pruning raspberries and life in the worm bin

Late winter is the time to prune raspberry bushes. I’m not trying to present a how-to here. There are plenty of those available from better gardeners than me online. This is just how I accomplish what works for me.

In late winter I grab the pruning shears and a pair of leather gloves, then head to my little row of berry bushes. I get down on hands and knees and look closely at every cane. There’s a gray bark on canes that have done their bearing. The cane on the right is one of those…

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The floricanes (that’s what second year canes are called) all get pruned to ground level. Any spindly or dead-looking canes come out. Then I thin what’s left to 5 or 6 canes per foot of row. That makes for more vigorous plants and a better yield of larger berries. I also take out any canes that think they need to live in the suburbs.

That’s it. Over the course of the winter I sprinkle my own coffee grounds around the berry patch, and scratch them into the soil when the ground thaws. (I save the big bags of grounds that I collect from Starbucks for the compost piles and the main garden.)

before pruning

before pruning

after pruning

after pruning

And on a totally unrelated subject, the worms are happy. Last Thanksgiving my wife hollowed out some mini-pumpkins for candle holders. I set some aside, outside, and they froze over the winter. The other day I brought them in and defrosted them into a yucky pile and buried them in the worm bin. Worm heaven. They love anything to do with the melon family.

You’ll notice a ton of small white flecks in the bin. Gross, eh? They’re called springtails. I was pretty alarmed when they first appeared after starting the bin. They usually grow in bins where there’s too much moisture. That’s something I try to keep an eye on, but don’t stress about. I just open the lid for a while and let it dry out.

After living with springtails and reading about them, I decided they’re almost welcome. They exist peaceably with the worms and help digest all the goodies. They won’t overrun the house or eat my pets. They just take a little getting used to.

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17 thoughts on “pruning raspberries and life in the worm bin

  1. Hi Dan. I read this earlier and decided to save comment until I had inspected my job done last week. I had been taught to prune the stems that produces last year, always leaving it up to memory, not a great system. So now that I have had a look at mine, I have a question. Would that gray bark be a bit flaky, easy to peel off? If so, I believe I missed quite a few.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh what a great post! Now I know why my canes didn’t bear berries this year! Whoops .. Pruned them within an inch of their lives! Lol I gave my worm farm happening Dan, I’m so excited! Those springtails are alive and well in my bath too 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have 2 young bushes Mike, and I’m not real experienced with them. I know they need an acidic soil to thrive. Mine’s alkaline, so I’ve been trying to rectify that with sulphur. Do you know what type of soil you have?

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      • Well you could just buy a cheap home test kit if all you want to find out is pH. For me blueberries have been challenging, unlike raspberries and strawberries. If you feel like trying them make sure you either buy two bushes or else a self-pollinating variety. You never know unless you try!

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve been thinking of using then as a natural fence. They have nice Fall foliage and the berries would be great. Our raspberries and blackberries have worked out well excerpt for last year when the blackberries suffered from the severe cold.

        Liked by 1 person

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