Are you ready for a raspberry patch?
Are you considering creating a raspberry patch in your back yard?
If so, you’re probably having visions of stepping out into the summer morning sunshine and grabbing a handful of fresh berries to stir into your breakfast cereal, picking buckets full of ripe berries to bake into scrumptious desserts or simply enjoying them straight off the vine with a cold beverage.
All of these scenarios are highly possible with a home raspberry patch provided you meet the basic needs of the berry plants and pay attention to their specific cultural requirements.
People may tell you that raspberries are the among the most difficult home crops to successfully grow, but it’s quite possible for even the beginning gardener to have a thriving raspberry patch. Here’s how to plant raspberries:
The success or failure of your home raspberry patch will highly depend on decision that you make before you even purchase your first plant.
Don’t expect to site your plants in any old neglected area of the yard and expect a bountiful berry patch to miraculously spring forth. Selecting the right spot is essential for success in this case.
Prepare your spot in the fall so that you’ll be able to plant in the early spring, and refresh the soil with organic matter several weeks prior to planting.
Let the Sun Shine In
Like all other members of the rose family, raspberries adore basking in the sun. Picking a sunny spot instead of one that gets a good deal of shade from buildings or big trees will result in happy plants.
Preparing the soil well several weeks in advance by working in organic amendments will ensure that your berry patch gets a good start in life.
It’s also advisable to site your patch as far as possible from any wild berry bushes growing in your neighborhood.
As charming as wild berries look and taste, they sometime harbor pests and pathogens that you’d prefer not set up shop within the perimeters of your yard.
Keep in mind, however, that most raspberry varieties are not bothered much by diseases and pests; if the only place you have for them is within proximity of a blackberry patch rambling over a vacant lot, go ahead and plant your raspberries in that spot but keep a vigilant eye out for marauding pests.
Powdery mildew and cane boring insects are the pests most likely to cause damage to raspberries.
Choosing the Right Variety of Raspberry
You will find two different types of raspberry bushes available at your local plant nursery, ever-bearing and summer-bearing.
Most home gardeners find the ever-bearing varieties easier to maintain, and they also appreciate the implication of this variety’s name: Ever-bearing varieties produce two separate crops throughout the course of the season, in summer and in fall, while summer-bearing plants set fruit one time during the middle of the summer.
Choosing an ever-bearing variety makes sense if you want tasty morsels from the garden as frequently as possible.
After they have finished supplying you with sweet fruit for the season, all you have to do to prepare them for the winter is mow them to the ground and mulch them well.
Patience Makes Perfect
No matter which type of raspberry you choose for your patch, don’t expect fruit until the second year.
Many people who have recently learned how to plant raspberries erroneously believe that they have failed in their endeavor when don’t see delicious results the first year.
Be patient; the berries are worth the wait. The fruit of ever-bearing varieties may be slightly smaller in the fall than they were in the first summer fruiting period.
When to Plant
For best results, plant your raspberries in the early spring as soon as the ground can be successfully worked. You can generally find a variety of bare root raspberries at your local nursery.
Raspberries love a nice long drink, so soaking the roots before planting for one or two hours can provide them with a good head start.
If you live in a warm weather zone, you can plant your raspberry bushes in late winter.
How to Plant Raspberries
It is important that you provide each raspberry plant with a proper home. Make sure that the hole you dig is large enough to allow the roots room to spread out.
Placing the individual plants about 3 feet apart will give them plenty of room to grow. If you are going to plant them in rows, make certain that the rows are 8 or 9 feet apart.
After planting, cut the canes back to about 8 inches long. Depending on what type of raspberry you have purchased, you may need to provide a support for the plants.
After planting and establishing whatever support is needed, water the plants in and mulch them well. Continue adding mulch as needed throughout the growing season.
Mulch is an excellent tool for keeping weeds down and keeping plant roots cool in hot weather and warm when it gets cold. Organic mulches also add nutrients to the soil.
Proper cultivation of the plants is important if you want to have a thriving raspberry patch. You should provide your plants with one inch of water per week although hot weather may require slightly more watering.
As the roots send up new canes, cutting the majority of them back will cause the surviving shoots to eventually create more tasty berries. Cutting off all canes that are growing sideways will help keep the rows clear.
The correct fall pruning techniques will ensure an abundant crop of berries the next summer.
Cut everything back on each plant but 6 or 7 of the strongest, healthiest canes. As mentioned earlier, if you are growing an ever-bearing variety, simply mow them to ground level when the growing season is over.
Mulch well so that the roots of the plants will be protected over the winter, and be certain to remove any plant debris from the area that might harbor pests and pathogens.
Now for the Best Part
The best part of having a thriving raspberry patch on your property is picking them fresh off the vine and popping them into your mouth.
When it comes time to harvest, you’ll need to pick the berries once every couple of days; if possible, harvest the berries on dry days to minimize the moisture amounts contained in the berries.
Ripe berries will be easy to pull of the vine; if you have to tug on them, leave them for the next picking.
Raspberries can be successfully stored for between 4-6 days under refrigeration. They can be placed in the freezer on single layers on a cookie sheet for later use.
However, if you are going to create scrumptious jams, jellies and cordials with your harvest, you should do so as soon as possible after the berries are picked.
There are many ways to enjoy the fruits of your labor after you’ve got your berry patch up and running.
Be sure to have fun and experiment with your crop — you’ll be surprised at how many ways raspberries can be used in the creation of delectable delights in the home kitchen, and everything tastes better when you’ve grown it yourself.
Roslyn Elliott says
We bought two plants, either lowes or Home Depot. I think ever earring is what they were. We planted and they grew from a little 1 foot plant to a 4×4 plant the first year. I looked up info thinking, when will we get fruit. I read the second year on the old groth. So we let it winter. We have snow and it usually doesn’t get lower than 10 degrees, except for about 3-7 days where it will get to -20 on one or two nights. For example we can grow those little carnation plants and they come back every year. This spring those raspberry plants sent out shooters from Satan himself and have become 8 foot by 4 plants and are full leaved and happy! No sign of ant diseases at all! BUT, there have been no flowers or fruit. We are seriously thinking of ripping them out. The two blackberry bushes from the same purchase had fruit the same planting year (one berry) and have about 20 berries this year. The raspberry are drip line watered with the rest of the vegetable garden, but the blackberries are not. Why no fruit, please help! It’s October and we should have had some kind of flower right?
It’s not usual for fruit bearing plants to not fruit the first season. I’d cut them back to about 24″ and give them another season.
This is a video of our raspberry patch going in early spring. Great blog. Thanks for posting.
Well you know it’s September and here I am with 4 raspberry bushes (2 everbearing and 2 summer bearing) that I purchased today at half price! I was thinking when I bought them that I love a sale and that you had already shown us how to plant them, so I was pretty confident with my purchase…until….I saw that you recommend planting them in the spring…please tell me that I’m not doomed.
ps I bought 4 blueberry bushes too….like I said, I love a sale!
You’re fine, just get them into the ground and they’ll be happy.
Fruit production is down in my raspberry patch. Is there any special amendment to the soil that I should be adding to my raspberries that will aid in increased fruit-bearing and larger berries, etc.?
How do you get asparagus established and keeping productive ?
Where can i buy raspberry bushes.
Mike, the home I purchased last summer had established raspberry bushes. But they are on top of the hill in my back yard and in most shade. Can I transplant these plants, and when?? I would like to move them closer to my house and the water hose. Also what are your thoughts on wild black berries to thorn-less ones? I love your site and hope to do plantings with you in the future. right now I am looking for someone to remove gravel and pea gravel so I can plant around my pool area…
Transplant the raspberries when they go dormant, in most states that’s after Thanksgiving. I really don’t have an opinion on the blackberries.
Mike, For Kathy…Regarding blackberries…go to http://www.fruitsandberries.com I purchased Doyles berries 4 years ago and the are fantastic! They are a thornless vine and produce huge amounts of berries. I have never been so satisfied with any plant as I am with their blackberry vine!
Spring Grove, Illinois
Sharon Albert says
I have four Blueberry bushes that are three years old now. They are alive and green but don’t seem to be growing in size. Also I have not got any fruit from them. I think they get plenty of sun although they are planted near Sassafras trees. My thornless Blackberry bush that is nearby is just loaded with berries this year for the first time and it was planted the same time the Blueberries were. Can you help? Also I put chicken manure soup on them this year for the first time. I didn’t make it too strong as not to burn the plants.
If the Blueberries are getting enough sun, give them time. Like your Blackberry, they’ll do what they are supposed to do. Are they all the same variety? It helps to have at least two different varieties of Blueberries, but it’s not really necessary.