How to Grow Your Own Raspberries
Because raspberries are fragile and perishable, the quality of fresh raspberries from your own garden always beats the shop-bought product. Raspberries are an especially valuable addition to your home garden, and they are easy to grow. Once raspberries are established, they require relatively little maintenance. This article tells you how to select, plant, maintain and prune your raspberry canes.
Raspberries like well-drained soils. Like most plants, good bed preparation will give the raspberries a boost. Dig a 40cm deep bed and add plenty of compost and well-rotted manure. Plant them about 50cm apart; suckers will start to shoot up between them a month or so after planting. Some raspberries might take a while to take, so a little patience is needed. Raspberry roots are shallow and need a good layer of mulch around the base of the plants.
Suckers will start to spread around the bed as the weather starts to warm up. Obviously, the more suckers you have, the more raspberries. But don’t let them get out of control – they will even pop up on the outside the bed.
Feeding and spraying
Add a good dose of well-rotted manure after they have been pruned back in winter. Use an organic spray to keep nasties at bay. Enquire at your local nursery for an organic based option.
Raspberries, like most berries, like to be watered. If you don’t have much water but you still want to have your own raspberry bush, they do well in pots, too.
There are two types of raspberries: floricanes and primocanes. They grow differently, and are therefore pruned differently. Floricanes, which are spring and summer-fruiting varieties, produce high yields of fruit on canes grown the year before. These varieties are not suited for most areas in Zimbabwe, as they need a very cold winter chill to break dormancy in spring.
Primocanes, which are known as autumn-fruiting varieties, produce fruit at the top of canes that grow in the current season. Primocanes grow well in Zimbabwe as they have a lower chill requirement and will crop in warm regions.
Primocanes produce new canes/suckers in spring and when they reach their full height, they start blooming and will start producing fruit. Once the cane has fruited, it dies back. Cut back the canes after they have died, or if you have a larger crop of raspberries, you can prune them in winter by cutting them right down. The most important part of growing raspberries is understanding that pruning is vital. You need to prune them to reap the reward.
As most primocanes don’t grow too high, trellising is a means of keeping them tidy, which makes them easier to harvest. The floricans, which grow taller, definitely need trellising.
When the red colour of the raspberries intensifies, that is the best time to pick it and get the best flavours – don’t let it go too deep a colour, as you would have missed the moment. Always pick raspberries in the morning, before it gets too hot. If you plan on eating them that day, keep them in the fridge and lay them out on a plate to prevent bruising. You can also freeze them to build up a large collection to make jam or raspberry coulis.