Snacking on juicy raspberries warm from the sun is a true joy, Plot 5 now has a raspberry bed and I can’t wait to pick the very first berries, the variety I planted on my allotment is ‘Polka’ which is autumn fruiting. Space is limited on my plot so I can only plant one type and in my experience this variety offers a long season, often cropping until the frosts.
Top Tip: A little extra effort should be afforded when preparing to plant raspberries, clear the site of perennial weeds before planting as these are difficult to control once raspberries are established due to shallow and delicate roots.
Raspberries can be planted during the dormant period between November and March provided conditions are right, avoid frozen or waterlogged soils. Separate each cane by gently teasing the roots apart, you may well find shoots beginning to form from the base of the canes or roots. Avoid deep planting, as a guide look for the soil mark on each cane (roughly 2 – 3 inches deep if you’re unsure) spreading roots out before covering over. Plant canes approximately 18 inches apart, I’m a bit naughty and squeezed mine in closer than that. Feed in spring and mulch to control weed growth and reduce the need for watering, try a 50/50 mix of compost and ericaceous compost (raspberries like a slightly acidic soil) or well rotted manure.
Autumn fruiting canes benefit from a bit of support (most books tell you only summer varieties need it), posts and parallel wire around the canes would be helpful, no need to tie canes in. To prune cut all canes down to ground level in February, autumn fruiting varieties flower and fruit on the current season’s growth, fresh spring growth will produce fruit that same year.
Raspberries are rampant when they become established sending suckers out some distance, it is difficult or perhaps impossible to prevent them popping up in unexpected places so be mindful of their position on your allotment. You could try burying roof tiles on their sides to contain them but they still find a way! Raspberries are shallow rooted which makes them easy to remove should you need to control them.
I planted my raspberry canes near a large area aimed at encouraging pollinators so it doesn’t matter so much if suckers appear, but I will be strict with the other side facing the pumpkin patch!