raspberries

Midsummer means raspberries are ready to harvest and this year brings us a bountiful crop. By early summer I knew this was going to be a good season for my favorite fruit as early blossoms were abundant, making the bees very happy and keeping them exceptionally busy.

Perhaps it helped that I took the time in early spring to cut back last years’ dead canes thus thinning the beds. Then I added a layer of finished compost and for good measure added 10-10-10, a complete fertilizer, following the instructions to not apply after mid-June. Then for extra good measure, Garden Helper gave the plants a generous dose of our worm tea. The drip irrigation system also helped to provide an even water supply to keep roots moist but not too wet.

Last week plump red raspberries began to appear and looked ready to harvest. The birds also noticed. A fellow gardener advised me to pick the ripe berries early before the birds are awake, but not being an early riser, I cannot confirm this. Luckily, raspberries do not all ripen at the same time so there will be enough to share. Now we are enjoying free berries on our morning cereal. And since raspberries freeze well, we may also look forward to some winter treats.

For better or worse, I should warn you that raspberry canes can quickly multiply and they love to spread and embrace anything in their path. Even raised beds provide little deterrent to their proclivity to invade other parts of the garden. This could be a problem for the gardener or it could provide a new business venture in selling raspberry plants.

For good information on growing rasperries, visit www.msuextension.org/publications/yardandgarden/MT199804AG.pdf for an article titled “Growing Raspberries in Montana Gardens” by Dr. Bob Gough and Cheryl Moore-Gough or check out their book, “The Montana Gardener’s Companion”. I found these helpful for site planning, planting, pruning, fertilizing, irrigation, and how to watch for diseases should any appear. You too, can produce this delicious fruit in abundance.

Nancy Riebe is a master gardener and master composter from Belgrade whose columns appear weekly throughout the growing season. Reach her in care of editor@belgrade-news.com.