Friday, 18 March 2011

Lifting Raspberry Suckers

We inherited our Raspberry plants from the people who owned our house. Since then we have done very little to them. Now, after a few years, there are a lot of suckers and the raspberry patch is very overcrowded. As a hardy perennial shrub, they produce fruit every year without too many problems.

Despite being relatively neglected, this patch produces more Raspberries we can eat for around a month, and we freeze and make jam, so we enjoy the produce almost all year round.

But it is probably wise to clear out the raspberry patch to make it easier to net. Luckily for us this time of year is the perfect time for lifting raspberry suckers. 

Raspberries can be propagated in a number of ways, but probably the easiest is they produce suckers near the base of each plant. By carefully lifting them up with a fork or hand fork, making sure you don’t damage the roots, you can get an entire plant for free.

What I do then is put it in a large container of compost, making sure to water it. You can transplant them to empty ground as well. I just prefer the luxury of giving it a bit of care in the polytunnel.

It is generally best to transplant them now, just before the sap starts to rise in spring. The odds are that if you leave it a couple more weeks the raspberry leaves will start to open. And that is a big problem; you don’t want to move them once they have woken up for spring.

So... what if you don’t have any suckers but want even more raspberry plants? Well, you can stimulate the plant to make them. The technique you use to do this is called...

Layering a Raspberry bush.

If you don’t have any suckers you can make them yourself. Like a lot of stemmy shrubs, raspberries will start to root if their stem touches the soil.  In order to hasten this process, I roughly dig over the soil where I want the sucker to start, add a little grit if it is very clay, and then the hard work begins.

You’ve got to slightly wound the stem. Don’t go too mad about it. Just a scrape or two.

Then you bury the stem maybe 6 inches deep. And that is it, for a while. You can use a forked stick to make sure it doesn’t come too loose. Or a heavy stone, although you should be careful not to break the stem.
 You’d do that at this time of year for best effect – early spring. 

By autumn, the new plant should be ready. If not you just leave it for another year. You can tell when it is ready because the plant will seem to be growing... with quite a strong upsurge of growth.

You just cut the stem to the parent plant, and you now have a sucker which you can carefully lift. Basically, at this point you have created your sucker.

Some people like to do the same process but with a pot full of compost... that is possible, but is not the best thing you can do. The reason for this is that the pot can dry out. And it does take some time for the raspberry to take.

One thing to consider when using both these techniques is you should move the raspberries to virgin ground... the land you plant the new suckers in shouldn’t have had raspberries on for some time. Otherwise you might find that they get disease build up in the soil.

Raspberries like sandy soil, and do well in bright conditions. 

Of course, there are several types of raspberries which require slightly different pruning regimes, so I will probably talk about their care in another post.

Uses for the fruit.

A lot of people use Raspberry fruit fresh, in fruit salads, summer puddings or as a topping for cakes and puddings of all sorts. It works really well with simple vanilla ice cream. We also use a meringue nest, raspberries, and whipped cream for a delicious but naughty treat.

1 comment:

  1. Very good and informative article, thank you.