How to grow raspberries
The fruits of the raspberry, or to use its scientific name, of Rubus idaeus, are delicious to taste (as well as fantastic from the aesthetic point of view, by virtue of their colors), and can be used for numerous preparations: jams, fruit salads, tarts and excellent ice cream. Furthermore, nothing prevents you from freezing them, without renouncing their characteristic flavor, and then consuming them when we wish. That of raspberry is a particularly productive plant, which has the advantage of taking up little space: the only element it needs is water, which means that its cultivation is not recommended in the presence of particularly torrid climates. The fruit of the raspberry prefers airy positions and tolerates the partial shade with a certain ease, while it is sensitive to strong wind: to favor an optimal cultivation it would be better to use supports on which it can climb without difficulty.
With regard to the soil, it must be said that this plant grows without problems with any kind of substrate, even if a soil rich in nutritive and fertile elements is clearly to be preferred. It is advisable to dig it lightly, adding compost or mature manure, so as to prepare it in the best possible way for planting. In conclusion, it is useful to know that raspberries grow in fairly thick bushes, and that their roots produce numerous buds: they could give rise to new branches, not necessarily close to the original plant. This is an aspect that must be taken into account when establishing plant planting spaces. The seedlings should not be placed in depth: in this way, the new buds can reach the surface with relative ease.
Fertilization is essential to guarantee a good productivity of raspberries. It can also be said that this practice allows to better control all the growth stages of the plant and the fruits. In addition to basic fertilization, to be carried out during the soil processing phase to enrich it with organic substance, raspberries also need maintenance fertilization. This accompanies all plant growth phases and can be done with natural or mineral fertilizers. The most effective fertilization is undoubtedly the organic one. The organic fertilizer should be distributed in the autumn, burying it at the foot of the plant. Among the most suitable organic fertilizers in the cultivation of raspberries, cow manure, droppings and shredded straw. Large-scale organic fertilization is very onerous for farmers, because, for a good yield, it is also necessary to distribute a hundred quintals of fertilizer per hectare. Chemical fertilization is simpler. For raspberries, ammonium sulphate, calcium nitrate or urea are used. In this case, the doses to be administered are much lower than the organic fertilizer, not more than four quintals per hectare. Nitrogen-based chemical fertilization should be carried out in the spring so as not to compromise the growth of suckers in autumn.
The pruning of raspberry plants is very simple to perform and essentially involves the removal of the branches that have produced fruit, the elimination of weak suckers and unproductive branches and the shortening of the branches that have borne fruit. At the same time, dry, damaged or affected parts of the disease must also be eliminated. The cuts should be made at the end of winter and at the beginning of spring, to prevent the treated branches from being damaged by cold and frost. The parts to be removed change according to the raspberry variety. In fact, in the red raspberry, the fruiting shoots are those of the same year, while in the black and violet raspberries the fruiting shoots are those of the previous year. Before shortening the fruiting branches it is therefore necessary to identify those of the same year in the red raspberry and those of the previous year in the black raspberry.
Even the cultivation of raspberries involves the intervention of mulching. This practice consists of covering the ground with straw or other organic material to prevent moisture build-up, frost and weed attacks. Furthermore, with mulching, the soil is enriched with organic substances that will benefit fruit production. However, mulching causes depletion of soil nitrogen stocks, stocks that are used by bacteria to break down organic matter. To avoid nitrogen deficiency problems, it is advisable to slightly increase the dose of nitrogen to be distributed to raspberries. The recommended dose is about fifty pounds more for each hectare of cultivated area.
During the cultivation of raspberries we witness the appearance of weeds. A solution to prevent them could be to leave the wasteland for a while. However, this method is not always effective. In fact, sometimes replanting raspberries on previously uncultivated land also causes a decline in fruit production. In this case we must proceed with the weeding, that is to the elimination of foreign herbs from the plant we are growing. In small areas, weeding can also be done by manual grubbing, in large areas we must use herbicides. To save time, liquid mineral fertilizers enriched with substances with a herbicidal effect can be used. In some cases, chemical herbicides are also used. These are to be distributed only on the weeds, being careful not to damage the leaves and branches of the raspberry. Unfortunately, chemical herbicides are toxic and highly polluting to the environment. One of these, atrazine, appears to have the effect of causing hormonal dysfunction on amphibians. A study conducted in the United States has verified that some species of toads coming into contact with atrazine have developed female sexual characteristics, or have changed sex! A good method to prevent the appearance of weeds is represented by the digging of the soil with the motor hoe. In this way, the seeds of the weeds carried by the wind are buried or destroyed preventing the predators of food and the weeds from appearing to the detriment of raspberries.
As far as the timing is concerned, raspberry should be planted at the end of the autumn months, even if planting seedlings in late spring does not create problems. The seedlings should be placed at a distance of about half a meter from each other, which becomes a yardstick in the event that we decide to opt for two or more files. A curiosity: the raspberry can also be grown on the balcony, in a simple vase, and gives rise to substantial harvests. It should be noted that the fruits are born only on young branches, which means that the branches that have already fructified in autumn must be cut off at the base. At the end of summer, on the other hand, it will be time to thin out the young suckers: only the most vigorous suckers will be left, while with the removed shoots new plants can be created. As mentioned, the essential element for the cultivation of raspberries is water, which must be supplied in abundance and with regularity. The plant can be helped at the beginning of spring with compost or mature manure; throughout the year, instead, it is advisable to mulch, which is useful to promote the penetration of nutrients and at the same time maintain humidity.
Raspberry, it should not be forgotten, is a plant with a superficial root system: in short, beyond mandatory support, we must pay attention to birds, especially if the plant is in the open countryside. Better to set up a protective net in advance. As regards the varieties to be chosen, it is necessary to distinguish between the re-flowering raspberries, characterized by a scaled fruiting, and the non-flowering raspberries, which starting from June bear fruit for about four weeks. The re-flowering raspberries produce the first fruits in June, stop and leave in August, concluding the production definitively in October. On the other hand, there are also varieties that give fruits up to the appearance of the first frosts, making them particularly suitable for areas with a mild climate. It is worth specifying, with regard to the collection, that raspberries must be harvested when they are still hard but already have a beautiful bright red color.
Check the ripeness every day
The maturation must be controlled every day, to prevent the fruits from falling to the ground and favoring, by fermenting, the attacks of gray mold, unanimously considered the worst enemy of the raspberry. When you decide to grow these berries, you can indulge yourself: not everyone knows, in fact, that in addition to red raspberries there are also black varieties, called Munger, and yellow varieties, called Fallgold, and even varieties without thorns and precocious, the so-called Glen Moy. Other suggestions regarding the cultivation of raspberries concern the substrate: the soil, in fact, must adhere as much as possible to the roots, paying attention to the possible appearance of air pockets. In the presence of roots not completely enveloped by the earth, in fact, there is the risk of rapid drying due to insufficient absorption of nutrients. It is good, moreover, to position some plant guardians from the beginning: in fact, the branches, even more when they are laden with fruit, reach a considerable weight, which it would be better to support with wire and poles. The growth of raspberries is possible only when you are able to avoid water stagnation.
Cultivation of raspberries: watering
A good cultivation of raspberries also includes regular and constant watering. The right amount of water gives an excellent fruit production and a good vigor of the plant. During the first year, it is necessary to water abundantly in case of dry and dry summer. In the following years, always in case of hot and dry summer and too drained soil, watering must always be abundant. Between June and August, an average of seventeen to fifty centimeters of water must be distributed, depending on the varieties cultivated, the climate and the area of cultivation. The best ways to irrigate raspberries are sprinkling and drip. Water can be given both over the hair and underneath. The second method allows water to be distributed even during the hottest hours of the day. Sprinkler irrigation is useful when you have to water it abundantly, while in case of water scarcity it is advisable to ration it with drip irrigation.
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