Tuesday, November 17, 2015

#GrowYourThanksgiving with Raspberries!

What better way to celebrate your Thanksgiving than with a completely homegrown meal? Not for this Thanksgiving, of course, but by starting now for next year, you’ll have started a tradition that will grow for years to come. For next year and the years following, communEATi challenges you to #GrowYourThanksgiving with...raspberries!

Raspberries are naturally inclined to grow in cooler climates, however they’re very adaptable. They generally grow in zones 3 to 9 (which cover the entire continental US), but you’ll need to find a type of berry that’s appropriate for your climate. Rodale’s Organic Life recommends extra-hardy types, like Boyne, Nova, and Nordic, in Northern areas and heat-tolerant types, like Dorman Red, Bababerry, and Southland, for growers in the South.

Relatively easy to grow, raspberries can bear fruit indefinitely with the proper care. There are summer-bearers, which bear one crop per season (in the summertime), and ever-bearers, which bear a crop in the summer and the fall. Raspberries need full sun exposure and can thrive in any soil type with a slightly acidic to neutral pH level.

  • -Plan to plant your raspberry plants in the early spring or, for warmer zones, late winter, and far away from wild-growing berries.
  • -Prepare your soil with compost or aged manure a couple weeks before planting.
  • -Depending on the variety you use, you may need to plan on having a support, such as a trellis or fence, established beforehand.
  • -Raspberries love moisture, so try soaking the roots for an hour or two before planting.
  • -Dig a hole that is roomy enough for the roots to spread.
  • -If you want multiple raspberry plants, space them about 3 feet apart, in rows 8 feet apart.
  • -After planting, cut back the canes, leaving about 8-10 inches.

  • -Keep a thick layer of mulch surrounding your plants at all times to conserve moisture.
  • -Water your raspberries 1 inch per week.
  • -Raspberry roots send up an abundance of shoots (or canes). You’ll need to keep order by pruning away the majority of them so the survivors produce lots of juicy berries:
    • -Summer-bearers produce berries on 2-year-old (brown) canes while 1-year-old (green) canes grow right beside them. Prune only the older ones after they’ve finished their fruitful year.
      • -Prune in the fall, leaving 6 of the thickest, strongest green canes.
      • -Keep the plant contained to a 19-inch wide space.
      • -Cut off all canes that grow sideways.
    • -Ever-bearers require less care than their summer counterparts.
      • -Pruning is not required during the growing season unless you want to keep a uniform order.
      • -Mow them to the ground in the fall, after you’ve finished picking; for a small patch, pruning shears will do.
      • -Keep debris cleared and pests away from the plants over winter.

Pests and Diseases
Raspberries are one of the few fruits that are hardly bothered by pests and diseases, but keep in mind that black raspberries are more susceptible to damage than red or purple ones. Raspberries can, however, become affected by powdery mildew in humid weather and by cane borers in some areas of the country.

Harvest and Storage
  • -All varieties of raspberry begin to produce fruit in their second season. 
  • -In early summer, berries will ripen over a time of about 2 weeks. You will need to pick berries every couple of days.
  • -Ripe raspberries will leave the vine willingly, so don’t tug too hard.
  • -Pro tip: try to harvest your berries on a sunny day when they are dry.
  • -Raspberries can be refrigerated for about 5 days.
  • -Raspberries can be frozen: make a single layer of berries on a cookie sheet, and place into airtight bags when frozen.

#GrowYourThanksgiving with Raspberries
Raspberries can be harvested in the fall, right around November, or in the summer and easily frozen or preserved, so they’re perfect to use in your Thanksgiving feast. You can start off your meal with a light and refreshing Pear Salad with Raspberry Cream. You can also use raspberries in a multitude of fall-themed desserts, like a Fig-and-Raspberry Tart, a Raspberry Walnut Thanksgiving Jello Mold, or a Cranberry-Raspberry Dessert Sauce (best served chilled or warm over ice cream!).

We kicked off #GrowYourThanksgiving on our Facebook page with sweet potatoes, and now you have everything you need to know about growing your own raspberries. Keep up with us through our blog, Twitter, and Facebook for more ways you can expand your home garden, and let us know in the comments if there’s a specific fruit or vegetable you’d like to see featured in #GrowYourThanksgiving!

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