Raspberries, those deliciously tart fruits that burst with unique flavor, are staples for pies, jams and tarts. When growing raspberries, many tend toward the red variety because it's familiar, or the gold for its unique color. If there's any complaint against these plants, it's their rather rambunctious nature. Raspberries spread by suckers (new shoots that spring from creeping underground stems). They can quickly become a tangled thicket if not properly pruned and tended. However, black raspberries, often referred to as “blackcaps”, are also full of taste—and they are generally less aggressive growers than red or gold selections, making them easier to keep under control.
Want to grow your own delectable black raspberries? Here are a few tips to get you started:
• When to plant: You should plant blackcaps in early spring. Make sure it is after the last frost.
• Location: They are most successful when planted in full to part sun. If you also grow red raspberries, keep your blackcaps well away from them, and upwind, because they are susceptible to a virus that may be carried to them from the red raspberries via aphids. (Red raspberries can carry the virus but are generally resistant to its effects.) Space each plant 2.5 feet apart. You may want to provide support for the canes, such as a trellis, to help with stability—especially if you're planting them on a hill. Cut back plants 2 to 3 inches above ground level. They're winter hardy in USDA Zones 3–9.
• Soil: Raspberries thrive in well-drained, sandy-loam soils rich with organic matter. Fertilize 2 to 3 weeks after planting. With well-drained soil you can apply mulch to help control weeds. Do not apply mulch if soil does not drain well, because this could set your plants up for rot.
• Maintenance: Black varieties need to be pruned three times a year—once in spring to remove any weak canes; again in summer by topping the plants, usually by 2 to 3 inches on young shoots, to encourage new growth; and again after harvest by removing only the canes that produced fruit.
When you grow your own black raspberries, you are able to experience the enticing, delightful flavor that comes from popping a freshly harvested fruit into your mouth, sure to send your taste buds into a state of pure bliss.
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There is nothing like the juicy, sweetness of a homegrown fruit. In the Horticulture Smart Gardening Techniques: Melons & Berries, you will have aces to great tips on how to grow your own tasty fruits.
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