comes time to prune out the old fruiting canes.

As the old canes finish, they start turning yellow and the leaves tend to curl. Their stems are brown and have a bit of shredding bark on them.

In contrast, the new canes are light green and with hairs on them. Carefully cut the old brown canes down to the ground. This can be done any time after early August into the fall. I prefer doing it before the Labor Day holiday so the new canes can get more light.

Also remove the very short, thin, new canes as they won’t grow into anything worth keeping.

Once the old canes are removed, the new canes can be gently tied to a wire to keep them upright.

There is no need to cut the tips of the canes to shorten them. The long tips can simply be arched over and tied to the wire.

Now is a good time to fertilize the new canes so they can get the most out of the rest of the growing season. Use a half cup of fertilizer per foot of row and water it in well.

You are now set for next season’s tasty red jewels.

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