Raspberries are one of those fruits when bought in a supermarket that leave little or no impression on the buyer. These wonderful, jewel like fruits are harvested, put into cold store and then shipped out to shelves across the nation only to end up with little or no taste. A true raspberry, both the wild and cultivated types, is a taste that no grower forgets when they plant and harvest for the first time. It is the taste of late summer, warm against the tongue, melting across the palate and when put into jams, cakes and ice cream is an experience that will never be forgotten by you, your family and the friends that suddenly show up on your doorstep when harvest time is in full swing.
We planted raspberries back in 2010 but the first harvest in 2011 was poor, we lost a third of the canes to the cold and the remaining canes have struggled by the glasshouse. Last year this struggle continued and it became quickly clear that the canes did not like the plot they were in. 2012 saw the bed become overgrown with weeds, thanks to poor weather, poor summer and a generally little or no chance of getting out to weed between showers.
Not all is lost though, rather than rip out the Glen Ample and Octavia canes, we have dug them out of the old plot and moved them down hill to a warmer spot. Nothing was wasted, rather than going for a double wire system, we have decided this time to go for a single wire system and put the plants facing fully south rather than running south to north as they did on the glasshouse bed. The old raspberry bed won't be wasted, it will be dug over, weeded and coldframes installed along with a small growing bed.
All raspberries need good support and we recycled four of the six foot posts from the old bed, driving them down around eighteen inches and then placing a piece of two by one across the top of the posts to brace them and stop them from being pulled together under the weight of the canes and fruit. Eyelets were screwed into the posts to run wires along to tie the canes on to.
Raspberries don't need any great depth when planting but a couple of wheelbarrows of compost will keep them happy. They just need to be kept weed free and this can be done before planting.
If your canes are bare rooted, as ours were, keep them in a bucket of water until planted. We dug our canes up and removed all the soil to make sure that we weren't transmitting any weeds, viruses and weed seeds from the glasshouse plot. We then cut off all the top growth leaving two buds on the cane and grouping some of the smaller canes together. This radical pruning promotes new root growth and any new canes should be treated like this when transplanting. We then gave all the raspberries a good watering with a watering can. We won't get any raspberries this year but we will get good, solid growth that we can tie in.
We then top dressed with compost and will be adding more as they grow. We will be adding around eight inches of compost during spring/summer. This locks in the moisture and keeps the weeds down.
There are plenty of places to tuck in raspberries, we have grown them in large pots and as a cordon on one post but there is a place that many growers never think of, the shed. We don't mean growing them in the shed by the pots and power tools but many of us never use the outside of our sheds.
You can install a simple wire system on eyelets, tie in the new growth to them and the residual heat from the wood during the night will help the fruit mature faster plus it will look good, soften the hard lines of a utility building and more importantly make a forgotten space productive. There is nothing to compare to the glory of plucking a raspberry from a cane and popping it in your mouth, you will never regret trying your hand at growing them.