Friday past was opening day of deer hunting — a perfect day to stay close to home, given that great gardening weather was predicted. Both my husband and I took the day off, primed to put the finishing touches on bedding down the garden for winter.
One major project that had eluded us earlier was pruning the brambles. Partially we had intentionally left them as our primocane bearing raspberries — Polana and Joan J *- continued to produce a bounty well into early November. That’s a rarity in northern Michigan.
Pruning time had arrived. In order to get the job done in what is always a narrow window of good weather, we’ve developed a system. Start with sharp loppers or clippers. Here goes:
- Cut all primocane bearing varieties to the ground unless you want to take a floricane crop next summer. We do keep our Anne yellow raspberries for the summer crop. They seem to only produce a weak fall crop this far north.
- Narrow all other rows back to no more than a foot wide. Cut out any canes that fall outside the row boundary. Yes, do it! It will make the rest of the job easier.
Remove any spent, spindly, or broken canes. The fruited floricanes have done their job and the spindly canes only draw nutrients from more productive canes. Current primocanes will produce a bigger and better harvest next summer.
- Thin out remaining strong primocanes to 3 or 4 per running foot of row. Keep the strongest, trying to keep about 3 — 4 inches between canes.
- Pick up and bundle all the removed canes to go to the burn pile.
Rake up fallen leaves. This will go a long way to removing overwintering spores of fungal diseases and reduce the need for control sprays next spring and summer.
Voila! Easily done in a day (including the inevitable interruptions.)
*This is where I’ve gotten my plants. The quality and service has been top-notch. There are other good sources but this is my favorite for brambles.
©2013The BackYard Fruit Gardener