Growing raspberries

by Lila Das Gupta

In our family we say strawberries are the Beatles of the fruit world, but raspberries, which are more rock 'n roll, are the Rolling Stones.

Picking raspberriesI've been putting off serious work down on the plot due to the cold (I don't believe in suffering for my vegetables), but since these last few days have been warmer, I've been unstoppable. Apart from the corollary of a messy house, it's been a very satisfying week.

Today I sorted out the autumn raspberries: pruning, clearing and feeding the bed. Autumn-fruiting raspberries produce fruit on new canes, so they should be cut to the ground in February to encourage them to produce this season's canes. Luckily, they don't need staking.

Summer-fruiting raspberries, on the other hand, produce fruit on the previous year's canes. Cut these canes down in autumn after they have produced fruit, leaving the new, green canes to fruit the following year. Summer-fruiting raspberries do need staking: tie them to a fence or wires or they will flail about.

We used to grow both kinds on our last plot, but since we now have a large strawberry bed, the first half of summer is well provided for. Half of our raspberry bed contains 'Autumn Bliss', one of the most popular raspberry cultivars, the other half has 'Tulameen'. Both bear fruit with excellent flavour and are heavy croppers. If you don't already grow any on your plot, it's well worth doing so. Raspberries are easy to grow, low-maintenance and rewarding. Considering their price at the supermarket, they are also inexpensive.

Don't be tempted to impulse-buy those specimens stuffed into pots that you see in large garden centres. In my experience, mail order plants from specialist nurseries tend to be much better looked after and have a higher chance of survival. Raspberries don't like to dry out, (though good drainage is vital), so even established beds should get a good weekly soaking in a hot summer. They grow well in Scotland, which gives you some idea of the conditions they thrive in, which include a slightly acidic soil.

When I cut down the canes, I also clear away any leaves that may be left on the ground, in case they're carrying any disease. Now is also a good time to feed raspberries. You can apply sulphate of potash in powdered form (35g or 7 teaspoons per square metre) to the soil at the start of the month, then a couple of weeks later add a covering of well-rotted manure or home-made compost. This helps to keep in moisture and suppress weeds later in the season as well as provide extra nutrients and maintain a low pH. If you garden organically, the manure is especially important for feeding the plants.

If it weren't for the children, I would be tempted to dig up the strawberry bed and replace it with summer raspberries. In our family we say strawberries are the Beatles of the fruit world, but raspberries, which are more rock 'n roll, are the Rolling Stones.

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Gardeners' World Web User 06/02/2010 at 09:25

Funny i think you hav e your metaphores the wrong way round. After all the beatles did all the best stuff and were good at both ends of their career (Summer and autumn rapberries). The rolling stones were exceptionally good at the begining (brittish local) then limped on forever with less and less flavour (Bland imported strawberries.) Besides what about alternative 60's outfit The velvet underground, being harde to digest at first are they the goosberys of the mustical world?

Gardeners' World Web User 06/02/2010 at 18:24

Do I feed my summer fruiting raspberries now as well as Autumn ones?

Gardeners' World Web User 08/02/2010 at 13:01

as i have just taken over a gsrden how do i know if the raspberries are summer or autumn fruiting?

Gardeners' World Web User 11/02/2010 at 19:58

Summer raspberries are fed and mulched in the autumn too, but the ground is very cold (in some cases frozen) at the moment. I would wait till the cold snap breaks before mulching, otherwise the mulch will act as an insulator, locking in all that cold. Regarding the difference between the two: I found that autumn rasberries tend to have prickly spines at the base of the plant. Yellow rasberries taste very similar to me but are psychologically upsetting!

Gardeners' World Web User 14/03/2010 at 15:07

I planted new autumn fruiting raspberries towards the end of last year. The canes are about 25cm tall and one of them has a new shoot half way up the cane. Should I be cutting them down to ground level now ?

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