On my usual morning stroll around the garden I was fortunate enough to pick our first ripe raspberries. Raspberries are probably my favorite berry, a close tie with blueberries any way. With the short season of availability in the stores and the astronomical prices for a little basket that is not much more than a teaser, the only way I can satisfy my desire is to grow my own.
Raspberries are a bramble plant, meaning they have lots thorns and are not overly friendly for pickers. There are a few varieties to look for that have fewer thorns than normal. Raspberries are a perennial plant that grows biennial canes. The roots send up new canes each year, which usually bear fruit in their second season and then die.
To keep your raspberries producing, you must annually prune out the dead canes that have finished producing fruit and let the new ones grow. Raspberries are quite hardy even to zone 3, and because they produce suckers your patch will spread as far as you are willing to let it.
Growing red raspberries is hard to beat. Most red raspberries are ready in July and bear fruit for 2 or 3 weeks. You can purchase varieties that are called ever bearing, having one crop in the summer and another in the fall. When pruning ever-bearing raspberries cut out the old canes in summer only after they have produced fruit. The fall crop will be from new canes that will bear fruit a second time the following summer.
When you grow raspberries providing a mulch around your plants will reduce weed production and conserve moisture. It will also help to reduce the production of suckers which should be kept under control by pruning out. How do you grow raspberries? It’s easy, the growing conditions for raspberries are quite basic. Any average fertile soil in good sun will do as long as it has good drainage, but start out your new plants by adding extra organic matter to the planting holes. Water is probably the most important, especially when your raspberries are growing and even more so when they are producing fruit. If your plants dry out your berries will be fewer and smaller.
Raspberries are not immune to disease and pests. Keep your plants free of any weak, dead or diseased canes at all times. Give them good air circulation by pruning out unnecessary canes and perhaps using a trellis system to keep the canes upright.
As your berries ripen you will be in stiff competition with the birds. If this is a problem try netting your plants. For the best taste pick your berries only when they are truly ripe. Don’t squeeze them, just pull them off the stem with care. Use a wide container so you don’t pile the berries too high as they will squash each other.
Eat fresh ( that’s the best ) or place in the refrigerator. If you have a bumper crop and can’t keep up, trying making jam or better yet freeze your berries for later use. I make a tasty raspberry and spinach salad…full recipe here Raspberry and Spinach Salad