The promise of months of juicy fruit makes growing your own raspberries a real joy. Choose both summer- and autumn-fruiting raspberries and you’ll have rich pickings from late June into October. 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.
Growing raspberries through the year
Mild days in late autumn or early winter are a good time to plant 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.
Tending the crop
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.
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 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.
Take care when picking raspberries, as the fruits are very easily crushed. With the gentlest tug, ripe fruits should just tumble into your hands.
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.
Preparation and uses
Eat raspberries fresh, frozen or made into purées, jams and smoothies.
Net your raspberry canes or you’ll lose the fruit to hungry birds.
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 try
- ‘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
- ‘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