Rasp­ber­ries are one of the tastes of July. Sue Bradley looks at the va­ri­eties to try, and con­tin­ues to strive to keep weeds un­der con­trol

Living France - - Contents -

Sue Bradley shares her sea­sonal gardening ad­vice, plus an Open Gar­den in Creuse

Tart and ever-so-tasty juicy rasp­ber­ries are an ea­gerly awaited sum­mer treat and are one of the eas­i­est fruits that you can grow. In fact, canes should last for sev­eral years and pro­duce many kilo­grams of fruit, along with plenty of run­ners to plant else­where, be­fore reach­ing the end of their pro­duc­tive lives. Many can even be grown in roomy con­tain­ers, which means one or two can be squeezed into even the small­est of spa­ces.

Rasp­ber­ries are best suited to ar­eas with a cooler cli­mate – more Nor­mandy and Brit­tany than the French Riviera – and thrive in sunny but shel­tered spots. Slightly acidic soil is pre­ferred, although they will grow and pro­duce fruit in more al­ka­line con­di­tions too.

When choos­ing rasp­ber­ries, the first thing to de­cide is whether to go for sum­mer or au­tumn-fruit­ing cul­ti­vars, or a mix­ture of the two to en­joy a suc­ces­sion of berries from June to Oc­to­ber or even Novem­ber if frosts are late.

One im­por­tant thing to re­mem­ber is to keep the two types sep­a­rate so that they can be pruned at the ap­pro­pri­ate times of the year. Sum­mer bear­ers fruit on the pre­vi­ous year’s canes and should be cut down once the harvest is over. Au­tumn rasp­ber­ries fruit on new growth, how­ever, and prun­ing should be left un­til late win­ter or early spring.

Once the de­sired fruit­ing time has been de­cided, the next step is to set­tle on which cul­ti­vars to grow. ‘Tu­lameen’ is prized for its large, red and flavour­some fruits, the high­est yields of which are pro­duced in mid­sum­mer.

An­other ear­lier fruiter is ‘Valentina’, which yields tasty berries that are a mix of bright pink and apri­cot in colour and are very re­sis­tant to pests. The best known of the later fruiters is ‘Au­tumn Bliss’, which well and truly lives up to its name as the nights draw in.

Rasp­ber­ries are usu­ally as­so­ci­ated with be­ing dark pink or even red, but it’s pos­si­ble to grow yel­low fruit, of which ‘All Gold’ is a good choice.

All canes should be planted any­time be­tween late au­tumn and early spring, although avoid pe­ri­ods when the ground is frozen. The soil should be free-drain­ing and fer­tile, so dig in plenty of ma­nure or com­post be­fore putting them in.

Plant canes in rows and erect posts at each end, from which hor­i­zon­tal lengths of wire can be used to train canes against. This will pre­vent heav­ily laden branches from dip­ping to the ground and pro­vide some pro­tec­tion against wind dam­age.

Aim to keep rasp­berry canes weed free and mulch them well ev­ery year so that they get max­i­mum ben­e­fit from mois­ture and nu­tri­ents.

Rasp­ber­ries fre­quently make new plants known as run­ners: keep an eye on these and dig them out if they ap­pear to be caus­ing over­crowd­ing, which can lead to poor ven­ti­la­tion and dis­eases such as rasp­berry spur blight.

Other things to look out for are rasp­berry bee­tles which can cause dry patches on fruit in mid­sum­mer, although they tend to be more of a prob­lem with sum­mer-fruit­ing plants.

If there aren’t any rasp­ber­ries in your gar­den al­ready, make it your mis­sion to try dif­fer­ent va­ri­eties this sum­mer so that you can choose your favourites and plant them later on for a harvest of your own next year.

Use your rasp­ber­ries in a tempt­ing tri­fle – turn to page 62 for the recipe.

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