Raspberries can launch in November

Gardeners can find something to do every month of the year, and November is no exception. This is an ideal month to tend to your raspberry patch — or to start one if you don't have one yet.

Raspberries are easy to grow, and they are so expensive to buy at the market that a small patch in the backyard would be a good investment. They're expensive because they're hard to ship, and therefore, many get spoiled between the field and your table. However, I'm sure you won't find spoilage to be a problem if you grow them yourself.

The one thing raspberries won't tolerate is wet feet, so a raised bed is a good idea for these caneberries. The bed does not need to be very deep, as raspberries aren't very deep-rooted; a foot or 18 inches will do the job.

Raspberries either are summer-bearing — bearing fruit for four or five weeks in late June and July — or fall-bearing, sometimes called everbearing. I strongly prefer the fall-bearing, because the heat of summer has passed, there are few insects, and the fruit is borne from August until frost.

Some good fall-bearing varieties for the Rogue Valley include Amity, Canby, Summit, Indian Summer, Heritage, Autumn Bliss and, if you prefer yellow raspberries, Fall Gold. Suggested summer-bearers include Willamette, Meeker and Latham.

Here is how November and raspberries are related: Now is the ideal time to prune them back. For fall-bearers, just cut all the canes back to about an inch above the ground. While you're at it, keep your row of canes 12 to 18 inches wide by removing extra suckers and canes thinner then a pencil. This will give you larger fruit next year.

For summer-bearing plants, or if you're not sure which kind you have, cut to the ground all canes that bore this year, as they will not bear again. You can tell which ones these are because they are darker, or gray, and the bark may be peeling. The remaining canes will bear next summer so don't cut them off at this time. Again, thin the canes as described for fall-bearers. Don't worry — raspberries are tough plants, and will thrive with "tough" pruning.

When you're finished pruning, you should have no more than five or six sturdy canes per foot in the row. Raspberry plants spread by suckers, and they'll take over the neighborhood if you don't keep them under control. Crowding also invites fungal disease. The need for annual pruning is one of the reasons, I think, more people don't grow raspberries. The raspberry row gets thick and wide, they're not sure how to prune them and get discouraged with the whole process.

If, as you are pruning, you find healthy-looking suckers out of bounds, they are good starts for next year. Use them to enlarge your patch, or give them to a friend. And if you are starting a bed with new plants, you can plant them any time from now until early spring.

Coming up: From 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 2, learn about Ruth Stout's No Dig/No Work method of organic gardening by watching a 20-minute film on the topic and then joining the discussion that follows. Stout still was gardening in her 90s and had fascinating methods of doing so. Held at the Southern Oregon Research and Extension Center, 569 Hanley Road, the cost is $5. Call 541-776-7371 for more information.

Carol Oneal is a past president of the OSU Jackson County Master Gardeners Association. E-mail her at diggit1225@gmail.com.

Share This Story