A Home Garden Raspberry Patch
Simple to Grow and Delicious
Having your own home garden Raspberry patch is a delightful gardening experience but it is a bit more difficult to get established than growing a
few carrots. What Do I Buy?
You cannot grow Raspberries from seed. Yes it is technically possible or the plant breeders would never be able to develop new varieties. For the home gardener you must buy dormant Raspberry plants, usually referred to as canes. This makes the process more difficult because you must find a supplier in your own country as shipping live plants across national borders is just too difficult and time consuming to be economically viable.
Where Do I Get Them? The best sources are usually the mail order catalogues. I have three Canadian ones in my office that offer several varieties to Canadian home garden Raspberry customers. They are, in no particular order, Dominion Seed House, McFayden and Veseys. In the U.S. there are probably several but I can only find Park Seeds and Johnny’s. The mail order houses will keep their canes in their cold storage until they ship them and you will receive something that looks brown, dead and lifeless. (Picture above right) That is good.
Plant them and they will flourish.
What Should I Avoid? Garden centres and big box garden departments will offer a bundle of bare root canes in the spring. There is usually limited, (i.e. one,) variety selection but these can be successful. The main problem with these bundles of canes is the care they (don’t) get after they arrive in the stores. If you can buy them the week they arrive then your chance of success increases noticeably. After a while on the store shelves, the buds will start to grow and will quickly become long stringy shoots due to a lack of light and a lack of water. If you see this type of growth, keep walking.
Are There Different Varieties? There are a limited number of varieties available to home garden Raspberry growers and they fall into two main groups: summer fruiting and fall fruiting. Within each group there can be three categories. The regular red types, a couple of yellow varieties and the purple and black ones. Simply read the catalogue descriptions and choose what appeals to you. Boyne is the most widely available and one of the hardiest and most reliable. Don’t be afraid to try some of the others that have larger fruit and better taste. That’s where you will find the joy of having your own patch. One of the great joys of Raspberries is their hardiness. Many of these varieties are hardy to Zones 2 or 3 meaning they can be grown in most places in Canada or the U.S. The Ontario Dept of Agriculture keeps a list of varieties and their features on their website.
Do They Need Support? For a small garden the single stake method is the one I prefer, to maintain a compact but productive patch. Once you see how delightful they are you will want more.
More! They will still need some support and a four wire trellis works well. Put the Raspberries in a wide row, about 12in /30cm, (see picture left,) and at both ends of that row put a 4"x4" post in the ground that stands at least 5 ft / 150cm high. Attach a cross piece about half way up those posts and another at the top. The upper cross piece should be about 3ft / 90cm long and the lower one a bit shorter. This allows you to run four heavy wires the length of the row. Each wire is attached to an end of the cross pieces. (Picture below right,) The canes can now grow up between these wires and lay out onto them.
You can decorate the end posts with some lattice work and grow some small vines up them to make your home garden Raspberry patch prettier and more interesting or possibly to disguise it from Raspberry poachers. Doesn’t work for birds.
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