raised bed raspberries

Asked July 2, 2020, 3:03 PM EDT

We've a wonderfully productive 25 ft. bed of ever bearing raspberries. Our neighbors on the other side of the fence water too much so the ground at the base of some of our plants is soggy -- standing surface water -- sometimes. I'm thinking of raising the beds 12 inches. The beds are about 20 inches across so it would be a LOT of soil to carry in 5 gallon paint buckets. Can I simply add a border of 12 inch 2 by 12s and fill the box, burying the crowns in 12 inches of U&Ds best planting mix, or do I have to dig up all the plants in the late fall / mid winter, fill the box and replant the canes? The former would be easy. The latter a huge amount of work and likely the loss of production for a year but likely worth it in the long run.

Benton County Oregon

5 Responses

Hi and thanks for contacting Ask an Expert.
Raspberries do not like soggy feet. So getting them out of there is important, or changing the drainage system to prevent root rot.
Have you asked your neighbors to cut back? Or, do you have room between the fence and the plants to dig a drainage ditch. That is a lot of work but a French drain (ditch with rocks in it) that sends the water away from the plants may be better than moving everything.
I really cannot answer the questions about the 12 inch beds because I don't know if the water would seep in anyway. Moving plants right now is stressful for them. Summer is their time to store energy.
I have attached a link for a french drain. https://www.diynetwork.com/how-to/outdoors/landscaping/how-to-install-a-french-drain
If you have further questions, please contact us again.

Thanks for the speedy reply.
About the French drain...I installed one before building the raised bed (8" only). It works apparently, but not when the neighbors turn on the water for a while.. It takes a while to drain the water away because of the clay in the top layers.
About berries not wanting wet feet, I understand. At the same time, we started the plants by simply cutting the stems of plants in another bed and jamming them into the ground about 6 inches. They grew just fine. We've done that again since.
So, the question is, what's the difference between that and simply burying the existing canes in another 12 inches of well-draining soil? I don't see the problem as new roots should develop off the 12 inches of cane in the ground. We'd leave a couple of feet of cane above the ground in the fall when trimming them back.
Does that explain the situation a bit more clearly>

I see your point. If I understand the lay out of the garden, then I would consider two things. Going ahead with your plan but put in a heavy plastic liner at the side where the water seeps in. Then fill the beds and replant. To clarify, I would use the plastic on one side and maybe half way to the middle of the bed. I am picturing your bed running parallel to the fence where the water comes in so about 12 inches into the bed. This would create another barrier but still allow drainage.
The second thing I would consider doing (maybe when the rain softens the dirt) is digging a deeper, wider French drain.
If I don't have the information correctly, please send me some pictures. Since you have already cut and re-rooted plants, you should have no problem being successful doing that again. Enjoy those berries. Mine are just starting to come in. Yummy.

Getting closer...
Not sure what adding plastic on the sides would do as the water is underneath everything, not coming in the side.
Digging deeper not possible. The current drain runs down the middle of the bed underneat.
Still not clear about simply burying the current canes. You talk about replanting. I prefer to not replant. I prefer to simply burying the existing canes in 12 inches of soil so there will be no disturbance of the roots, etc.

thanks for patience

Yes you can build the bed higher and add soil to it. However, if you leave the plants in place and the water stays, they may rot the roots anyway. If you cut off some of the canes and plant them higher in the 12 inches of new soil, you may escape the possibility of root rot.
Good luck with your project.