If you have space for a few different varieties you could be picking raspberries from July right through to the first frosts in autumn.
Raspberries prefer a sheltered spot in full sun, or one that is in shade for only a few hours per day. Strong winds can damage the shoots. The ideal spot will have slightly acidic (pH 5.6-6.2 is ideal) moisture retaining soil, so dig in plenty of well-rotted manure when planting.
Always buy your raspberries from a reputable garden centre or mail order company as they are highly susceptible to viruses, and it is important to start with disease free plants. The best time to plant is in late autumn or early winter (and at this time of year are usually supplied as bare rooted plants), although pot grown plants can be planted at any time of year.
Raspberries are usually planted in a row and supported on a post and wire system (In the simplest form this is 2 posts about 5ft high with wires for support, and a slightly ‘posher’ version would be a double fence system as in the following video (they have used welded metal supports, but the same effect can be had from using wood stakes, allowing you to grow more raspberries in what is a fairly limited space.
To plant dig a trench about 18in wide and 3in deep – there is no need to plant raspberries too deep, the roots are shallow and tend to stay fairly close to the surface. Plant the canes about 18in apart, and if planting more than one row plant these about 6ft apart. Cover the roots with soil and firm gently with your foot.
After planting prune each cane to a bud about 1ft above soil level and water regularly until established, and they will fruit the following year.
Raspberries need pruning every year, and the technique will differ slightly depending on whether you are growing summer fruiting varieties or autumn fruiting plants.
Summer Fruiting Raspberries
As soon as they have stopped fruiting prune all the canes that have fruited at ground level, and leave the best unfruited canes at a distance of 3-4 inches apart and tie these into the support
Autumn Fruiting Raspberries
In February cut down all the canes to ground level. Tie the new canes to the support in summer as they grow.
Feeding and Mulching Raspberries
Add a layer of well-rotted manure or compost in March. This will help keep the weeds down and keep the soil cool and moist.
You should also keep the area weed free, but be careful not to use the hoe too much, as raspberries have shallow roots and you can really damage the roots, it is far better to weed raspberries by hand.
Remove the suckers in October or November, but only do this if the plants look healthy. Plants should be replaced completely every 8-10 years, and if possible grow in a different part of the garden or allotment.
Here are some of my favourite varieties to grow
- Glen Moy – Early, heavy cropper
- Malling Admiral – Late, heavy cropper
- Malling Jewel – Early to mid season, heavy cropper
- Fallgold – Yellow variety
- Autumn Bliss