Guide to Growing Raspberries at Home
Growing Raspberries at Home
Despite being the easiest fruit to grow, raspberries are little grown as garden fruits. They are not common in commerce predominantly because the fruits perish so rapidly.
Raspberries vary considerably in size and are usually red, with yellow ones now on sale again. In good varieties the conical fruit pulls off the plug easily, leaving a hole. Some are less easy and have soft, thin-skinned berries which may be damaged. Raspberries are very productive and the flowers are loved by. They prefer cool, moist conditions, so do wonderfully in Scotland, but can be grown in most soils. They do best if given a moist, rich, neutral or acidic soil. Or at least copious quantities of compost, and very thick .
They do not like the dry conditions against walls, but can be grown on cool, shady ones with a moist root run. With hot, dry summers and wetter autumns, the autumn-fruiting varieties are more productive than the common summer fruiters, especially if grown on drier sites.
Summer raspberries are pruned after fruiting by cutting out the old canes leaving the new to grow on. It helps to have thinned these by midsummer to a hand breadth or so apart. Autumn fruiters are simpler still, all canes are cut to the ground in late winter and again the young canes benefit from thinning before mid-summer leaving the strongest to fruit later.
Raspberries produce canes between three and six feet long which can be trained almost horizontal, so they do not need tall post and wire supports. Weeding must be done carefully because of their shallow roots, so thickis almost essential.
As with most fruit, birds are the major cause of lost crops — no protection means no fruit! The raspberry beetle can be controlled with mulches raked aside in winter to allow birds to eat the pupae, or if necessary by using permitted sprays such as derris just after most of the flowers have finished but before the fruits start to swell. These maggots are rarely a problem with autumn fruiters. Virus diseases may appear, mottling the leaves with yellow and the plants become less productive.
Replacing these with new virus-free stock on a new site is the only practical solution. Intervenal yellowing is caused by alkaline soils — it goes if you use monthly seaweed solution sprays with added magnesium sulphate. Adding compost and a deeperwill also help. Raspberries reputedly benefit from tansy, , and grown close by, but not underneath them.
Pick gently leaving the plug, if it won’t come easily, do not force it! They don’t keep for long if they are wet and less still if kept warm. If you want to keep them longest, cut the fruiting stalks with scissors and do not touch the fruits. They must be processed or eaten within a matter of hours as they are one of the least durable or transportable fruits. Those sold commercially are the toughest and obviously not home grown! Raspberries make tasty jam, especially mixed withjuice, and freeze well.
New varieties of raspberry are almost the only ones available and they are soon replaced by others at a great rate. I still like the almost obsolete, but tasty, ‘Mailing Jewel’. The ‘Glen Ample’, ‘Glen Magna’ and ‘Glen Shee’ have all been rated as well flavoured.
I also love the yellow raspberries, these are less vigorous, with paler leaves than the red types and naturally tend towards autumn fruiting. Among the yellow varieties, ‘Golden Everest’ is superb with richly flavoured soft sweet berries that lack the sharpness of many reds. ‘Autumn Bliss’ and ‘Fall Gold’ are other autumn fruiters. Seedling raspberries are often poor performers, but have excellent flavour.