There is nothing like a bowl full of sweet plump juicy raspberries fresh out of the garden. For me, they are the cream of the crop when it comes to fruit. So there is nothing more disheartening then raspberry canes that are not doing well. These canes are two years old and have thrown many new shoots but are sickly with yellowing leaves, especially at the bottom of the plant. Even the leaves further up the cane are not the deep green they should be. The smaller new shoots will not produce and are taking nutrients away from the larger, older canes.
The first thing I did was to thin out the smaller shoots. I left only the healthiest deepest green of the new shoots and only a few. Then I worked up the soil around the base of the remaining plants and pulled all the weeds. I also checked to ensure that there were no aphids or other pests living off the plants. Aphids are a common problem for raspberry plants. These insects feed on the sap of raspberry leaves, preferring the tender leaves of new growth. Over time, they cause the leaves to curl and turn a yellow-brown. If the infestation is too severe or the plant is too young when infested, it may not fully recover. Natural pesticides include a water and soap mixture of 16 parts water and 1 part soap. Ladybugs also control aphid infestations as they enjoy eating them.
Raspberry bushes enjoy well-drained and loamy soil that is rich in nutrients and organic material. Poor soil conditions can lead to yellow leaves. Raspberry bushes perform best when soil pH ranges from slightly acidic to neutral. Mixing in compost and conducting a soil test before transplanting can help diagnose deficiencies before they become a problem. Using an organic mulch at the base of your plants will not only conserve moisture, but it will also reduce the number of weeds that take root. Mulch provides extra nutrients as it decomposes over time.
It was obvious that the problem was the growing conditions. The soil needed amending in order for the raspberry canes to not only survive but thrive.
Soil Amendment – 3 parts organic soil, 1 part peat moss, 2 to 3 cups of bone meal, 1 handful of dolmite lime. The organic soil will continue to feed the plants throughout the seasons. The peat moss will help to retain moisture. The bone meal will add the needed levels of potash and phosphate to the soil. and finally the dolmite lime will help to sweeten the soil so to speak because it is very acidic. Once it was well mixed in the wheel barrow I worked it into the soil around the raspberry canes about 2 to 3 inches deep. Then I added more soil to the rest of the garden doing the same thing…working it in 2 to 3 inches deep and then I thoroughly watered it. Raspberries once established have very deep roots and only need about 1 inch of water per week. But they must be well watered during transplanting so as to establish that deep and healthy root system.