When it comes to fruit you don’t get much sweeter than a lovely ripe raspberry. If you share even half the enthusiasm we do for them, chances are you’re wondering how to grow raspberries. That’s where we come in, we take a look at planting, growing and harvesting your own raspberries.
If you’re looking to plant raspberries properly, you’ll need to prepare the ground. You may need to dig up the planting site to clear it of weeds if necessary. Then incorporate organic matter, i.e., well-rotted manure or compost. Cow or pelleted chicken manure is preferable to horse manure as they are freer of weed seeds than cow manure is.
Raspberries need well-drained soil, so growers with damp soil, such as heavy, wet clay, sometimes grow raspberries in raised beds. These are better for drainage than the ground is, and they also warm up quicker than earth does. Raised beds also allow for better-rooting depth, which raspberries like. But for many growers, the ordinary soil is sufficient. You can also plant them in containers where soil and weather conditions are not clement and moved indoors when frost threatens. If you’re unsure about your soil here’s a guide to measuring soil moisture.
Raspberries should be planted in a trench a minimum of 35 centimeters apart (no more than 45 cm is needed). Summer fruiting varieties must be in rows 1.5 to 2 meters apart, but fall fruiting varieties need 2-meter spacing, as they fruitless abundantly than the summer ones. The planting depth should be no deeper than 5-8 centimeters. Your guide in bare-rooted plants should be the soil mark at the top of the root. On bare root specimens trim any long roots to 20 cm, spreading the root horizontally in the trench, firm in and water well. Then prune the plant to 30cm to encourage root growth. Pruning is not necessary for plants grown in containers.
Raspberries benefit from support. The ideal support frame is set in place after planting and consists of sturdy posts set along the row connected by metal wires. The support should be as long as the row, and the cables should be tied firmly into metal eyelets. There should be at least two rows of two wires each. The raspberries should be linked to the wires with string, not too tightly to avoid the string cutting into the stem.
Routine care is important. All fruits need regular watering to promote good fruit size and quality. But ensure that you water the soil rather than the fruit to prevent damage to young canes, which can be entry points for diseases.
In spring before any mulch is laid down, top dress with a balanced fertilizer for general wellbeing. This should be a yearly event, so the mulch will need to be lifted annually. Annually add compost to the raspberry patch to maintain the humus level in the soil.
Hoeing can be a problem as doing it near the plants can damage roots near the surface. Weeds can be pulled out by hand, but many growers prefer to apply mulches. Some even plant through a black plastic mulch, which suppresses weeds and unwanted new canes. It is also possible to lay weed suppressant geotextile fabric between the plants after planting. Wood chip between the rows may be useful, but you need it to be 10 cm depth to be effective, and even then, some weeds break through.
Raspberries are notoriously prolific so, will spring up all over the garden, so keep down the number of canes by eliminating unwanted new growth. You can do this by digging or pulling them out. If you are cutting them use secateurs to cut them off at ground level. This process isn’t required with fall fruiting varieties.
Harvesting Your Raspberries
Summer fruiting varieties are ready by midsummer; fall fruiting by late summer up to first frosts. Pick every two or three days, but as wet fruit rots pick after rain. Fruit will store for three days bagged in a fridge but can be frozen.
Raspberries will last up to 15 years but can die earlier through viruses and fungi, such as cane spot and botrytis. When these strike, the only remedy is to dig up and burn the crop. However, rust is a fungal disease which you can live with. Chlorosis, yellowing of leaves, is caused by calcium or magnesium deficiency. Apply the appropriate fertilizer. Predatory birds may have to be deterred by netting.
Raspberry Recipe Resources
Now that you’re comfortable growing your own raspberries, all that’s left to do is find creative ways to eat them! We’ve put together a list of recommended recipe resources below:
- Fruit and Vegetable Gardening, Pollack, Royal Horticultural Society, 2002.