Alot of raspberry questions

Hi,
I've been reading some of rec.garden's posts about raspberries and I have some questions:
Previously someone wrote:
Large berries indicate, aside from variety, that the plants are getting enough water. Here in Philly, it's been really dry this summer so I've just let the hose run in my raspberry beds for several hours when the berries are forming. Usually, I don't have to do any watering because I keep the bed under a permanent mulch. You might also want to scatter some bone meal or phosphate rock on the berry plantation.
First, what is, "a permanent mulch"? Also, what does bone meal or phosphate rock do for soil?
Next, they wrote:
After Christmas, roam around your neighborhood and pick the nicest looking Christmas trees to recycle in your garden. You can cover your flower and veggie beds with the branches. In spring remove them from the rest of garden and pile them on your raspberry patch. Or just put them on from the git go.
Why would I recycle Christmas trees in my raspberry garden?
How do I create "sandy-loam soils"?
Previously someone wrote:
a planting should not follow directly after a sod but rather the planting should follow a cultivated or cover crop.
Previously someone wrote:
Depending on the variety, you may need to tip the canes in the spring. You don't need to know the variety here, but anything that seems to be out of control at the end of May or early June... Three to rour feet is the tipping level.
What is a tipping level and what does it mean to tip canes?
Thanks, Ed Stuart
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It means just what it sounds like - you cut off the tip of the new growth on last year's canes (branches) to encourage more growth of lateral branches, and more fruit. If you let the canes remain too long, they will just bend over from the weight of the growth on the ends, making it harder to get at the fruit. IMHO, after the leaves come off, and before spring growth starts, you need to remove any branches that have borne fruit the prior year, leaving the new growth from the ground the prior year. (Fruit come from branches off canes in their second year - the prior year's new sprouts from the ground) You should cut the second-year canes to a manageable height, and "tip" them again in the spring when growth resumes, for the reasons I already stated.
Most varieties of raspberries grow like weeds, and benefit from the pruning. I just cut back a lot of this years growth (next years fruiting canes) because my bed was begining to resemble a rain forest - with thorns. The stuff that bore fruit a few month's ago will not grow much at all, and, since it will die for good with the fall, I'll leave it alone until then, when I will cut it all off to make more room for the coming fruit next spring....
-=>epm<=-
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the web is absolutely chuck-full of good info on growing raspberries in the home garden. one such site is:
http://www.urbanext.uiuc.edu/raspberries/index.html

You
of
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Ed Stuart said:

A permanent mulch is one that persists from year to year (though any organic mulch will need topping off from time to time as it decays). Finely shredded aged hardwood makes a good permanent mulch. I prefer a thick layer of shredded leaves, which will disappear in a year.
Bone meal and rock phosphate add calcium and phosphorous to your soil. Best practice is to get a soil test to find out what your soil has lots of and what it is lacking. Some soils have abundant phosphorous and adding more isn't neccessary (and can even be counterproductive).

I dunno. Can't imagine doing that myself without running them through a shredder.

It's best to have them from the get-go! You can improve clay soils towards a loam by adding masses of compost and sharp sand. You can improve sandy soils by adding masses of compost (and some good clean clay soil, if you can find it).
On the whole, my experience in two different gardens, with different soils, if that raspberries are happier with sandy soil (and plenty of water and mulch) than they are with clay soils.

Maybe ideally, but my best new raspberry bed came right after sod. Of course, I stripped all that sod off and improved the soil with plenty of compost.

--
Pat in Plymouth MI ('someplace.net' is comcast)

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They are originally a woodland plant that grows in clearings on the edges of streams and in meadows. They like consistant dampness and sun for a good part of the day. Mine are growing in what was waste space in the rear corner of my lot, in an area that is at the end of the raised bed and a cement patio, with an old stockard fence behind them. They get a nice dose of sun because they face southwest, and, because the bed is between my garage and that of my neighbors, and the fence, it stays pretty damp because it has a nice shield from the wind on three sides. They appear to like it - a lot, since I just had to cut off some 4 or 5 feet of this years canes from trailing all over the patio and impaling me when I tried to get at the vegetable bed...[g]
If you can, a good place to plant them is on the west or south side of a house with some but not total sun, or with a fence or trellis behind them. It makes it easier to tie up fruiting canes so they don't drape the ground, and protects them from too much wind and drying.
Nothing better than a few freshly picked berries for a summer breakfast.....yum!
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