Monday, October 31, 2016

Fall chore: Putting the berries to bed

wood chip mulch at base of each plant
I put in a vinyard in 2015  and while I was at it I put in a row for berries,  I like raspberries and marionberries, so I planted 50 row-feet of raspberries and 100 row-feet of marion berries (I >really< like marionberries!).

The county utility was out trimming trees, and I flagged them down and asked for the chips, and they delivered about 10 yards of chips that day.   I love wood chips for mulching under the berry vines; provides organic material in the rows, supresses weeds (which means less work next year) and provides moisture retention in the summer.  Our summers have been pretty dry the last few years, and I'd like to build in some help with the drought if I can.

what I do with the raspberries is just make a loop with baling twine that is big enough to hold all of this years new growth.  The trellis I built for the berries has two wires, one about 6' up, and one at 3'.  For the raspberries I'll tie them to the top line.

If you look closely you can see a loop of orange baling twine to top wire
Raspberries fruit off of one year old wood, so the string gives me a good idea of what I need to prune next year.   So the yearly task is to go and prune off all of the older wood and then tie up the newer wood, and next year repeat.

I wasn't sure what kind of raspberries would do best here, so what I did was buy a couple of plants of each variety from a number of sources, and I ended up with 6 varieties.  Not surprisingly the winner seems to be meeker raspberries judging by vine vigor and shoot growth.   A close second was cascade bounty.  If you'd like a list of common cultivars in this area, you'll find it here.  

I'm mostly interested in the best-tasting raspberry - this is personal consumption gardening, and i don't need a particular yield here.  If you're going to grow your own food you have the luxury of growing what you like best :)

  I'll wait until I get some fruit and take a second look at the plants, and either leave it the way it is, or I'll split the plants I like best and make the whole row that.  The trellis really makes this sort of berry management easy; probably 2 hours of work, most of that with a wheelbarrow to move the chips for 15 plants.

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