Few fruits prompt as much childhood nostalgia as the raspberry. If you grew up or vacationed in a northern state you probably enjoyed your first raspberry on a nature walk or family hike in the woods and not the local supermarket.
Of course, raspberries were a good snack to find in your grandmas garden too. Even if you enjoyed your first raspberry by way of the supermarket, and not a bush, the wonderful flavor was not to be forgotten. With some careful planning and attention you can soon be growing and enjoying your own raspberries.
RASPBERRIES: PACKED WITH HEALTH BENEFITS
Raspberries not only taste good they are very beneficial to your health. Raspberries are one of a select number of foods considered to be a “super-food” – that is, they contain chemicals (phytochemicals) that science has learned help directly fight disease, including cancer.
David Geffen from California’s School of Medicine notes that raspberries have “the ability to counteract, reduce, and even repair damage resulting from oxidative stress and inflammation.”
Raspberries are packed with nutritional value including high levels of folate, vitamin C, magnesium, manganese, and calcium. They also have the added health benefit of being an anti-oxidant.
WHAT IS A RASPBERRY?
Raspberries are a part of the rose family and considered a bramble shrub due to their prickly branches and stems. They produce fruit every year and so are considered a perennial plant. Raspberries can be found growing in a wide range of zones, from 3 to 10.
Raspberries are classified according to their color and fruiting habit. You will find raspberries in a variety of colors including purple, pink, white/yellow, black, and of course, red. Raspberries can also be classified as either:
SUMMERBEARING AND EVERBEARING RASPBERRIES
Summerbearing raspberries produce fruit one time in late summer or early fall. Red raspberries are the most common type of summerbearing raspberry. Red raspberries come in different varieties such as Latham, Prelude and Killarney.
Everbearing raspberries produce fruit twice a year: once in the springtime and once in the fall. Some common everbearing raspberries are Polana, Summit, and Golden. With good cultural practices and attention, some gardeners have had success getting certain everbearing varieties to produce fruit for many weeks.
It takes two years after planting for the bush to produce fruit. The first year is vegetative growth. If planted in a good location and well tended, raspberries can produce fruit for many years.
PICKING YOUR SITE FOR PLANTING RASPBERRY PLANTS
Raspberry plants require full sun (at least 6 hours a day) and grow best in fertile sandy-loam soil with good drainage. Avoid planting raspberries in an area where water tends to pool as this will lead to an increased susceptibility to disease, root rot and poor fruit production. The ideal pH for raspberry plants is between 5.6-6.2.
The best way to determine your soil’s quality, composition and pH level is to contact your local extension office for directions on gathering and sending in a soil sample.
Raspberries should be planted in early spring after the threat of frost is gone. Red raspberries can be planted to form nice hedge rows as they mature. Each plant should be spaced about 2-3 feet apart and each row 10-12 feet apart.
Black and purple raspberries do not become full enough to create a proper hedge and should be planted about 4 feet apart in rows that are 8-10 feet apart. Using the hill system for black and purple berries is a good option and the best use of space.
Adequate spacing between plants is needed for weeding, fertilizing and pruning as well as aiding in proper air circulation and sunlight. Plant depth should be about the same as, or slightly deeper than, they were at the nursery.
Avoid planting raspberries within 300 to 600 feet of wild raspberries or blackberries if possible, because they can transmit viruses to your new plants. Additionally, you should not plant raspberries in the same area that potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants or strawberries have grown in the last 3-4 years as the soil may contain a fungal disease that causes Verticillium Wilt.
Upon initial planting, you can apply a general fertilizer (10-10-10) at the rate of about one pound per 100 feet of row. Work the fertilizer into the soil with a tiller or spade. Another dose of fertilizer should be applied 2-3 weeks later.