Raspberries: Delicious But Mean (or How to Prune Raspberry Canes)

Day 337 of 365

Today, I pruned the raspberries! It feels so good to be finished with that task because it’s slow, tedious work for me. I am new to raspberry growing, and I have to study a bit to know which canes are dead and which are good. Today, I only cut two live canes, which is good for me, but I am beat up pretty badly. I wore gloves, of course, but I had on a 3/4 sleeve shirt and paid a dear price for not changing shirts. I guess I am also a bit allergic to the thorns, as I not only have a lot of cuts, I am covered in welts.

I was so grumpy at those bushes. I was thinking the whole time, “Crystal, you have to think about the delicious raspberries you will have this summer.” I had to find my raspberry happy place in order to struggle through this chore. I was imagining raspberry muffins and raspberry jam. Pruning the raspberries has not been a favorite chore of mine, but since my sickness, I get tired more easily. Still, I did it, and I am proud.

If you are about to prune raspberries for the first or second time, I have advice that may be helpful. This was my third year pruning, and I made far fewer mistake cuts this year.

First of all, put on the proper clothes. You will need gloves and a long-sleeved shirt at the least, but a jacket would be better. Raspberries bushes are mean. The thorns will shred you, so be wiser than I was and leave no skin exposed. If you have long hair like I do, put it up. The canes will grab your hair.

I recommend a very long handled pruner to help you keep your distance. I got smacked in the face with a cane one time today, and it was not fun. Not fun at all. I guess the bad side of using a longer handle is the way it limits precision, so maybe there are pros and cons to the long handles.

When pruning, look for the canes that are a little rougher to cut. It will look like they have bark. This seems to be a pretty good indication, if you can’t tell otherwise. Sometimes, you can just tell. It looks definitely dead. And the good canes will have some color to them. I learned how to prune from my neighbor who is a master gardener, and I can tell you that you might be surprised at how many canes you have to remove every year. It’s quite a lot, but they grow back with great enthusiasm every summer and end up being full, beautiful bushes.

Pruning is so important. I have seen raspberry patches where the people didn’t have time to prune much, if at all, and my neighbor’s was raspberry patch has always been so much more beautiful. So I copy her as much as I can. I am fortunate to have a neighbor who is a master gardener.

Much was accomplished today.

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