Raspberry Pruning

One of my favorite memories of that first summer at the homestead was discovering the raspberry and mulberry bushes/trees.

And, every year, I’ve tried to make them more a part of my outdoor activities.

A few years ago, I spent a whole day pruning the raspberry bushes, clearing the weeds and grass and helping the canes to set in good position for sunlight.

And then a few weeks after that long day we had a terrible wind storm (the weather service called it a wind phenomena) that caused two giant Black Walnut trees to drop right on top of my perfectly pruned raspberry bushes.

This ended up causing a couple of years of damage-as it took awhile before the trunks (which weighed hundreds of pounds I think?) were able to be removed from the bush area.

Now that the bushes are regrowing and clear again (uh…these are wild raspberries by the way, so nothing for me to do other than help them stay clear of weeds) I’m back to trying to get them into high yielding order.

So Gus and I went out to clean them up. Big mistake.

Bushes at first glance.

Raspberry canes grow in a three year cycle. With some canes dying, some producing and some just getting started. They are rather weed-like and I often travel around the area in July picking raspberries because of their ubiquity as weeds.

I brought some tools to help, but ended up only using my hands. (I did use the gloves).

The tools I never made it to using.

I started by pulling the large stalks of dead weeds. These came out easily.

Then I moved onto dead grasses (this was causing some asthma and allergy issues) and to trying to untwist the vine-type stuff that wrapped around the canes.

What made this not as successful as I would have liked, was Gus trying to be so helpful. Or…at least I thought he was trying to be helpful.

Seriously Gus?

Turns out he had just been digging up garter snakes.

And rolling on top of them, teasing them by batting them with his paw and carrying them around in his mouth.

Urgh…..

I threw this one out into the yard after weaseling it from Gus’s mouth.

Also causing himself to get wrapped up in the healthy red producing canes and pulling them out of the ground. At one point, he actually got some canes wrapped around his neck and got stuck.

So, this attempt was not entirely fruitful….haha…yes it is punny!

And I’m totally gonna have to wash garter snake stink off of Gus-because they stink.

But I did get some the bushes clear which will hopefully make for easier pruning again this spring.

The dead growth mostly removed, with just red canes showing.

About a month later, Tyler had some thoughts about making them raspberry bushes much more esthetically pleasing and healthier.

The grass had turned green and was coming in around the raspberry canes heavily. Tyler purchased a small grass clipper shears…I don’t know what they are called.

The plan was to clear out the grass to the dirt with the clippers.

Grass clippings pulled from the patch.

I managed about twenty minutes before my wrists started to hurt with the clippers and I started to use my hands.

Tyler joined a bit later. Then he raked the excess grass.

To make the patch not look so trashy, he also went out and got mulch (where he learned that you need to buy waaaaaay more mulch than you think you need).

Looks so much better now! Now we are going to train the direction the canes are growing and will eventually line the raspberry bed with an edge of some sort.

(Oh and Gus totally tried to play with another garter snake, a toad, a Robin with a broken wing and got a thorny piece of raspberry cane caught in his tail).

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