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Bushel and Berry® Raspberry Shortcake
Cumberland Black Raspberry
Being able to just walk out into your garden and pop a handful of tangy, juicy berries right into your mouth is probably all the reason you need to grow Raspberry Bushes. If they were hard to grow it would be worth it, but the good news is that these plants are very easy to grow and with just a little attention they will reward you with a bounty of berries that will make you wonder why they are always so expensive at the store. The Raspberry is a bush with long stems that is grown on a trellis or support system for maximum yield and ease of picking.
One of the classic fruits with a unique and distinctive flavor, Raspberries can be eaten fresh, turned into a fruit sauce or made into sorbets and ice-cream. The fruit is also very easy to freeze, so if you have a glut, just pop them in a container and put it straight into the freezer. The leaves can also be used for making tea. Not only are raspberries tasty, but they are healthy too and packed with vitamins and antioxidants. However you choose to eat them, Raspberry Bushes are a great addition to your garden and a perfect way to give your family healthy, home-grown fruit.
Raspberry Bushes are short to medium-sized shrubs that send up new shoots from the base of the plant each year. The next year these shoots will burst into flower and then fruit. The bushes grow to around 4 feet in height and can be grown along a fence or sunny wall in any part of your garden. If you have a dedicated area for fruit and vegetables you can grow them on a simple support system of a trellis or wires so they will take up very little room, yet produce a generous crop.
These plants can also be successfully grown in pots, but the best choice for raspberries in pots is BrazelBerries®.
Raspberry bushes (Rubus idaeus) are shrubs that grow naturally right around the Northern Hemisphere. The garden raspberry has been selected and bred for centuries to produce many different varieties, so besides red, raspberries come in other colors. A real favorite is the Golden Raspberry, which has yellow fruit with a great raspberry flavor. The berries are large and extremely tasty. They are rarely seen in stores as they need to be eaten soon after picking, but that is not a problem in most homes! This variety is ready to pick later in the season than many other raspberries.
The Cumberland Black Raspberry is an American species, Rubus occidentalis, which has been selected by gardeners for its unique flavor and rich color. Raspberries and Blackberries are often confused, especially since the Black raspberry is the same color as a blackberry. When raspberries are picked, the center of the fruit is left behind on the plant so the fruit is hollow, like a thimble. Blackberries still have their center, so they are solid, making it easy to tell the two fruits apart.
Raspberry plants grow by sending new stems each year from the base. These stems have leaves that are made of 3 to 5 leaflets and each leaflet is green on top and white underneath. These stems grow 3 to 6 feet long and will hang over if not supported. They have small spines along them. In the second year short side-shoots grow from the upper parts of these stems and these shoots have clusters of small white flowers that develop into the fruits. After fruiting, the old shoots will often die, or they may re-sprout the next year and grow more fruit, but the best fruit comes from younger shoots.
Because there are so many varieties of Raspberry Bushes, you can grow raspberries all the way from zone 3 to zone 10, so there is nowhere in American that you cannot grow these tasty fruits. The Golden Raspberry is hardy right into zone 4 and the Cumberland Raspberry will grow all the way from zone 5 to zone 9.
Raspberry Bushes do best in full sun, but they will still grow if they are in shade for a short part of the day. They prefer a soil which is just a little bit acidic, but they will grow well in most ordinary soils. Although they need moisture to develop those juicy berries, they do not like ‘wet feet’ and should always be planted in a well-drained area. Put your plants in a higher part of your garden, not in a low-lying permanently damp patch and if you live in an area with a lot of rainfall, like the Pacific Northwest for example, raised beds may be a good idea to make sure you have enough drainage for your Raspberry Bushes. They also like a rich soil so it is a good idea to add plenty of organic material like garden compost or rotted manure to the soil when you are preparing the bed for your Raspberry Bushes.
Once you have chosen a suitable sunny and well-drained location, dug the ground over well and added that organic material, it is time to lay out your bed. Raspberry bushes produce lots of shoots from the base of the plant and they need a support to keep them upright, so they are usually grown in rows. These should be 6 feet apart to allow room for the plants to grow in plenty of light and also to leave enough room to get down the rows to pick berries. The plants should be 2 feet apart in the rows. The Cumberland Black Raspberry produces longer canes than red raspberries, so the plants should be planted further apart – at 4 foot intervals – so that the canes can be spread out or even bent over and attached to the wires in an arch.
For planting, dig a shallow trench along the row and place the plants at the correct spacing. While holding the plant upright, put back most of the soil and firm it down around the roots with your foot. Flood the trench with water and when it has drained away put back the rest of the soil. The plants should be just a little deeper in the ground than they were in the pots.
The simplest support system is single wires stretched between posts put in the ground every 15 feet. You should have 5½ feet of post above the ground. Stretch a wire along the top, and then attach two more wires 2 feet and 4 feet below the top wire. The canes are attached to the wires with string.
Another method is to nail a short crossbar to the posts at the top and another one 2 feet down. Stretch strong wires from the ends of the crossbars and tie string horizontally joining the wires every 2 feet. The canes are simply pushed into the space between the wires as they grow. It is not necessary to tie them in, so this method is less work, but it can be harder to pick the fruit and in rainy locations you may get leaf diseases because it is more crowded for the plants.
If you just have room for a few plants, drive a single wooden post into the ground so that 5½ feet of the post shows above the ground. Plant 2 or 3 raspberry plants around the post and tie the canes to the post. You can put several posts in, allowing 4 feet between each post. This is a good way to grow the Cumberland Black Raspberry as there is more room for the long stems to arch over.
For the best crops cut the stems that carried fruit down at ground level. Tie the new shoots to the wires, spreading them out so each stem gets plenty of light. If there are more than 6 or 8 shoots per plant, cut off the extra ones at ground level. If any shoots appear in the middle of the rows take a spade and cut them off below ground, or you will soon not be able to get down the rows to pick the fruit.
In spring sprinkle some general-purpose solid fertilizer around the base of each plant and mulch the row with compost or manure. Don’t dig the soil around your plants as they are shallow rooted and digging will damage the root system. Keep your Raspberry bushes well watered during the summer or the fruits will be not so juicy.
No matter if you grow the common red raspberry, the special and extra delicious Golden Raspberry or the fantastic Cumberland Black Raspberry, these wonderful Berry Bushes with their unique flavor are a terrific addition to your property. With your own Raspberry bushes you will be able to give your family these healthy, delicious fruits fresh from the garden to the table. They are easy to grow and are a good choice, along with Strawberry Bushes, to start a fruit garden at your own home.