How to grow your own raspberries
Raspberry crops prefer well drained, fertile, slightly acidic soils, which retain moisture well and are weed-free. They dislike soggy or shallow, chalky soils. For best results, plant in a sheltered, sunny spot. Raspberries will tolerate some shade but crop yield may be smaller, the more sun the better! If you’ve gone with summer fruiting raspberries, then they’ll need support through a fence, wall or other type of framework as they can reach heights of up to 1.5m.
When and where to grow raspberries
- When to plant: Between November and March, providing the soil is not frozen or waterlogged.
- When to harvest: June – October
- Ready in: Approx.6 months
- Challenge level: Straight-forward
Break up the soil of your chosen site using a garden fork, and then dig in organic matter (such as compost). Set up your framework. Put a couple of posts or poles about 30cm apart into your growth area – they’ll need to be of a decent height – and then add a couple of horizontal wires between them. Clear the site of perennial weeds before planting, as these can be tricky to deal with after raspberries are established.
How to plant raspberries
Plant your raspberries 1m apart from each other in rows and train them along a post and wire system. Add a thick mulch of organic compost, but avoid mushroom compost or overly rich farmyard manure as this can burn new shoots.
How to grow raspberries
Whilst the plants are growing, ensure the soil is kept well free of weeds and that you water the bushes regularly. Also, fertilise your growing raspberry bushes annually if you’re planning multi-year harvests.
You might see occasional ‘sucker’ canes appear away from the main plant which can steal valuable nutrients from your Raspberries – remove any that are further than 22cm or so away.
You can also grow single raspberry plants in containers. In a 38cm container, use multi-purpose compost (about 80%) and add weight to improve stability with 20% loam-based potting compost, then train the canes up bamboo poles. Feed the plants with a general-purpose liquid fertiliser once a month during the growing season and keep the compost moist.
Use rainwater in hard water areas.
Caring for raspberries
When the plants start to bear fruit, put some netting over them – it’ll stop the birds and animals swooping in to steal them! If your plants are in a very windy site, put up windbreakers or shelters to protect them. Raspberry flowers are self-fertile and pollinated by insects, so keeping the breeze to a minimum is important for good fertilisation.
Regular annual pruning is a good idea as this will result in healthier plants and better quality crops. If you’re growing summer fruiting raspberries, cut back fruited canes to ground level after harvesting and don’t leave stubs behind. Prune autumn fruiting raspberries by cutting back all the canes to ground level in February.
Once your raspberries are rich in colour, they’re ready to be picked – but do so on a dry day. As soon as they’re picked, they can be eaten too, probably all at once! If you’re not going to eat them fresh, freeze them or make into preserves.
The Rasberry Beetle is the main problem faced by gardeners tending raspberry crops. Raspberry Beetles cause dry patches to develop at the stalk-end in midsummer and leave a maggot in the middle of the fruit. It’s tricky to stop the spread of this beetle but you can pick any infected fruit and use for compost.
Raspberry cane blight is a serious fungal disease in Raspberries which causes leaves on fruiting canes to wither, the bases of the canes turn dark brown, and the bark can split. Avoid this by ensuring plants are well watered and mulch with well-rotted manure around the base to prevent drying out.