Raspberries Are Ready
It Was Easy
There’s nothing like filling your bowl with cereal on a morning in June and then walking to the garden and adding a generous portion of fresh Raspberries to the top of the bowl. Add a little cream, the morning paper and life doesn’t get much better.
In My Little Garden?
Raspberries are a wonderful fruit crop for even the smallest of back yard gardens. Easy to grow and they don’t take much space. I can fill my cereal bowl almost every other day through June and with a bit more space; I can repeat that in late September. That’s from a planting that occupies about a 3 ft / 1m diameter space. Raspberry canes behave better if they have a bit of support and for a small planting the easiest way to do this is to plant them in a circle and put a single sturdy stake in the centre. I use a steel ‘T’ bar. It’s sturdy and has holes in it to run wires through. When you get more ambitious there are other staking methods.
Summer or Fall?
There are two distinct types of Raspberries. The regular or June Bearing and the autumn bearing varieties. Both are easy to grow but are treated quite differently. Once you understand their life cycles they are simple to manage. The June bearing, (pictured on the left,) types produce their fruit on the canes that they grew the year before. The autumn bearing types,(pictured on the right,) bear fruit on the canes that have grown in the current year. Both types need to be pruned on a yearly basis but the ‘when and what’ of that pruning is dictated by their life cycles.
The June bearing types, which tend to be much more prolific, will finish fruiting in early July and then the old canes that produced the fruit should be removed at ground level. This leaves the healthy new shoots lots of room to grow and prepare themselves for next years berry crop. The less common autumn bearing types, should be pruned almost to the ground in the early spring to allow the new fruit bearing canes to grow throughout the summer. That’s all there is to it.
Tips And Tricks
Some varieties of Raspberries have a tendency to take over the garden; spreading by underground stems. Simply rip out all of the canes that have the temerity to wander outside of the space that you have allocated to them. You can also dig them out a bit carefully and give them to friends and neighbours. I haven’t pointed out a painfully obvious fact. Raspberry canes are unfriendly. They are covered with very sharp spines that really enjoy a soft tender finger. I get to recommend a tool here.
Fiskars make some wonderful garden tools and one of them is a pair of pruners with long handles. With a system of levers and gears they operate just as pair of regular pruners except that the cutting action takes place 15" or so away from where your hands are. Excellent for pruning Raspberries or Roses while keeping your hands away from the nasty bits.
When And How
Spring is the best time to plant new Raspberries. The garden centres will have bundles of bare root stock and the mail order houses usually have a good selection of varieties. My little planting was started with just 5 new canes and they have been feeding us for several years and we have dug up and moved a few wayward canes. Raspberries are not for those seeking instant gratification. Plant new canes, (which look like dead sticks with a few roots, when you buy them,) this year and if they grow well you might get a small crop next June. Well worth the wait. They like to be in full sun although mine seem to do quite well even though the house shades them for a couple of hours in the morning.
Make Good Dirt
They are going to be in that new location for several years so spend a little time adding lots of compost etc. to the soil so that they will thrive. Take the dead sticks that you purchase and plant them in the prepared soil so that all of the attached roots are in the hole and are reasonably spread out. Back fill and water in with solution of starter fertilizer such as 10 52 10. That’s it you’re done. When they are fruiting in the following years they will produce better if they have adequate moisture, so supply a little extra if mother nature is stingy.
I under plant mine with a bunch of Crocus that brighten up that little patch of bare ground between the canes, early in the spring.
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