I have some established raspberries plants and I was thinking of growing some daisies in them. Would that work? How can I keep the grass from growing in the canes?
We have a patch of everbearing red raspberries, about 20 feet long by 6 feet wide. Every fall I cut the canes back to about 10 inches, and heavily mulch the bed with shredded maple leaves, to a depth of about 8 inches. The canes stick up through the mulch, and will begin to green up in late April. I leave the mulch in place, although I might pull it back if it is smothering a small raspberry plant. By fall, when its time to cut the canes down, the mulch will be totally gone. There is very little grass that grows in this bed, but we do have a problem with bindweed. I have to get in there every summer and try to pull it out, no easy task surrounded by briars. The heavy mulch keeps the grass out, but not the bindweed. Too bad...
I'm trying strawberries along with my berries, since they tolerate shade fairly well in my experience and are low growers (although they don't bear as much in the shade as in the sun). This is my first year to try it, though, so I have no idea how well it works.
So I guess you don't recommend bindweed as a companion plant?
Our bindweed is tenacious and persistent. It twines itself around the raspberry canes, and I have a hard time unwinding it. Eventually I get it off the cane, and then I have to bend really low and get out the root. Somehow, I never get it all. I can't seem to find it in the early spring, when the canes are low, and it would be easy to walk around the bed and pull it. I think it emerges in June, but I don't really notice it 'till July, when it gets high enough to be seen. Sometimes gardening feels like being at war.
How about Nepalese raspberry? It should love your patch, doesn't mind shade, is vigorous groundcover and will produce raspberries too.
Great tips. We are getting a huge hedge taken down and will be turned into mulch so in about a week I'll have mulch up to my ears and will fill the raspberries. Will the mulch keep away snails which are a problem there?
First, your question. Raspberries do not make good companion plants for anything. They should be kept clean of weeds, and that means mulch and sometimes hand weeding. Planting flowers or anything else among them would only complicate a situation that is already bad enough.
I have bindweed too, probably the same thing you have in Wisconsin. It is essentially a wild morning glory, with very deep, succulent roots. It is impossible to pull or even dig up, since the root, or parts of it always remain. Even a tiny piece of root is capable of resprouting. When the sprouts emerge around my caneberries, I unwind the vines if that is necessary then apply a couple targeted squirts of 2,4-D from a 1-quart hand trigger sprayer, without trying to pull them up. This kills the bindweed right to the roots, but seems to have no effect on nearby berry canes, though I do try to avoid them.
I have pretty well eliminated this weed in my beds, although I recognize this would not work for committed organic growers, which I am not.
Don Yellman, Great Falls, VA
An FYI on bindweed control: a weed scientist once told me that if you can cut/pull/spray/hoe the plant down to ground level and not let the plant get more than 8" of regrowth before doing that again, you will over time kill all of it including the massive root system. As soon as the plant's re-growth exceeds 8" it begins sending reserves down to the roots. To replace the top you remove requires the plant to remove reserves stored in the root system. I tried this in my bindweed patch and have found it to be true. Persistance pays and is essential to this method.
I noticed that my cornflowers attracted a great many hoverflies last summer. As Hoverfly larvae eat aphids and other pests I was wondering if planting cornflower amongst the raspberries might be a viable option. That is for keeping the horrors of aphids naturally under control. Cornfowers look pretty too -I think - in the many colours you can get. I just don't know if the roots would deprive the Raspberries of water and nutrients to any great deficit? I have searched the internet for an answer but found nothing - maybe it's just a suck and see scenario!