When is the best time to plant new raspberry plants in Toronto? Also what kind of fertilizer and when should it be applied to our existing raspberry patch. We had a great crop for a few years but last year’s yield was sparse.
Thanks for your help:-)
Raspberries are a berry crop that is best planted in the spring, after risk of frost has passed. Raspberry plants have perennial root systems, but most raspberry ‘canes’, as their vertical growth are called, will produce fruit for only 2 years, then die at ground level. Since you have an existing patch, you have likely seen new plants emerge from the roots’ runners; prune back 50% of these so the remaining new shoots grow strong. Removing dead canes annually is a must, to ensure plenty of air circulation, and to avoid fungus or mildew growth.
Fertilizer: raspberry plants need rich, well-drained soil, so check that the root systems are not in clay-y soil; if so, amend every spring with as much rich organic matter (not wood chips, they will hog all the nitrogen from your berry plants) as possible, because the roots will surely rot in poorly-drained soil. Regarding last year’s yield, remember that raspberries need a good location with as full sun throughout the day as possible: are there any shade sources encroaching on your berry patch?
Here is a popular link on how to care for your raspberry (and blackberry) bushes for maximum yield, from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food & Rural Affairs: Raspberries and Blackberries for Home Gardens.
Hope this helps towards revitalizing your raspberry patch!