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Raspberries, Apples, Pumpkins

Gardening Reference » Gardening in 2005
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by Kurlie77 on August 27, 2005 10:39 PM
First off, there are two apple trees in our yard but they are not growing apples! I think it might be caterpillars that are getting to them... does that make sense?

Second, how do you take care of raspberry plants? Should I cut them back or something? I'd like to make rows so I can access the ones in the back... If I had been able to do that last year then I would seriously been able to pick about 30 ziplock bags of berries this year! This makes me so anxious for next year...

And third, my pumpkin plants are doing well but I think I'd like to give em some fertilizer because I'm worried they won't be big enough by the time it really starts getting cold. I have some miracle grow fertilizer for tomato plants.. would it be ridiculous to give it that?

Thank you!
by Shani on September 03, 2005 02:10 PM
I'm not big into fruits and veggies, but I can tell you that Raspberries are biennials and they produce their fruit is their second year, so in the spring you could pull all the dead ones out but becareful of last yeasrs grow cause that'll be producing fruits next year. As for putting it in rows, I suppose if theyre thick rows of the shrub it might work, but you'd need to have a pretty big Raspberry patch to make it feasible.

Sorry I can't help with the apples or pumpkins

* * * *
May the wind always be at your back
and your keel in the water
by Kurlie77 on September 03, 2005 09:38 PM
Thank you Shani! [Smile]
by chi on September 18, 2005 04:01 AM
Lots of things can prevent apple trees from bearing, if by caterpillars you mean little green hanging green things, those are apple worms. With only two trees they may not be getting cross-pollinated, especially if there are few wild bees arounds or it wasn't very windy during the spring. You might check with a local grower or nursery.

With your raspberries, don't pull them!, when they are through bearing for the year or in the fall cut down this years canes (make sure you clean them up and get rid of them). Next year in the spring you can cut them back some as they grow to encourage side 'branches' to come out and grow up a support fence or just let them grow out as I do. Depends on what you want I guess. If you let them get long and touch the ground you can make another parallel row for next year if you want as the tips will root into the ground and then you just cut off the 'mother branch'.

I'm not positive about the pumpkin but it seems a little late for fertilizer, they should be ripening by now. However, since it is so late- what the heck - go for it [thumb] If it doesn't work , there's always next year!
by chi on September 18, 2005 04:11 AM
Here I found this for you:

I'm not sure how to make a clickable link so I copied the page below, however there are very informative pictures of the trellis systems that didn't copy so try to go to the link [Smile]

Growing Raspberries and Blackberries

University of Maine Cooperative Extension
Bulletin #2066

Raspberries and blackberries can be a most enjoyable crop for the conscientious gardener. Red raspberries are readily adaptable throughout New England, but black and purple raspberries and blackberries lack the hardiness to be grown north of well-sheltered sites in southern Maine and New Hampshire.

Selecting a Planting Site
To get the most out of your raspberry planting, you must choose your planting site carefully. Raspberries prefer full sunlight and grow best in well-drained, sandy loam soils rich in organic matter. Avoid low areas that remain wet late into the spring, but select a site with access to a water supply. Irrigation is important for good plant growth during dry periods and can improve fruit size and yield.

Do not plant raspberries where tomatoes, potatoes, peppers or eggplant have been grown within the past four years, because these crops carry a root rot, called Verticillium, which can also attack raspberries. Destroy all wild raspberry and blackberry plants within a distance of 600 feet of the site if possible, to reduce the possibility that virus diseases might spread to your planting.

Preparing the Soil
Getting the soil ready for raspberries may take up to two years, depending on its condition. Test the soil to determine it pH and fertility levels. Raspberries prefer a soil pH of 5.6 to 6.2; this may require applications of ground limestone to increase the pH of more acid soils. Soil testing information is available from your county Cooperative Extension office.

The level of organic matter in the soil can be improved and perennial weeds discouraged by sowing a cover crop, such as buckwheat, rye, millet or oats, and plowing it into the soil before it goes to seed. There should be time enough for two sowings in a single season. Applications of barnyard manure or compost and repeated tilling for a full season can be substituted for cover cropping. However, be aware that animal manures may contain weed seeds that can become a problem in your planting later.

In the spring of the planting year, spread 25 pounds of 10-10-10 garden fertilizer per 1,000 square feet of the planting site. Organic fertilizer sources, such as compost, manures, sul-po-mag and rock phosphate, may be used in place of synthetic fertilizers. Apply enough of these materials to deliver two pounds each of nitrogen, phosphorus (P2O5) and potassium (K2) per 1,000 square feet. Cultivate the soil several days before planting to incorporate the fertilizer and break up any clumps or clods.

The Raspberry Plant
The crowns and roots of raspberry plants are perennial, but individual canes live two years. Each spring, the plants produce canes from buds on the crown and underground lateral stems. These canes grow vegetatively during the first season, overwinter, and produce fruit during the summer of the second year, while new canes emerge to provide a crop for the following year. Second-year canes die shortly after fruiting. Everbearing raspberries bear a crop on the tips of first-year canes in the fall, followed by a typical summer crop on the lower portion of the canes the second year.

It's easy to tell first-year canes from second-year canes. First-year canes have green stems, while second-year canes have a thin, brown bark covering them.

Although a wide selection of raspberry varieties is available, only a few will do well under the short growing seasons and severe winters of northern New England. Select only those that are rated very hardy and early or mid-season ripening.

In general, red raspberries are the hardiest type, followed by purple raspberries, black raspberries and blackberries. Temperatures below 5 degrees F will injure or kill blackberry and most purple and black raspberry canes, so these should only be planted in southern parts of Maine and New Hampshire, on protected sites.

Order your plants from a reputable nursery or garden dealer. Specify disease-free, virus-indexed stock. Most raspberries are sold as dormant, one-year-old canes, but some nurseries offer plants generated by tissue culture, or micropropagation. Tissue-cultured plants may be more expensive, but they are less likely to have disease problems.

Suggested Varieties

Red Raspberries

Boyne: Early ripening. Large crops of medium-sized, dark red berries with good flavor. Short, spiny canes. Very hardy.

Killarney: Ripens mid-season. Medium-sized, bright red fruit with good flavor. Short, spiny canes with many fine thorns. Very hardy.

Newburgh: Ripens mid-season. Large, round, bright red fruit with fair flavor. Good for freezing. Vigorous plants with very few thorns. Hardy.

Nova: Ripens mid-season. Medium-sized fruit, bright red, firm. Resistant to most cane diseases.

Latham: Mid-to-late ripening. Medium-large fruit, prone to crumbling, with fair flavor. Plants are vigorous with few thorns. Very hardy.

Black Raspberries

Jewel: Mid-season ripening. Firm, glossy fruit with good flavor. Vigorous, erect plants.


Darrow: Large, glossy fruit with good flavor. Vigorous, erect plants with large thorns, but susceptible to virus.

Illini: Large fruit, vigorous plants with large thorns.

Everbearing Raspberries

August Red: Earliest ripening everbearing type. Soft, medium-sized fruit with fair flavor. Short, spiny canes.

Autumn Bliss: Early ripening fall crop with large flavorful fruit. Canes are moderately vigorous with few thorns.

Fall Red: Early ripening fall crop, but many be too late for all but extreme southern Maine and New Hampshire. Medium-small fruit, soft with good flavor. Vigorous, short spiny canes.

Purple Raspberries

Royalty: Late ripening. High yielding, large, round reddish purple fruit that are soft, with good flavor. Large vigorous canes with thorns. Susceptible to root rot.

Success: Mid-to-late ripening. Small, dark purple fruit with good flavor. High yielding. Slow spreading plants, with thorns.

Planting and Management Systems
Raspberries should be planted early in the spring after the danger of severe frost is past (in late April to early May). Do not allow plant roots to dry out prior to or during planting. Plants should be set at the same depth or slightly deeper that they were in the nursery. Firm the soil around the roots and water the plants. If one-year-old canes are used, cut them back to a height of four to six inches about the ground.

Red raspberry plants are typically grown in a hedge row. Crowns should be planted about two feet apart in rows that are eight to 12 feet apart. Choose the wider spacing if you'll be using large equipment, such as tractors, in the planting. The plants will soon send up suckers from the roots and crowns to form a hedge, which should be maintained at 12 to 18 inches wide.

Purple and black raspberries and blackberries only produce suckers from the base of the crown and will not fill out a hedgerow as red raspberries do. For this reason, they are frequently grown in the hill system to get the most production out of individual plants. For this system, plants should be set four feet apart in rows eight to 12 feet apart.

All raspberries should be grown with some sort of a trellis. This will improve fruit quality, make harvesting easier and reduce disease problems. Trellises also make pruning simpler by encouraging new cane growth to occur in the middle of the row, rather than the outside edges. For plants grown in a hedgerow, the "T" or "V" trellis systems are recommended.

Figure 1

For the T trellis, sturdy posts should be set in the row with 3 1/2-foot-long cross arms affixed at a height of 3 1/2 feet. The posts should be set at least two feet deep in the ground and anchored at each end of the row. Secure heavy-gauge wire along the length of the row on each side of the cross arms. (Figure 1).

Figure 2

For the V trellis, two posts should be set at each end of the row at about a 30 degree angle such that they are 3 1/2 feet apart at a height of 3 1/2 feet. The wire is run from each post at 3 1/2 feet .
(Figure 2) After pruning, the fruiting canes should be tied to the wires on each side.

Figure 3

For black and purple raspberries and blackberries grown using the hill system, a study post should be set next to each plant (four feet apart in the row). A wire can be run along all the posts in the row, about 4 1/2 feet above the ground. The fruiting branches of each plant should be spread along the wire, or the canes of each plant can simply be tied to the post next to them (Figure 3).

Care and Fertilization
Keep the planting completely free from weeds with shallow cultivation and hand pulling as necessary. Make sure the plants receive one to two inches of water a week for best growth. Mulch can be used to reduce weed problems within the plant rows and will also help retain soil moisture and add valuable organic matter. Spread sawdust, bark, pine needles or rotted leaf mulch over the plant rows, and maintain it at a depth of three to four inches.

Starting the second year of the planting, a cover crop may be planted between the rows. An annual cover crop may be planted between the rows. An annual cover crop, such as spring oats, can be sown just after harvest. The oats will aid in hardening off the raspberry plants for winter by using up excess water and nutrients in the soil and will also reduce weed growth. Oats will be killed by low winter temperatures, and the dead sod cover will reduce soil erosion in the spring.

A permanent cover crop may also be sown following harvest the second year. A non-competitive grass cover, such as a bluegrass-fescue mix, can be sown between the plant rows. Take care to prevent grass from spreading within a foot of the raspberry plants, or it will compete with the raspberries for water and nutrients. Permanent sod covers allow easy access in the raspberry planting, prevent soil erosion and weed growth and can be easily maintained by regular mowing.

Raspberries should be fertilized each year in the early spring (mid-April). Apply 20 pounds of 10-10-10 (or organic equivalents) per 1,000 square feet of the planting. Increase the rate to 25 pounds if a heavy mulch is being used.

Alternatively, the application may be split, applying half of the recommended amount in mid-April and the second half four to six weeks later.

Pruning is a vital part of maintaining a healthy raspberry planting. This practice greatly inhibits the spread of raspberry diseases and improves fruit quality and yield. Pruning should begin soon after harvest is complete by removing all the canes that fruited. This improves light penetration and air circulation for the canes that will fruit next year. Also, remove any new canes that are growing outside of the 12- to 18-inch row width, or show obvious symptoms of insect or disease damage. In the spring before the buds break, thin the remaining canes, leaving only four to five of the sturdiest per foot of row. Spread the canes that are left onto the wires of the trellis and tie them with twine or some other soft material.

Everbearing or fall-bearing red raspberries bear a late-season crop on first-year canes. If they are pruned in the same manner as the summer-bearing types, they will bear two crops per season; one in the summer on the second-year canes, and one in the fall on the first-year canes. Everbearing raspberries can also be managed to produce only the fall crop.

Simply mow all the canes down early each spring. During the summer, cut down any new canes that develop outside the 12- to 18- inch row width and thin the remaining canes to about six inches apart, leaving the sturdiest. This technique greatly reduces pruning labor, but also eliminates the summer crop. Unfortunately, most everbearing cultivars, such as Heritage, produce the fall crop too late in the season to escape damage from frost in most of northern New England.

For black and purple raspberries, pinch off the top four inches of new canes when they reach about three feet in height. Blackberries should be pinched when they reach four feet. This encourages the canes to form side branches, or laterals, which will bear the fruit in the following year. Remove all canes that fruited following harvest. In the early spring, thin the remaining canes, leaving only five to seven of the sturdiest per hill. Cut the side branches back to 12 buds (usually about 12 inches in length) and tie the canes to the wire or post for support.

Remove all plant waste from the field after pruning and destroy it, preferably by burning. Leaving dead canes in the planting will encourage the spread of disease.

Harvesting Raspberries
Raspberries are ready to pick when they easily separate from the receptacle or core. Blackberries do not separate from the core, so ripeness should be judged by color and taste.

All bramble fruit are extremely perishable and should be harvested frequently. To maintain fresh quality, place fruit in shallow containers, no more than three fruit deep, and cool the fruit to 33 degrees F as quickly as possible. Fruit properly harvested and held at this temperature can maintain fresh quality for three to seven days. If the fruit is to be made into jam or jelly, process it immediately, or freeze it until ready to use.

Insect and Disease Management
A well kept raspberry planting can provide fruit for 10 to 20 years, but viruses, fungi and several types of insects can greatly reduce yield and may destroy the planting if they are not controlled. Many problems can be prevented by proper planning and care.

Select only raspberry cultivars that are very hardy, and plants that are certified virus-free. If possible, destroy all wild brambles within 600 feet of the planting. Encourage good air circulation by having at least eight feet between your plant rows and keeping the hedges to a 12-to 18-inch width. Prune your plants regularly to promote healthy new growth and reduce the spread of diseases. Keep the planting weed free to discourage insect pests and prevent competition for water and nutrients.

For specific pest identification and management techniques, contact your county Cooperative Extension office.


Prepared by: David T. Handley, vegetable and small fruit specialist, University of Maine Cooperative Extension

Published and distributed in furtherance of Acts of Congress of May 8 and June 30, 1914, by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, the Land Grant University of the state of Maine and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Cooperative Extension and other agencies of the U.S.D.A. provide equal opportunities in programs and employment.

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