Succeeding With Raspberries

Raspberries are among the most satisfactory and rewarding fruits for home gardens where sufficient space is available. 

Plants are relatively free from diseases and insects and are easy to maintain. In addition, the fruiting canes produce fruit for nearly four months in my garden. 

Succeeding RaspberriesPin

The yield is high, the quality of the berries is superb, and how they can be enjoyed are many.

Selection Of Excellent Varieties

It is sometimes difficult to select varieties of raspberries that will produce the best berries in any given garden, especially after reading the glowing descriptions in catalogs. 

Of course, you can plant all the leading varieties for testing, which means considerable work of about 3 years.

Tasting Of Several Varieties

The next best thing to do is to find out where these varieties can be seen and sampled for taste. 

Even this procedure is difficult since you must pick the right time of the year and educate your sense of taste. 

It is not easy to remember the taste of several varieties, but it is a lot of fun, and the chances are that you will select the best if you are somewhat discriminating.

In our rating chart, the quality of the raspberry variety in September (when it first began to bear) has been designated as 100. 

This is a particularly good variety since it is the earliest of all we have tried and is of good enough quality to enjoy during its entire fruiting season. 

The canes are notably vigorous and bear large crops. In the fall, the new canes are so loaded with berries that they must be carefully supported, and they are most attractive to look at.

Earliest Fall Varieties

The quality of Durham in July in our garden is so low that it is not worth eating, but this variety does hear good fruit on new canes, the earliest of all varieties in the fall, and, for this reason, we grow it.

  • Milton, rated at 130, is the best of all red raspberries. The sturdy canes grow to eight feet, the yield is good, and the berries are large and firm.
  • Amber, rated at 150, is the best of all raspberries. The canes grow to nine feet and are covered with superb large, pinkish-yellow berries. 

This variety was hybridized from 2 red raspberries by Professor George L. Slate of Geneva, New York. 

The berries were so large and so luscious they were first given the name Forever Amber but, unfortunately, “the powers that be” shortened it to Amber. 

Other Varieties Of Berries

The berries are very tender, so it is not shipping berries. Therefore, it can be grown only for home use. 

Among the other varieties we have tried were the following:

  • Latham and Newburgh — good quality but not equal to Milton.
  • Taylor — equal to Milton in quality but subject to disease with us.
  • Indian Summer — much advertised as an ever-bearer. 

With us, it was a failure as an ever-bearer since it bore fruit in the fall only about once every three years and only enough for 2 or 3 pickings. 

When we first grew it, the fruit was of good quality, but over the years, it deteriorated, and the fruit became very crumbly and of poor quality.

Renew Every Five Years

Generally, after raspberry plants are 5 years old, the canes become too big for their root systems, and the fruit yield decreases. We, therefore, have five rows and renew one row each year.

We plant each row with the 4 varieties previously mentioned — 6 plants of each — making a total of 24 plants per row. 

Since the plants are spaced 18” inches apart, each row is 37’ feet long. The five rows contain 120 plants, 30 of each variety.

Starting of Plantation

To start the plantation, it is best to buy top-quality plants that are true to name.

Raspberries are voracious feeders; giving them too much manure is impossible. 

When we make the first planting, a trench is dug about 18” inches wide and 6” inches deep. Then 3” inches of manure is put in the trench and dug in. This will give a manured bed about six inches deep on which the plants are placed.

After the raspberry plantation is established, it is comparatively easy to dig up one row each year and select vigorous rootstock for the new planting. Therefore, there should be no necessity to buy new plants each year.

We used to be troubled by winter kill caused by the alternate days of freezing and thawing. 

Finally, we worked out the following method of protecting the plants, which are so satisfactory that, year after year, no plant is lost.

Pruning Of Canes

Each fall, after the first killing frost, we prune the long canes to 7’ feet, lay them flat on the ground, parallel to the row, and stake them down with criss-cross stakes about every 3’ feet. 

You might think that bending would cause the canes to break, but very few canes are lost. 

Digging of Trench

Then we dig a trench, 18” inches wide and 9” inches deep, between the rows, which are 5’ feet apart. 

The soil from the trench is used to cover the canes. This method prevents the canes from being winter-killed and is worth the effort involved in areas where winter temperatures fluctuate severely.

The digging of the trench performs a beneficial function that was discovered by accident. It root prunes the plants. 

When we first used this method to protect the plants, it was our practice to put manure in the trenches in the spring and dig it in. 

Then we noticed that the roots of the plants grew in the top seven inches of the soil, so that manure dug in below that level was wasted.

Feeding Program

The canes are uncovered in the last of March or the first part of April, and the soil is moved back into the trench. 

Manure is laid along the rows between the plants. Then manure, old or new, and 20 pounds of 7-12-10 fertilizer are dug into each trench. 

The new roots enter the fertilized area in the spring and obtain nourishment.

By fall, there is a mass of fine roots in the manured ground, which has supplied a tremendous amount of nourishment to the plants, so much so that the plants grow 9’ feet tall. 

As soon as possible, the rows are mulched three to four inches deep with salt straw or salt hay. Mulching keeps the ground cool and damp and greatly benefits the plants.

Our feeding method causes the canes to bear so heavily that they must be individually supported lest they break.

Supporting Raspberry Canes

Raspberry canes are best supported by tying the canes to wires which are stretched on posts of galvanized pipe firmly anchored in the ground. Three strands of wire are needed, with the top about 6’ feet above the ground. 

To prevent the wire from slipping, pipes with notches designed for this purpose can be purchased. 

The pipes should be set about 15’ feet apart, and the two at the end of each row should be set in concrete to bear the strain of the wires which should be pulled taut. 

If the pipes are not sunk in concrete, the weight of the berries is so great that the pipes will be pulled over. 

The inside pipes should be set in the ground. If galvanized pipes and wires are used, the installation will not require attention for years.

After the canes are uncovered, they are straightened and tied to the wire. If they are longer than 6’ feet, they are cut back to extend about 6” inches above the top wire. Not more than four canes are allowed to one root.

Picking Four Canes To Plant

During the early summer, new canes start from the base, and sometimes as many as a dozen will appear. The trick is to pick the 4 best ones (evenly spaced around the plant) and let them grow. 

By best, I do not mean the tallest, sometimes rather weedy looking, but those sturdy and healthy looking.

This method of fertilizing and pruning gives excellent canes and a tremendous yield of the finest fruit. The old canes should be removed as soon as the summer fruiting season is over.

Uses Of Raspberries

Raspberries are excellent for freezing. Simply clean, add sugar, and put in pint containers that are the handiest size. 

They can be used for shortcakes, pies, and homemade ice cream. Also, the juice can be squeezed from the fresh berries, added sugar, and put in glass freezer jars. 

Homemade Raspberry Ice Cream

If you like homemade raspberry ice cream, this is the easiest way to store raspberries.

We found that the berries should be picked in the late afternoon to obtain the finest flavor and put in the refrigerator overnight. 

The next morning they are cool and delicious. However, raspberries are delicate and should be handled carefully. 

Picking Of Quality Berries

When picking, put them in small baskets, and do not jam them in. Pick only the best, for there is a great deal of difference in the qualities of berries growing on the same plant.

When the berries are brought to the table, they should be in a shallow dish so they will not be crushed in serving, and lastly, eat raspberries in a large saucer since you can see what you are eating and you will not crush them with the spoon.

44659 by Albert C. Barrage