Raspberry Tips and Tricks
The small amount of work you put into your raspberry patch is well rewarded. Have you seen the cost of raspberries in the grocery store? You can go big if you like, or keep your patch small by starting with half a dozen strong cultivars from the greenhouse. A small garden is easier to care for than a great big one, and so worth your time.
Site and Soil
Almost any soil is satisfactory for growing raspberry plants. It should be well drained but not too sandy unless irrigation is available.
Select a gently sloping area with good drainage. Poor drainage often increases the chance of late spring frost injury and the occurrence of diseases such as anthracnose and spur blight.
Plant raspberries in the early spring as soon as the soil can be worked. Work liberal amounts of well-rotted manure or good compost into the soil.
Plant 3 to 5 feet apart in rows 6 feet apart. Spade a deep slit in the soil, place the root ball inside, and carefully fan out the roots. Be sure to water thoroughly. Firmly press the soil around the roots.
Cut back the tops to about 6 inches in height (if needed) to encourage the production of vigorous new canes.
Mulch is your friend! Raspberries like moisture and lots of water without being boggy. Mulch between rows and around plants, 3-4 inches deep with straw or leaves.
Keep your raspberry patch watered, both to start and continuing on throughout its life.
For maximum yields, fertilize your raspberry patch every year in the spring (around the middle of May), using about 1 pound of balanced fertilizer for every 20 feet of rows, or 1/2 cup around each plant. Broadcast the fertilizer between rows and work into the top few inches of soil.
Raspberry canes grow the first year and produce fruit the next year. Do not allow any fruit to set on the canes the first year after transplanting. Old canes die out and new ones take their place.
Remove old canes as soon as the fruit is harvested. New canes and suckers should be thinned, leaving 6 to 8 strong canes per foot of row or about 7 strong canes per hill, depending on your layout. Trim all remaining canes to about 24 inches high.
In colder climates like Minnesota, raspberries need protection from alternating cold and warm periods in the late winter. Follow these steps in the fall, around October, before the ground freezes:
After your raspberries are properly thinned, bend remaining canes over close to the ground and secure with dirt or stakes.
Pile straw or leaf mulch 4-6 inches deep over the canes.
Don’t forget to uncover the plants after all danger of frost is past!
Several diseases, the most common of which are viral or fungal in origin, can afflict raspberries. Stop disease in its tracks by planting certified stock from a trusted greenhouse, destroying old canes after harvest, thinning new canes properly, and cultivating carefully.
If you have a disease outbreak, contact your local extension service for help identifying and treating insects or fungal problems.
That’s it. Keep them watered, thin the patch as directed, protect in the winter, and enjoy your sun-warmed raspberries fresh from your very own garden.