Reap Your Just Desserts Success with Raspberries

Reap Your Just Desserts Success with Raspberries

By Christina McDonald

Growing your own fruit is rewarding, but many new gardeners lack the confidence to attempt the task. Raspberries, however, are easy to grow and, contrary to popular belief, are not an invasive nuisance. 

Choosing a suitable site is quite simple using the triple-S method: sun, space and soil. Raspberries produce best in an area that receives 6 hours or more of direct sunlight per day. The commercial standard of spacing your canes 45-60 cm apart and allowing 2 m between rows aids in air circulation, ease of fruit picking and cane maintenance. Raspberries adapt well to most soils (with the exception of heavy, poor draining clay), but produce heavier yields in soil rich in organic matter. Save yourself a lot of grief and ensure your potential patch is weed free before you plant!

The kind of raspberry you plant dictates how you grow and maintain your canes. Raspberries are divided into two main groups: primocanes, which produce fruit on canes grown that season, and floricanes, which produce on canes that are two growing seasons old.

Primocanes, such as the varieties ‘Double Delight’ and ‘Red River’, are the easiest to maintain, requiring pruning in the form of mowing them down to about 30 cm each fall, after the foliage has died back. They produce berries at least two weeks later than floricanes, but when you plant both groups together, the harvest period may be extended.

Floricanes, such as ‘Souris’ and ‘Boyne’, are a little trickier. For good, consistent fruit production, all canes two seasons or older must be pruned. This is not as difficult as it may sound—some commercial growers use a very simple trellising technique to simplify the job. It’s called “T trellising” and you can employ the technique at home.

Drive a long, T-shaped stake into the ground at each end of the row, then attach sturdy wires to each end of the T. Tie canes that are producing that year to the wires. This technique supports weak canes, makes picking much easier and helps identify which canes to remove in the fall. After pruning, tie this season’s new canes to the wires and start all over again.

Moisture is key to fruit production, so water to a depth of 3 cm per week (increasing that amount if weather conditions dictate) and mulch between each row, slightly back from the base of the canes to conserve moisture and help keep weeds down. Fertilize annually.


Q: I’ve had some problems successfully growing raspberries. Can you offer any tips?
Raspberries are very sensitive to iron deficiency and have a heavy demand for nitrogen. If new growth is veiny looking, use iron chelate to keep the soil slightly acidic.

Remember that most raspberries are biennials. Suckers come up the first year, with fruit forming on these suckers the following year. At season’s end of the second year, chop up the canes that have produced berries and toss them into the compost pile; they won’t fruit ever again. Do not prune next year’s canes too severely, or at all; 75 per cent of raspberry fruit is produced on the top 25 per cent of the cane.

Make sure that bees are welcome in your berry patch; raspberry plants need good pollination for fruit set. Some bright flowers planted nearby can tip the odds in your favour.

Q: What’s the best way to enjoy my raspberries?
When harvesting, remember that picked raspberries spoil very quickly. They should be eaten or frozen as soon as possible after picking. Freeze them in single layers on cookie trays then transfer the frozen berries to plastic bags for long-term storage in the freezer. Freezing them first on trays first ensures that the berries remain nice and round and don’t get crushed together.

Two Simple Landscape Plans

Two Simple Landscape Plans

By Christina McDonald

Faced with the challenge of landscaping a new front yard? Maggie Clayton, professional Landscape Architectural Technologist, suggests two simple plans using hardy plants that are commonly available and easy to grow. These plans can easily be implemented in a fairly standard 35 x 15 m yard and acknowledge property lines and good neighbour policies by positioning the trees carefully. The plans allow for access to modern, narrow sidewalks and paved driveways and offer some privacy from the street.

Design Sense

A good design incorporates not only colour, texture and seasonal interest in a variety of forms, but also offers views from the interior of the home. “All too often people don’t realize that they can actually create their own views or correct a poor one,” Maggie says. Look out windows and note where a well-placed tree, shrub or entire planting could provide a point of interest to be enjoyed from outside and inside your home. Think of it as reverse curb appeal. The placement of outdoor lighting, statuary and water features can all be added with the same views in mind. Try adapting either of these plans to your back yard—just substitute the driveway for a patio, pool or deck.

A good design can also make quick and substantial improvements. Foundations can easily softened and linked to their surroundings by planting shrubs and perennials of differing heights in a slightly raised bed directly against the building. The use of hot and cool colours in these beds can visually pull or push the house toward or away from the street.

Plan One—Sun

The beauty of this perimeter scheme is that neighbours can plan and plant together to create stunning joined beds that make both properties look great. Designed for a sunny, south facing yard it creates a frame for the edge of the property that takes into account not just light conditions but also the amount of heat the area receives. Once established, the suggested shrubs and perennials are considered drought tolerant. “Amend your soil when planting to help hold what moisture there is and remember to mulch thickly,” Maggie advises. Installing a drip hose is another way to reduce moisture loss by providing water only where the plants need it most.

Plan Two—Shade

Try this landscape plan for north facing locations with somewhat moist soil. It offers good use of foliage from tried –and-true perennials and shrubs. The more shade tolerant plants are placed closer to the house, with the classic kidney- shaped bed highlighting those requiring more light. The focal tree, either an Amur maple or a hawthorn, can be pruned to an open form that allows maximum light through to the plants below.