Dateline: 19 July 2013

Taylor raspberries, ripe for the picking.

"...thousands would exchange their sallow complexions, sick headaches, and general ennui for a breezy interest in life and its abounding pleasures, if they would only take nature's palpable hint, and enjoy the seasonable food she provides."

—E.P. Roe
Success With Small Fruits


Strawberry season has passed here in the beautiful Finger Lakes Region of New York, and the raspberries are now coming on strong. 

We thoroughly enjoy our raspberries, fresh, in season, and frozen out of season. Just-picked-and-frozen raspberries are the next best thing to fresh. And freezing berries is a no-brainer way to "put them up," which means even I can do it.

Marlene is the picker. She picked four quarts of berries first thing this morning. Once that was done, I set myself up on the back patio...

My job is to inspect each and every berry, reject the less-than-desirable ones, and then bag the good ones for the freezer. 

I do this by dumping a few berries at a time into my left hand, inspecting, picking out the undesirables (they go on the paper plate), and depositing the approved fruit in the bowl. 

It's a simple process and it moves along quickly once I get started. Along with blemished berries, I am looking for bugs. With that in mind, I look inside the hollow core of every berry. I do that because I've found Japanese beetles (like shown below) nestled out of sight inside the core of picked raspberries. Biting into a raspberry with a Japanese beetle inside is not something I ever want to experience.

Sometimes I put perfect whole berries on a large tray and freeze them, then bag the solid fruits, but most of the time I mash them with a fork...

Mashed berries don't take up as much room in the freezer. I don't put a lot of effort into mashing; I just smoosh them a bit. Once I have a plate-full, like shown above, I put it in a Zip-lock bag.

Those four bags went directly into the freezer and they will be used primarily to make raspberry smoothies this winter. Sometimes we put the mash on our morning oatmeal (with maple syrup).

And That's all there is to it.
My Raspberry Rows

The picture above (click to see an enlarged view) was taken on May 9th of this year. It shows my two rows of raspberries. Killarney Red on the right and Taylor on the left. I planted the rows around 6 years ago.

The tall canes are the strongest canes from last year's cane growth. I went down the rows last fall and cut out all old canes, along with new canes that were weak or grew outside the row. It amounted to an enormous amount of pruning, but that's the way it's supposed to be done if you grow raspberries in a row, or "hedge."

The selected canes were tied with string to the pole that runs down the row. It's a neat arrangement, but it is NOT an arrangement that I recommend. For one thing, the horizontal bar is too low. When the canes put out top growth and bush out in the spring (as they are starting to do in the picture above), they are prone to bend over and break where they are tied. If they were tied off to a taller pole, it would be a better situation.

But I don't even recommend that you grow your raspberries in a hedge, as I have done. I'm persuaded that "bush planting" of raspberries is the better way to go. E.P. Roe, the famous berryman of the 1800's recommended bush planting and, after understanding his approach, it makes a lot of sense. I can clearly see the sense of it after growing in rows. Live and learn.

In The Planet Whizbang Idea Book For Gardeners I explain E.P. Roe's bush-planting approach. I hope to bush-plant a few different raspberry and blackberry varieties next spring. They will be much easier to take care of, and no less productive.

For some perspective, the following picture, taken today, shows those same two rows in the above picture (and taken in about the same place). It's quite a contrast, eh? 

This fall, after the canes have yielded their fruit, I will, once again, go down the rows and prune out all superfluous vegetation. I will tie the selected canes to the horizontal bar. I will cultivate the soil and add some fertilizer. The rows will be neat and orderly again.



You Can Call Me Jane said...

Your raspberries are beautiful!!

Herrick Kimball said...

Hi Jane-

Thank you. The Taylor variety grows bigger and sweeter (and more photogenic) than the Killarney Red. It's amazing how different two raspberry varieties can be. I'm looking forward to trying several other varieties, grown by the bush method.

Anonymous said...

Personally I'm a fan of the Anne golden raspberry. You get two crops, one in summer and one in fall, and they're a bit sweeter and not as tart as some of the red varieties.

Herrick Kimball said...

I'm anxious to try a yellow variety. Thanks for the suggestion.

Anonymous said...

Try Canby, they are sweet and the
canes are thornless. The best tasting raspberry I have ever eaten.

Dave Rogers
up in the 'dacks