How to Grow Raspberries

August 3rd, 2008

I’ve blogged about raspberries many times before, which you’ll see in the “related posts” links at the bottom of this post. But I don’t know if I ever really went into depth as to how I grow them. In anycase, now is the time.

Tall RaspberriesFirst, a little bragging. This picture was taken like the second week in July. I picked my first raspberry on July 5th and within a week I was harvesting a quarter pound a day or more from this 8’x4′ patch. What I want to show off though is the height. Look at those canes. That one big one in the middle has to be 8 feet tall atleast, and it has grown more since I took this picture. I’ll need a ladder to harvest.

Anyways, as you can see in my other blog posts linked to below, I grow my raspberries in a raised bed. This is because they spread with underground runners. This is both a good and a bad thing. They spread so rapidly that you can get a large planting in no time, and you can dig up the runners and give them to friends. On the other hand, they can take over and start growing in areas they do not belong. So, I put them in raised beds, now I’ve got pipe culverts buried slightly into the soil (click the link, those are the same exact plants, 2 years early, crazy huh? also, my hardy kiwi on the fence behind them has grown a lot as well), and I had those for a year, then I got the plastic faux rock raised bed stuff to put around them to make them look nicer (the culverts are still there, just hidden), and I backfilled with lava rock. This keeps them well enough contained so I don’t get runners going into nearby areas (though sometimes a fallen berry still germinates).

Many places I’ve seen say raspberries product only on new wood and to cut them back every year. This makes no sense to me, all mine produce on both new and old wood. One year old canes start producing in July, new growth canes start producing in August usually, that is for me here in Zone 5. If I cut them back every year I’d have to wait until August to get any berries, and would miss a whole month of .25 or .5 pounds per day of harvests.

Now, the 1 year old canes are slightly less productive their second year, but they still produce, and that is kinda crazy if you think about it. The volume of berries I’m getting now is so high.. and since it is all 1 year old canes it isn’t even peak yet.

Two year old canes always die for me, so ya, cut those back. You’ll be able to well in fall or very early spring which ones are dead and need removal.

Raspberries are expensive at the store because they do not ship well and so they’re one of the most money saving crops you can grow at home. They are relatively carefree, will take drought and poor soils fine. The berries are prone to rot in damp conditions though so they may not be appropriate for areas with heavy rainfall. Full sun is best, but part sun will work. The only pest I’ve ever noticed on them is japanese beetles, which are easy to control once you identify them as your problem. If they need water they’ll let you know with slightly droopy leaves, but that rarely happens thanks to their well established perennial bush root system. As for fertilizer, I started mine off with good soil, but I don’t fertilize them at all. The thorns also keep all but the most desperately hungry deer or rabbits away.

Raspberries are extremely healthy to eat, put them in cereal, smoothies, make sauces and jams and jellies and crisps and pies. I’m canning this year for the first time simply because of the volume of berries I have.

Raspberries are so healthy, so hardy, so easy, in fact that I think they should be grown in vacant lots in inner cities to provide a source of fresh fruit to needy families. Why not? The land is there. Stick them on road medians, anywhere, everywhere, feed America, one berry at the time. You can even make a tea out of the leaves.

So, maybe I’m a little crazy about them, but they are the best food crop I’ve ever grown.

15 Responses to “How to Grow Raspberries”

  1. Mrs. Greenhands  Says:

    Wow – thanks for the info on raspberries! I have blackberries and grapes, but I’d love to start a raspberry patch.

  2. James  Says:

    Hi – Looks like you’ve done well from your raspberries! I wanted to seek your advice – I have a large fruit cage (approx 8 feet by 20 feet)and it has a net ceiling about 7.5 feet high. My new, non-fruiting canes are reaching the ceiling and I want to cut them back down – what do you recommend in order to keep them strong to fruit next year?

    I also have a serious cane sprawling problem, so will have to remove a large number of canes soon – it is like a jungle!

    Any thoughts much appreciated.


  3. Eric Bronson  Says:

    Wow, lucky you, I love raspberries. There are some temperate things I wish I could grow here!

  4. NAOMI  Says:

    WOW–i’m jealous! I love to grow anything in our backyard that i can harvest for food. We planted 3 raspberries a yr ago and 2 only barely survived. Now the leaves are curling up and drying with one of the plant leaving white powdery substance on its leaves. HELP– on how i can save them and have them grow more vigorously and ensure fruit harvest for next year.

  5. James Mann  Says:

    Raspberries are my most favorite berry. They take me back to childhood, before I went to foster care. My granddad took care of them like they were his children and it paid off.

    This is the first year I have planted raspberries on our new property but I didn’t realize that raspberries have runners.

    I did plant my strawberries in a raised bed for that reason.

    I guess I will take the raspberries back up and plant them in our other raised bed.

    Thanks for the great information.

  6. Steve Seideman  Says:

    I wanrt to plant raspberries that are stalks versus those that are weeping/running. How do I know which varieties produce sticks or vines.???

  7. Administrator  Says:

    There is only one type Steve.

  8. C Mettler  Says:

    I live in the Denver area, and my raspberries hardly produce any berries at all. I have had these plants for many years, they stay alive, but do not produce. They receive water from the lawn sprinkler every other day. What is wrong?

  9. Administrator  Says:

    do they get sun? Do they have adequate soil?

  10. Theresa  Says:

    I also love raspberries and mine are doing great. unfortunately, I had my first japanese beetle sighting yesterday. I was going to try netting the berries. I thought I would tent over them and then put a net over the “tent”. Has anyone else tried this? What kind of net did you use?

  11. Pam  Says:

    My berries look ripe, but are not sweet and flavorful. They are bit early even, but they are not getting their usual dark red, and lack taste. I’m only picking the ones that are easy to pull off the stems, and there are many not ready. I waited an additional couple of days, but now the ones that appeared ripe are falling off the stems, so I really think they are ready. Have you every experienced this with your berries? Our spring and summer so far has been coolish here in Portland. Is it heat they need to develop their sugar? Just FYI,These are Canbys in their 3rd year. Before them, I had Heritage in that spot for about 15 years.

  12. Gail  Says:

    My brother-in-law is going to give me some raspberry starter this fall, and I am excited to try to grow them! This was a very helpful blog and I will be returning to it for more information. This was my first year gardening, so I am still a beginner and enjoy learning all I can, specifically about growing vegetables and herbs, but also now to include fruit like raspberries. Thanks for a well-organized and informative blog!

  13. Vali Hewitt  Says:

    I have the same problem as #11 that my raspberries this year have no taste, flavor and sweetness to them. They are huge and ripe but not sweet at all. I have never had raspberries in my 50 years of growing them that have been like this.We have had what I think is the perfect year for growing them

  14. Susan  Says:

    My radpberries are now two years old and starting to produce. But the fruit is not sweet. Advise?

  15. Administrator  Says:

    Are you letting it get ripe? Also you do know raspberries are on the tart side of fruit right? Generally raspberries are ripe when they’re soft, dark, and easily pull off. Most supermarket ones are picked unnripe and never get as good because fully ripe berries have a super short shelf life (two days, tops, unless you freeze them, even in the fridge).

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