Want to enjoy some of the most delicious fruits that your garden can offer? Try growing your own raspberries! Here’s how…
Raspberries are one of those delicate fruits that just don’t take well to being picked and packaged and shipped long distances. This is why commercially grown raspberries are often sprayed with a number of different chemicals to keep them fresh and mold-free for as long as possible on supermarket shelves.
Why not skip the chemicals and enjoy the delicious, soft, sweet taste of ripe fresh raspberries from your own garden? Though many gardeners don’t think to plant raspberries, in fact, they require relatively little care and maintenance once established, and will provide you with delectable fruit for years to come.
In most climates, raspberries do best when planted in the early spring, so now is the time to get some of these wonderful cane fruits started in your garden!
Whether you choose summer-bearing or an ever-bearing variety, raspberries can’t be beat as a home garden fruit.
Here are 4 considerations you will need to keep in mind when planting your own raspberries:
Climate + Site
Raspberries generally grow from zones 3 to 9, but you’ll need to find a cultivar that’s appropriate for your climate. In Northern areas, try extra-hardy varieties such as Boyne, Nova, and Nordic. In the South, try heat-tolerant Dorman Red, Bababerry, and Southland.
Find a site with full sun and good air circulation. Avoid places where high winds can whip the canes around and damage the plants. The site should be at least 1,000 feet (30 m) from any wild blackberries or similar bramble berries that could share problems. Provide fertile, well-drained soil that hasn’t been used to grow bramble berries, tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, eggplants, or roses, which can leave behind diseases that attack raspberries.
Buy only certified disease-free plants. You can get the bareroot, in containers, or as tissue-cultured plantlets. Your best option is probably vigorous, year-old, bareroot plants that have been propogated from virus-indexed stock.
Raspberries come in several colors. Yellow and red are the hardiest and are very sweet. Black raspberries are delicious but also the least hardy and the most susceptible to disease. Purple raspberries fall somewhere in between red and black.
Select raspberry cultivars that ripen at different times to spread out your harvest. For example, you could plant early-ripening, red summer versions such as Algonquin and chilliwack, then black raspberries such as Bristol, then ever-bearers such as Autumn Bliss and Heritage.
Planting + Care
Plant red and yellow raspberries 2 feet apart in a row, and they’ll fill in solid in a year or two. Space black and purple raspberries 3 feet apart. Keep the row width fairly narrow—6-24 inches wide—to allow every cane to get plenty of sun and be fully productive. Mow or till along the edge of the row as needed to keep the canes from creeping out.
Apply compost and a little balanced organic fertilizer in late winter, if needed, for good growth. Mulch to discourage weeds and keep the soil evenly moist; water during dry spells. Propogate by division or layering, but only if you are sure your plants are healthy…
Pruning and Training
Regular pruning will encourage your plants to produce high yields of top-quality berries. For a single fall crop on ever-bearers, simply cut off all the old canes at ground level when they are done fruiting.
Summer-bearing red raspberries produce fruit on 2-year-old-canes. Cut down the old, grayish brown fruit-producing canes after you harvest, but leave the new, current-season canes to produce berries next year.
In late winter, remove the smallest canes to leave three to six sturdy canes per foot of row.