Raspberries send up shoots in paths. (Mary Lowther photo)

Raspberries send up shoots in paths. (Mary Lowther photo)

Mary Lowther column: It’s raspberry season and nobody’s complaining

If I only had room for one fruit it would be raspberries

By Mary Lowther

Bees love my raspberry bushes, maybe because they flower when the weather warms up enough for bees to survive, so I get bumper crops every year. These raspberry bushes reliably supply us with tasty berries all summer and ask very little in return. Birds and bugs leave them alone and I haven’t had a problem with disease so I don’t bother to cover them. A sturdy frame that supports them is all I use, and I try to contain them within its bounds, but raspberries don’t stay where they’re put and will send up shoots willy nilly — in paths, in the grass, in sidewalk cracks. I dig up these rogue shoots and re-plant them in the bed, filling up empty spaces.

My 30-foot by two-foot bed used to produce enough berries to feed two of us every morning most of the summer, starting mid June, with enough extra to freeze for winter, although this year they haven’t started to produce yet. I’m a bit worried because I haven’t seen pollinators like bees storming the raspberry canes as they have in previous years, but I’m planning to make raspberry jelly with some and try dehydrating others this year to grind into flour just for fun. They need all the sun they can get so the bed sits at the north side of the yard.

I was told by another gardener that if I cut down all the vines in the fall, I’d get a lot of berries all at once the following year, but if I only cut down the spent vines, I’d harvest fewer berries every day all summer. I follow the latter suggestion, trimming off dead and spent vines two inches from the ground once berry season is over. Because raspberries constantly send up shoots everywhere, we only needed to start with a few and filled up the bed within a couple of years.

I follow the same routine as the rest of the garden; sprinkling one quarter inch each of organic fertilizer and compost in spring, laying soaker hoses along the soil to water about twice a week during the dry summer, spraying compost tea over the plants every two or three weeks and hand weeding the bed.

If I only had room for one fruit it would be raspberries because they are easy to grow, don’t suffer from predation, flower during warm weather when bees abound to pollinate them and provide us with delicious breakfasts every late summer and early fall. How can you beat a crop that takes up little space and whose fruit provides 32.2 mg of vitamin C, 8 g of fibre and 27 mg of magnesium per cup?

Please contact mary_lowther@yahoo.ca with questions and suggestions since I need all the help I can get.