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|Plant raspberries in the winter for an abundant summer or autumn crop
Image: Shulevskyy Volodymyr
Raspberries are easy to grow and delicious to eat. Well-looked-after raspberry canes will continue to bear sensational fruit year after year, making these plants loyal garden friends.
If you’d like to try growing your own raspberries, here’s everything you need to know.
You can plant raspberries anytime during their dormant season, which is usually between November and March. Make sure the ground is suitable for planting; in other words, not frozen solid or completely waterlogged.
|Choose between summer and autumn-fruiting varieties of raspberry
There are two types of raspberry: summer- and autumn-fruiting.
|Plant raspberries in a sunny position
Image: Nina Esk
Raspberries love good, rich, fertile soil to grow in. Pick a spot that is well drained, so that your plants aren’t sitting in water. Raspberries also enjoy a sunny position - some shade is fine, but you'll get the best performance if they’re in the sun.
Summer-fruiting raspberries will need support. You might want to grow them against a trellis, or wall with wires to tie the canes onto. Otherwise, you can install your own framework - see the section below.
|Follow these steps for a healthy, tasty raspberry crop
If you’re planting raspberries straight into your garden (rather than into a container), follow these steps for a healthy, tasty crop:
|Some varieties are ideal for containers and hanging baskets
Image: Raspberry 'Ruby Beauty' from Van Meuwen
Raspberry plants will happily grow in a container, as long as it’s big enough - around 2ft (60cm) in diameter will do. Here’s how to get the best out of your container raspberries:
|Never let your raspberry plants dry out
Image: Vadym Zaitsev
Plenty of food and water is key to a good raspberry crop. In spring, provide a good mulch of well-rotted manure around the base of your plants. This will give them an early boost and keep them nice and strong. The mulch will also help lock in any moisture that’s in the soil.
Never let your raspberry plants dry out, especially during the cropping season. Raspberry roots are close to the surface and can quickly dry out in hot weather. Establish a good watering regime and try to keep them moist at all times.
Over time, raspberry canes will produce "suckers" from their root systems. These can sometimes appear quite a way from the intended row, so it’s best to cut them away from the main root (it won't hurt the plant). If the suckers are large enough you can even replant them.
Cover fruit with a fine net or mesh when it starts to develop, to help protect it from the birds.
|Cut the woody canes of summer-fruiting varieties down to ground level
Pruning raspberries is far easier than you might think. All you need is a decent pair of secateurs and some strong gloves to protect your hands.
First, be sure which type of raspberry you have: summer- or autumn-fruiting.
Autumn-fruiting canes are the easiest to prune, as you can just cut every cane down to ground level after harvesting. All of these will fruit on new growth made during the spring. If they are looking very overcrowded, you can thin the canes down to around 4” (10cm) apart.
Summer-fruiting canes produce their fruit on the previous year’s green growth, so only cut back the canes that bore fruit during the summer. Cut all of this old growth right down to soil level - don’t leave any stubs behind as these can carry disease. It’s easy to tell the difference between the fruited canes (brown and woody) and the fresh new canes (young and whippy).
Aim to keep 6-8 of the strongest new canes and remove the rest. The new canes should be spaced out about 10cm (4in) apart on their support to allow each cane as much light and air as possible.
|Pick raspberries when they come away easily from the plant
The earliest summer-fruiting raspberries will be ready in early summer, with autumn-fruiting varieties ready in late summer to early autumn.
You’ll know your raspberries are ready to harvest when they come off of the plant easily when gently pulled. If your fruit doesn't easily come away, then it probably isn't completely ripe yet. Choose a dry day for picking.
Eat them fresh, freeze them or make them into jams and preserves to get the most of this versatile fruit.
That’s all you need to know to successfully grow raspberries in your garden. Follow these tips and you can look forward to bumper crops of delicious fruit for years to come.
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