Nothing caps a summer evening better than a raspberry cobbler heaped with vanilla ice cream. Or the sprinkling of fresh raspberries on cereal for a morning treat. Homemade jam is always a welcome gift, too. Because of their delicious uses and ease of growing, the perennial raspberry bush ought to be in every garden!
VARIETIES – The most commonly grown raspberry is the red variety. But the purple and black types make interesting variations on the raspberry theme. All can be grown in most parts of the country and are self-fertile. Ask us what varieties we have in stock that work best with our climate.
PLANTING – Moisture and plenty of rich, organic matter in the soil are essentials. It pays to grow a high cultivation crop, such as any of the root vegetables, the year before in order to get the ground in proper condition. When deciding on a location, look for a spot that gets some protection from the blustery cold winter winds. To improve the soil’s ability to retain moisture, work in plenty of rell-rotted manure or sphagnum peat moss. Set bushes in the ground as soon as you bring them home from the nursery. If roots appear dried out, soak them in water for an hour or two before planting. Red raspberries can be planted two or three inches deeper than at the nursery. Black and purple varieties should be planted at the same depth. Space plants three feet apart and rows five to eight feet apart.
CARE & FEEDING -After canes have been set out, cut back central canes to a height of six inches. Then mulch to conserve moisture. Also, keep the hoe handy so weeds can be nipped before they invade the row. Remember that deep hacking with the hoe can do considerable injury to shallow raspberry roots.
Like blackberries, raspberries need a thorough going-over with the pruning shears to maintain some semblance of order. When plants are dormant in early spring, remove weak and spindly canes. Then remove any that have grown up between rows. Ideally, rows should be no more than about 12 inches wide so that berries are always accessible and plants benefit from good air circulation. If properly pruned, raspberry canes are self-supporting. Head back your black raspberry varieties to 18-24 inches; purple and red varieties to 30-36 inches. The amount and the quality of the fruit will be greatly improved if lateral branches are trimmed back to at least four to six buds. Finally, after the harvest is in, remove all old, spent canes.
You can overwinter raspberry canes by bending them gently to the ground and covering them with a deep layer of mulch. Then when the warmth of spring returns, remove the protective mulch and allow canes to return to their normal upright position.
You can train your canes to grow within a trellis arrangement constructed by posts and wire. Plants may be grown between double wires or merely tied to a trellis or single wire.
INSECTS & DISEASES – Raspberries are hardly immune from disease and insect attack, but problems will be few if you practice good garden hygiene. Purchase only healthy plants. Because weeds can lead to an assortment of problems, keep the growing areas clean and mowed. Make sure that old canes are removed and destroyed so insect larvae and fungus spores don’t overwinter. If a plant appears doomed because of disease, remove it immediately so other plants aren’t infected.
HARVESTING – As berries approach ripeness, they change color rapidly. Check the raspberry patch each day. A deep red color on red varieties and dull coating on other means harvest time has arrived.