Berry Bliss: Cultivating Delicious Raspberries at Home

Guest post by Katrina & Clayton

Raspberries are one of the most popular fruits to grow in Scotland, thanks to their ability to adapt to the cooler climate they grow really well across Scotland. If you ever wanted to add fruit to your garden this is the one I would choose. They are bought as canes ready to plant straight into your ground to start your production of raspberries. Look out for locally grown ones so they are adapted to the Scottish climate.

The primary edible part of the raspberry plant is the fruit, but the leaves can also be used to make herbal teas. Raspberry leaf tea is reputed to offer health benefits, including digestive relief and anti-inflammatory properties.

Growing Raspberries in Scotland

Raspberries thrive in the Scottish climate, particularly due to the cooler summer temperatures that help enhance their flavour and growth. They require a position in full sun to partial shade, with protection from strong winds which can damage canes and reduce pollination by bees. There are different varieties including Early Season, Mid Season, Autumn and Late Season and different fruiting varieties too, Summer-Fruiting and Autumn Fruiting.

Planting Raspberries

The best time to plant raspberry canes is between November and March, during the dormant season, though it’s crucial to avoid times when the ground is frozen or overly wet. You will find knowledgeable nurseries will only sell canes during the time they can be planted, some may even have some for sale now. If you’ve missed this season, plan and get your ground ready for planting in

Growing Raspberries

New raspberry canes, planted into raised beds and growth a few months later

Soil Preparation:

Raspberries prefer rich, well-drained soil with a pH between 5.5 and 6.5. Before planting, enrich the soil with plenty of organic matter such as Caledonian Topsoil, this will improve soil fertility and drainage, vital for healthy growth.

Planting Technique:

There are 2 ways to do this if you are planting in the ground.

Dig a trench
18in (40cm) wide
6in  (15cm) deep
18in (45cm) apart
6ft (2m) apart in rows

Spread the roots out in the trench and cover firmly with soil, ensuring that the roots are just below the surface. Water well after planting. Make sure the canes are not planted any deeper than 4in (10cm), 3in (7.5cm) is an optimum depth.

Make a mound
18in (40cm) wide
6in  (15cm) high
18in (45cm) apart
6ft (2m) apart in rows

Spread the roots out over the mound and cover firmly with soil, ensuring that the roots are just below the surface. Water well after planting. Make sure the canes are not planted any deeper than 4in (10cm), 3in (7.5cm) is an optimum depth.

Either way you can cover with straw or leave it bare. We created a mound so as not to disturb the soil with far less physical work. We found laying the roots over the mound as opposed to trying to fit them into a ditch was easier for us. We also have ours in narrow raised beds, allowing them to spread along them filling the space.

Dividing Raspberries

Raspberry plants do not typically require dividing as they propagate through suckers, which are new shoots that grow from the plant’s roots. To manage plant size and encourage healthy growth, remove excess suckers each year, leaving only the strongest shoots.

Pruning Raspberries

Pruning is vital for maintaining plant health and increasing fruit production. Raspberries come in two types: summer-fruiting and autumn-fruiting, each requiring different pruning techniques.

Summer-Fruiting: After fruiting, cut all canes that have produced fruit back to ground level, leaving new canes to grow and produce fruit the following year.

Autumn-Fruiting: Prune all canes back to ground level in late winter before growth begins in spring. This encourages strong new canes to develop, which will fruit in the autumn.

Pruning and Training in May

According to RHS, May is a good time to go check on your cane’s progress. Prune out unwanted shoots on all raspberries if too many new canes are allowed to develop as with strawberry runners more energy will be put into developing these new canes then into fruit production. Thick crowded rows are difficult to care for and the fruits will receive less ripening sunshine. The more air that can circulate around the plants the less likelihood there is of them being attacked by disease. The canes that are left will also be more sturdy because they have more light and room to develop.

Growing Raspberries

Old discoloured canes, fresh growth on healthy canes, before pruning old canes out

Pruning Floricane Fruiting Raspberries

They should be pruned and trained as soon as you finish harvesting the crop but can be done through to Spring, as you can see ours have started budding up so needed doing to get the space, light and air around the base for the best production.

This means removing all of the year before’s wooden growth to make room for more canes to grow up through the middle for next year’s fruit. You do this by cutting the old wooden stems down to the ground. You can see the difference between the old and new, the older ones start to discolour and become more grey in appearance and are brittle. The new ones may have buds like ours, they will be a healthy light brown older and be bendy.

Growing Raspberries

Before being pruned, after pruning and re-mulching, growth coming up the centre

Caring for Raspberries

Watering: Raspberries require consistent moisture throughout the growing season, especially as fruits develop. Avoid overhead watering to prevent diseases, as Scotland is very wet, make sure in containers there is good drainage with holes and stones at the bottom or mix with coarse sand. This is the reason we opted for a mound rather than a ditch so the water runs off quickly.

Mulching: Apply a thick layer of mulch around the base of plants to help retain moisture, suppress weeds, and add organic matter to the soil. Caledonian Topsoil is ideal and what we have used

Support: Raspberry canes can become top-heavy with fruit, so support them with stakes or a trellis system, especially in windy areas.

Companion Planting with Raspberries

Companion planting can enhance raspberry growth by attracting beneficial insects, improving soil health, or deterring pests. Good companions for raspberries include:

  • Marigolds: Deter pests like nematodes and attract pollinators.
  • Garlic or Chives: Helps to deter raspberry pests and fungal diseases.
  • Nasturtiums: Attract aphids away from raspberry plants.
  • Legumes: Such as beans and peas, which fix nitrogen in the soil, benefiting neighbouring plants.

Avoid planting raspberries near potatoes or tomatoes to prevent the spread of blight.

Growing Raspberries

After pruning and re-mulching, growth 2 months later in our narrow raised beds

Growing raspberries in Scotland can be incredibly rewarding, given the right care and conditions. Following the steps from soil preparation and planting to pruning and care, you can enjoy a plentiful harvest of these delicious fruits right from your garden.

Katrina & Clayton

Katrina & Clayton live with their family in East Ayrshire in Scotland and share their daily life in the garden on instagram @buildingfoodforest_scotland. They practice permaculture principles, reducing & repurposing waste whenever they can. Katrina shows how home educating in nature has helped Clayton thrive.

Clayton Completed The Grow and Learn Course with the Royal Caledonian Horticultural Society in 2022. This year he will be completing Level 2 Nurture Course. Clayton is 16, Autistic, Non Verbal & has been Home Educated for the last 6yrs. Both Katrina and husband Peter have studied the Permaculture Design Course PDC and PDC Pro over the last 5yrs, developing their garden from grass to an ongoing food forest.

They have featured on BBC Beechgrove Gardens, Gardeners World Magazine and write for Scotland Grows Magazine.  Katrina has a series of children’s story books out following the life of Clayton in the garden. Available at Amazon.

See more and follow Katrina & Clayton at the links below:

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