The flavour of homegrown, fresh-picked raspberries can’t be beaten. And even though these easy-care plants produce fruit when utterly neglected, here are a few tips to ensure a bountiful crop.
All raspberries perform best in a location with full sun and good air circulation. Individual canes are biennial: In the first year a shoot, or sucker (called a primocane), grows to its full height. The second year that same shoot (now referred to as a floricane) produces lateral branches, flowers and fruit before dying. The root systems, however, are perennial, so it’s vital to prepare the soil carefully before installing plants, as they will be in situ for many years.
Preparing the bed
Remove all perennial weeds (e.g., bindweed, Canada thistle, horsetail, quackgrass) in the planting area. Next, enrich the soil and improve its tilth by digging in compost or composted manure 30 to 40 centimetres deep. Because raspberries are prone to some root diseases, wait three full years before planting them where strawberries, tomatoes, potatoes, peppers or eggplants have been grown. Avoid poorly drained soils, which can cause root rot.
Raspberries produce new suckers from buds at the base of old canes and on the roots, which means they will spread far beyond their boundaries unless controlled. The easiest way to keep them in check is to plant them in an area surrounded by lawn, where stray suckers will be mowed down along with the grass.
Purchase raspberry canes from a reputable nursery, preferably one that sells specimens from virus-indexed (virus-free) or tissue-cultured stock; those passed along by neighbours and friends may harbour disease.
The best time to plant is early spring or mid-autumn. One-year-old canes are sold bare-root or in pots. They should be spaced 60 to 75 centimetres apart (the plants will fill in within two years).