Razzle Em' With Raspberries! by Angelina Jordan Item Number: article16How to Plant, Pick and Preserve This Tart Treat.
To find raspberries, you only need flip through any major women’s magazine this time of year. Long thought to be an aphrodisiac, raspberries often take center stage in collections of romantic recipes. This age-old association comes from the profuse seeds on the individual raspberry, symbolizing fertility.
The raspberry was once considered a rare delicacy and used for special occasions such as Valentine’s Day desserts. However, as we have come to recognize the increased health benefits of including raspberries in our diets, they have grown in popularity and have also increased significantly in production.
Another significant fact that has made raspberries such a popular choice is that they are perennial. By properly planting, cultivating and harvesting raspberries, you can expect to enjoy a bountiful harvest of succulent raspberries for up to 20 years from your first planting.
History of Raspberries
Wild raspberries like other berries that grow naturally were a regular staple in the diet of early man. They are thought to have originated in Asia Minor, with the Crusaders documenting this newly found fruit in their writings while traveling to Jerusalem. These early Roman travelers brought the raspberry back to Italy and began cultivation.
As the Roman Empire spread throughout Europe, so did the popularity of the raspberry. European countries such as England and France began cultivating their own raspberries in the early 1600’s. The English are with cultivating, hybridizing and improving raspberries. By the late 1700’s, they were exporting them for cultivation in the U.S.
While raspberries once thrived only in cooler regions, hybridization has made them suitable for growing in U.S.D.A. Zones 2 – 10. Compare different varieties of the raspberry to make certain that you select a variety that produces well in your area.
For best results, raspberries should be planted as early as possible in whichever zone you live. In general, this means as soon as the ground can be worked in your zone and danger of frost has passed.
Raspberries produce best when planted in a medium-loamy soil. Their preferred pH level ranges from 6.0 – 6.5. If your soil is poor or does not fall within this pH range, use organic matter such as peat moss and your own compost to enrich it. Natural materials like these also loosen the soil, which allows for better absorption of rain and deeper penetration of the raspberry plant’s roots.
Although raspberries are abundant seed producers, they perform much better when you begin with raspberry plantings rather than seeds.
Plant Depth: plant 5 – 6 inches deep.
Stakes and Cages
Like all fruit-bearing canes, raspberries are top-heavy. Even non-climbing varieties bend and can even break once the raspberries themselves appear and begin to ripen. This can result in not only lost fruit, but even in loss of the plant itself depending upon where the break is located.
Stakes and cages provide do not provide adequate support for the raspberry planting past its early growth stages. As the raspberry planting grows to full maturity, bush, it is best to use a wire trellis with a post at either end of the planting. Additional support may also be needed between the hills for some varieties of raspberries. You can provide the additional support by tying a short piece of cord or wire across the row with both ends connected to two long strands.
Raspberries love full sun, but most varieties prefer morning sun versus afternoon sun. This is particularly true if you live in warmer zones 8 – 10. Choose an area that receives as much morning sun as possible for best results in growing raspberries.
Hybridization has given us new varieties that withstand warmer temperatures much better than original varieties. There are several newer raspberry hybrids developed to produce best in partial shade. You will want to consider these varieties if you have a limited area of garden space that receives a generous amount of morning sun.
The raspberry requires more water than most other fruits to reach its maximum potential. Unless you live in an area of generous rainfall, you will need to irrigate raspberries in order to provide them with enough water. Even in areas of average rainfall, raspberries irrigated regularly produce a much better yield than those produced by non-irrigated crops.
You should begin irrigation of your raspberry crop about the same time as beginning irrigation of other crops. Provide 1 inch of water weekly during the growing season for most varieties. Add more water as needed if conditions are extremely dry, hot and/or windy.
It is essential that you irrigate raspberries
during the fruiting season. If there is a drought or dry period during the
fruiting season, provide at least 1 ½ inches of water to prevent the raspberries
from perishing at this critical time.
Raspberries are not as susceptible to common garden pests as much as other fruits. However, there are two particular insects that are attracted to raspberries and can quickly diminish your yield.
Cane Borers – larvae of the adult Japanese beetle that travels down the raspberry cane destroying it and infecting other plantings. Signs include sudden wilting near the top of new canes with further evidence indicated by slight swelling and two rings on the cane indicating the presence of a borer.
Tarnished Plant Bug – member of the beetle family that feeds on young raspberries. These pests feed only on the immature raspberries and keep them from fully developing.
Although various common plant diseases can affect raspberries, hybridization has made them increasingly resilient. Raspberries do however, have susceptibility to two particular viral diseases.
Raspberry Mosaic – large green blister-like spots or blotches surrounded by yellow tissue appear on leaves causing deformity. This stunts the cane causing the raspberries to be brittle and dry. Leaf-feeding bugs can spread this disease throughout an entire crop.
Verticicillium Wilt – wilting that begins in lower areas and ultimately leads to deterioration of the entire planting. This destructive disease is soil-borne can be avoided by not planting raspberries in areas in which you have previously planted eggplants, peppers, potatoes or tomatoes within the past three years. This disease is common among these plants and spreads easily through use of the same soil. It is also best to avoid planting raspberries close to any of these same plants.
There are four main varieties of raspberries. These include Red, Black, Purple and Everbearing Raspberries. Each of these four main categories features sub-varieties.
Red Raspberries – typically the
hardiest; also called cane berries.
Purple Raspberries – second hardiest variety; smaller berries and slower spreading plants.
Premium varieties of Purple Raspberries include Brandywine, Royalty and Success.
Black Raspberries – commonly called blackberries; only variety native to U.S.
Old-time favorites among Black Raspberries
include Darrow, Jewel and Illini.
Raspberries do not produce fruit until the second year of growth. This is why it is so important that you purchase from reputable sources to make certain that you are getting a mature planting.
In general, raspberries reach maturity at varying times from late June through mid-October. From the time fruit appears, it is usually 2-3 weeks before the raspberries ripen. The time at which your raspberries are ready depends upon the variety you plant, the care you give them and environmental conditions during the growing season. Make certain to note the maturity time indicated by the grower from which you purchase your plantings.
Raspberries should be picked when the fruit separates easily from the core, which is the receptacle at which it is attached to the planting. Black Raspberries do not separate from the core and must be judged by color and taste.
Once raspberries have ripened, they are highly perishable and must be harvested frequently. Most varieties can be harvested every other day, although daily harvesting may be required for profuse yields. Raspberries should be picked and placed in shallow containers such as flats to prevent injury to the fruit.
Picked raspberries should be cooled to just above freezing at a range of from 35-40 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature allows them to retain freshness for up to 3-7 days after being picked.
Raspberries are rich in Vitamins A and C, which has contributed to their increased popularity. These natural antioxidants help promote a healthy immune system. Studies involving heart disease and cancer indicate that raspberries are a valuable food source in maintaining a healthy body.
Since raspberries are so delicate after being picked, it is essential to know how to preserve them. This allows you and your family to enjoy delicious raspberry treats all year long.
For best results in canning raspberries, choose fruits that are ripe and uniform in color. This ensures that your finished product will be sweet and consistent.
Wash only 1-2 quarts of raspberries at a time to
protect the fruit from injury. Drain after washing and remove any remaining caps
Raspberries are fruits that freeze incredibly well. They can be frozen whole in sugar pack, syrup pack or unsweetened. Choose raspberries that are very ripe for best results in freezing. To freeze raspberries in sugar pack, simply add ¾-cup sugar to 1 quart of raspberries. Mix sugar carefully with raspberries to prevent fruit damage. Fill container leaving ½” headspace, then seal, label and freeze.
Freezing raspberries in syrup pack means freezing them in cold 50% syrup. Mix 1-cup sugar to 1-cup water and pour over raspberries in container leaving ½” headspace. Seal, label and freeze the same as with sugar pack raspberries.
To freeze whole raspberries unsweetened, simply wash and drain berries and place into containers leaving ½” headspace. Label containers and place in freezer.
For drying raspberries, choose berries that are ripe, but not overly ripe. Because of their seediness, raspberries have a slow drying time. Their dried texture is hard and similar to that of dried peas.
Before drying, wash raspberries and remove any
debris. Place individual raspberries on try and dry at lowest setting. For
optimum results in dried raspberries, puree the fruit first and then sieve to
remove seeds. This allows you to make raspberry fruit leathers or strips, which
can be placed in a blender or chopper to make fruit chips. Dried raspberry chips
make perfect toppings for both hot and cold breakfast cereals as well as mixed
in with other dried fruit snacks.