Raspberries are suckering shrubs with cane-like stems 1.5–2.25m high. They grow best in well-drained, acidic to neutral, rich soil. Originally woodland plants from the Northern Hemisphere, they grow in cool-temperate areas, such as Tasmania, the south-western corner of Western Australia, the Blue Mountains and the Dandenongs. If you grow early, mid and late season cropping cultivars, you can have fruit from summer through to late autumn.
Buy certified disease-free stock. There are yellow-fruited, mild-flavoured cultivars such as Golden as well as richly flavoured, raspberry-coloured fruit such as Heritage and Chilcotin which we sell at BulbsOnline.
Allow 15–20 plants per person to create a surplus for jam-making, bottling and desserts. Well-tended plants can remain productive for over 30 years.
HOW TO PLANT
Plant in autumn or winter in rows facing north to south, as this ensures the plants receive even sunlight. They benefit greatly from a sheltered site with shade from the afternoon sun.
Before planting, dig a trench to loosen the soil, then work in plenty of well-rotted compost or manure as you fill the trench. Create a ridge that is about 10–15cm above ground level, as this will improve drainage.
To support the raspberry canes, attach three horizontal wires to lattice, a fence or firmly anchored posts. Soak some bare-rooted stock for about half an hour in a bucket of diluted seaweed tonic before planting.
Plant at the same depth as they were originally, using the soil mark on the stem as a guide. Mulch with lucerne 10cm deep, then water well.
CARE AND MAINTENANCE
Raspberries fruit on canes produced the previous season, which look exhausted when they have finished fruiting. Prune at ground level and tie in fresh, vigorous new canes, which will flower and fruit the following season. Tie shoots in and off the ground, and remove dead or weak shoots anytime.
Mulch with well-rotted compost in autumn and with lucerne in spring. Feed the developing fruit with organic fertiliser or apply seaweed tonic, and water in hot, dry, windy weather. Drip irrigation with a timer provides regular water and encourages cropping.
- Birds love raspberries, so protect fruit using 4cm-squared netting. Unlike smaller netting, this saves fruit without trapping or injuring birds or snakes.
- Handweed carefully. New suckers and surface-feeding roots are fragile.
- Keep mulch away from the base of stems. This reduces fungal diseases.
- Botrytis, a fungus affecting foliage and fruit, can be a problem in warm, moist autumns. Spray with organic approved copper-based fungicide.
- Extreme heat and sunshine may spoil fruit. Cover with 25 per cent shadecloth or old net curtains.
- Sawfly caterpillars may attack foliage. If seen, spray with horticultural soap.
- To prevent pests and diseases from accumulating, bury spoiled fruit and prunings about half a metre down.
- Condition neutral or mildly alkaline soil by applying iron chelates during late winter. This also supplements iron.
- At spring bud burst, apply two teaspoonfuls of Epsom salts and an equal amount of sulfate of potash to 4.5L of water, and water in around plants. This supplements magnesium, which is needed for energy production, and potassium, which improves fruit flavour and disease resistance.