You will want to grow raspberries near your house because they are just too simple not to grow! I have grown a variety of berries over the years, but I decided this year to expand my red raspberry patch because they require minimal care. I prune the canes carefully once a year being sure not to disturb the roots.Make sure they are watered the first few growing seasons and pay attention to drought + too much sun. Place a bit of compost early season at the base of the canes, keep them free of weeds and you will be picking bowls full of raspberries, as I have been the past few weeks. They just keep on giving!
A friend gave us some bare roots to plug-in about 6 Yrs ago, but those were a bit unpredictable, smallish and only produced early summer. I wanted everbearing raspberries since they will give you berries around late June/early July and late August/early September. I found that you needed to find the “everbearing raspberries” that grow best in your climate. Well, I started with two everbearing types, Heritage + Carolina the past three years and now we have a huge raspberry patch at the back of our urban potager. It is amazing! Our raspberries were a bit slow to take off this season due to our cold spring weather and the early season berries were not as abundant as the late fall. That was okay, I had other berries in our urban potager to snack on early summer but once they took off they grew like weeds!
I have been picking large bowls full of berries for the past three weeks, and I still have more on the canes to ripen. They are still not done growing! If I do not get out there by late afternoon they just melt right off the stem from being too ripe. I will be freezing some in the future since I have a large area at the back part of the yard devoted to red raspberries, and if I have this much in 2014, I cannot wait for 2015!
The first few years after I planted my raspberries, they did not produce as much as my other garden friends but they had their raspberry patches for years.I was beginning to get impatient with the minimal amount I was getting the past two years, but don’t get discouraged! Patience is the virtue of a gardener….just put them in, and they will come…in droves!!! We are eating berries for breakfast, lunch and dinner. There is nothing like fresh raspberries from the garden. You need to find a spot and plunk a few plants in your area. You will not regret the fresh raspberries. They just need a space to sprawl. I put them at the back of our yard since they do have canes that when you are picking will scratch your arms but just lift them carefully, and you will not have any problems. The canes towards the end of the season are weighted down, and some of the newer canes ( no berries) are sprawling on the ground. I suggest putting them in a far corner since unlike blueberry bushes which are pretty spring, summer and fall raspberry bushes can look a bit battered towards the end of the growing season. They do not have a lovely red fall color as blueberry bushes do!
I am still learning about growing raspberries, so I am still open to different approaches at this point as to when to prune. There are different techniques as to when you should prune, but agreement that you need to know which types you are growing to understand how to prune them. I have everbearing right now that are producing an abundance of berries. I will leave the new canes ( the individual branches that grow from the base of the plant) alone that are not producing berries this year and may trim them to about 4 feet (advice I am trying this year) which will be an experiment.The canes that are brown, I will cut to the ground ( 1-2 inches tall) but at this point I am debating when to do this.
I also wonder, if I may have trimmed some of my spring canes to the ground by mistake. Everbearing cultivars can produce up to two crops a year, one crop being produced in the spring and the second crop in the fall….hmmmm.. I read prior to this season to just cut them to the ground, which I did and had a small crop of spring raspberries. Through my research I found some gardeners prefer pruning around Feb or March because they believe the root system has had time to store more carbohydrates, leading to better crop of berries. I am wondering if there is some truth to this since I have been picking TONS of berries from my March pruning!
The best advice I can give about growing fruit is “jump in” and just try a few things and see what happens” since your plants will tell you what they need. I just watch and learn. I have found when I read a lot of what others are doing it sometimes does not work for me, so I sometimes make some mistakes along the way and tweak a few things here and there until it works, which it did this year!
If you put a few raspberry bushes on your city lot, you will be enjoying ice cream and raspberries every summer! YUM!