Our raspberries are the most productive thing we grow on our five-acre bush block, yet they are a bit of an enigma. Back in October 2014 we planted 100 Chilcotin raspberry plants grown from tissue culture. All were the same size when we planted them.


Fast forward to November 2016 and the southern end of the raspberry rows are doing extremely well with runners popping up thick and fast.


Up in the northern end however, it's a different picture. Visitors seeing the support wires extending beyond the healthy raspberry plants sometimes ask us whether we will plant this end of the field too.


Even the healthy southern end of the raspberry rows is not immune to problems. Here it is in April 2017, after wallaby attack:


... and here, disaster strikes in May 2016 with an uprooted tree.


So why is the northern end struggling so much compared with the southern end?

Right from the beginning when we planted the berry plants, the soil in the northern end of the field was much harder than in the southern end. The northern soil was light grey clay while the southern soil was soft and dark. The main explanation for this is that our septic tank line sits below the southern part of the field, but rainwater also naturally flows in that direction. In the middle of summer in the south there is a water table at about half a metre down, but in the north at the same depth the clay is just gritty and mostly dry.

We've given the north end of the field lots of special treatment with extra mulch, chicken manure and horse manure. We've also tried "vertical swales" - more about this to come. But whenever we get some good new growth, the wallaby comes along and munches it! Next time we'll net the plants well and see if they can catch up with the southern end a bit.

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