Growing Great Raspberries
A few years back, Nigel and I put in a raspberry patch. We built three raised beds about 3 feet wide by 8 feet long. It was funny at the time because we had worked all day on our little project and round about 4 in the afternoon I went to get us a little refreshment. When I came back across the lawn I looked out to the 3 beds and suddenly realized that they looked, more than a little, like 3 graves. It was also Easter Weekend.
We had a good laugh over this and chuckled that perhaps we should have taken a step back somewhere in the building process to look at the complete picture. Never mind they look great now and the raised beds are working really well.
The first year we had a few raspberries to eat, and it was simply lovely, but in the second year, our raspberries really produced! Each season since we have harvested lots of raspberries. Both Nigel and I, like so many of us, grew up with raspberry patches where we enjoyed picking and eating; and this was a great thing. If I ever had to choose just one food, I would say raspberries are my favourite food. In fact, back to the Easter theme, my last supper would be raspberries.
What raspberries like:-
Really good drainage or they can succumb to Root Rot (hence the raised beds).
A really good sunny position (you need the sun to grow berries).
Regular watering especially through the fruiting season. Rich soil enhanced with your favourite kind of compost, manure and peat moss.
Bonemeal or Rock Phosphate for healthy root growth and for encouraging blooming (more flowers equals more fruit).
Moderately acid soil is good. The old Pacific Gardener recommends a pH of 6. We sell little pH kits to check your pH and they are great when you need to know your pH but I'll be honest I didn't bother as our Campbell River soil is naturally acidic anyways. I figured by the time I added some bonemeal, which is slightly alkaline, it would be great. Seeing I'm being honest it is also how I cook, which suits my Kiwi Hubby and his "She'll be Right" attitude which has nothing to do with me being right but rather that everything will be ok.
Picking... once they are ready the more you pick the longer they will produce.
There are 2 basic types of raspberries, regular July bearing raspberries and twice bearing or everbearing raspberries.
Regular July Bearing Raspberries
After harvest, in the fall or in the late winter - cut out the canes that produced. It is easiest in the fall when you can see where the fruit was attached to the stems. Leave the fresh, new, green, canes that have not produced as these will produce next year. The older canes that you are removing are more of a silvery-brown colour.
Cut the top part of all the canes to about 4 foot tall in the Autumn. The first crop of berries will be produced on these lengths next July. The second crop of berries will come on the new growth that shoots off the top of these lengths next fall. Once established all raspberries may also benefit from thinning to make picking easier. Note: some gardeners prefer to cut all their everbearing raspberries canes to a couple of inches from the ground, but while this is an easy method, keep in mind, that you eliminate the first crop completely.
If you haven't got a raspberry patch yet I hope you find a spot where you can plant one 'cause if it's the last thing I do... I'm gonna eat raspberries!
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