Outdoor Classroom: pruning raspberries, step by step

 

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1) The timing of pruning raspberries is not critical as long as it happens before they come into growth in early spring. In fact it is widely recommended that you start taking out spent canes as soon as they have finished fruiting in summer (or in autumn for the twice fruiting varieties) but it is far easier when they have lost their leaves and you can see what you are doing. In our experience, it does not matter if we leave it until winter because it does not seem to affect fruiting or plant vigour.

 

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2) We grow our raspberries in a netted cage which is currently home to the new pigeons who are undergoing six weeks of acclimatisation before release. The pigeons were less than impressed at our intrusion.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA3) Strong gloves are recommended, along with sharp secateurs.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA4) This season’s new canes which will bear fruit next summer are red. The old canes, which are dying off, are brown and dry. Remove all old canes from the base of the plant. Thin out any weak new canes.

 

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5) Shorten the new season’s canes to a manageable length around 150 to 180cm. Dig out any suckers which are in the wrong place.

IMG_00316) Alternatively, hoop the canes over and tie them to a frame as shown here. This is now my preferred approach. While it takes a little more time, it keeps the rampant canes under better control, increases the fruit set down the stem and makes picking very much easier. I then feed each clump with a generous helping of compost.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA6) The prunings need to be burned or disposed of. We clip them to manageable lengths and gather them in a wool bale for convenience. You can’t compost prickly old stems. Town dwellers may like to dry them and then burn them on a woodfire or put them out with the rubbish. Ours will go on the burning heap.

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