Growing and Planting Raspberries
Buying raspberries from the supermarket can often be an expensive and disappointing experience. They don’t last long off the vine and don’t travel well. A raspberry plucked and eaten straight from the bush is a flavour sensation miles apart from those bought from the shop.
So how do you grow your own raspberries?
The good news is, raspberries are easy to grow and can be grown in any backyard as you don’t need lots of room. They can be grown in a range of climates but prefer cooler temperatures.
Preparing the soil
Raspberries need to be planted in rich soil that provides good drainage and has a pH of 5.5–6.5. Depending on the variety, the pH may need to be adjusted to accommodate the specific requirements of the plant. Try using pine needles to prepare the soil and reduce the pH, placing the pine needles around the base during the warmer months. This can also act as a mulch.
Raspberries need to be planted in rows running north-south to ensure even sunlight. Add lots of compost and well-rotted manure to the soil before planting. Create a long mound approximately 20 cm above ground level to provide good drainage. Depending on the variety, canes should be planted between 450 – 600 mm apart. July to September are the best times to plant the canes.
One of the most economical ways of propagating is to cut suckers from the main plant and strike for the following season, or to bury the suckers directly into the ground. If a friend grows raspberries they will often have suckers that you can just carefully dig up, taking care of the roots, and replant immediately. Wrap the roots of the suckers in damp newspaper to keep moist.
Create a trellis with two to three strands of wire attached securely to posts on each end. Then as the canes grow, train them along the wires.
There are a multitude of varieties of raspberries available both commercially and via retail outlets; the skill is in identifying the right variety for your area. It is likely you will need to experiment with a few varieties before finding one that is suitable.
There are two main types of raspberries, summer and autumn fruiting varieties. Summer varieties will fruit on two year old canes and autumn varieties fruit on the first year’s growth. This is important to know when it comes to pruning. If you choose a range of both varieties you can be harvesting raspberries from your garden from early summer through to late autumn.
One of the most important things to keep in mind is the required number of chill hours each variety needs. Chill hours are the total number of hours a plant is exposed to temperatures usually considered to be below 5°C. This ensures the plant sets fruit well.
(For our complete guide to growing raspberries, including a guide to raspberry varieties, pruning and harvesting, check out our ‘Grow Your Own Raspberries’ article in issue 8 of Pip Magazine)