CAN I GROW RASPBERRIES?
Raspberries need full sun, well-drained soil with a pH between 5.8-6.5, good air circulation, and protection from strong winds.
Raspberries detest "wet feet." Soils with standing water cause disease problems and suffocate roots. If drainage is a problem, plant raspberries in raised beds or mound up soil into ridges before planting. Whatever the soil, add organic matter each season.
Raspberries have a shallow root system and can dry out during droughts. They need adequate water from spring through harvest usually about 1 to 1.5 inches per week.
Raspberries are found growing in most areas of the world from Alaska to the tropics. Cultivated varieties of raspberries grown today are usually crosses of native American and European varieties.
RASPBERRY SEEDS OR PLANTS?
Plant raspberries as either bare-root or potted plants in early spring as soon as the soil can be worked.
Before planting, work the soil to a depth of at least 18 inches and incorporate several inches of organic matter like compost into the planting area.
Plant red and yellow raspberries 3 feet apart within rows and space the rows about 6 feet apart. Plant black and purple varieties 4 feet apart within rows and leave about 8 feet between rows. Water and lightly mulch after planting.
Keep raspberries well watered, weeded, fertilized, and pruned. To prevent foliage disease problems, water at soil level using a waterwand attached to a hose, or trickle or drip lines placed around the base of the plants. Keep plants mulched.
While brambles benefit from some fertilizer, an excessive amount can be harmful. Add about 5 pounds of a 10-10-10 fertilizer per 100 linear feet of plantings in the spring.
RASPBERRY GROWING TIPS
Raspberries benefit from a support system that prevents wind damage and makes pruning and harvesting easier. While it's easiest to construct a support system before planting, a trellis can be added to established plantings after fall pruning or in early spring.
Create a trellis system by using wooden posts spaced at 12 to 15-foot intervals in the center of each row. Attach cross arms to the posts about 3 feet above the ground to attach support wires or heavy twine. Place the support wires or twine about 2 feet apart on the cross arms. Tie the plants' main canes to the wires or twine using rag scraps or twist ties. For taller growing black and purple types, place support wires about 40 inches above the ground.
Pruning is essential to maintaining strong prolific raspberry plants and can be done twice a year - after summer fruit production and in early spring. After the summer harvest, cut back to the ground all canes that have produced fruit. In early spring, prune out weak or dead canes and prune any canes over 5 feet tall to 30-48 inches. (For heavier fall production of everbearers, prune back all canes to the ground in early spring only).
INSECTS & DISEASES
Insect pests include the raspberry cane borer, raspberry fruitworm, and Japanese beetle. Disease problems include mosaic virus, crown gall, and verticillium wilt. Good cultural practices like annual pruning, removal of pruned canes from the garden area, uncrowded conditions and good air circulation will hinder many disease and insect problems. Always buy certified virus-free plant material.
To prevent disease problems in new plantings, select a garden site where raspberries, strawberries, tomatoes, potatoes, peppers or eggplants have not grown before, and at least 500' away from any woodland or field where wild brambles may be growing. For additional information on controlling raspberry disease and insect problems, consult your local extension agency.
RASPBERRY HARVEST TIPS
Pick berries when they easily come off stems when pulled. Having to pull hard to harvest means the berries aren't ripe. When harvesting, use shallow 1/2 pint-size containers to avoid crushing the delicate berries under too much weight.
Raspberry yields usually range from 1 to 2 pounds per linear foot of plantings. If birds are stealing too much fruit, cover plants with bird netting as the berries ripen and uncover as needed to harvest.
RECIPES & STORAGE
Raspberries are best used soon after harvesting or can be refrigerated for a few days. They can also be frozen or canned to store as jams, jellies, and sauces.
Raspberry sauce is a classic dessert topping delicious over ice cream, pound cake, cheesecake, baked custard, and lemon mousse.
2 cups fresh raspberries, washed
2 tbsp. cold water
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp. cornstarch
In a medium saucepan, combine raspberries with sugar and heat to a boil stirring frequently. Mix water with the cornstarch and stir into the berries. Continue cooking until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice. Refrigerate before serving. Yields 2 cups.
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