How to grow raspberries
Raspberries are easy to grow, look after, and can be enjoyed in all kinds of delicious recipes
Raspberries are a popular fruit to grow because they’re easy to look after, as well as being a wonderful treat to enjoy. This is a great project for kids and beginner gardeners who want to give fruit growing a go.
Best time to plant: January – March
Harvesting season: June - October
Height & spread: 36 to 60 inches tall with a 24 to 36 inch spread
Difficulty: Moderate, involves some preparation
There are two main types of raspberries, autumn bearing or summer bearing. Growing the two together will help give you a longer period to harvest them. They can be planted any time from November through to March, but you’ll want to make sure the ground isn’t frozen or water-logged.
Raspberries thrive in moisture retentive, fertile, slightly acidic soils, which are well drained and weed free.
Choose a nice sunny spot in the garden if you can, although they will grow in shadier areas, you’ll get more fruit if they’re in the sunlight. The best planting location is sheltered from strong winds and has fertile, well-drained soil that isn’t too wet.
Preparing your support system
Raspberries are best grown against wire supports, as they’re top heavy and will easily fall or break in the wind.
Break up the soil in your planting area with a garden fork and turn it over well. Make sure you get all the weeds and stones up. Dig in some manure or compost into the soil.
Dig a shallow trench, about 20cm deep, where you’ll be planting your row of raspberries. They need to be planted 45cm to 60cm apart (18in to 24in), so try to make sure your is trench long enough to fit in the amount you want to grow.
Using a club hammer, hammer in a couple of 40mm to 60mm wide posts or stakes (sharpened at one end) into the ground at either end of the trench, no more than 4 metres apart. They need to be nice and secure, so setting them 45cm to 60cm (or 11/2 to 2 foot) below the ground and leaving 1.2cm to 1.8cm (4 to 6 foot) above is a good approximate guide to go by. If you are planning to grow more than one row, space the rows 1.5m (5ft) apart.
Paint the posts with a wood preservative before you install them to help protect against rot, especially below ground level. To make your posts extra secure and a more permanent fixture, dig your posts in and set them into concrete or a ready mixed post-fix.
Screw-in vine eyes are screwed into pilot holes on the inside of the timber posts. The first row should sit 30cm (12 inches) above the ground, another row 20cm from the top of the posts and a middle row between the two. Mark the locations for the eyelets and drill the pilot holes to the depth of the eyelet’s tail.
Either hand-screw or use pliers to screw the eyelets into position.
Measure the distance between the two posts and add 12cm to this figure. Using a pair of tin snips, cut three lengths of wire to this size.
Thread about 6cm of the wire through the first vine eye and fold it back on itself. Twist the excess neatly and tightly a few times with a pair of pliers to secure it to the vine eye and around the wire by about 1cm. Repeat at the opposite end, keeping the wire really taught as you twist it on. Cut any excess wire off with the tin snips and repeat for the other two rows.
Planting your raspberries
Line the trench with compost or manure and place your raspberries into the trench 45cm to 60cm apart (18in to 24in).
The uppermost roots should be no more than 5cm (2in) below the soil, spread out the roots and cover with soil, firming as you go. Tread gently around the roots to get rid of air pockets and water the soil well.
With secateurs, prune the stems down so they are 30cm above ground level. However, summer fruiting raspberries that are supplied as long, one year old canes don't need pruning, as these will fruit that season.
Top the row with a thick mulch of manure.
Planting you raspberries in a container
Single raspberry plants can be grown in 38cm (15in) diameter containers of 80 per cent multipurpose compost and, to add weight for stability, 20 per cent loam-based potting compost, tying the canes to bamboo canes. Keep the compost moist and feed with a liquid general-purpose fertiliser on a monthly basis during the growing season. In hard water areas try to use harvested rainwater.
Raspberry canes can be tied in with garden twine. Soft and biodegradable, garden twine is an environmentally sound and plant-friendly option for tying in raspberries. It won’t last forever, which is ideal for raspberries. Tie the canes loosely to the wire to avoid strangling the plants as they grow.
Summer fruiting vs autumn fruiting raspberries
Two types of raspberry plants are available, summer or autumn fruiting. If you are planting both make sure you separate them. Use a single fence system from summer fruiting, and a single fence system with parallel lines for autumn fruiting.
Summer-fruiting raspberries: In early summer, pull up suckers between the rows of summer raspberries. Cut back fruited canes to ground level after harvesting in summer; do not leave old stubs. Select the strongest young canes that have grown during the current season, around six to eight per plant, and tie them in 8 –10cm (3–4in) apart along the wire supports. These will fruit for you the following summer. Remove the remaining (excess) young stems to ground level.
Autumn-fruiting raspberries: Cut back all the old, fruited canes to ground level in February. New canes will start growing in spring. These will bear fruit for you later in the year. Reduce the number of canes slightly in summer if they are very overcrowded. Thin to around 10cm (4in) apart.
Harvesting your raspberries
Your raspberries are ready when they’re nice and bright, coloured all over, and can be easily pulled from the plant without being squashed
The first summer raspberries are ready for harvesting in early summer, whereas autumn raspberries won’t mature until late summer. Pick on a dry day. Eat them fresh, freeze them, or make into preserves.
Try to pick your raspberries every couple of days to maximise your crop. If you leave them too long, birds will have more of a chance of feasting on them and the fruit will soon ‘turn’. Excess fruit can always be shared with family and friends or frozen for later.
Protect your fruit
Cover your raspberries with netting whilst they’re fruiting to protect them from birds.
Looking after your raspberries
Prune canes, after they’ve fruited, to a few centimetres above ground level. But remember not to cut down young new canes, which will provide the fruit for next year.
In early March, apply a slow release general fertiliser and mulch with manure.
Regular annual pruning will result in healthier plants and better quality crops.
Keep raspberries well hydrated through dry periods but avoid over watering them. Keep the foliage, flowers and fruit as dry as possible when watering to avoid rot.