Gardens - Fruit & Vegetable Gardening

Raising raspberries

By
Stephen Westcott-Gratton

Give your raspberry patch a good start with these tips and tricks for first-time planters

Gardeners with limited growing room often opt for a raspberry patch of casually arranged clumps, while others prefer straight rows with supports and wires to keep them vertical. Either way, new canes should be buried three to four centimetres deeper than their crowns. Spread out the roots in the hole, then cover them with soil, tamping around the base of the plant with your foot to set it firmly in the ground; water well. Mulch with a five- to 10-centimetre layer of shredded leaves, bark chips or straw (not hay, which may be full of weed seeds) to conserve moisture and discourage weeds.

No fruit will develop the first season, and the plant will bear only a light crop in the second year; full berry production will begin the third summer.

Year one
At planting time, to help canes establish more quickly, prune back their tips by 15 to 20 centimetres; remove any blossoms that appear the first summer.

Year two
After harvest, as soon as the floricanes die, prune them out at the base of the crown. Floricanes can harbour insect pests such as raspberry cane borers, sawflies and fruitworms, so do not compost.

Year three and thereafter
In early spring, remove small or weak canes, as well as the dead, brown tips of any that have succumbed to winterkill. Leave only the strongest and most vigorous ones, and shorten them to 1.4 metres for easier picking. Ensure enough space between canes (about 20 centi-metres) for good air circulation and light penetration. After harvesting, prune out the dead floricanes.

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