Raspberry plants growing©Janet Allen Raspberry plants starting to grow

Raspberries have been productive and easy to grow. The raspberries we have either produce a late summer crop on first year canes (that is, the canes that grew only this year) or an earlier crop on second year canes. We currently have one 3' by 10' bed of red raspberries that is over ten years old. Two years ago we started another 3' by 10' bed of red raspberries by planting three little purchased canes three feet apart.

Raspberry flowers being pollinated©Janet Allen Raspberry flowers being pollinated

Although it's not essential that raspberries be pollinated, the fruit is much larger and fully developed when pollinators are about.

Pruning raspberries ©Janet Allen
Pruning raspberries

Raspberries like to spread. Since we have them in the middle of the garden they need to be contained. The older bed has a three foot 4" by 4" wooden post at each corner and a section of three foot wide metal fencing stretched across the top and stapled to the posts. These raspberries have always been pruned back to the ground in the fall. As they grow during the year the canes grow up through the fencing. These are called "first year canes" even though the plants are ten years old. Those that grow outside are either pushed into the fencing or cut off at ground level. This keeps the raspberries in one place and also provides support that keeps the canes from flopping over into the paths. Picking the berries is not inhibited at all because the berries only grow above the fencing level.

Raspberries©Janet Allen Raspberries

The newer bed of raspberries does not have fencing. There are metal posts at each corner of the bed and rope around the perimeter to support the canes inside the rope.

I discovered that one of the three canes that we bought was not the same as the others although they were supposed to be. The odd one is thornless and didn't produce raspberries last year. Instead of pruning it back to the ground last fall I pruned the cane back to three feet. The result was that those canes produced berries in July this year while all my other canes will be producing from August until we get a heavy frost.

The July producing canes began producing measurable amounts July 12th this year (2011) and will stop within the next few days (today being July 24th). It is a short season but provides a treat for that period of time. The total harvest will be close to three pounds. I will cut out the fruiting canes, at which time the lack of thorns will be helpful, and let the new canes continue to grow and, hopefully, produce a late summer crop. I know there are raspberry plants that produce two crops but I won't know whether this one plant is that type until later this year.

In terms of fertilizing the raspberries all I do is toss on some compost at some time when the canes have been cut back.

Raspberries ©Janet Allen

These are probably Latham or Heritage berries. We've had these for many years, and we didn't used to keep track of varieties (and we're still not perfect about this important issue.)

As the photo shows, there is a continual harvest. This is both a good thing and a bad thing I suppose. It means that we constantly have a supply of raspberries, but it also means that harvesting has to be ongoing. But the benefits of having such a delicious, free crop far outweighs the time it takes to harvest the crop.

Raspberries are a particularly important crop to grow since they're very expensive to buy, and I doubt they grow the tastiest varieties in the commercial trade.

Gold raspberries ©Janet Allen
Gold raspberries

We've also experimented with some yellow raspberries. We really like Fall Gold, which we grew a few years ago. Then something happened to them, and we tried a different yellow variety, but we didn't find them to be as tasty as the Fall Golds had been.

Harvest record

YR LB Notes
14 10
13 15 We reserve most of these for pies throughout the year
12 14
11 23
10 22
09 24