Raised beds for berries

tucker46060April 4, 2012

Anyone using raised beds for raspberries?

Getting ready to plant some brambles and wondered what your experiences are in terms of size, etc.

Any recommendations on width, depth, etc?

Thanks in advance.

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To be honest, I dont know if anyone else has tried this, but we have droughts every summer here, and it gets really hot, so ALL outdoor plants dry out in a big hurry around here.

Plus, we are concerned with big water bills, and we must water every other day and some times every day for shallow rooted plants, so I had to develop a new growing method to seriously conserve water when watering my many plants

If you use any sprinkler, you are losing/wasting water in several ways. First of all, you lose much of it to evaporation, you also end up watering large areas, including all the areas around and in between your plants where you dont need water. Plus, you have to leave the sprinkler running for hours in each spot just to get adequate amount of water all the way down to the roots, which takes a long time, and uses tons of water! Imagine running your sprinkler constantly for 6 or more hours every other day?

So what I now do, is I plant all my medium to large plants/veggies and bushes, dahlias, etc. into lower lying areas instead of raised areas. I first dig holes in each spot where I will be growing each plant, I remove all the horrible clay, fill the hole to 1-2" below the surrounding ground level with good soil, and plant the plants there. I then add some mulch.

That way, when I water, all I have to do is walk around with a hose and simply add about 1" of water to each hole around each plant, then move on to the next one. It only takes about maybe 8-10 seconds to water each plant, and I can water 8 large dahlias, 12 large zinnias in a lowered row, 7 tomatoes, 5 peppers, 5 cukes, 1 blueberry, and other plants, and be done with the watering in less than 10 minutes!

That saves an unbelievable amount of water versus running a sprinkler and moving it twice, for 6 hours or so, every other day for 3 months!

If you grow smaller veggies or berries that do best in a row, then create WIDE rows, of 15"-18"-24" or wider, and pack them in there so they act as their own mulch by shading the ground below them from evaporation and weed growth. With berries, maybe add some mulch in the spring after the new canes have started coming up so you dont break
any of them off while mulching.

The problem with narrow, raised row beds, or single raised mounds is that much of the water runs off of them into the trench between the rows or onto the ground below, which only waters the weeds. Plus, narrow raised beds/rows are exposed from the sides so they lose water through the exposed dirt on the sides as well.

I was given a book written in 1981, by a guy named Dick Raymond. He used to have a TV show in the 70's and 80's called "Joy Of Gardening", and this book is a companion guide for that show. The book is also called "Joy Of Gardening", and it's about the best gardening book I've read, even though the info in it was developed from the 1940's to the early 1980's. Most people are unaware of the ideas he talks about in this book, but I'd call them revolutionary.....

    Bookmark   April 5, 2012 at 1:16PM
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I have raspberries in a raised cinder block bed. I was concerned about drainage (turns out drainage was fine).

My bed is 8' long and 2' wide by 16" tall interior dimensions. If I did it again I would make the bed narrower, maybe 1' wide.

I brought in a blended soil and then top dressed with aged horse manure and mulched with bark dust. I've been very happy with the bed. I coiled a drip hose in it to make watering easier.

Suckers come up in the surrounding lawn, but I just mow them with the grass. If done frequently they never get woody or tough and the lawn is fine.

After a few years some have traveled far enough to crop up in beds 8' or more away on the other side of the lawn patch in between.

Also the 2 feet is too wide for one row. It makes it a little tougher to pick the fruit and makes things a bit crowded.

You didn't mention what you were trying to accomplish with the raised beds. If it is for drainage, you probably don't even need 16". 8" would probably work fine.

For me the 8' length of fall/ever bearing raspberries was just about right for daily picking and direct or nearly direct consumption for 1-2 people.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2012 at 3:55PM
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Several reasons ... we have poor clay soil, and I want to plant them in better soil. I am watering with drip lines, so not worried about those issues.

Surprised to hear the 2' width; that was my original plan, but then I thought wider might be better.

Thanks for the input.


    Bookmark   April 5, 2012 at 7:05PM
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I have a customer in Northern DE who has a red raspberry bed that is built inside a raised box of treated 2x10", and it is about 4' x 10'. Maybe thats a bit wide, but they have no problems with it, and because of the dryness here in summer, it helps shade the ground and conserve water.

For murky above^, he/she lives in Portland, OR,and I'm sure they probably dont have the heat and dryness we have on the East coast, so narrow rows probably work well, but narrow raised rows here would dry out too fast in summer. Plus their soil is probably better, as we have the worst soil in the universe!(Venusian soil is probably more friendly to root growth than ours, even with all the sulfuric acid rain!)

    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 12:46AM
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