How To Grow Raspberries
A raspberry – delicious, sweet, tangy and sometimes even a little sharp. This guide covers both summer and autumn raspberry varieties.
Growing raspberries is not difficult, as once established they are relatively easy to take care of, especially compared to salad crops or other vegetables.
Nevertheless, for anyone new to growing raspberry canes, it is worthwhile spending a little time to understand the differences between summer and autumn varieties and how to get the plants established.
How To Grow Raspberries – Planting
Planting raspberries is very similar whether you want to grow summer raspberry canes or autumn raspberry canes. The canes are named after when they produce their delicious raspberries. The pruning for each type is different, but the initial preparation is the same. See raspberry varieties here.
When to plant raspberries? Late autumn or early spring is the ideal time to plant – it’s a job often done in the cold. This is good for the raspberry canes as they are dormant during the winter months, and having them in the soil before the growing season starts will give them the maximum time to establish themselves.
On my allotment I have created three lines of raspberry canes, each about 3 metres in length and about 1.8 metre apart. Along each line I have planted 5 canes of raspberries, about 50 centremetres apart.
It’s important to plant the canes with their roots horizontal along the ground, rather than down into the earth, and not too deep, about 5 to 10 centimetres is all they need. A successful planting will lead to these roots establishing themselves and throwing up many new canes in future years. Mixing in large amounts of well rotted compost will improve the health of the canes and the size of the fruit.
Five canes per pot is the usual number when purchased from a garden centre, and this is sufficient for one line of raspberries.
It is worth considering choosing different types of raspberry bush for each line to enjoy their different flavours, and also because each variety fruits at different times, making it possible to have a continuous supply of raspberries from early summer to autumn.
To complete the preparation, at both ends of each line of raspberries, I hammered into the ground a 2.2 metre post (about 50cm into the soil), and strung wire between between the posts at around 45 centimetre intervals, for use to tie the canes to for protection against wind sway during summer growth.
How To Grow Raspberries – Care
Once planted, caring for raspberries is quite a simple process. The humble raspberry grows very well in Scotland, a country that is famous for raspberries and is the source of many raspberry canes sold in garden centres. From this, it is perhaps not surprising that they like warm, but not very hot weather in the summer, and they do especially well with a good amount of rain (or watering).
The picture above shows some lucky raspberries canes happily standing with their feet covered in muck.
Establishing a watering regime is the best way to care for raspberries and maximise your harvest. Raspberry roots are close to the surface which means that in dry weather the canes can quickly dry out. From experience this is something to regret, as canes can ‘go over’ before they have produced a plentiful crop of fruit due to insufficient watering.
A good solution to this is a good mulch early spring, that both feeds and protects the roots from drying out. The soil my raspberry bushes stand on has excellent drainage, in fact almost too good, meaning that it is impossible to over water. Given this, I find that throughout the summer in dry periods I need to give the raspberry canes a really good watering at least once a week.
With good luck and good weather (plus netting against birds) it is easy to achieve a good harvest. If you can, try and sample some raspberries of any friends or relatives, and then purchase the canes of the same type – or even better ask them at the end of summer whether they have any new canes they can spare.
How To Grow Raspberries – Pruning
When I first researched raspberries – before i started to grow them – I was immensely confused by descriptions given for pruning raspberries. I hope I do not confuse you now. The basics are as follows:
- All raspberry canes should be cut to about 6 inches / 15 centimetres off the ground after they have fruited
And that basically is as complicated as it needs to get! And nature makes life easy, as fruited raspberry canes look half dead, making them very easy to tell them apart from the young whippy green fresh canes.
Nevertheless, what seems to cause all the confusion, is this one important difference between summer and autumn fruiting raspberries, as follows:
- For summer fruiting raspberries – plants that fruit between June through to early August – only prune the raspberry canes that have fruited. You will want to keep the young whippy green fresh canes for next year’s fruit.
- For autumn fruiting raspberries – plants that fruit from mid August onwards – prune all canes back to the ground before the start of the next growing season (February / March).
I have included pictures below that I hope will be helpful in demonstrating what I have described.
The picture above is of a very messy collection of raspberry canes of summer fruiting raspberries. The green leaves belong to young canes that will fruit next year. The yellow leaves belong to canes that have already provided their gorgeous fruit this summer. Next out with the secateurs…
The picture above shows how easy it is to distinguish fruited canes with their dark brown / dried out skin, from the fresh green canes that will produce delicious raspberries (again the example is of summer fruiting raspberries).
The end result of the pruning (for summer fruiting raspberries).
The goal is to tie in the canes required for next summer onto thick wire – this will prevent them getting damaged in strong winds in autumn and spring (when they have leaves).
I also cut back some healthy new canes where required to create room, allowing air to circulate and prevent over crowding when the canes spring back into life the following summer.
For autumn fruiting, the pruning process is very simple, just cut all canes back to 6″ above ground level at the end of winter or early spring.
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