To raspberry or not to raspberry?

Last November I bought 5 canes of autumn fruiting raspberry 'polka' and planted them.  I have very heavy clay and am not particularly strong, so as I understood raspberries are shallow rooted I dug a spade's depth, incorporated compost and them dumped more compost on top.  I planted them with mycorrhizal (sp?) fungi and hoped for the best.  Watering seemed a bit redundant but I diligently fleeced them until the frosts were gone.  In spring I bought a bag of rotted manure and mulched them, keeping it away from the stems as best I could, but the cats weren't very helpful with that.

Two shooted.  One month later, the leaves on both turned yellow and died.  The garden centre replaced them; 3 of the replacement canes already had shoots.  One died right away.  One struggled for a month and then turned yellow and died.  The third made it to June but was only 8 inches high then, and abruptly one week that went yellow and died too.  The other two canes never shooted.

Was it the rain?  Was it that I didn't prep at enough depth or use grit?  Did my soil have a disease, and if it didn't, is it likely that it now does?  There is a trellis there to support them (our garden is like a sort of demented circular wind tunnel) so putting them somewhere else would be awkward.

What I do know is that nothing had been grown in that ground for at least three years, except grass and weeds.  We live in the vale of York, if you need a climate reference.




  • Don't know why they died- will leave that to someone else-other than the fact that yellowing leaves often mean too much water-but why on earth did you fleece them them? -they are hardy-am confusedimage

  • genistagenista Posts: 10

    Just because I really wanted them to succeed and there was a heck of a lot of snow, really.

  • AtillaAtilla Posts: 1,493

    I have Autumn Raspberries and clay soil. They are doing fine in it. I loosened the soil all around the plants then added compost then bone meal then the plants in with more compost. I can't help but think that all you did was dig a hole and all that did was recreate a pot in the ground that restricts thier growth and probably fill with water, even if you cannot see it, water might pool in the hole you dug, hence you ned to fork (I do not own as a spade as spades and clay do not go together). They only fruit on this years growth, so you need space for them to grow.

  • genistagenista Posts: 10

    I did dig the whole bed, but water probably did pool, given how much rain we had, and how narrow and shallow the bed was.  And yes, I used a fork too.

  • sotongeoffsotongeoff Posts: 9,806

    It does sound as though they may have been waterlogged-  I had similar problems to you in the soil with them dying just as an alternative and more of an experiment than anything I grew summer and autumn raspberries in really large containers for a few years with quite good success

    I think it is one of those crops that once the canes are established will go on for years -it is the establishing thing that is the tricky bit and is probably all in the preparation

    Perhaps in you heavy soil they just aren't for you-try the containerising perhaps

    Wouldn't have fleeced them -they don't need it


  • genistagenista Posts: 10

    I dumped more compost (2-3 inches) on top of the existing compost-blended soil /before/ planting.

  • LeggiLeggi Posts: 489

    As you have a clay, wet (I assume with the summer we've just had), soil I'd try growing them either in large pots (as Geoff suggests) or in raised beds. Raspberries don't really need a lot of organic matter mixed in, but they absolutely hate their roots sitting in a wet trench.

    Also be careful not to plant the stems too deep, it's not necessary to plant them below the soil level you bought them with, and dig the trench a foot to 18 inches wide so the roots have plenty of room to spread out.

    If you want to try something which isn't quite as fussy then you could plant blackberries which will tolerate a wetter soil to a certain extent.


  • BerghillBerghill Posts: 2,806

    Out of interest what was the manure you used? Was it horse? In which case it may have had aminopyralid weedkiller in it. That kills many plants. Just a thunk!

  • genistagenista Posts: 10

    I trust it didn't have weedkiller since it came in bags from the garden centre!

    Had an interesting quarter of an hour with a pH meter in that patch just now.  It's only a narrow strip, about 6 feet long, but the pH 8 inches down appears to vary from  off the scale acid to off the scale alkaline, with the odd bit of neutral in between.  I know pH is variable, but what the heck?  No wonder I had issues...

    How much effect would the pH at that depth have had on shallow rooters?  Should I be metering higher up?

  • genistagenista Posts: 10

    Oh, and I think I might have had them too deep.

  • I think even bags of horse manure from garden centres have been found to  have weedkiller in. It is sprayed on the crops that the straw came from, used for bedding for the horses.  It is safest to get manure straight from the field. Even if the horse eats some of the straw it is harmless to the horse but the weedkiller is still active in the manure.

    Also raspberries are shallow rooted and when planting the roots should be spread out just a couple of inches under the surface.

  • genistagenista Posts: 10

    When the last minute replacements (the sweet peas) conk out, I can remove the mulch rather than digging it in, if you think that would help.  The dead twigs are long gone, however: I am seeking wisdom so that the same thing doesn't happen next year

  • SwissSueSwissSue Posts: 1,447

    In their natural habitat raspberries are woodland plants that prefer acid soil. For my Autumn Bliss I dug a 6 ft trench approx. 1 ft deep by 1 ft wide and filled it with special rhododendron soil from the garden centre. In spring I sprinkle some general fertilizer arround them and hack it in lightly. Autumn raspberries must be cut to the ground when they've finished fruiting, new canes will sprout in Spring. I've had mine for 3 years now and have masses of berries at the moment. Hope this helps and good luck next year. Greetings from Switzerland.

  • genistagenista Posts: 10

    I knew they didn't like lime, but didn't know they positively liked acid.  Thanks for that.


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