Raspberries can be expensive at the market, and they seem to turn to much almost as soon as you get them home. Why not try growing your own? They're easy to grow, taste incredible when picked fresh from the garden, and you'll save some money, too!
Where to Grow Raspberries
Raspberries are hardy in zones 3 through 8. They are best planted in an area where they will receive full sun, but will still produce well with partial shade. They prefer soil that is of average fertility, moist, and well-drained. Garden soil amended with plenty of compost or composted manure is usually perfect to grow raspberries.
You can purchase raspberries as bare-root stock in late winter through early spring, or as potted plants throughout the growing season. If you are starting from bare root plants, it is best to plant the roots in late winter, while the plant is still dormant. Potted raspberries can be planted in spring or fall.
When planting container-grown raspberries, plant them at the same depth that they were growing in the containers. To plant bare root raspberries, you'll want to follow the instructions that come with your roots; generally, you'll be instructed to dig a hole about a foot deep, place the roots in the hole, and backfill. If you're unable to plant your bare root plants right away, place them in the refrigerator until you're able to plant; this will ensure that they stay dormant.
A good guideline for raspberries is to give each plant at least 3 square feet of space; they spread quite a bit.
You can try growing raspberries in containers. Just make sure that the container is at least 18 inches deep, and that it's made of material that can withstand winter outdoors (the plants need a nice long dormant period to fruit well the next year.) Place your containers near a fence or install trellises so you can train the branches so they're more manageable.
How to Grow Organic Raspberries
Raspberries are quite easy to grow once they get established. The oldest canes should be pruned out every year in late winter to allow for more productive canes to have plenty of room. Mulch, such as straw or grass clippings, should be applied to keep the soil moist, and they'll require about an inch of water per week during the growing season.
Raspberries benefit from fertilizing in early spring and again when fruit production starts. Compost or manure tea or a foliar feed of fish emulsion works well for this. You can also side-dress the plants with composted manure in early spring. Keep the area around the plants weeded while the plants are getting started in the spring; once they're going strong, they'll do a decent job of shading out any upstart weeds in the area.
You can let raspberries grow naturally, but to keep them under control, you'll want to install a strong trellis so you can tie the canes to it throughout the growing season. This also makes it much easier to harvest your berries.
Raspberry Pests and Problems
Raspberries have very few pests or diseases. Your main chores will be keeping the canes under control and keeping the berries harvested in a timely manner. Occasionally, aphids can be a problem; just blast them off of your plants with a spray of water from the hose. Yellow jackets can also become pests if you are lax about harvesting and there is rotting fruit left on the branches.
There are two basic types of raspberries: everbearing and summer-bearing. Summer-bearing varieties are more dependable in areas where you have a short growing season. Ever-bearing raspberries bear fruit in the first fall of growth on new canes, and again the following year, so if you live in an area in which you have a long, temperate fall, ever-bearing would give you the most bang for your buck.