Raspberry Mysteries

One of the first things I planted when I moved into my home was a row of raspberries. I love raspberry jam and couldn’t wait to begin picking my own berries. I didn’t expect much the first year from the 8 inch tall canes I planted 3 years ago, but now, 3 years later I have great expectations and great disappointments. My bushes have never produced a single berry. They are viney instead of sturdy. And some of them have grown up to 15 feet long, rather than the healthy 5-7 feet tall. Unsure of what to do with them I pruned them way back last year hoping to give them a new start in life. I checked them weekly all summer long and into the fall looking for signs of production only to find a mess. Because they were so viney I tied them up to a post, hoping they would vine up the post, but they continued to creep along the ground. This ground creeping behavior caused them to reattach to the soil in random, unwanted places. This spring I found this gigantic mess of vines:

Raspberries Before

After hours of searching the internet for some incite as to why my raspberries are acting this way I came up with absolutely nothing! I did find a gardening forum post from a lady who appeared to have the exact same problem as me but no one was able to give her a good answer. The Maine Extension has some great information on raspberries but I didn’t see anything explaining my predicament. After reading about how to properly prune the canes I decided I would try the ‘improper’ way since I didn’t have much luck last year with regular pruning. This year I left my longest vines alone and only pruned the obviously dead canes, the canes growing in places I didn’t want them to grow, and the weak laterals. I then took the long vines and threaded them through the fence in effort to ‘train’ the other vines to follow. I ended up with this:

Raspberries After

I know it doesn’t look the way a raspberry patch should look but it is the best I can come up with. Raspberry canes are similar to roses in that they are not very nice to touch and my children do not appreciate the out of control vines invading their nearby swing set.  I am keeping my fingers crossed for a successful raspberry harvest… if I fail again I may end up taking the plants out completely and starting over. I am open for any ideas or suggestions as to why this is happening.