Go Forth and Be Fruitful: Advice for Growing Raspberries

Raspberries aren’t particularly difficult to grow but they do need their space.

Photo by: Shutterstock/Shulevskyy Volodymyr

Shutterstock/Shulevskyy Volodymyr

Q: I want to plant raspberries in my garden but know they have a tendency to get pretty invasive. Is there a recommended way to grow this kind of berry?

ANSWER:

Raspberries aren’t particularly difficult to grow but they do need their space! I’d been trying to solve this problem by reining them inside of a very large planter box on my hot and sunny rooftop, and while that did keep them under control it came with its own problems: namely drought. Raspberries have garnered a reputation as a sun-loving fruit; however, they are more tolerant of shade than we tend to assume. In fact, I’ve found that you’ll have more success in a cool, partially shady spot that retains soil moisture well than in a sunny, hot spot that dries out quickly. If you do go the planter box route I suggest lining it with plastic to retain moisture well. In the ground a yearly application of compost can help hold water during times of drought. A few other things to consider:

Building Support

In my new garden I have banished the raspberry patch to a back corner where they are locked in and supported by my shed and the neighbor’s pesky weed tree and ragweed paradise garden. Few other crops could go head-to-head against that mess.  So in a way the raspberries’ assertive growth habit is doing me a favor. Were I forced to situate my raspberries front and center (and were I not so lazy), I would create a hedgerow, which is just a fancy term for a trellised bramble patch. This is done by digging a couple of strong posts into the ends of a row and stringing #12-gauge wire between them. Station more posts intermittently when growing longer rows. Tie new canes to the wire.

Pruning

Whether you decide to trellis or go free form, the real trick to keeping raspberries under control is pruning. This yearly task is also necessary for maintaining a healthy crop and ensuring a good harvest. I don’t skip this one! When to prune depends on the type of raspberries you are growing:

  • Summer fruiting varieties: Produces fruit on last year’s new growth so it is important to prune out the old, grayish canes directly after fruiting. Cut old canes right down to the ground.
  • Autumn fruiting: These varieties tend to fruit twice so wait until the late winter or early spring to cut the entire patch down.

Garden authority Gayla Trail is the creator of YouGrowGirl.com.

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