Sunday, 18 February 2018

Grow Your Own Raspberries: The 80 Minute Allotment

Grow your own raspberries The 80 Minute Allotment Green Fingered Blog
Growing your own raspberries is a great idea for those of us with restricted space (they grow vertically) and limited time (they're pretty low maintenance), making them ideal for The 80 Minute Allotment! Get them in the ground now and you could be picking fruit later this year.


In the right conditions, raspberries can be pretty much planted, left alone, picked and then pruned ready for next year. They really don't need too much looking after apart from making sure they don't fall over! 

The same applies to loganberries, blackberries, tayberries, and other hybrids, if you are planning on growing these.

If like me you're short of time, they're a good option. 

I'm growing fruit and veg in an average of 80 minutes a week on my allotment. If you've also got limited time to grow your own, then come and visit me regularly on the 80 Minute Allotment. 

Click here to Subscribe by Email and you'll get regular updates on how I use my time, in short sessions of one to two hours. I'll show you how growing your own can fit into a busy lifestyle and still produce regular harvests of fresh fruit and vegetables all year round. 

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Grow Your Own Raspberries

The best time to plant raspberries is in winter or early spring. I've left it a bit late but they should still have plenty of time. The worst that could happen is that they'll fruit later than they would have done if I'd planted them earlier. But if you're going to plant your own, don't hang about, get them in as soon as you can. 

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Choosing raspberry varieties

Raspberries can be divided broadly into two groups:

Autumn fruiting raspberries - these are the easiest to look after, you just cut them almost to the ground in late winter and let them grow again in spring.

Summer fruiting raspberries - these need selective pruning once a year. You cut out the stems that carried the fruit you've picked, and leave the others. 


I've got room for 6 plants, so I'm growing 3 summer and 3 autumn. My summer varieties are Malling Admiral, Malling Jewel and Tullameen.  My Autumn varieties are Polka and Autumn Bliss (x2).

I chose them from lists of recommended varieties I've seen. I was looking for heavy cropping varieties that produce large fruits.

My main source for this is the RHS Encyclopedia of Gardening. It's an extremely comprehensive and practical guide to all aspects of gardening but particularly for checking which conditions suit plants best. It's really useful for checking what fruit and vegetables need, and the tables containing lists of varieties in various categories are a reliable way of deciding which ones to go for.
  


What conditions to raspberries need?


Raspberries need a fairly sunny position that's sheltered from the wind. This should make them ideally suited to my plot here in Cardiff, where there's a bit of shade and I hardly ever have to do any watering! 

They also do better in a rich and moist soil that's well drained. It's a good idea to add some well rotted manure or compost to the soil before planting raspberries.

I dug a trench about 30cm deep, and added some manure to the bottom. I mixed it in a bit with a fork and then covered it over and left it for a week before I planted my raspberries. This should give them plenty to feed on.
Grow your own raspberries The 80 Minute Allotment Green Fingered Blog
Trench dug. Add manure and fill in.
This is really all you need to do to prepare the ground for raspberries. If your plot is dry, give it a bit of water beforehand too.

Build post and wire supports for raspberries

Raspberries need some support to keep them upright, especially summer fruiting varieties. A simple post and wire arrangement is all you need. Hammer a post into the ground at each end of the row, and fix some wire between them. 

I try and use recycled wood for any structures on The 80 Minute Allotment. For the raspberries, I used the struts from a broken bed! I dug a small hole, dropped them in and filled in around them with earth and then hammered them in further with a rubber mallet.
Grow your own raspberries The 80 Minute Allotment Green Fingered Blog
Push in a post at each end of your row of raspberries

I hammered nails into each post, starting about 30cm from the ground and then every 30cm upwards, to a height of about 150cm, so that 5 wires can be fixed between the posts. 
Grow your own raspberries The 80 Minute Allotment Green Fingered Blog
Bang in a nail and attach wire
I put in a second pair of posts parallel to the first pair, about 30cm apart. The raspberries will be planted between the two sets of posts, supported on each side when they grow tall enough.
Grow your own raspberries The 80 Minute Allotment Green Fingered Blog
Plant the raspberries between two parallel sets of posts and wires
That's all the preparation you need to do before planting raspberries - add some muck to the ground and put in some posts and wires.

Planting raspberries

Plant your raspberries before you put the second lot of wires in place - it makes life a lot easier! They need about 45cm (18in) between each plant, so I spaced them out in their pots until i was happy they all had enough room.
Grow your own raspberries The 80 Minute Allotment Green Fingered Blog
Raspberries spaced out ready to plant
I planted them slightly nearer the wire farthest from the path, to make it easier to pick them. I'll need a net around and over them to stop the birds eating them all, and the net will obviously be around the outside of the bed, and I'll go inside the fruit cage to pick them from the other side. 

If the net is big enough to allow you to move around inside it makes life a lot easier. 

You could buy a cage system and netting from your garden centre, but I prefer to use whatever I can get my hands on to protect my crops, though I did have to buy the actual netting. I'll just attach the net to the top of the raspberry support posts when they start forming fruit. There are already posts around all my beds for this purpose. For now they don't need to be covered.


After spacing out the raspberries, I planted them all by digging a hole and planting them to the same depth they were in their pots. I watered them in and now will just wait for new shoots to appear from the base.
Grow your own raspberries The 80 Minute Allotment Green Fingered Blog
Raspberries planted - now we just wait

As the canes grow, I'll tie them in to the wires to hold them upright and keep them stable. I shouldn't need to do anything else apart from remove any weeds. If you're in a drier area, water regularly to keep the soil moist (but not waterlogged). Here in Cardiff I may not even need to do that, at least not until the summer.

If you've got any tips for growing raspberries, do share them. And if you prefer loganberries, or tayberries, or something else, tell me why. Whatever you're planting this week, good luck! 

Other jobs on The 80 Minute Allotment this week:

  • I've been sawing various bits of wood. Some will become plant labels and some will be supports for peas and beans. More on these soon.

  • I harvested the last of this years leeks. Delicious sliced and fried with potatoes and mushrooms!

Leek harvest Grow your own 80 Minute Allotment Green Fingered Blog
The last few leeks this season
  • I dug in the manure I spread a few weeks ago on to part the onion bed. I want it well mixed in before planting the onions. The worms had done most of the work, and I just finished off mixing it into the soil.
  • I've sown the first batch of broad beans in small pots indoors. I actually used recycled jelly pots. I want to avoid buying any new plastic pots this year. These will take a couple of weeks to germinate, and will be planted out when its much warmer outside, probably in April. I'll sow some more in the ground direct then too. 

Sowing Broad beans Grow your own 80 Minute Allotment Green Fingered Blog
Recycle jelly pots for sowing seeds
I hope you managed to find a bit of time to grow your own this week too. Come back to The 80 Minute Allotment soon to see what I'm doing next.






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