Raspberries the epitome of what summer fruit should be

By Andrew Collyer - Practical Gardening

Published 20/08/2016 | 00:00

Take semi hardwood cuttings

Hoheria sexstylosa

Raspberries, along with strawberries, are the epitome of what a summer fruit should be. Soft, juicy, sweet and luscious. There are two types of raspberry, summer fruiting and autumn fruiting. A combination of planting both types can provide fresh fruit from July until October. Even a few plants can keep you supplied for a few weeks and raspberries can also sucessfully be grown in pot and containers. Not only are raspberries used for their fruit but their dried leaves have been used as hot drink infusions for centuries.

Raspberries are part of the rose family, rosaceae, as are strawberries. A close look at their flowers shows a similarity to single flowered dog roses. They are closely related to the blackberry even sharing the same species name; Rubus.There are different selected named varieties for summer and autumn fruiting plants. The summer fruiting Malling Jewel is an old variety that is still hard to beat to be honest but Malling Leo and Glen Ample are also good examples. Autumn Bliss is the most popular autumn fruiting type and Falls Gold is an unusual yellow fruiting autumn variety.

The two fruiting classes require different pruning methods. Summer fruiting types should be cut back to the ground, completely to the ground no stubs, after harvesting. That should be by or around now. There will be new growth showing already on these plants so you need to select the strongest six to eight stems and remove the rest. These newly kept stems are best tied in to or given a support to grow into. These stems or canes will fruit next summer.

Autumn fruiting varieties , these will be fruiting now, should be cut back to the ground in February. When the new growth appears during spring again select the strongest six to eight stems and remove the rest. These stems will fruit the same year. During summer you may have to prune back more newly sprouting shoots leaving your selected six to eight stem clear.

Both varieties are best given some means of support. This can be done using bamboo canes and creating a frame work around individual plants or you can create a post and wire structure that will accomomdate a complete row. Actually tying the canes to the support framework is not always essential as long as there is enough framework to stop the canes blowing over. Raspberries can also be very successfully grown fanned against a wall trained to wire supports.

Raspberries like a fertile soil that does not get waterlogged but is moisture retentive and a sheltered sunny site. They don't crave hot sun or temperatures which makes Ireland a great climate for them. They also prefer a slightly acid soil so struggle on soils with a high ph value. Plant during the winter months November to February when the plants are dormant. Raspberries are often supplied as bareroot plants at during this dormant season which makes them cheaper to buy. They have a running habit, meaning they spread underground, so if you have a friend or neighbour growing raspberries they can probably supply you with rooted runners for free.

Prepare the soil well incorporating compost and a slow release fertiliser like blood, fish and bone. Space plants two feet apart in a single row and if planting more than one row allow five feet between rows. Mulch with well rotted manure or compost and apply 30 grams of blood, fish and bone around the canes in March every year including the first planting year.

In containers grow in eighteen inch diameter pots in a soil based compost. Feed with a liquid fertiliser every month between March and September. Water regularly preferably with rain water if you live in an area with very hard water. Prune in exactly the same way as you would for ground grown plants.

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