There is almost nothing better than snagging a few delicious raspberries while strolling through my garden. I grow red everbearing raspberries, (but there are a number of varieties that do very well here in Utah). Everbearing produce two crops on the same canes, one in the fall of the first year, the second in the summer of the following year.
Our area is perfect for raspberries because they need a winter chill and a lingering springtime with slowly warming temperatures. Which is why the famous Bear Lake Raspberries are so tasty. However, you don’t have to live in Bear Lake Valley to grow delicious berries. (Even in warmer zones, light shade and heavy mulch will keep the ground cooler. Rich, slightly acidic soil around pH 6-6.5 is ideal.)
To get started, plant the bare-root stock in the spring. Set red and yellow raspberries 2.5-3 feet apart, in rows spaced 6-10 feet apart. Plant black and purple raspberries in slightly raised mounds 2-3 feet apart in rows 6-8 feet apart (they will develop into clumps of canes). Mulch plantings to discourage weed growth and keep the soil moist. Water is needed most during flowering and fruiting. Fertilize at bloom time.
Red and yellow raspberries are produced on erect plants with long straight canes; they can grow as freestanding shrubs, but are tidier and easier to manage if trained on trellis or hedgerow (pairs of parallel wires strung 3 feet and 5 feet above the ground along either side of a row of plants).
Summer-bearing varieties should produce three to five canes in the first year. Don’t be shy about pulling out any canes that grow more than a foot away from the trellis or row. In early spring cut the canes back to 4-5 feet tall. When growth resumes, new canes will appear all around the parent plant and between the rows. After the original canes bear fruit, cut them to the ground. Select the best 5-12 new canes and tie them to the support (they will bear next summer); cut the remaining canes to the ground. Everbearing red and yellow varieties fruit in the first autumn on the top of a cane, then again in the second summer on the lower two-thirds of the cane. Cut off the upper portion of the cane after the first harvest; cut out the cane entirely after the second harvest.
Black and purple berries are produced on clump-forming plants with arcing canes. No support is needed. In the first summer, force branching by heading back new canes to 2-2.5 feet. In early spring, remove all the weak or broken canes. Leave 6-8 canes in each hill and shorten the side branches to 8-12 inches. The side branches will bear fruit in late summer. After harvesting, cut to the ground all canes that have fruited and cut back all new canes as described for the first summer’s growth.
Keeping your raspberries free of disease and small pests is really quite easy, be sure to stop by Western Garden Center to talk to one of our skilled gardeners to learn more about keeping your plants strong and healthy.
Oh, and don’t forget to let us know when you’re harvesting your yummy raspberries, we’d love a taste!