Growing Raspberries from Planting to Harvest

, written by Benedict Vanheems gb flag

Raspberries ripening

Every garden should include ravishing, pop-in-the-mouth raspberries. Given the amount of space they occupy they yield a phenomenal quantity of berries, which are equally good eaten fresh or frozen to enjoy in the quieter months.

Raspberry canes grow best in a sunny, sheltered position, but unlike many fruits they will also grow quite successfully in a part-shaded spot. This cool-climate fruit loves soil that is rich and moisture retentive. It’s a good idea to add plenty of well-rotted, nutrient-rich organic matter such as compost, either as a mulch or by digging it in, to help support and feed your new canes, replenishing with more every year.

Summer vs Autumn ruiting Raspberries

There are two types of raspberry. Summer-fruiting raspberries develop their fruit on last year’s growth, while autumn-fruiting types produce berries on new canes.

A mix of both summer and fall varieties is a great way to maximise the period you are able to harvest these delicious berries.

How to Plant Raspberries

Start with one-year-old raspberry canes from a reputable nursery. In mild areas you can plant canes from late autumn to give them a head start, but if winters are very cold where you live wait until the ground thaws out in early spring.

If you’re planting potted raspberry canes, dig a generous hole for each cane then fork in a bucket of garden compost.

“Soaking
Soak bareroot raspberry canes in water then spread the roots out along a trench

For planting bare-root canes, it’s easier to dig a trench for the row of canes, then spread the roots of each cane out along the row. Fill the soil back in and firm it down with your foot. Canes should be spaced 18 inches (45cm) apart, with about four feet (120cm) left between additional rows so they’re easy to access. Cut the canes back to nine inches (22cm) tall once they’re planted to encourage new growth.

Training Raspberries

Raspberry canes grow up to head height and beyond, so they’ll need a support system. Drive in two upright posts at each end of the row, then stretch strong galvanized wire between them.

The posts should be about six feet (2m) tall with three horizontal wires for summer-fruiting raspberries, or two wires for less-tall autumn-fruiting types.

“Training
Training raspberries on wires makes them easier to manage

Harvesting Raspberries

Pick raspberries as soon as they have coloured up all over. The berries should detach easily from their central plug. Raspberries won’t keep for long, so enjoy them as soon as possible after picking.

We reckon the best way to enjoy them is with a dollop of Greek-style yoghurt or cream, with perhaps an indulgent drizzle of maple syrup. You can freeze excess berries for use in smoothies and desserts, or make them into delicious raspberry jam.

“Ripe

Pruning Raspberries

Prune summer-fruiting raspberries immediately after you’ve finished picking them. Cut all the canes that produced berries back down to the ground. Use garden string to tie the strongest canes that remain to the wire supports. There shouldn’t be any more than one cane every four inches (10cm) of wire, so cut down additional canes.

Fall-bearing raspberries are even easier to prune – simply cut all the canes back to the ground in late winter.

“Pruning
Prune out the previous year’s canes on summer-fruiting raspberries

Keep your raspberry rows tidy by digging or pulling up new canes that grow well away from the rows. These are called ‘suckers’, and if your raspberry canes are disease-free you can use them to raise new plants. Dig them up, set them into a fresh area of prepared ground and water them in.

Raspberries are so easy to grow and packed with flavour, so you certainly won’t regret making space for a few canes. Hopefully this has given you the confidence to give them a go; or if you’re an old hand at growing raspberries, why not share your own growing tips or recommended varieties in the comments section below?

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