Thursday, April 7, 2016

Trimming raspberry canes

I've been looking for any excuse to get outside. The weather has a been the typical early spring mix of hideous and glorious, so why did I choose a hideous day to get some work done?

But I did. On a cold, gray, windy day in late March, I bundled up and went out to trim the raspberry canes.

As you can see, the raspberry bed is a mess of overgrown canes, with new growth mixed with dead stuff.

It's easy to tell the new growth from the old. The new growth has budding leaves...

...and smooth brown-green canes.

The old canes are brittle and peeling, and of course have no new leaves.

So I took nippers and set to work.

The first thing I did was pull up the canes which were growing outside the bed. There were a lot of them.

Obviously I discarded the dead ones, but there were lots of new growth, so I called a neighbor and asked if he wanted some raspberry canes for his garden. He said yes, so I bucketed them all up for him, taking care to keep as much original dirt around the roots as possible.

I worked my way slowly around the bed, trimming out the dead stuff.

Once in awhile I accidentally trimmed out a live cane too. Oh well.

While I worked, Lydia had a grand time exploring around and digging after voles.

After a couple hours' work, I got every last dead cane cleaned out. The bed looks so much better!



Afterward I gathered up all the trimmed canes. I'll move these to the burn pile.

I was pretty chilly after sitting in the wind for so long, but it sure felt good to get a garden project done.

About a week later, Don went out and fixed up a pole that had fallen down. These poles were originally used to wrap the raspberries with bird netting to keep the deer out (before we properly fenced the garden). After fixing the pole, he drilled a thin hole at two levels in all the poles.

Then, using a thin wire hook, I pulled twine through all the holes...

...and wrapped two levels of twine all around the raspberry bed.

This is because raspberry canes have a tendency to flop over and sprawl as they grow. I'm hoping the twine will keep them a bit more snugged in.

In the last week or so, the raspberries have been leafing out very aggressively...

...and there is a lot of new growth at ground level.

Warmer days are slowly overtaking colder days here in north Idaho, and the siren call of the garden is getting stronger.


  1. May I suggest you also add twine in a "Florida Weave" pattern? Google Florida weave for tomatoes. I've been using it for a few years not and it works great.

  2. So you get 2 crops a year from the year old canes? Some raspberries should be cut off at ground level each year. I've many types (including wild) but can't figure out which to prune down to the ground, if any.

    1. We have two varieties of raspberries and both are fall fruiting. So in the spring we trim all canes to the ground and then get rasp late summer thru fall. I believe if they are summer bearing they will fruit on last years growth of canes, so you would only trim out the prior year, as Patrice did.
      J @ Creekside Farmstead

  3. Congratulations on a job well done!

  4. This is so helpful--thanks for the step-by-step photos. I'm going to be planting raspberry bushes this year and was worried about "containing" them as I know they can get a little wild.

    Happy to have found your site--I just listened to a few of your podcasts today. :)

  5. Holding on for spring! We live at 7,000 feet in western Wyoming and my raspberries are still sporting the winter dead look. Soon, I hope!

    1. We're not at the same elevation, but in this spot(far nw pnw)we're about a month from being able to confidently plant in the ground. Down toward sea level there's color and gardening everywhere.

      When it finally gets here, though, it's great.

      A. McSp

  6. For those who have fireplaces, raspberry canes are wonderful tinder and are easy to cut to length when clearing the bed. They stack nicely in the tinder box and get the fireplace going in no time at all.


    1. Oh, good tip! We could use to start campfires since we have a pellet not woodstove. Thanks for the idea. :)