Once the berry season starts in summer, I check my crops for ripening berries with a hawk-like intensity. Many berries never make it out of the garden; I find I become quite selfish and would rather sit scoffing handfuls of the newly-ripened gems in the garden than take them inside to share. While I love strawberries, loganberries, and boysenberries, to me raspberries will always reign supreme.
Many people who visit and wander my garden have no idea that I grow raspberries, in most part because they are grown under a tight tent of netting. This contraption which, admittedly, looks rather like a prison, is an ugly but highly effective deterrent to both birds and my pet dog, Stella, preventing them from harvesting my berry bounty before I can.
The best advice I can give anyone who wants to enjoy a heavy harvest of raspberries is to invest in some sort of crop-cover to ensure you, rather than the local wildlife, get first pick at your crop!
Types of raspberries
Raspberries are classified as either summer- or autumn-fruiting types. Both grow in exactly the same way, but fruit at separate times on different stem growth, meaning that with clever planting, you can be harvesting raspberries for around four months of the year.
The summer types produce fruit on stems that have been dormant throughout winter, on what we call last season’s growth. Because of this, it’s important to know what sort of raspberries you are planting, as it can be easy to prune off the flowering or fruiting wood if you don’t know when your plants fruit.
The autumn-fruiting varieties produce their fruit on stems that appear in the current season’s stems or wood, meaning the new stems that shoot up in spring will mature into branches that will support the autumn fruit.
- ‘Aspiring’: Large, conical, firm fruit and dark red in colour. Excellent flavour.
- ‘Clutha’: Medium-sized, tasty fruit.
- ‘Ivory’: A newer hybrid with sweet, pale golden-yellow fruit.
- ‘Summer Surprise’: Bright red berries, upright plant habit, reliable cropper.
- ‘Tulameen’: High-yielding, mid-summer variety, long picking season. Canes are virtually thornless, so picking is very easy!
- ‘Waiau’: This variety may fruit in both summer and autumn; large sweet berries appear on old season woods and also on the new growth.
- ‘Autumn Bliss’: A heavy producer of large, red berries. Ripens earlier than ‘Heritage’ and continues to ripen into late autumn.
- ‘Heritage’: One of the best with firm, tasty fruit, dark red berries.
When & where
Raspberries need full, all day sun, but will cope with just afternoon sun at a pinch. They are happy in large tubs and containers, and wine barrels are a good size for two to three plants. Just ensure when growing in containers that you use a premium potting mix to fill the tubs with, as they need a fertile soil to produce a reliable crop.
They are not overly fussy in the root department, so most average loamy soils are fine, although avoid sandy or heavy clay soils as raspberries do not thrive in dry or waterlogged areas. An annual application of fruit fertiliser will do them good, as will a layer of mulch around the root zone.
Winter and spring are great times to plant; in winter, existing clumps can be split up and divided into new sections – one plant can easily become five or six when dug up and split int o new sections.
Did you know?
Many commercial raspberry growers prune their canes each season with a lawnmower-style implement that trims the plant back just above ground level? How easy is that!