Tasmania is famous for it’s berry crops. Learn how our horticulture students get the best out of their own home gardens.
Winter is the perfect time to be planting out new raspberry canes and to do a little maintenance on last years canes to ensure you get a bumper crop in the coming season.
There are lots of canes around in Tasmanian nurseries and markets at the moment. They are roughly divided into two main groups, the “summer fruiting” and the “autumn fruiting” varieties. As a general rule, if you have a very old patch of canes, it is most likely a summer fruiting variety. But in recent years the autumn fruiting varieties have become increasingly popular.
So, always read the tag carefully and it pays to have a chat to the staff at the nursery and find out exactly what they recommend for each particular variety.
Now you have your nice bunch of new canes from the nursery and are ready to plant. As always, lets start by giving the soil everything it needs to support the developing canes and the all important fruit!
Raspberries like a well drained soil with a good water holding capacity. That sounds like an oxymoron but it means the soil holds water but does not become water logged. They really don’t do well in soil that is too sandy or too heavy with clay. The ideal pH is around 5.5-6.5.
If you don’t know your soil pH, take a small sample from the specific area where you intend to plant your canes and put it in a clean sandwich bag. Take it to your nursery and they will be able to do a simple pH test and supply you with any soil additives you may need to raise or lower the pH a little. (Remember, if the pH is too high or low by a more than 2 degrees, you will have a hard time changing it as much as you need, so think about bringing in fresh soil.)
Introduce some well composted organic matter and dig it through the bed. If you have time to leave the bed for a few weeks before planting, all the better. Dig a furrow and place the canes about 20-30cm apart. Backfill the furrow and make sure the roots are well covered and the canes are stable in the soil.
Water in lightly with a seaweed solution and mulch around the bottoms of the canes to keep the weeds down and help with soil moisture.
This is where your variety of raspberry really comes into play. It is important that you know if your canes are a summer or autumn fruiting variety.
Here’s why:Summer Fruiting varieties produce fruit on last seasons canes (called Floricanes). These canes have been dormant over winter and will flower, fruit and then die in the second year.
That means that the canes produced by the plant this spring (called Primocanes) will bear leaves, but not fruit, go into a winter dormancy and become next years Floricanes.
So, it is important that only the spent canes that have fruited are clipped off at the base when pruning. If you take all of the canes, you will be pruning off next seasons crop!
Autumn Fruiting varieties bear fruit on this years canes. The canes grow in spring. They mature, flower and fruit all in the one season. Then they die off and can be pruned off at the base to make way for next years new canes.
The final step is to net your raspberries to keep the birds off in the fruiting season. Remember to allow bees and other insects in to pollinate the flowers, but once the fruit is set, get the nets up or the birds will be into them!