Home Fruit Gardening; Cultivate Wild Raspberries at Home

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     Maybe you remember the tasty raspberries you ate from the wild as a kid. Or maybe you know raspberries as the source of the purple stains on your children’s hands, clothes, and mouths. Growing and cultivating these wild raspberries is really simple. Here is what needs to be done in order to improve crop yield and restore order to a berry patch.

     What area is best for growing raspberry plants? They prefer a mostly sunny to partially shaded area that is on the moist side but not sopping wet or bone dry. They will grow almost anywhere, but adding organic matter and fertilizer will greatly improve the yields. An area off to the side would be ideal for the plants if the image is a matter of concern, as raspberries can look a little ugly at times. But then again if you really pride yourself in all the food that you grow, then the purple or sometimes yellow raspberry canes can be complimentary to the landscape.

     The first step is to procure the wild raspberries. Do you have raspberries growing wild in the backyard? Or does a friend or relative have some growing? Wild raspberries are easy to spot, just look for arching, purple vines that are thorny. Wild raspberries grow from two to four feet high, then arch over and sometimes root into the earth.

    There are five varieties of berry plants you may encounter in your searches. Red Raspberries have purple-red canes that arch but are generally more upright. Red raspberry bears red berries in June, however yield is thin and the berries don’t always fill out. I would recommend a cultivated variety if you are looking to grow red raspberries. Black Raspberries have the arching purple canes. This is the most common variety of raspberry and it bears black berries prolifically in early summer. The third type of wild raspberry plant is a variety of raspberry that looks like a black raspberry with orange berries. This plant has the yellow canes throughout the winter, which turn to purple in April.

     The fourth variety of berry is Wine berry, which has fuzzy, dull red canes. Wine berry bears bland, red berries and is banned as an invasive species in some states. And last but not least are Blackberries. A very desirable plant, the Blackberry grows to six feet tall and produces heavy yields of berries towards late summer. Blackberries, unfortunately, are more invasive so they should be grown separately from the raspberries lest they crowd out the raspberries.

     Prune the vines you are to transplant to three to four feet in order to minimize the transplant shock. Then using a spade, dig the plants; leaving a ball of soil that should be about a foot big.  Plant the plants about two to three feet apart in rows that are six feet apart, or plant them all in one straight line. Leaves or wood chips make suitable mulch, if so desired. Water the raspberry plants thoroughly once a week until the plants are established. The raspberry plants will be a little stunted for the first year as the root system gets re-established. By the second summer, the plants should be back to their normal, vigorous growth habits.

     To maintain law and order in the raspberry patch, this simple pruning schedule will go a long way. When the new raspberry canes are four feet high, remove all but the strongest canes. There should be no more than two canes per foot. Remove the tips of the remaining canes. That will force the plant to branch out rather than flop over. When the branches that emerge from the stem are about two feet long, trim these back so that only about six leaves remain on these side branches. Whatever shoots grow from these branches will grow freely until late fall, when they too, will be pruned back leaving only six buds on each. Also, when the fruiting canes are done bearing berries, they will die. Prune away all the fruiting canes when the berry season is over, usually by mid to late July. Wear gloves and long sleeves to protect you from the thorns.

      So with a weekend of initial work and then basic minimal care, you and your family can enjoy a yearly crop of tasty, delicious, 100% organic berries.


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