Expert Tips for Growing Raspberries
You’ll find that growing raspberries is actually a very easy thing to do, as the raspberry bush will really thrive in anything but. The raspberry bush prefers plenty of manure and organic matter dug into the soil before planting. Afterwards, as they are shallow rooted, any dressings should always be put on the surface and any cultivation should really be confined to the top of the soil. I believe the best way of growing raspberries is to train them in a triangle. This can be applied to either a large or small raspberry planting.
The canes should be planted 20 inches apart in groups of three and a central stake driven in. Attached to this central stake, should be a loop of thick galvanised wire which would encircle the three groups of canes. An advantage of this is that if there is only room in a small garden for six or fewer plants then these can be accommodated as two groups of three and, if necessary, at the back of a border. The clumps themselves are some 3 ft apart and have the added advantage that if a virus does develop, it won’t spread nearly so rapidly nor readily as it does down a row. In addition, clumps of raspberry bushes can be dug up and replanted or replaced without interfering with the remaining plants.
With fairly large plantings in your own garden, this grouping can be still further improved by covering the whole area with a layer of ashes. This will then produce conditions that raspberries really love, it also keeps the weeds down, and makes gathering the fruit a cleaner job. Provided the canes are kept healthy and well fed by giving an application of a top dressing of manure or compost annually and one or two feeds of fertiliser during the growing season, your raspberry bushes will crop almost indefinitely as they are rejuvenated annually by young growths which spring from stolons.
It is important when planting initially, that you shouldn’t expect them to fruit until the following season. For example, if planted in November the canes should be cut down to about 9 inches before they start to sprout the following season. The object being to induce the production of young canes. Some varieties not only produce a summer crop but an autumn crop as well, and in fact the old variety November Abundance will produce two quite good crops in one season. This autumn fruiting often concerns people who wonder whether the canes should be cut right down and the plants treated as summer-fruiting only. As the autumn crop is so light, this has no effect on next summer’s fruiting provided the canes are well fed and the soil kept in good heart.
Pest and Diseases
Raspberry canes and foliage are damaged more by aphids than most people appreciate and spraying with a good insecticide in spring should be routine. Possibly the two worst pests are the raspberry beetle which produces the maggots and the raspberry moth which damages the canes.
As raspberries do not flower all at once, any spraying or dusting should be repeated at least twice and should commence as soon as thebegin to open. There is often a conflict here between dusting and spraying and the visitation of bees to which the sprays may be harmful. To avoid the wholesale destruction of bees and other pollinating insects when growing raspberries, it may be better to wait until a substantial number of flowers have dropped their petals for the dusts will still be effective on the embryo berries.
Varieties of Raspberries
With regard to varieties, my own feeling is that flavour has been sacrificed to size and vigour and for the small garden the seldom offered Pynes Royal is still the best garden variety. The fruit is large, dark, sweet and borne in great abundance but the canes are rather on the soft side and it is essential to support them. The variety Lloyd George, an improved New Zealand strain which has been raised from virus-free stocks, is a strong grower, produces a large berry of good flavour and crops on the young growths and laterals. It is an autumn fruiter as well as a summer cropper. Of the new Malling strains, friends of mine prefer Malling Exploit because they find it stands up to winds and exposed conditions better than most. For very exposed districts, Malling M with its short stiff canes is better recommended although in my opinion the fruit is only moderately flavoured. I find that golden raspberries are not nearly so acid as the red ones.