Raspberries are easy and cheap to grow. Grown on ‘canes’ (upright woody stems), they’re a great investment, often fruiting for 10 years or more. They’ll taste even sweeter when you think about how much you’d pay for a punnet in the supermarket.
Choose both summer- and autumn-fruiting raspberries and you’ll have rich pickings from late June into October.
How to grow raspberries
Plant raspberry canes 45cm apart with 1.8m between rows, in moist but well-drained, fertile soil. An open, sunny site is best. Firm in and water well. Tie in summer-fruiting canes as they grow, cutting back weak stems (autumn-fruiting varieties don’t need support). In spring, feed with a general fertiliser and mulch around plants to keep their roots slightly moist and to suppress weeds. Keep the plants well watered during dry spells. Harvest raspberries as and when they ripen. Cut autumn-fruiting canes back to the ground after fruiting, and cut back old canes of summer-fruiting varieties, leaving new canes for next year’s crop.
How to plant raspberries
How to grow raspberries – soaking bare roots of raspberry canes before planting
Mild days in late autumn or early winter are a good time to plant raspberry canes. Choose an open, sunny spot. The soil should be free draining, with plenty of well-rotted garden compost or manure added.
Before planting, give the roots a good soak in water. Space canes 45cm apart with 1.8m between rows. Just cover over the roots with about 5cm of soil. Keep any white buds at the stem base at soil level. Firm soil around each cane and water well. Canes are usually pre-pruned, ready to plant. If not, cut down to 15-22cm.
Several canes could also be planted together in a group in a border or large container, tying them to a central support post as a feature.
In this video, Monty demonstrates how to plant bare-root raspberries, with tips on spacing and varieties to grow:
How to care for raspberries
How to grow raspberries – cutting back flowered raspberry canes
Summer-fruiting raspberries fruit on one-year-old canes. Tie in new canes as they develop, but prune out weak shoots. Aim for a spacing of 15cm between new canes, removing extras to avoid overcrowding. After fruiting, cut all canes that have carried fruit down to soil level.
Here, Monty explains how to prune summer raspberry cans after they have fruited:
Autumn-fruiting raspberries produce canes that flower and fruit the same year. Cut down all their canes in winter, allowing new canes to develop as a wide row the following year. The shorter nature of these canes means they almost support one another.
In this video, Monty explains how to care for autumn raspberries:
In spring, feed with a general fertiliser and mulch around plants to keep their roots slightly moist and to suppress weeds. Keep the plants well watered during dry spells.
Watch Monty Don explain how and why you should mulch raspberry canes, and what to mulch them with:
Growing raspberries: problem solving
How to grow raspberries – protecting raspberries from birds with netting
Net your raspberry canes or you’ll lose the fruit to hungry birds. It’s important to check your netting daily, as birds, small mammals and reptiles can become trapped.
In summer, raspberries can suffer from raspberry nutrient deficiency. Feed with a high nitrogen fertiliser and mulch annually with well-rotted manure or compost, to prevent the problem.
How to harvest raspberries
How to grow raspberries – picking raspberries
Take care when picking raspberries, as the fruits are easily crushed. With the gentlest tug, ripe fruits should just tumble into your hands.
Growing raspberries: preparation and uses
Eat raspberries fresh, frozen or made into purées, jams and smoothies.
Raspberries are best picked and eaten on the same day, although you can store unwashed fruits (moisture encourages grey mould) in a single layer in the fridge for a few days. Most raspberries freeze well – spread them out on a dish to open-freeze, then store in a box or bag for up to two months.
Building a support for raspberries
Put up strong 2m wooden posts at either end of your row of raspberry canes and run wires between them. Tie the canes to these as they grow. Fix a wooden T-piece to the top of each post to support bird netting over the top.
Raspberry varieties to grow
- ‘Glen Moy’ – large, firm berries, spine-free stems, good disease resistance
- ‘Malling Jewel’ – good flavour, reliable and early early cropper on compact plants
‘Glen Ample’ – a heavy cropper with spine-free canes. Disease resistant
- ‘Glen Rosa’ – for small, aromatic fruits on spine-free stems. Disease resistant
‘Valentina’ – for unusual apricot-pink berries on spine-free stems. Disease resistant
‘Zeva’ – for growing in cooler, more northerly climates. Produces a large crop
- ‘Glen Magna’ – bears large berries that freeze well and has good disease resistance
‘Tulameen’ – excellent flavour, few spines and can be grown in large pots. Resistant to grey mould
‘All Gold’ – a golden sport of ‘Autumn Bliss’ with delicious yellow fruits
- ‘Autumn Bliss’ – a reliable cropper producing large, well-flavoured fruits on self-supporting canes
- ‘Joan J’ – high yields of large, juicy, sweet fruits