Raspberry Research

Raspberries sit high atop my list of favorite kitchen-garden staples. What’s not to like about a perennial, shade-tolerant plant that only requires minor annual pruning and a few visiting bumblebees to produce sweet, juicy berries? They’re literally one of the easiest edibles to grow. Unless you have deer in your garden. But I don’t.

My 2 x 6-foot raspberry patch began as a few offshoots received from a friend, so unfortunately I don’t know that variety’s name. Since it produces a small crop in late spring and a second, larger crop in early fall, I do know it’s an everbearing type, ‘Heritage’ being a good possibility due to its popularity. [Update 3/8: I found my original plant label while raking leaves; these plants are in fact ‘Heritage.’] In contrast, summer-bearing varieties ripen all of their fruit within a few weeks during July in our area.

Because raspberries are so easy to grow, I wanted to add more varieties to the garden for comparison. (It’s like when you buy a pair of purple shoes, fall in love with them, and decide you really must have not one but FOUR pairs of purple shoes in slightly different shades because purple shoes are awesome.) Last summer, I picked up a single potted ‘Caroline’ raspberry plant at Whole Foods; it was marked down to 50% off and therefore jumped into my shopping cart unbidden.

‘Caroline’ ended up in the front yard and got broken off near the ground this winter beneath a mountain of shoveled snow, but I’m optimistic it will re-sprout from the base as spring arrives. This is another everbearing variety.

Three more varieties joined my collection unexpectedly this week when I walked through the door at Home Depot to replenish my leaf-bag supply, only to come face to face with a display of spring bulbs, seed packets, and yes, raspberry plants! What’s $5.95 x 3 compared to the joy of fruit-topped cereal and yogurt come July? I chose two black raspberry types, ‘Logan’ and ‘Cumberland,’ plus a red-fruiting type called ‘Latham.’ I know very little about these yet but will report on their progress in a few months.

By the way, raspberry plants do send up root suckers that lend themselves to transplanting and sharing with follow gardeners! So stick around, and I’ll let you know when some daughter plants from my original raspberry patch are in need of good homes.