Thursday, August 30, 2012

Everbearing Raspberries

Heritage Everbearing Raspberries
Sandy Grimwade

If you want a long season of delicious home-grown raspberries, you cannot do better than to plant a few canes of an everbearing variety. They will produce a large early crop on the previous year’s growth at the end of June, then start producing berries on current year growth in August and carry on until frost. Last year we had a few fresh raspberries on November 14th!

Heritage is a great variety that grows well in the Philadelphia area, but there are others that may do just as well. The canes don’t grow more than 4 – 5 feet tall and require minimal staking. A few years ago I planted 6 canes and now I have a “hedge” of raspberry canes about a foot wide and 8 feet long.

Everbearing raspberries require a slightly acidic, fertile soil, so they do well in this area. They also need good drainage. I grow mine in a slightly raised bed. Make sure they will get lots of sun, which encourages larger and sweeter fruit.  The best time to plant is in spring and the plants are not very expensive (about $24 for 6 bare-root plants).

Cultivation is quite simple. Books and articles about growing raspberries are full of jargon and make it sound complicated. Please do not be intimidated. In the spring, dozens of small shoots come up from below the ground. I thin out the weaker shoots and remove any that are outside the growing area – they sometimes appear a long way from the original plants. These fresh green canes will grow during the year and bear fruit at the tips from August onwards. The following year the bark on these canes will turn brown, and they will bear fruit along their whole length in clusters in late June. After they have fruited, cut them down to the ground to make room for current year’s new canes. It is easy to tell which canes should be left to grow and which should be cut down, as they are color-coded. “If it is brown, cut it down”.

I have had no disease problems with these raspberries, unlike some other varieties. The only problem has been catbirds, who seem to like the June crop of berries as much as I do.

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