The past two weeks have been a bit of heaven out in the garden. The raspberries are ripe. At my house that means after each picking there are large bowls of the sweet berries smothered in cream enjoyed on the deck after it starts cooling off.
Raspberries are easy to grow and you don’t need a lot of space for a few plants. There is even a new variety that will grow in a large container on a deck or patio. They need full sun, soil rich in organic matter and a steady amount of moisture. It is best to fertilize them in the early spring and again in early July with a 10-10-10 fertilizer.
There are a number of different types of raspberries available, including those that produce one crop in July and fall-bearing varieties that produce a large crop in the fall and a smaller crop on the same canes early the following summer. They aren’t just red either; there are black, yellow and purple raspberries available on the market. Some good single crop varieties include Willamette, Cascade Bounty and Meeker. Fall-bearing varieties include Heritage, Autumn Bliss and summit.
Brazelberry Raspberry Shortcake came on the market about two years ago and has made it easy to grow raspberries in small spaces. The plant gets only about 12 to 18 inches tall and produces a single crop of sweet, red fruit in July. Like their bigger cousins these miniature plants produce their fruit on second-year canes and are perfect for harvesting from your deck chair.
Raspberries grow canes that live two years and then die. Because new canes grow every year there is a continuous supply of fruit canes. The difference between the single crop plants and fall-bearing varieties is that the fall-bearing ones will produce a crop on the top of a first-year cane in the late summer, hence the term fall-bearing. These canes go dormant for the winter and then produce a second crop at the bottom of the cane early the next summer. Single crop varieties grow new canes the first year and then bear fruit the following July before dying.
All varieties – except Brazelberry Raspberry Shortcake – need to be staked up on a trellis to make picking and maintenance easier. The trellis can be posts set a few feet apart with stout wire run between them. The trellis can be in a garden space or serve as a divider between garden spaces or along a fence. After the single crop canes finish producing, they need to be cut to the ground in September and October. Fall-bearing canes can be cut to the ground at the same time or they can be left to produce their second crop the next spring. The first year canes then need to be tied up to the support wire with heavy twine. The twine should be wrapped around the wire in a figure eight and then wrapped around the cane to prevent rubbing on the wire.