This month, our Garden Musings are about raspberries. Mmmm. See our article with plant care tips—or, give your eyes a break and listen to the podcast, read by our editors!
Fresh raspberries are always sold at a premium. And not only is the price prohibitive, but quality is also often low, for raspberries are notoriously poor keepers. The solution, of course, is to grow your own. A single plant will yield about a quart of berries each year; 20 to 30 plants will easily meet the needs of the average family, with enough berries for instant gratification and plenty to put into jam or the freezer.
Raspberries require the same growing conditions as a lawn. Choose a sunny, well-drained planting site. Compost combined with 5 pounds of lime and 1-1⁄4 pounds of 10-10-10 fertilizer, will adequately prepare a 100-square-foot area. For growing raspberries, the pH of the soil should be maintained at 5.7 to 6.5. As an alternative to regular liming, you can use wood ashes on your raspberry bed over the winter.
Early spring is the best time to plant raspberries in most areas. Plants should be spaced 2 to 3 feet apart, in rows 5 to 6 feet apart. Unlike other small fruits, raspberries should be planted an inch or two deeper than they were growing in the nursery (check for the soil line on the plants).
All raspberries will benefit from support provided by wire running on either side of the plants, which in turn is supported by T-style posts at regular intervals. This support keeps the berries off the ground and increases air circulation between the plants—a deterrent to fungus development.
Raspberries are shallow feeders and will lose out to weeds in the quest for nutrients. Deep mulching with sawdust, bark mulch, or pine needles helps to keep the weeds down.
The fruit-bearing potential of raspberries is dramatically affected by pruning. For summer-bearing varieties, remove all fruit-producing canes after harvest, and in the spring thin the remaining canes to the 3 or 4 strongest per row foot. Fall-bearers can be treated the same way if you want two light crops, but for one heavy crop in the fall, simply cut all the canes to ground level after harvest. Remove all old canes.
See the Almanac’s free and complete Guide to Growing Raspberries.