Raspberries are expensive to buy in the shops, but are really easy to grow if you can give them a sunny or partly shaded spot with well-drained soil.
Raspberries are best grown from bare-root plants in the autumn. There are lots of different varieties available, which bear fruit at different times. The majority are harvested between early and late summer, while others are grown for their autumn berries.
What to do
- Get the planting site ready by removing weeds and digging in plenty of well-rotted manure a few weeks before planting.
- Raspberries are best grown against supports. In a large garden or allotment, hammer two 2.4m (8ft) tree stakes into the ground 60cm (24in) deep, about 3m (10ft) apart.
- If growing summer varieties, drill holes into the posts and stretch three rows of galvanised wires (12 gauge) between them – these should be 76cm (30in), 106cm (42in) and 167cm (66in) above the ground and held in place by straining bolts, which can be tightened with a spanner.
- If you have an autumn variety, there’s no need to add the top wire.
- If you have a tiny garden, grow plants up a single tree stake. Hammer a stout 2.4m (8ft) stake into the ground and plant two raspberry canes at the base. Allow 12 canes to grow up and keep in place with garden twine.
- The planting depth is important with raspberries and as a rule of thumb, aim for the old soil mark on the stem to be at the same level as the ground after planting. To do this, dig a shallow hole, about 30cm (1ft) wide and 8cm (3in) deep.
- Spread out the roots and cover with soil, firming as you go. Plant canes 40cm (16in) apart. Cut canes down to 30cm (1ft) above the soil, pruning above a bud, and water well.
Pruning and training
- Prune canes that held fruit in summer during the autumn, cutting them right back to the ground. Tie in about eight of the strongest new canes from each plant to fruit next year, and remove the rest.
- In mid-winter, cut back lanky top growth so canes are about 15cm (6in) above the top wire.
- Prune autumn fruiting varieties in mid-winter, cutting the old canes back to ground level. Tie in new stems to the supporting wires as they grow, using garden twine.
Looking after the crop
- Raspberries are a hungry and thirsty fruit. Scatter general purpose granular fertiliser over the soil in spring and mulch with well-rotted farmyard manure.
- Keep plants damp, especially during dry weather.
- Pick fruit regularly when it’s firm. Pull the raspberries gently from the plant, leaving behind the plug that held it in place.
Five to try
- ‘Glen Moy’ – spine free canes, heavy crops in early summer
- ‘Glen Prosen’ – firm fruit in mid-summer
- ‘Allgold’ – yellow fruit in autumn
- ‘Malling Admiral’ – conical, dark red fruit in late mid-summer
‘Autumn Bliss’ – large red fruit in autumn