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HOW TO PLANT
RASPBERRIES


Raspberries are an excellent example of a fruit which costs so much more to buy in the shops than it does to produce in your own garden. The  first reason is that raspberries are a very expensive crop to grow. Hand harvesting is common although complicated machines have been developed to partially automate this task.

Taste is also far superior with garden grown raspberries. Another factor is that the minute a raspberry is picked it begins to deteriorate not only in taste but also in appearance.

Because raspberries do not ripen when picked they are a nightmare for the commercial grower. Garden grown raspberries will store for three days in a fridge. We've outlined a couple of reasons for the high cost of raspberries in the shops and there are many more. But for the amateur gardener, when the conditions are correct, raspberries require very little maintenance in comparison to the delicious crop produced.

WHERE TO GROW RASPBERRIES


Raspberries do best in a cool climate which is great for us in the UK and cooler areas of the USA because our weather suits them ideally. If you live in a warm part of the world your raspberries will do best if they are planted in a slightly shady position so that they are not exposed to the full blast of the sun during the hottest part of the day. In fact, some of the best raspberries in the world are grown in Scotland. In most locations of the UK raspberries should be planted in a sunny position.

The next factor in producing good quality and healthy raspberries is the soil. They prefer a well drained soil, they dislike heavy clay soils (see our article about Raspberry Root Rot) especially in cold conditions. As well as liking an open soil they also prefer one that holds a good amount of water.



The best way to achieve the ideal soil for raspberries is to dig in lots of well composted organic matter prior to planting them. This will help the soil retain moisture and at the same time improve drainage so the roots won't be standing in cold stagnant water.

An even better way to achieve the best soil conditions for your raspberries is to plant them in some form of raised bed. This need not necessarily be a formally enclosed raised bed (although that will do fine), simply drawing up the surrounding soil and added organic matter to form a mound higher than the surrounding soil level will do the same job. Regular annual mulching will be enough to keep the mounded soil in place.

WHICH RASPBERRY CANES TO BUY


There are two main types of raspberries, summer fruiting varieties and autumn fruiting varieties. Within each type there are many varieties to choose from, some producing red berries, some yellow and some black.

Having decided the type and variety you want, you then need to decide whether to buy bare rooted canes or potted ones. To help guide you through this selection process we have dedicated a page to the pros and cons of raspberry varieties, the page can be found here.

Raspberry canes recently delivered for planting
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WHEN AND HOW TO PLANT RASPBERRY BUSHES


Raspberries are best planted from late autumn to early spring. If the ground is frozen or water-logged, don't plant your raspberries until the soil is workable. Store the canes in a cool position and keep them moist for a few days until conditions change.

If you need to wait longer before planting your raspberry bushes then dig a hole in a well-drained and sheltered part of the garden and place the roots of all the canes in the hole. Draw the soil over the roots and around the stems and slightly firm the soil with the heel of your foot.

Heeling in raspberries until weather conditions improve
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Heeling in Raspberry Bushes

Prepare the soil as described in the section above so that lots of organic material is incorporated into the surrounding ground. Just before planting scatter a handful of organic fertilise such as blood fish and bone over the soil and work it into the soil with a trowel - two handfuls every square metre is about the right amount. If you are planting summer fruiting raspberries then you will need to provide support for them, autumn fruiting raspberries however require little or no support.

Raspberry plant supports come in all types of sizes, methods and prices. The commonest, which requires no tying-in is the T-trellis. A T-trellis is a length of post, about 150c to 180cm 5ft to 6ft) high with two cross bars nailed to it, each about 30cm (1ft) across. The raspberry plants are sited in between the wires on either side and as they grow up they are supported by the wires. Typically, the two T-trellis are placed around 3m / 11ft apart. In windy sites they may need to be placed nearer to each other to provide more robust support.

To plant, dig a trench approximately 25cm (10in) deep by 30cm (1ft) wide. The roots of the raspberry canes should be placed in the trench and spread out. Cover the roots with soil up to the soil level you will see on the stem. Firm the soil down and water well. Individual canes should be spaced about 50cm / 20in apart.

For both autumn and summer fruiting raspberry canes cut them down to about 20cm / 8in after planting to encourage them to throw out lots of healthy growth from below ground. Don't cut them right down to the ground because you may well forget where they are.

If you are planting more than one row of raspberries then space them about 1.6m / 5ft apart. The plants will grow well even if the rows are spaced only 1m / 3ft apart but it will be difficult to walk between the rows to harvest and maintain the plants.

To keep maintenance to a minimum, you may want to cover the path between the rows with woodchip or similar to minimise weeding later on. But what ever you cover the path with it must allow water to pass through to the soil below. Allow also for the fact that new raspberry cane suckers will sprout up from the path in later years and these will need to be pruned to ground level.

Finally apply a good mulch of organic matter over the surrounding soil but not touching the stems.

One cautionary word about growing summer and autumn fruiting raspberries near to each other - don't! The problem is that the two types of raspberries need different types of pruning. Combine this with the fact that raspberry runners can travel several feet under the soil before emerging and you will understand that after a couple of years it may become impossible to determine which is a summer fruiting raspberry plant and which is an autumn fruiting plant.

PLANTING RASPBERRY BUSHES IN CONTAINERS


Raspberries can easily be grown in containers and they produce a surprisingly large crop for the space occupied. As far as planting in containers goes, the size of the pot and the soil used are the important factors. Choose a container about 40 cm / 15in in diameter and about the same depth. Select a raspberry cane variety that is not tall, Joan J is a variety which has grown well for us in containers.

The soil should be a mixture of general purpose potting compost (roughly 75%) and a John Innes type loam compost making up the remaining quarter. The loam will help to give the roots of the plant something more solid to grow into.



Plant the raspberry plant to the same depth as the soil mark on the stem. Firm down the soil then scatter 3cm / 1in of mulch over the soil surface but not touching the stem. See the link to the next page on raspberries for care instructions when growing raspberries in containers.



COMMENTS / QUESTIONS LEFT BY OUR READERS

Date: 06 January 2017 From: Steve
QUESTION: Last year I purchased a few Autumn and summer raspberries. The autumn have established but only 3 of the 10 the summer survived. I have not pruned any yet. Can I propagate more summer plants by splitting the remaining ones?

ANSWER: I've not heard of the roots being divided. The best way to get more raspberry plants is to wait until early autumn. By that time new shoots will appear near the parent plant. These can be dug up and the roots clipped to separate the shoot from the parent. Plant the separated shoots wherever you need them.


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