I am very much a fan of raised beds for growing berries. Especially Raspberries which tend to be evil spreaders if you are not careful. Raised beds are easy to take care of, and much easier to weed if you put some thought into design and layout. Your bed can be any length you would like, but only make the width double of what you can reach from the side of the bed. If you make it too wide you can’t reach into it for weed pulling without stepping in to it. Using raised beds will also allow you to make the soil best for whatever type of plant you intend to put in them. For example the blueberries in one bed like a more acidic soil compared to the standard soil that raspberries like. My berry beds are 3 foot by 8 foot. Not the longest but it is enough to give us enough different berries between the three types of berries to keep us in berries most of the year. This year I am going to add a water system to the beds so they keep a lot more moist then they did last year when they only got water while I watered the year.
We will start with the Raspberry bed layout. When we first put it in we only planted four plants. Two ever bearing red and two ever bearing yellows. According to Katy the red ones are hers and the yellow ones are mine. As with any type of cane berry you need to contain them or they will spread faster than you can contain them. Raised beds help with that, but unless you line the entire thing with plastic you will still have the roots going underneath and coming up in the surrounding area. All varieties of raspberries should have some type of support to keep them from falling over. Last year when we started the berries we didn’t add the supports and the canes bowed down almost to the point of touching the ground. Normally this wouldn’t be an issue but they were almost covering the strawberry bed. After cleaning out the old dead canes i added a 6 inch mulch layer of dead leaves. Raspberries require a lot of water so when you put them in raised beds you need to do everything you can to conserve soil moisture. A light amount of composted manure, and some mulch is all that raspberries require every year.
On to the strawberry bed! Other then add a layer of leaves to the bed I had not done anything to it since I had made it. Strawberries are one of those berries that you do not want to add any type of fertilizer to during the growing season. If you do the plants tend to leaf out and stop producing berries (depending on the type.) I wish I had written down what variety of strawberry I had planted in the bed. I have never seen any variety produce as many as this one does. It is a day neutral variety that produces berries from spring until the first frost. Last year we had over 3 gallons from our little raised bed. I am going to add a nice layer of composted manure to it to give it a spring boost of growth. Then hopefully a large crop in early summer. There were a lot of grass and weeds to remove so it looks a little beat up at the moment. But several of the plants are starting to leaf out.
And the final bed to get ready is the Blueberry bed. The berry plants are still small but hopefully they will grow well this year. One thing that blueberries like is acidic soil. In Oregon the many months of rain tend to keep the soil in raised beds from staying acidic. There are several things you can do to increase the acidity of the soil. My main one is to pour the whey from my cheese making on to them which adds B vitamins and a small increase in acidity to the soil. A quick way to increase the acidity of your soil is to add 2 tablespoons of vinegar to a gallon of water and use that to increase the level. Be careful or it is easy to overshoot where you want the soil to be at and will end up killing the plants. Another way is to add a little sulfur to the soil. You can get it at most garden centers with instructions on the container on how much to add and how often. I hope to get a gallon at least from the 4 plants that we have this year. None of them are over two feet in height so it will be a stretch if we end up with that much.