George says: grow mouth-watering raspberries
Whenever anyone mentions pruning alternate canes or stems, my brain tends to seize up in the way that it does if someone says “maths” or “physics”. For this reason, I have never grown soft fruit, despite my late husband’s liking for raspberries.
Given half a chance, he would have turned our whole garden in London into a huge fruit cage to grow raspberries, and being a patriotic Scot, he favoured the varieties bred in Scotland by the Scottish Plant Breeding Station, now the James Hutton Institute.
For decades, long before we had year-round raspberries from Morocco and Spain, Scottish raspberries were reputed to be the best in the world. You can tell which is a Scottish-bred raspberry variety, because their names all start with “Glen” – ‘Glen Ample’, ‘Glen Lyon’, ‘Glen Clova’ and so on. 'Glen Mor', pictured above left, is one of the newest to come on the market. None of your Sassenach Malling rubbish for us, thank you very much! (Only joking – there’s nothing wrong with the Malling varieties. Apart from the fact they're English. And the Driscolls varieties are American.)
George has managed to explain the alternate pruning in a way that even my simple brain understands, and he also gives instructions for growing raspberries in a half barrel. I’m going to try this, come autumn.
Raspberries are the king of the berries. When picked fresh, they are tasty and can be used for many purposes like jam-making, fillers for sponges, a coulis for pouring over ice cream or just a simple bowl of raspberries with cream.
You can grow raspberries in any size garden, as a row in your vegetable patch or in a half barrel tub. First you need to decide the variety of raspberry canes that you wish to plant and when they yield fruit. There are canes for all seasons - early summer, mid-summer or autumn.
The variety ‘Ruby Beauty’ is the best for growing in a half barrel and it’s also thornless. In autumn, plant four canes into John Innes no 3 compost. To support the canes, put in four 4ft bamboo canes. In the first year, the raspberry canes will establish themselves and prepare for bearing fruit in the second season. Put the pot in a nice sunny position.
For planting in a row, the early variety to use is 'Glen Clova'. Plant at intervals of 15ins in a well-drained soil, and mulch with compost or manure. Erect a post at each end of the row, then stretch a wire through, so you can tie the canes into the wire. The canes will then establish growth for fruiting in the second year.
A good mid-summer variety is ‘Malling Promise’ (left) and a reliable autumn variety is ‘Tulameen’ (below right) which produces sweet large berries, on vigorous canes. The same planting instructions apply.
Raspberry canes are subject to leaf bud blight, cane blight, and watch out for fruit fly - have the bug gun to hand. When the fruits are beginning to swell, cover the whole of the raspberry canes with netting and be sure that it is not touching the canes.
If it is, the birds will perch on the netting and steal the fruit through the holes. Don’t let them ruin your treats!
Pruning of raspberry canes takes place in the autumn, when you cut out the cane part that produced that season’s berries. The new shoots that appeared during the summer are the fruit bearing canes for the following year. After pruning, mulch the canes with compost or manure to enjoy a good harvest the following summer.
I can remember back in the 1960s at the Southport Flower Show Robinsons of Preston displayed a vast exhibit of vegetables including raspberries in a basket. They were huge and deep red in colour - no doubt specially grown for the event. But they attracted the visitors.
Raspberry Pip Boy lingered and hung around,
He was sweet but with a tartness, that juiced up your mouth, he flowered in Spring and swelled my heart up through the Summer, and I plucked him and I ate him and I begged for another.
Enjoy your raspberry treat.