Location

Obviously the first step in planning a berry patch is site selection. Raspberries will grow and produce on many different types of soil but will be most productive on sandy loam soils well supplied with organic matter and plant nutrients. The soil should be well drained and have a pH between 5.8 and 6.5. Plant raspberries in raised beds if drainage is a problem.

They should be planted in an open site that receives at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight. Avoid planting raspberries within 300 feet of any wild blackberry or wild raspberry. Early spring planting is preferred over fall planting. Plant as soon as the soil can be properly prepared. The plants can be established either in hedgerows or using the hill system depending on the types of raspberries.

Choose a variety

Raspberries are classified as summer bearing or ever bearing. Summer bearing cultivars produce one crop in the early summer, while ever bearing cultivars can produce up to two crops a year, one crop being produced in the spring and the second crop in the fall.

They come in several different colors red, black, purple and yellow. Red is the most popular followed by black.

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"Latham" is a longtime favorite summer bearing red raspberry while Heritage is the most popular ever bearing red in the country.

Planting

Most berry plants come as bare root, soak for 24ours in water before planting. Plants should be spaced two feet apart and the rows should be 8 to 10 feet apart.

Mulching

Mulches reduce the number of weeds, add organic matter to the soil, and aid in the conservation of available moisture. Straw, bark chips, or other organic material should be applied in a 3-inch layer over the bed area. Mulches usually should be replenished each year in the spring. Fall application of mulches may increase problems with rodents.

Pruning

This is the most confusing aspect for new raspberry growers. Raspberry canes are of two types, primocanes and floricanes. Primocanes are first-year canes while floricanes are second-year fruiting canes.

Summer raspberries should be pruned twice a year, first in the spring and immediately after harvest. The spring pruning, in late March or early April, consists of removing all weak canes and cutting back tall canes (over 5 feet) to 4.5 to 5 feet. The second pruning consists of the removal of canes that produced fruits, right after harvest.

Ever bearing raspberries such as "Heritage" raspberry can be pruned to produce fruit once a year or twice a year. If you follow the pruning methods used for summer red raspberries, "Heritage" raspberries will produce fruit once in spring and once in fall. However, many home gardeners and commercial growers mow or cut all "Heritage" canes to the ground in early spring (March or April) for the sake of simplicity. "Heritage" raspberry pruned this way will produce only one crop starting in early August in USDA zones 5-6.


Supporting the Plants


A trellis can help make the crop easier to manage and keep the canes off the ground so that berries are cleaner and easier to pick. A trellis can be constructed with posts at 15 to 20 foot intervals with cross arms to support wires placed 24 to 28 inches apart (Figure 4). The wires should be about 36 inches high for red raspberries and 40 inches high for the black.

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Typical Trellis System

Fertilizing

Fertility should be maintained by two applications of a pound of a 10-10-10 fertilizer or the equivalent per 100 feet of row at 10 and 40 days after planting. For the years after planting, raspberry plants need to be fertilized twice a year. The fertilizer should be broadcast in the row area once in the spring before growth begins in March, and one more time in May. Apply 2 to 3 pounds of a 10-10-10 fertilizer per 100 feet of row in each application.

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Good luck to those of you who want to try growing your own raspberries! I also wanted to share a couple of my favorite raspberry recipes.

Peach Melba Jam

7 large, ripe peaches
1 (5-ounce) container fresh raspberries
Juice of half a lemon
1/2 vanilla bean, split
3 1/2 cups sugar
One package low- or no-sugar needed powdered fruit pectin
1/2 teaspoon unsalted butter

If you are going to preserve jam, prepare jars and lids: place 7 half-pint jars on rack in large pot. Add enough water to cover jars, and bring to boil over high heat. Boil for 10 minutes, then turn off heat and allow jars to rest in the hot water. Meanwhile, put bands and lids in small saucepan and cover with water. Heat over medium heat until the water is simmering, then remove pan from heat and allow bands and lids to rest in hot water until ready to use.

Peel, pit, and slice the peaches. Transfer them to a blender or food processor and pulse just until they are coarsely chopped. Measure 4 cups of chopped peaches into a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Put the raspberries in the food processor or blender and pulse until coarsely chopped. Measure 1 cup of crushed raspberries and add it to the pot with the peaches. Stir in lemon juice and vanilla bean.

Combine 1/4 cup of sugar with the pectin in a small bowl. Measure remaining 3 1/4 cups of sugar into a medium bowl and set aside. Stir the sugar-pectin mixture into the peaches, add the butter, and bring the mixture to a full rolling boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Stir in the remaining sugar and return to a full rolling boil. Boil hard for one minute.

Remove the pot from the stove and skim any foam from the surface of the jam with a metal spoon. Remove and discard the vanilla bean.
Ladle hot jam into hot sterilized jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe rims of the jars, cover with lids, and screw bands on until just barely tight. Place jars on rack in pot and cover completely with water. Cover pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil for 10 minutes. Turn off heat, uncover pot, and allow jars to rest in water for five minutes. Remove jars from pot and allow them to rest undisturbed on countertop for six hours or overnight.

Raspberry Cobbler

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Filling
5 cups (1 pound 10 ounces) raspberries (red, black, or a combination of the two)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt


Topping
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
3/4 cup heavy cream, plus more for brushing
sugar, for sprinkling (optional)

Directions
Make the filling: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix together raspberries, sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Pour into a 9-inch square baking dish (2 inches deep).
Make the biscuit topping: Whisk together flour, baking powder, granulated sugar, and salt. Cut in butter until largest pieces are the size of small peas. Add cream, and use a fork to incorporate, stirring just until cream is absorbed (there should be lots of loose pieces).

Turn out dough onto a clean surface, and knead once or twice, gathering loose bits into ball. Pat dough to a 1 1/4-inch thickness. Cut into 9 rough squares, and place them on top of filling. Brush with cream, and sprinkle with sanding sugar.

Bake cobbler until bubbling in center and biscuit topping is golden brown and cooked through, about 1 hour (loosely tent with foil if biscuit topping gets too dark). Let stand at least 30 minutes before serving.