An altogether delightful fruit, with a refreshingly acid taste, the raspberry is always in demand for dessert, jam and tarts. The chief need of the plants is moisture; given that they crop heavily. Some shade is not objected to; indeed, they are the better for it if planted in light and naturally thirsty soil.
Ready for Use. Ripe fruits are available from late July onwards, until frost comes, according to variety and weather.
Varieties. There are autumn-fruiting as well as summer-fruiting varieties, and treatment of the two classes differs as explained later under pruning.
The summer fruiters include Red Cross, one of the most reliable, and early; Lloyd George, a particularly strong grower; Norfolk Giant, a very heavy cropper, specially suitable for preserving; Pyne’s Royal, big berries excellent for dessert. These are all red fruited. Yellow varieties include Yellow Antwerp, @ r Magnum Bonum, Lord U>K Lambourne.
The autumn fruiters include Hailsham, big, sweet and a heavy cropper; October Red; November Abundance; Queen Alexandra. These are all red. A good yellow variety is October Yellow.
The site of a row should be prepared by digging a yard-wide strip 18 in. deep, working in old stable or farmyard manure or hop manure or rotted greenstuff into the top 9 in. (not deeper, the raspberry being a shallow-rooting plant) if the soil is poor and light.
If the ground is very heavy it should be lightened by digging in plenty of sand, sharp grit, or charred woody material from the garden bonfire, and strawy manure if available.
When and How to Plant.
October is the most suitable period, but planting may be done up to March in the absence of frost and when the ground is not too wet.
Rows should run north and south, if possible, to ensure both sides of each row receiving maximum sun. Quickest method is to take out a continuous trench, spade blade wide and about 6 in. deep. Roots are placed about 1 ½ ft. apart in the shallow trench, and covered with the excavated soil, this then being made firm by treading. The rows should be about 5 ft. apart.
Wires strained between end posts should be provided for support, lower wire 2 ft. from the ground, upper wire 4 ft. The canes (shoots) can then be spaced out evenly and tied securely.
Watering and Feeding.
As size and quality of the crop depends largely on an adequate water supply, rows should be soaked thoroughly once a week in dry weather from spring onwards. A layer of old manure, or hop manure, put down wet over the area occupied by roots, will supply extra nourishment and help to retain moisture down below. Or lawn mowings or any rough cut grass can be used, not as a food but to prevent the shallow roots being dried in hot weather.
Food can be given through the grass mulch in the form of liquid manure made with one of the general purpose artificial fertilizers, this feeding to start from the time the berries begin to swell.
Weeds should be hand picked or hoed up. Neither fork nor spade should be used close to a row, or shallow roots may be injured.
Both summer-fruiting and autumn-fruiting varieties should be cut down to a good bud within about 6 in. of the ground after planting. In subsequent years pruning of the two kinds differs as follows.
The summer fruiters produce berries on canes of the previous year’s growth. As soon as possible after the fruit has been gathered, the fruited canes are cut down close to the ground; weakly new canes also are cut hard back. The strong new growths remaining are tied back to the wires, replacing the old ones that have been removed; they will produce the following summer’s fruit.
The autumn-fruiting varieties (O3 D) produce their berries on canes of the current year’s growth, and each February canes are cut to near ground level. The roots throw up new canes which will bear fruit in the autumn. These are tied to the wires as they lengthen.
Canes of established plants should be thinned out yearly to about 8 in. apart in the row.
Sucker growths are thrown up freely between rows. These can be dug up with a spade, complete with their own roots, during October and onwards through winter, and transplanted to where they are to remain and fruit. This is a particularly easy – and costless – method of replacing old plants which show signs of exhaustion. But suckers should be taken only from thoroughly healthy plants. To propagate from any unhealthy plants is to propagate trouble.
Grubs of small beetles (the raspberry beetle) sometimes infest the fruit. The egg-laying beetles can be collected by shaking the foliage, on a dull day or during evening, over a board smeared with grease or old motor oil. The beetles which fall on to the sticky surface can then be disposed of. This should be repeated at intervals during May and June. A quicker plan is to spray or dust the plants thoroughly with Derris insecticide three weeks after the flower petals have fallen.
Withered Shoot Ends.
Small red grubs of the raspberry moth may burrow into the tips of shoots and cause these to wither and die in early May. Affected shoots should be picked off and burned. with the grubs inside.
Another trouble which is knowi. as blue stripe wilt disease sometimes attacks the fruiting canes, buds either failing to open or producing little growth. Wilting and death of affected canes follows. Inspection shows them to be studded with black specks – one stage of development of the fungus responsible. The new, unfruited, canes show blue stripes, which appear also on the leaves. The latter wither and die, and the attacked canes follow suit later on. They should be grubbed out and burned, roots and all – every piece of root that can be found – and their places filled, after the soil has been deeply dug, with healthy plants.
When mosaic disease is present the raspberry leaves become curled and mottled and the canes are dwarfed. The crop of berries is very seriously reduced and no new canes shoot up. To prevent mosaic disease spreading to other and healthy plants all that are affected should be dug up and burned.
The variety Red Cross is resistant to this particular trouble, and Lloyd George is very susceptible to it.
To avoid trouble, cheap job-lots of raspberry plants, without any sort of guarantee as to their health, should be avoided. In the end the cheapest and most profitable plants are those purchased from a grower of high standing with a reputation to maintain.
Gathering the Fruit. Raspberries are completely ripe when they part readily from the small plug or core. They may be left until that stage is reached if required for kitchen purposes. But for dessert purposes they should be picked just before they are completely ripe, with short stalk attached. Picking should be done on a dry day. Berries soon go off if gathered wet.
Preserving Raspberries. There is no method of storing the berries in the natural state, but they can be dealt with very simply as explained in the section EASY HOME PRESERVATION OF FRUITS.
Preparing for Table. Berries gathered as advised – dry, clean, with stalk attached and not yet at the squashy stage – need no preparation for dessert. This is an acid. fruit, very welcome as a cooling dessert and excellent for those with rheumatic or gouty tendencies. It contains some vitamin C.