We’ve lived here 8 years. The house was vacant for about three years prior to that. So, for at least that long, the raspberry bushes were allowed to grow wild and become infiltrated with tall weeds.
This year the raspberries came up on my list of things to do. In the past I just didn’t take the time to raise the drooping raspberry canes and just mowed over them. So, that was the first thing to attend to -I nailed together some two by fours into a cross configuration and erected them at each end of the rows of raspberry bushes. I strung out some twine between the posts in order to support the overhanging canes. This was enough to keep them off the ground. The added benefit was ease of harvesting the raspberries. In other years it was difficult to find them all and more difficult to reach them through the tangled mess. It resembled the briar patch that Br’er Rabbit so desperately wanted Br’er Fox to throw him into when he was stuck to the Tar Baby.*
Growing raspberries couldn’t be easier, really. They spread through their own root system so, there is a good supply of up-and-coming canes. It’s good to keep the older canes pruned back sometimes and to thin out the dead canes in the spring. I haven’t been able to weed them out but, I do pull the taller weeds, as they interfere with the raspberry plants. I have to pull all the grass and other weeds once and for all, and mulch the entire area. It’s part of our Home Garden master plan.
Picking raspberries is not difficult but it is a challenge not to damage the berries, as they are delicate. I find it’s easier with two hands, collecting a few and dropping them gently into a container.
Our red raspberry plants are certainly organic. We do not fertilize them. They grow like weeds all on their own. We do not use any insecticides on them, although we do notice the presence of Japanese Beetles, but not many. They are seen munching on the berries. And, you can see where they’ve been chewing, as they ruin the berry. My attitude is that there are plenty for them and us. Of course, the Japanese Beetle population is cyclical, like everything else. When we get to the point where they are present in greater numbers, I’ll have to set out some organic beetle traps to collect them. One of the ‘organic’ beetle control measures firmly in place are a couple of bats that like to display their aerobatic maneuvers in the evening. Bat conservation organizations are encouraging people to plant moth-attracting plants to help support the bats, as in the northeast U.S., the hibernating bat populations are perishing from White Nose Syndrome. As raspberries attract Japanese Beetles, the bats should benefit from them, as well.
Eating our raspberries is like eating candy. They are ever-so sweet. Because they don’t maintain their quality in the refrigerator for very long, freezing raspberries is a good idea. Use a flat pan and spread them out in a single layer on the pan. After they are frozen they can be placed in a small baggie or a storage container and returned to the freezer. Frozen raspberries are good in ice cream, on your breakfast cereal or in any number of other dishes. Try using them instead of ice cubes in your ice tea or lemonade.
Raspberry nutrition is well documented. High in Vitamin C, Manganese and Magnesium. High in antioxidants and fiber.
*from the Uncle Remus stories by Joel Chandler Harris.
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Check this newsy article: Sweet and tart raspberries are packed with anti-oxidants
And, this excellent blog post: Raspberries – Full of Summer Goodness