My introduction to the humble raspberry was in the early fifties when this eight year old followed a group of young kids from our housing estate to our local raspberry fields, just a ten minute walk away. It was a magical moment when I first tasted
and then when I filled a bucket of berries and handed them over to the farmer I
got paid. A few years later, as the young apprentice gardener keen to learn
horticultural skills, I purchased a few canes to grow my own raspberries in my
garden. It was probably Malling Promise variety, though at that time Lloyd
George and Norfolk Giant were also very popular. However Norfolk Giant was so
vigorous that you needed to learn to arch over the canes in winter when you
tied them onto the wires. Later on Malling Jewel appeared and became the
favourite for many years. Raspberry breeders are still very busy seeking out
those with excellent flavours, canes that are spine free and plants that can
resist pests and diseases. Work on raspberry breeding has been going on for a
very long time at the Scottish Crops Research Institute, now known as the James
Hutton Institute. The early success with Glen Ample was a big breakthrough, but
then the raspberry root rot phytophthora rubi appeared and devastated field production.
Breeders added resistance to this disease a priority both here and other
countries. Demand from supermarkets for clean fruit and the need to protect
canes from soil borne disease changed the growing system, so now raspberries
grown in containers off the ground and under the protection of polythene
tunnels. However the home gardener is still most likely to grow them in a row
outdoors, but we can take advantage of new varieties as they are released to
the trade. I now grow Glen Fyne and Glen Dee for my summer fruiting crops and
Polka and Autumn Treasure for autumn fruiting. I also have Autumn Bliss, one of
the first autumn fruiting varieties which is very reliable, but the stems are
full of wee spines so picking can be unpleasant on a warm day with bare arms.
Nikki Jennings has been very busy breeding new varieties at James Hutton
Institute and this year the latest to be released is Glen Carron, a summer
fruiting variety with excellent flavour and size, and spine free canes with
good resistance to cane diseases. Nikki has another excellent summer fruiting
variety RBC16F6 showing good resistance to
phytophthora root rot still under
trial as well as two autumn fruiting varieties, RBC16P4 and RBC16P5, as yet
|Planting raspberry canes|
|Pruning Autumn raspberry canes|
|Raspberry Glen Carron|
Soil cultivation and planting
Raspberries can continue to fruit for well over ten years, so make sure soil cultivations are at their best. Take out a trench and fork up the bottom adding plenty of manure or compost then backfill. Plant canes about a foot or more apart. In spring add some fertilizer and keep the rows weedfree.
In the second year they will need support with strong posts and wires at three feet and five feet from the ground. Summer fruiting varieties fruit on canes grown the previous year, so in winter cut out the old fruited canes and tie in the new canes so that they are about four inches apart along the top wire. Autumn fruiting varieties have all the canes cut back to ground level in winter. Raspberries like well drained fertile soil that retains moisture in summer and has a neutral pH. Once shoots begin to emerge in spring it is a good idea to add a mulch to retain moisture and suppress weeds.
Raspberries produce a lot of suckers which is fine along the rows but unwelcome anywhere else so remove these as they appear. The main pest is raspberry beetle which lays eggs which hatch and the maggot starts to eat its way into the centre. They can be controlled with carefully timed sprays at first pink fruit and a fortnight later.
Wee jobs to do this week
|Drying off begonia tubers|