Pruning raspberries and cleaning up my heart

I considered writing this in two separate posts so it would be more readable for the "masses" (all 16 of you) and more (are you ready for this honesty) Google searchable. Oops, did I actually say that? But forget Google, forget the masses! This is my blog I'll write it how I like.

Pruning my Heart

My heart was in a bad place yesterday morning. I guess it had been that way for a couple days. I've let some fear creep in over the past weeks; normally not a problem for me because I see hope and beauty almost everywhere but sometimes fear grabs a hold and it's ugly.

Fear does nasty things to people - just listen to the news. I'm embarrassed and humbled to say I'm no different. I'm so glad none of you were privy to the recent conversations I've had with my husband. Self-pity, envy, selfishness, judgment, pride and then of course guilt for all of the above - all coming from my mouth. Jesus is quoted as saying "For out the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks" (New Testament Bible, Book of Matthew). Now if that isn't the truth!

Because of the Damien's dad's recent death I've been struggling to hold house and home together (mostly on my own). In my fear and anxiety I've been losing sleep and speaking ugliness. I need to let it go. I need to trust, I need to ask forgiveness. I need a clean heart.

So, I went out to my garden. The first time this season. I pruned and prayed. As I cut the old raspberries canes I visualized God yanking out the stuff that's dead and diseased in my own heart (ouch) to prepare for this season's new growth. Creating conditions for a healthy plant that yields a harvest of sweet berries.

last year's first fruits

I want to be that.  I'm not naive enough to think that a couple hours in the garden will solve all my problems. A heart, like a garden, is tended season through season in order to bear good fruit. One pruning doesn't do it. But I felt so much lighter after pruning those raspberry canes. I'm fairly certain I met God in that raspberry patch and while I took care of my garden. He took care of me.

Pruning Raspberries

There is no nice transition from matters of the heart to down-and-dirty garden advice so I'll just jump in.

Early spring is the time to prune your raspberry canes. Maybe you've already missed the season where you live but it's certainly early spring here - there's still snow & ice in my backyard. Raspberries, at least the kind I have, bear fruit on the second year canes. Ie: the first year they grow, no fruit. The second year they produce berries. But there's a mix of first and second year growing at the same time so each summer there is canes producing fruit. Yesterday I pruned the canes that bore fruit last year.

To keep raspberries healthy you want to have small groups of canes (4-6 in a bunch) growing at least 1-2 ft apart from each other (for a small backyard garden). Otherwise the plants don't get enough air circulation and are more prone to disease. Suckers will come up here, there and everywhere around those groupings. These can & should be pruned anytime throughout they growing season.

You'll notice in my photos I have more than 6 in some of the groupings. I plan to transplant those out into a new area later this spring so I didn't prune them. Raspberries also need to be supported by a trellis but I'm not getting into that now. That's another day's project. Here's a couple resources for pruning raspberries:

Renee Tougas participates in affiliate marketing, including the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. Whenever you buy something on Amazon from a link you clicked here, I get a (very) small percentage of that sale. See disclosure for further explanation.

« Felted Wool Snakes and Other March Creations
mud season »
  • Jamie

    Jamie on April 1, 2009, 11:09 p.m.

    ((hugs)) I'm happy for you that you were able to find some peace. May each day forward get a little better...

    Jamie's last blog post... Wordless Wednesday | From The Daffodil Fields


  • Rodney and Cindy

    Rodney and Cindy on April 2, 2009, 3:52 a.m.

    Oh, how we all need to be pruned.... often. At least that pain can not only bring us peace, but produce the wonderful fruit that God wants. Thank You, Lord! Good post, Renee!


  • Shawna

    Shawna on April 2, 2009, 5:23 a.m.

    I feel the same way about sitting in the garden, getting my hands in the dirt. Go slowly, and be gentle with yourself. It's the best you can do.


  • Gayle

    Gayle on April 2, 2009, 1:44 p.m.

    This is a wonderful post, Renee. I think everyone's heart does well with some pruning and spring cleaning every once in a while.

    We have what I think are wild blackberries in the woodsy area of our yard. They are edible, but they are pretty small. I wonder if pruning might do them some good. Although probably the birds would get them before we do!

    Gayle's last blog post... Worry


  • Ellen

    Ellen on April 3, 2009, 7:23 p.m.

    You made me laugh when you mentioned being google searchable, I love honesty! And a lovely post about pruning, and what good hard work it can sometimes be.

    Ellen's last blog post... Off to see the wizard


  • Shari Lyle-Soffe

    Shari Lyle-Soffe on April 4, 2009, 3:06 p.m.

    Isn't it wonderful? God always meets me in the garden too. Great for pruning out the dead wood in our hearts isn't it?

    Your berries from last year look wonderful. They made my mouth water.

    I posted a homeschool interview with Lisa Bently on my blog this morning if you're interested.



  • Michelle Thooft

    Michelle Thooft on May 5, 2009, 9:06 p.m.

    I found you on Google! I searched "growing raspberries in bunches" and you came up. We are wondering - do you plant 4-6 canes together and zip tie them a couple feet off the ground so they grow in a sort of spray fountain? rather than rows? someone told us we should do that - and we are just beginning to grow raspberries. any thoughts you might have would be fabulous....

    I really appreciated your post- I loved the honesty without all the religious stuff. thank you :)

    Michelle (


    • renee

      renee on May 6, 2009, 6:32 p.m.


      Thanks for stopping by. If you check back up in the original post you will see a link to a University of Maine cooperative extension publication. Click on that link and scroll down. You'll see three illustrations for growing raspberries. I used the V trellis last year with wooden stakes. That system didn't hold up too well. This year I'm going to have my husband build me a T trellis, he doesn't know this yet :)

      I haven't seen a "spray fountain" set up before but it couldn't probably work as long as you keep them pruned and cleaned out enough for good air circulation.

      Take care and thanks for visiting.


  • Michelle

    Michelle on May 8, 2009, 12:43 p.m.

    Thanks! I also checked with a gardener-guru friend of mine, and she said with the volume we're doing, we would be better off doing rows and T-trellising them. So thanks for responding! Your blog is a wonderland....I am so excited for a rainy afternoon so I can peruse it more. I'll be back!


  • Debbie

    Debbie on April 5, 2010, 6:25 p.m.

    When my heart is heavy and cluttered with fear and ugliness, I always find that time spent in my garden is just what is needed. Something about contecting to the divine in nature leads us back to the divine within ourselves.

    I'm in SW Ontario and new leaves have already started to cover our raspberry bush. I'm so excited. Our bush bears wild black raspberries and they are so de-lish. Happy Spring, Renee. -Debbie


  • Jamil

    Jamil on April 10, 2010, 2:13 p.m.

    I must say that the growth in this field is very much in motion so I must say that. If you are taking lots of efforts than only you can make a change so go for the best deal about fitness that is phentermine so go for it asap.


  • Amy

    Amy on March 31, 2011, 3:34 p.m.

    This is such a thoughtful post. Thank you for sharing. I've been waffling about whether to plant a vegetable garden this year, but your post reminds me of how valuable gardening has been in the past. Best wishes, Amy


  • Hubert

    Hubert on April 7, 2011, 3:11 p.m.

    Fear does do nasty things to people…. But while you have such a humble and honest perspective on how fear takes a toll on your feelings and thoughts, you will be just fine. Because while there’s understanding, fear cannot keep a full grasp on one’s heart. I have had my share of anxiety disorder and panic attacks, and more than once did I feel like I was going over the edge. But with faith and good will, I’m standing my ground and keeping my enjoyment of life. Those are some lovely raspberries you have there, by the way!


  • Internet savvy

    Internet savvy on Feb. 16, 2012, 2:10 a.m.

    I have read your article, I am very much impressed because you way of explanation quite good and very informative. And one more thing I have got to know that everyone has a different style to write the article, but I must say your article sounds very good.

    Internet savvy


You can subscribe to comments on this article using this form.

If you have already commented on this article, you do not need to do this, as you were automatically subscribed.