Growing Raspberries – Fun or Chore?
Who wouldn’t love raspberries? They look so succulent, fresh, inviting, and delicious, right? While all of this is true about the fruit, growing them in your garden is another story.
As the old saying goes “every rose has its thorns”, and the same is true about raspberry bushes. Despite the great appeal of the fruit, the plants require quite a bit of TLC, which I learned after I planted mine (ignorance is bliss…sometimes).
Before you decide to add them to your gardening plan, please click on the highlighted words above, to familiarize yourself with the whole process.
You will find out that there are two different types of raspberries, those that produce fruit once a year, during early summer, like mine, and the overbearing ones, that produce fruit at least twice during the year (summer and fall).
They begin producing fruit in their second year of growth, as during the first year they try to establish themselves, and strengthen their Primocanes, which develop into Floricanes, thus fruit-bearing canes.
Raspberry bushes are scratchy and full of fine thorns, thus tending to them requires wearing protective gear, mainly long sleeves, and gloves. The canes need to be thinned out and pruned.
These are my raspberry bushes with new growth this late spring after I pruned them in early spring. Here again, read the linked article on the pruning method. I pruned mine to about 3 feet tall canes, cut out all the dead canes, and removed the very thin ones (the suckers).
I also would not recommend planting raspberry bushes close to your vegetable garden, like I did, because it creates additional weeding, as the roots spread into my garden, and new (unwanted) plants spring up everywhere.
This picture was taken at the beginning of June, and as you can see, there are lots of raspberries getting ready to ripen and be picked. How exciting is that? So far, the birds have been behaving pretty well, and not beating me to the ripe fruit. It almost makes me forget how many times I have been scratched by these prickly bushes.
Raspberry bushes need to be fertilized twice per year, pruned regularly, kept weed-free, and supported by trellis ( I planted mine against the fence). Raspberry plants, just like rose plants, do not like to be watered from the top, over their foliage, but rather close to the roots, to prevent the growth and spread of mold and disease.
Since I try to keep my garden as close to organic as possible, I only use natural fertilizer. Actually, since I planted my raspberry bushes in mushroom soil, two years ago, I did not use any additional fertilizer yet.
I am dreading the Japanese Beetle season since I try to pick them off, rather than spraying my plants with any pesticides. They will love to get on these lovely leaves and chew away, so I really will have to keep an eye out for those pesky beetles.
I used to strategically post these special beetle traps but found out that these actually attract more beetles to my yard, due to the aroma of the lure, which does lure them towards the traps, but not all of them end up in the traps, but rather attack other flowers and plants they find just as attractive and tasty.
I also, prepare my own organic bug spray, by mixing hot pepper sauce, vegetable oil, water, and dish detergent. It works on bugs, but it needs to be applied often, especially during the rainy season.
Please share your gardening tips and stories with all of us, and leave a comment.