Grow Your Own Raspberries

 Grow Your Own Raspberries

Grow Raspberries
Raspberries fruit

There is probably nothing quite as delicious as a bowl of freshly picked Raspberries and Double Cream !(Maybe add a sprinkle of caster sugar just to make it really naughty!)

Raspberries are not the cheapest of fruit ,so why not grow your own ? I have been growing Raspberries ever since I can remember and have enjoyed every moment. It is one of those crops that just seems to satisfy every Gardening Ambition.

Ground preparation is most important. Raspberries are quite hungry plants and also require plenty of moisture. When making the site ready incorporate as much organic material as you can. Farm yard manure would be the preferred option, but failing the availability of this then home produced compost or even proprietary bagged compost will suffice. Make sure that the soil is worked down to at least a spades depth to give the plant’s roots some air in which to grow.

Protection against our feathered friends is almost essential ! So, before planning your planting site it would be a very good idea to put up the framework for a fruit cage . There are some really good products on the market and they will all repay their initial cost in no time – the secret is to cram as much soft fruit as possible into the cage. The perfect companion to growing Raspberries are Strawberries, and they can be grown very well together without loss room . More of that another time.

Raspberry canes will require support . The easiest way to achieve this is to knock some really strong tree stakes along the planting row. They will need to be at least 210 centimetres long, pointed and pressure treated with a preservative. The finished height of the posts will need to be 150 centimetre above the ground. This will ensure that the stakes is firmly embedded . Space them every 3 metres along the row. When knocking the posts in try and employ a ’Post Knocker’ this is a blanked off 15 centimetre diameter steel tube with two handles on either side. This tool will help to drive the stakes in straight and will not split the ends. You can easily obtain these in most tool hire shops. Having got your stakes firmly in the ground it is time to string galvanised wire between the posts to act as supports for the canes. You will need to tension these wires with tensioning hooks so that they a fairly taught . Space the wires 50 centimetres apart so will have three strands running between the posts with the top strand running along the top of the posts. If you find that the tension on the wires is pulling the end post over, then put in a diagonal strut at 50 centimetres up the post just below the first wire.

If you are going for more than one row of canes then space the rows at least 1.8 metres apart; Raspberries need good airflow and as much sunlight as they can get. If you can, run the rows East to West, this will give the plants maximum sunlight exposure and also less resistance to strong Westerly winds.

What varieties of Raspberry to grow ? If you have the room for more than one variety then it is possible to have a succession of fruit for quite a long period; so I will start with the early fruiting varieties and finish with the late boys.

  • Glen Moy: High yields of sweet fruit from spineless canes. Resistant to aphid , which helps to keep away any attacks of virus
  • Glen Ample: Very high yielding. Superb flavour. Good for freezing.
  • Tulameen : One of the most commercially grown Raspberry varieties due to it’s high yields and keeping qualities. This variety would be an excellent choice for container growing.
  • Glen Fyne: If you are looking for flavour then this is the one for you. Heavy crops from spineless canes.
  • Polka : This Autumn variety , recently introduced from Poland, will give you an absolute abundance of richly flavoured fruit.
  • Autumn Bliss : Good, reliable Autumn variety. It has firm, well flavoured fruit. The growth is sturdy and compact and can be grown free standing.

It is vital that which ever variety you choose , you make sure that the canes are Ministry Certified and have been tested for virus and decease . You will find that these will be the only ones sold by reputable Garden Centres and soft fruit Nurseries. They will not be the cheapest, but then as we all know ‘ You get what you Pay for!’

The best plants to buy are strong bare rooted stock and the time to plant is from mid November to Mid March. I would always recommend that the earlier the better. The young plants need to go in about 30-35 centimetres apart. Plant up to the existing soil mark on the plants and firm them well in with the sole of your boot. Once planted they will need to be trimmed back to about 15 centimetres tall; the plan here is to encourage the plant to make as much root as it can so that it will produce a good number of canes the following Spring which in turn will produce the fruit for that Summer. When all the planting and trimming is completed top dress the plants with a good dressing of Blood Fish and Bone fertilizer.

The next operation will take place the following Spring when your plants start to push up new growth from their roots. Select up to 8 new canes for each plant – in the first year you may only be able to select 6 or less – and remove at ground level all the weaker growths. The next operation is to tie in these new shoots to the wire supports. I like to use ’ Tube String’ for this job, it is soft and easily tied and can be re-used year after year, you will find it available at all good Garden Centres. When tying, try to do it so that you leave some string between the cane and the wire ; there are various ways of achieving this and I’m sure you will work something out for yourself.

Maintenance of your crop is mostly a matter of weed control and to help in this, and also for the good of the plants , I would recommend a mulch of organic material along the row. There are not many pests and diseases that will be a problem to your plants, and considering the withdrawal of so many of the chemical controls that we used to rely on , there is not much you can do about the situation anyway! Strong plants will not become prone so easily to pests and disease . To make sure your Raspberries are really strong top dress twice a year with fertilizer and organic mulch as previously described and you should not have any problems.

After having thoroughly enjoyed your bountiful Summer of endless sweet Raspberries the only task left is the annual pruning. A word here about Autumn fruiting varieties. These tend to produce fruit on 2 year old canes and therefore should only be thinned out and have the really old canes removed. Not so with the Summer fruiting varieties; their fruit comes from 1 year canes, therefore we need to remove the old canes that have fruited to encourage new growth for the following year. This is best done in February or early March. Simply cut the old canes back to 15 centimetres from the ground, un-tie them and burn them if you can , or failing that , put them in your re-cycling bin.

Come the Spring you will once again have the job of selecting the strongest new canes and tying them in.

It is never ending with Raspberries – but worth every moment!

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