The Raspberry Patch

    • Bare root fruit trees, grape and berry vines, and ornamental trees and shrubs are still available and ready to plant.
    • Roses should be pruned if you haven’t done so already. Remove all old leaves on and around the bushes and spray with Neem oil to prevent early pest and disease problems.
    • Plant peas in well-drained soil for a spring crop. Protect from birds with bird netting or lightweight row cover.
    • Spring vegetables can be planted now from nursery starts. Begin your garden with broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, spinach, chard and onions. It pays to grow your own!
    • Deciduous Clematis vines can be cut back to about waist height, to encourage bushiness, more flowers and a nicer looking vine. Do this now before the new growth starts.

The Raspberry Patch

The delicate unique flavor of raspberries make them a favorite with fruit lovers. Growing a raspberry patch in your yard is easy. There is very little maintenance and you are rewarded with succulent berries year after year. By planting different varieties that bear at different times, you can have a steady supply of fresh raspberries all summer long.

Raspberries can be divided into two groups based on the season in which they produce fruit. Everbearing varieties produce fruit in the summer as well as the fall, while summer-bearing varieties only produce fruit in the summer. Raspberry plants can also be divided into categories by color: red, yellow, purple and black.

Summer-bearing red raspberries include Willamette, which is the earliest to bear with dark red fruit and a rich and slightly tart flavor. Canby also bears in the summer with light red fruit that are medium to large, firm, sweet and excellent for fresh use and processing.

Everbearing raspberries include Amity, Heritage and Bababerry. Amity has large, firm, dark red berries with classic raspberry flavor and superior quality, and almost no spines. Heritage is the traditional standard for fall fruiting raspberries. It has large, sweet, dark red berries with a mild flavor. These berries are superb for freezing and delicious for table use. Bababerry has large, soft red berries up to 1-inch, and is highly regarded for flavor. It is an excellent producer, and tolerates summer heat better than other raspberries.

Yellow raspberries are less common than the other two types but produce berries that are just as sweet and large. Most yellow raspberries are fall-ripening including Fall Gold, which ripens 10 days before the Heritage fall crop. Its fruit is medium-sized, yellow with a pink blush, soft, but with extremely sweet golden berries that are excellent for eating fresh or processing.

Purple raspberries are cultivars with both red and black raspberries in their genetics which produce uniquely flavored fruit. They are extremely vigorous and often show added disease and insect resistance. As the fruit ripens it changes color from red to purple. Royalty has a large, reddish-purple berry with soft, but sweet, flavor. It is a favorite for making jams and adding to pies.

Black raspberries, or Black Caps, produce fruit on arched or trailing canes. New canes are not produced from old roots; instead, they develop from the base of old canes. Black raspberries are preferred by chefs because the fruit tends to be sweeter. Munger is a small, blue-black berry with good flavor that ripens in July.

Raspberries need well-drained soil that is somewhat acidic and at least 6 to 8 hours of sun a day. Plant vines 2-3 feet apart in rows 4-6 feet apart, and construct a simple trellis system to keep the vines upright for easy harvesting. A summer mulch will help keep the area weed-free, retain moisture and keep the soil cooler.

Prune summer red raspberries after harvest by removing the canes that bore fruit. Fall-ripening varieties bear on new canes that grow in the summer. After fruiting, either cut these canes to the ground, or remove the portion that fruited and leave the lower canes to produce next spring.

Once everything is in place, your raspberry patch will provide you with many years of savory satisfaction.

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