Raspberries can provide delicious sweet tart fruit for fresh eating, cooking and preserves such as jams and jelly.
Raspberries come in a rainbow of colors – from yellow to red to purple to black. Only the yellow and red are hardy in Zone 3 where I garden.
How to plant raspberries
Raspberry plants can be planted in the early spring. There are a few steps you need to take prior to planting. First, enrich the soil in the planting bed with mulch or compost. Next, soak the roots of the raspberry plants in water so they have time to hydrate. Raspberry plants love water.
When you are ready to plant, dig a hole that is 3 inches more than the length of the root ball. You want to be sure all plants are spaced at least 3 feet apart, and if you are planting in rows, the rows should be at least 7 feet apart.
How to grow raspberries in containers
Growing raspberries in containers is possible. Only plant one raspberry plant per pot. Also be sure your pot is at least 18 inches deep and 18 inches wide. You will need a roomy pot in order to accommodate the raspberry plant. Be sure there are plenty of drain holes as well so moisture doesn’t accumulate.
Harvesting and Storage
Raspberries are ripe when they show good color and come off easily when picked. Daily harvesting is best, because hot sun can scald ripe berries and prolonged rains can cause them to rot.
Harvest raspberries into shallow containers, no more than three berries deep. Refrigerate picked berries immediately. Wait until you are preparing to eat or freeze raspberries to rinse them clean with cool water. To freeze, pat the rinsed berries dry with a clean towel and arrange them in a shallow pan covered with waxed paper. Place in the freezer for an hour, then transfer the frozen berries to freezer-safe containers. You can use fresh or frozen raspberries to make jams, syrups, or batches of raspberry lemonade or homemade wine.
Pest and Disease Prevention
You can prevent many problems by growing raspberries in a sunny site with fertile soil, and by keeping your plants constantly mulched with organic material. A mulch of straw, weathered sawdust, grass clippings or wood chips will suppress weeds and help maintain soil moisture. In late winter, top-dress established raspberries with a balanced organic fertilizer before renewing the surface mulch.
Raspberries can fall prey to root rot caused by verticillium wilt, so avoid growing raspberries where tomatoes, potatoes or other susceptible plants were recently grown.
If individual raspberry canes wilt, the problem is usually due to feeding by cane borer larvae. Cut back wilted canes to 6 inches below the damage to prevent further injury.
Black raspberries are a favorite food of many species of birds. Birds rarely bother yellow raspberries, but red raspberries sometimes require protection. Use tulle netting to protect your crop, which can also help protect plants from an invasion of Japanese beetles.