Over the past 7 years I have raised three different raspberry patches in three different places. My first patch spread really nicely, and the plants looked okay, but the berries were always tiny and a bit tart. Then we moved, and my new patch did pretty well. This time they were under the sprinkling system. The plants always looked really nice and healthy, and the patch grew and spread out wonderfully, but still my berries were small and sparse.
For a few years, I tried a lot of different things to get my patch to produce bigger and more flavorful berries. I began to notice the things that made the biggest difference and the things that made no difference at all.
Then three years ago, I decided to move my patch to a new location, start from scratch, and do it right. Now let me show you the size of the berries I am getting.
My plants are LOADED with huge, juicy, sweet raspberries. And the best part …… I know exactly what I did to make them produce this way. The best part for you, is that you have someone like me to tell you how to get your raspberry patch to do the same thing. Pretty great right!
First let me tell you what DOESN’T make a difference so that you don’t waste your time.
- It makes almost no difference how close or far apart you put your plants originally. They are going to spread and fill in vigorously, no matter what. If your looking for an exact number, then plant them somewhere between 6 inches and 5 feet apart. How’s that for specific? It doesn’t matter! They are going to go wherever they feel like going anyways.
- It doesn’t matter too much WHEN you prune them, only HOW you prune them. Which I will explain, in detail, in just a second. I have pruned right after harvest in the summer, I have pruned in the fall, and I have pruned in the spring. It might change the exact time that your raspberries are ripe and ready to eat, but it won’t change how big or delicious your berries are.
- It also doesn’t matter whether you trellis them or not. I am not saying you shouldn’t trellis. I happen to love my trellis because it holds the plants up out of the pathway and makes it much easier to find the berries. I would recommend trellising them somehow, all I am saying is that it plays no factor in how big and sweet your raspberries will be. Some of the biggest berries I have found were half buried in the dirt. Sad, but still delicious after I wash them off. So if you don’t have the time, or money, to spend on some way to trellis them, don’t fret! You can still grow killer huge raspberries if you do the other things I tell you.
Now that we got that stuff out of the way, let me tell you what absolutely DOES make a difference.
- Water. Raspberries love water. They will do okay without tons of it, but there is no way you will get the size and taste of berries that you should be getting. I water my raspberries, with a drip system (always a drip system in my garden), every three or four days, VERY DEEP. Which means I soak them for multiple hours on the days that I water. I practically flood them. If your plants LOOK thirsty, then your waiting too long in between waterings. Every single one of those tiny flavorful bubbles on your raspberries is basically a pocket of water. FILL IT UP and your berries will literally burst in your mouth. Oh man, my mouth is watering just talking about it. Here is a picture of my DIY drip system heading off into my raspberry patch. It works beautifully, and has for three years now.
- WHEN you feed them. I have always used homemade compost for everything in my garden so I can’t speak to what kind to use if you don’t make your own, but you have to use SOMETHING. I have learned that when you feed your plants makes all the difference. Raspberries are crazy tough. They will grow through anything, they will spread out into hard crusty dirt that has never seen water, and they will pretty much do whatever they want without your help. But if you want huge, sweet berries, then you have to FEED THEM when they are hungry. And when are they most hungry? When they are putting all their energy into making fruit. If you don’t feed them, then they will toss out piddly little sour berries so they can get back to growing in every direction, which is what they really want to be doing. What you need to do is generously feed them large amounts of compost right when the first blossoms appear. This makes your crazy raspberry plants pause for a second, and stuff themselves with the food you just offered them in return for better berries. And they will thank you, by putting all that extra energy into producing a berry bigger and juicier then you have ever had on your plants before. Just make sure to water your patch extra well right after you feed them so the nutrients can soak down to the roots. If you grow a variety that produces throughout the summer instead of all at once then continue to feed them every couple of weeks as long as they are still putting on blossoms.
- And the last one is HOW you prune your raspberries. Like I said earlier, it hasn’t made a noticeable difference WHEN I prune them (as long as it’s not right before or during your berry harvest, you wouldn’t do that would you?) only HOW I do it. I have heard a lot of conflicting advice on this subject, so I have tried four different strategies. I have tried cutting them off very low, like about 2 feet tall. I have tried pruning them to be about chest level. I have tried pruning them really tall, like over my head (I am 5’5″). And I have also tried not pruning them at all. The very best results, by a long shot, came from pruning to be chest level. When I pruned them short, they were fairly large berries, but the plant was so small that it only produced half of what I normally harvest. When I pruned them over my head, the berries were smaller because of how many berries were on each raspberry cane. And when I didn’t prune them at all, the plants were so tall and stringy that they produced almost no berries and were very unhealthy looking. They also whipped around in the wind so bad that anything that was on them got destroyed. So now I usually prune in the fall, and I cut everything off at about chest level. This year I pruned in the spring because I had a baby last October. You also need to cut off all of the old canes (plants) at ground level because raspberries produce on the 2 year old canes. If you don’t cut out the old ones, then your plants will be putting wasted energy into growing something that isn’t giving you any fruit. It’s usually pretty easy to tell which ones are old, they start looking like sticks instead of plants. Here, I will show you what I mean.
So if you really want your berries to be the biggest, juiciest, and sweetest that they can be, you absolutely must give them tons of water, feed your plants when they are hungry, and prune the right way! No more wondering why your raspberries are pathetic, I just told you how to fix them!
We started our raspberry patch for $8.00, and three years later, it’s producing over $400.00 worth of berries! Wanna know how we did it? Check it out RIGHT HERE.
And that’s not even close to what saves us the most money in our garden! Wanna know what saves us even more then that? Subscribe to The Real Farmhouse and you will have my list of plants ranked according to how much they save us by tomorrow morning!
*I had a bunch of people asking how I get my raspberry patch to stay put in a nice row, so I wrote about it! CLICK HERE to read my secrets to making your plants hold still!
Seriously guys, I hope this year your plants are loaded with the biggest raspberries you have ever seen.