If you’re thinking about growing raspberries then as with most plants, spring is the best time to start them off. You will need a decent size area and some form of trellis work as they will need supporting as they grow.
I’ve put mine down one side of the garden and used the fence to support them. If space is limited you can put in a 5ft/1.5m stake and group a few plants around it.
The most common raspberry species is called “summit” and these will give you some great tasting raspberries without too many problems.
At this point I would like to tell you of some of the health benefits of these tasty berries. Whilst packed with numerous minerals, vitamin A, C, E and antioxidants they are also a good source of fibre.
You can either get new plants (canes) or as I did scrounged some cuttings from a friend. Either way make sure they are free from viruses.
Growing Raspberries – Soil Preparation and Planting
Raspberries prefer a free draining, slightly acidic soil. Just add some compost or manure if you can get it. Get rid of any weeds onto your composting pile and you’re ready to put in your stakes or supports.
Put one post at one end and one at the other and run three cords or wires at the top, middle and bottom.
If you’re going to be growing raspberries your plants need to be spaced about 38-45 cm (15-18ins) apart to allow good aeration. They will also benefit from some mulch such as straw spread around the base. This will keep some of the moisture in during the summer.
During the first year you will need to tie the support canes to the support wire as they grow. Remove all the flowers that form so that there is no cropping.
Each year after that you will need to cut out and remove the old canes once they have fruited and tie in the new ones.
Growing Raspberries – Pruning
There are raspberries that fruit in the summer and ones that fruit in the autumn. These are both pruned in a different way. Summer raspberries should have their old canes pruned just after you harvest the crop. These are canes that have been planted in the first year and you would harvest the fruit in the second year.
Autumn fruiting raspberries produce fruit in that growth year and should be pruned by mid-winter after they have fruited. All the canes should be cut back to ground level.
There are a few diseases that you may come across, these are fruit rot, root rot, and spur blight. Fruit rot is a fungus and is about when your canes are too crowded. The cure is to prune to open up the plants and to pick frequently in wet weather. Avoid overhead watering.
Root rot results in the death of the plant right after flowering, just as the weather starts to get warm. The only way to avoid this is to plant resistant varieties in well-drained, rich soil.
Spur blight looks like dark chocolate-coloured blotches on the canes in mid-summer to fall when the humidity is high. Infected areas are silver grey and produce millions of spores. A lime-sulphur solution should be applied in a spray. If you have good air circulation this should be enough to prevent it.
Growing raspberries can be very rewarding and if you get it right you will have an abundance of delicious fruit. Any excess can be frozen, just freeze them on a tray and when frozen pop them into bags for latter on in the year.