Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Planting Raspberries - A "Short Notice" Version

Let me start by saying that you should be preparing your raspberry beds NOW for planting next year.  I'm not going to go into all the boring details but if you plan ahead you will save yourself many hours of unnecessary work.  That is the ideal method.   My life rarely falls into the "ideal" anything.  I'm just saying.

When you receive a phone call one evening and a friend offers you 50 raspberry canes you do not tell said friend..."oh, wait...I need a year to prepare beds" least I don't.  I'm not sure how quickly I said yes but I'm pretty sure it set some sort of world speed record.

So be fore-warned... I'm sharing with you the "TNfarmgirl's gotta get it done in just a few days" method.  I'll let you know next year how well this turned out - so far it seems to be working.  I'll also share at the end how we are going to go back and "fix" some things.

First off, break the news to the planter of the canes.  Hopefully they love raspberries as much as you do and delight in the thought of lots of back-breaking work in exchange for those delicious red jewels.  Josiah was up for this and never complained.

We marked off our rows - short ones in the place we chose - about 10 feet long.  Length is totally up to you and the strength of your back.

I will say that we had one old square point shovel and ended up purchasing a second so he could have a brother's help.  Be sure your shovel is sharpened - it will make your work much easier.

Josiah is marking his rows by slicing into the sod with the edge of the shovel blade.  He did this for each row.

Josiah then began to remove the sod with the square point shovel.  Let's just say that's much easier to type than it is to do - especially when you have multiple rows...

Once Josiah got the sod removed - he used our walk-behind tractor to till deep beds.. sorry - no pictures of this - I probably went in to fetch cool water - and missed this.

Next he removed a good amount of the dirt from his rows and replaced it with compost and some organic amendments to give these little canes a good start.

We took the "old" dirt and used it to fill in some holes in yards and barnyards around the farm.

Waste not, want not, Grandma always used to say!

Josiah then used our little tiller  - a Mantis - and yes, they really are as wonderful as the advertisements say...

Anyway, he tilled the compost, organic amendments and original dirt together.  I liken it to using a mixer to cream butter and sugar in the kitchen.  You want it really well mixed.

The Mantis was better for this job because it is light and easily maneuvered down the row...well...mixing.

Then came the "fun" part.  We began planting the canes.  Now, I should tell you that each cane got a good soak in water before it went into the hole.

When we picked up these canes,  they were a bunch of sticks in some awesome mulch.  We put them under a shady tree and kept them moist - not wet mind you...just lightly moist.

Several days later, when we went to plant, they were leafed out and beautiful - at least most of them were. I think we might have lost 8 or 10 - at least they weren't leafed out when we planted them but we are hopeful they will make it.  We kept water on them regularly during long hot, dry spells.

Now, what we still need to do...we need to put T-posts at the end of each row and string some high-tensile wire to support the canes as they grow.  We also need to go back and remove the sod from between the rows (right now we are keeping it weed-eated down very close to the ground), till it and plant it into clover.

If we can afford to rent a sod removing machine, we'd like to do that since we have some larger areas with the same need...but if it doesn't work out at least we have two shovels.

We have about 8 of these rows.  We will use the suckers that come up next year to add to our rows.  Our goal, to supply all of our own needs and eventually to be able to sell some locally.

We also have plans to share some of the suckers with friends who would enjoy having their own raspberry patch.

The friend who shared these canes with us mows half of his canes down each spring.  That way the ones left standing provide plenty of fruit for his family during the spring and the ones that are mown grow up enough by fall to provide a fall crop - sounds like a plan to me!

We are so thankful to this friend who felt prompted to share his canes with us.  We are also most grateful to our Father who created such a wonderful taste treat and has allowed us to plant our own supply.  He is ever watching out over my family and meeting all of our needs!

How greatly we are blessed!


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