Enjoy a fruitful autumn
Raspberries are a sweet treat for the gourmet grower. Helen Billiald offers advice on how to plant them and which cultivars to grow
When it comes to summer berries, raspberries deserve the crown. Not only are they delicious, they’re also joyously straightforward to grow. Choose a mixture of summer- and autumn-fruiting cultivars and you too can have these little jewels from late June to the first frosts. That’s countless mornings sneaking out in your pyjamas to pick raspberries for breakfast, weeks of raspberry muffins for the lunchbox, a jar or two of prize-winning jam, unmissable summer pudding and lip-smacking raspberry coulis. To get the biggest bowls of berries you want a fertile, moist but well-drained soil,
preferably slightly on the acidic side. If you’re on very well-drained soil you may find autumn raspberries crop better for you than summer ones, thanks to the extra moisture that autumn rains bring. Although plants prefer a sunny site, they’ll cope with part shade, which again may help retain moisture on drier soils. As a permanent crop (they could be with you for a decade) make sure the site is free from perennial weeds before you plant them. Spread or dig in plenty of well-rotted organic matter and mulch heavily, every year. These are greedy plants and benefit from a scattering of general-purpose fertiliser in spring.
Spacing & support
Spacing and support needs vary according to whether you choose a summer- or autumn-fruiting cultivar. Summer cultivars fruit on the previous year’s growth so canes need tying in to supports (use 1.8m/6ft posts and wires and space plants 40cm/16in apart). Autumn cultivars fruit on the current year’s growth so won’t need any support, although they do have wide elbows so space 60cm (2ft) apart. Source raspberry plants from a nursery rather than taking suckers from friends to make sure you start with virus-free stock.
Not only are they delicious, but also they’re joyously straightforward to grow