Tips for growing raspberries

Tips for growing, maintaining and caring for raspberries, a one crop that you will be able to enjoy for as many as 20 years.

Raspberries are cultivated for their delicious sweet fruits. They are eaten fresh or can be frozen for later use. They are also used to make jam, jelly, desserts, and even wine. The raspberry plant has medicinal uses as well. The fruits, which are typically a deep red color, can also be dark purple or white, contain vitamin C and other antioxidants. Tea made from the leaves is good for digestion, and when applied to the skin, is an astringent.

Raspberry Basics

Raspberries (Rubus sp.) are a part of the rose family. Its white flowers look very similar to the flowers of other fruit bearing members of the rose family such apple, peach, or pear. Raspberries are an herbaceous to woody biennial plant. Every two years the canes (similar to stems) die back after having completed the reproductive cycle of flowering and fruiting. The roots and crowns are perennial and send up new shoots in the spring and to begin the cycle again.

There are two types of raspberries, ever bearing, which produce berries twice a year in June and late August to mid September, and those that bear fruit once a year, usually in mid-summer. When choosing raspberry plants for your garden, pick a variety that will flourish in your climate. For example, if you have short summers or long cool ones, choose plants that will bear fruit under those conditions.



Raspberries grow by sending up shoots or suckers, from the crowns. These suckers are sometimes referred to as primocanes and become the first year canes. The second year canes, or floricanes bear the flowers and subsequent fruits.

Planting

Although you may be tempted to transplant raspberry plants have escaped cultivation and are growing wild, they may harbor fungal diseases. It is best to purchase raspberry plants from a reputable nursery to ensure they are disease-free.

Raspberries are typically planted in the spring after the last frost has occurred. Plant them in a single row approximately 24 inches apart. Raspberry plants spread through underground lateral stems. If they are planted too close together, the canes will be too crowded because of the new suckers that continuously emerge. If planting a double row of raspberries, the distance between them should be at least 6 to 8 feet.

Raspberries prefer full sun and moist well-drained soil rich in organic matter such as compost or manure. Water raspberries frequently, but do not let the soil remain saturated. Fertilize raspberries in early spring.

Maintenance

Pull weeds on a regular basis and remove damaged canes immediately. Periodically thin the canes to ensure good air circulation and to prevent fungal diseases such as fruit rot, which raspberries are susceptible to. Thinning the canes allows sunlight to penetrate and encourage new growth. After harvesting the berries, the floricanes should be completely removed to encourage new growth for the next season.

Growing raspberries on a trellis makes them easier to maintain and ensures that the canes will not become tangled together, despite your best efforts. Construct the trellis by placing two posts in the ground at each end of the row, but no farther apart than 10 feet. Tie two parallel lines of twine to each post about 3 1/2 feet apart and 3 to 4 feet off the ground.

An alternative to using a trellis is to plant raspberries in a single row approximately 12 to 18 inches wide along a fence. When maintained and cared for properly, raspberries are one crop that you will be able to enjoy for as many as 20 years.

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