Tuesday, September 8, 2009

raspberries!

Raspberries are a great addition to the edible landscape.
Last week I harvested the first of the raspberries...15 to be exact. They were beautiful and delicious! From the looks of the plants there will be a lot more to harvest in the coming days. There are two varieties of raspberries in the Edible Landscape this year, Autumn Britten and Caroline, both primocane bearing raspberries. More about that in a minute. According to U of M variety trials, Autumn Britten is a fairly hardy, early season variety with good productivity. It produces large, attractive, firm fruit with excellent flavor that freezes well. Caroline is a later variety which is also fairly hardy. It is a good producer of large, attractive, relatively firm fruit with very good flavor that freezes well. There are many other varieties that can be grown in Minnesota, and the U of M conducts variety trials on these and many other fruits. The results of these trials, and a wealth of other information can be found on the U of M Commercial Fruit website.

Now, Raspberries 101. There are two main types of raspberry plants: "floricane-bearing" (aka. "summer-bearing") and "primocane-bearing" (aka. "ever-bearing" or "fall-bearing"). Floricane-bearing raspberries have fruit only on the second-year canes. This means the canes grow only vegetatively for the first year. In the second year, these canes produce flowers which then become fruit in the summer. These canes then die. Primocane-bearing raspberries can produce fruit on the first-year canes as well as on second year canes. Fruit on the first year canes will be ready in the fall, after the second-year canes have finished up their summer crop...hence "ever-bearing". Make sense? If not, keep reading and you'll be directed to some helpful links.

You have to be a little careful when growing fall-bearing raspberries in Minnesota because our occasional early frosts can wipe out an entire crop. However, if you prune them correctly, you can get a nice harvest in summer and another in fall, hopefully before the frost hits. Pruning is essential to maintaining a controlled raspberry patch, especially in an edible landscape. Trellising will also help keep raspberries under control. Be creative with trellising and it will even add an ornamental aspect to your landscape. However, if the natural, rambling, thickety raspberry patch is your thing, by no means let me dissuade you. Except for this one thing...you might be inclined to pick a lot more if they're easy to access and relatively tidy. With that said, raspberries are a wonderful treat in the edible landscape, offering height, texture and color to your design in addition to all that delicious fruit! Click here to learn How to Grow Raspberries in the Home Garden.

Other helpful tips on growing raspberries and using them in the landscape can be found at the following links:
Raspberries in the Home Garden (Cornell Univ.)
Raspberry Diseases (U of M Extension)
Raspberry Insect Pests (U of M Extension)
Small Fruits for the Home Landscape (Colo. State Univ.)

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