How to Grow Raspberries at Home

wild raspberry fruits

Here's how to grow raspberries - delicious summer fruits that just keep on coming!

This page deals with how to grow raspberries successfully in your garden.

There are other cane fruit which are similar so information here can be applied to some of them, too. Loganberries , for example are similar but a bit bigger - and more prickly!

Picture: Wild raspberries by Bien Stephenson

Why grow raspberries?

If you have the space, they are one of the best soft fruits to grow because they are quite easy, they are quite abundant, they can fruit over a long period and best of all, the fruit is amazing!

How to grow raspberries:
Raspberries the super-food!

Raspberries have some seriously good health-giving properties. They are full of phytonutrients which protect our bodies against free-radical damage. One, which has been researched in some detail is ellagic acid. It acts as an anti-oxidant, as does vitamin C, another constituent.

There are many others such as flavonoids (including the anthocyanins, which are responsible for the red colour of raspberries). They have anti-microbial and anti-free-radical properties. They help prevent and treat such conditions as thrush and inflammation. Raspberries can also play a role in preserving good vision in older people, preventing such conditions as ARMD (macular degeneration).

Raspberries have been tested for their anti-oxidant properties and they come out well ahead of tomatoes, kiwis and strawberries. Their health-giving benefits are not even much diminished by freezing them.

They also protect us against cancers and ageing. Not a bad haul of benefits!

How to grow raspberries:

The first thing to consider is the space needed.

Raspberry plants (Rubus idaeus)are quite space-hungry and many varieties also grow quite tall. You need at least a few square yards of space to make a crop worthwhile. Some people are now experimenting with growing raspberries as an "under storey" to larger plants such as fruit trees.

If you are really short of space you can grow them in a circle around a single pole, with cross bars and wires to tie them to. I haven't tried this yet.

I have seen them grown in tubs - but the tubs are enormous!

Usually they are grown in rows

How to grow raspberries:
Sourcing your plants

To be certain of getting healthy virus-free plants, it is best to start off with plants from a reputable grower. You can also divide existing, established plants to make new ones - from friends or your own plants.

If you do get your raspberry plants from friends, try to be reasonably sure that they are healthy and virus-free. Viruses in raspberries are hard to cure, so it is best to avoid them if at all possible.

You can also find raspberries growing wild in the UK. I haven't tried using wild raspberries for the garden. Most of wild ones only seem to bear a small harvest, so they are probably not worth cultivating.

Commercial stock should give plentiful fruit within a year or two of planting. For the very best results, seek out certified stock from a reputable nursery. This will ensure that your raspberries are virus free and consequently more likely to flourish.

You can buy them as bare-rooted canes or in pots. Canes grown in pots are rather more expensive but are easier to manage.

How to grow raspberries:
Types of raspberry

You can obtain raspberries which fruit in the middle of summer, usually around the time of the school holidays.

If you like to go away from home at this time of the year you will be better off buying autumn-fruiting raspberries. Summer fruiting raspberries generally bear fruit for only around three weeks. The autumn season can be rather longer and some varieties will even bear fruit in December.

You can also get berries which are yellow rather than red "Fallgold", for example. Colours of most varieties vary from a light pinkish red to a quite deep crimson. The deeper the red, the more rich they are in valuable anthocyanins!

How to grow raspberries:
Where and how to plant raspberries

Raspberries like plenty of sun and a well-drained soil, around pH 6 (slightly acid). If the soil is too alkaline (over pH 7) they will not thrive.

They can tolerate a little shade, if need be but if your plot is on the shady side buy varieties which are resistant to mildew.

Loganberries have similar requirements.

Timing planting raspberries

Raspberry canes are best planted out in autumn or early winter, when conditions are mild and damp and the plants are dormant.

Space them at least 45 cm (18 inches) apart in rows. The rows should be about 2 metres apart (6 feet).

Alternatively, you can plant them as a patch but it does make managing the canes a little more tricky because raspberry canes need supporting.

Plant them in well-tilled soil which has had some compost incorporated.

How to plant raspberry canes

Dig a large enough hole to easily accommodate the spread out roots. Fill in the soil and firm the canes into position with pressure from your boots. This removes air pockets, so that the roots are in good contact with the soil. Water the new plants very well for the next day or two and don't let them dry out.

Raspberries like a sunny position but also like a reasonably damp soil - they thrive in Scotland, after all!

Don't plant the canes too deep - the base of the cane should be 2 or 3 inches below soil level at most. If they are pot grown, copy how they were in the pot.

Cut them down to about 6 inches long (15 cm) straight after planting. They will grow new growth next spring.

How to grow raspberries:
Staking your raspberry plants

To really thrive and produce good crops raspberry canes need to be staked with posts and wire. You need good stout stakes or fence posts, well-secured in the earth so that you can tension the wires between them. A T shaped cross bar at each end of the row will help. Even better is to have a double bar so that wires can link posts on either side of the row at about 3 foot high and four foot high. The canes are then tied to the wires with soft twine as they grow.

For best results, sink your posts in to a depth of around two feet (60 cm) and add a "strainer post" at a 45-degree angle, along the line of the row. This will help the post withstand the tension on the wires. Repeat this arrangement at the other end of the row. If you want long rows you may need some intermediate posts, too.

If you grow only a very small number of raspberry canes you can tie a few individual canes to upright posts, or you can put several plants around a single post.

If you are planting loganberries be prepared to make everything slightly bigger - as much as 10 feet between rows, for example. Loganberries are fabulous fruits which are thought to be a cross between raspberries and blackberries. 

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How to grow raspberries:
Pruning and care after planting

Raspberries are not an especially demanding crop. Keep them reasonably weed free and apply some mulch of organic compost in the spring. They will benefit from a high-potash fertiliser such as chicken manure.

Make sure they are tied to the stakes or wires as they grow. Tie them at several points so that they are well supported.

Pruning summer raspberries

Summer raspberries need pruning to remove any dead or weakly shoots in spring.

Leave the substantial shoots (about 1 cm thick) to bear fruit this season.

After harvesting all the fruit, remove dead or diseased canes and adjust planting distances if necessary. Raspberries form a hedge-like row; you can alternate the plants in a gentle zig-zag to get the best spacing.

Raspberries throw up runners which will tend to thicken the row. Pull up any weakly ones and don't let the row get too crowded. You also need to pull up any that appear between the rows.

Pruning autumn raspberries

Autumn fruiting raspberries need cutting back in early spring. Take everything back to just above ground level. They should not need any further pruning later in the year.

There's plenty more to learn about how to grow raspberries. This is just an elementary guide.

Raspberries and Bramble Fruits (Letts Grow) is available from Amazon for the dedicated would be grower. 

The Holistic Orchard is another great book on growing fruit at home, using organic and earth-friendly methods.

How to Grow Raspberries - TOP

Green Orchard - Growing Fruit Trees 

Greenfootsteps Home - for more easy green living ideas 

How to Grow Raspberries at Home Copyright 2011

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