How to grow raspberries, Collecting raspberries on a September morning is one of the joys of the season. Raspberries are one of the easiest fruits to grow, particularly the autumn fruiting varieties. If you haven’t grown them before, start choosing varieties as the best planting time is in a few weeks.
Raspberries are fantastic value for money as they usually produce a good crop over a long period and will last for many years. Many people who have given up on strawberries because of the space they take up and the loss to birds and other wildlife (not to mention the family dog), keep their raspberry canes growing.
Grow raspberries in sun or light shade in a well drained soil, cover with some netting to stop the birds getting at the ripe fruit, and you will be rewarded for many years. If you grow the autumn fruiting varieties, you won’t even have to stake them.
If you choose varieties carefully, it is possible to harvest from mid-summer through to the first frosts. If you have the different types, remember that summer and autumn fruiting raspberries are grown differently.
Summer fruiting varieties are grown on a post and wire structure, the plants (known as canes) 18in (45 cm) apart and pruned hard. As they grow, tie them at regular intervals. The following year they will fruit, after which the fruited canes should be pruned right out and the new canes tied in their place. Feed with a high-potash general fertilizer in spring.
Prune in late winter right down to ground level and feed with a high potash fertilizer. Because they are cut down every year there is less risk of diseases and pests. Protect all raspberries from the birds in a fruit cage or under some netting.
If you don’t have enough space for a full row, just grow a couple of canes up a post with two cross bars nailed top and bottom. Fix wires to these and tie the plants in.
Raspberries freeze well, make excellent jams and go in a selection of dishes. For easy ice cream, blend 450g (1 lb) raspberries in a food processor or liquidizer until smooth, then add 2 tablespoons (30g) of honey and 150 ml (1/4 pint) natural yogurt, and whizz up again. Fold in 250 ml (8 fl.oz) lightly whipped double cream and place in the freezer. When almost frozen, remove and beat until smooth, then freeze until firm.
Although spinach is not as high in iron as was once thought (due to wrong recording of research), it is high in Vitamin A and folic acid, Vitamins E and K. It is such a versatile vegetable that can go in a range of dishes that it is used in cookery around the world.
One good thing about a cool, rainy summer is that spinach grown in the vegetable garden won’t bolt. It doesn’t like heat and a lot of suns, and as an annual plant, it will set seed and die in hot weather if it is not kept well watered.
Regular picking of spinach is also necessary to get a regular crop and to stop it bolting. You may have still have leaves ready to pick now, but you can sow more seeds for harvesting in the spring.
One of the problems with growing spinach is that it is prone to mildew. This is usually caused by dryness at the roots or planting too close together without thinning the seedlings out. Thin the plants to at least 6 ins. (15 cm) apart and make sure that the rows are kept well watered.
When growing the summer varieties, sow every few weeks from March to August, thinning out as the seedlings come up. The winter varieties are sown in August and September for the spring.
Pick the outer leaves for cooking, and after washing them thoroughly, put them in a pan without adding any extra water. You can steam spinach over a pan of shallow water if you prefer. Sprinkle a little salt over and cover, then cook for only a few minutes, checking that they are not overcooked. Drain and serve or add to a recipe such as the Sag Paneer below.
Topical tip: Sow More Seed Now for a Harvest Next Spring
1 kg / 2 ¼ lbs fresh Spinach, shredded
3-4 tbsp ghee or butter (or sunflower oil)
400g / 14oz paneer cheese cut into 1cm cubes / ½ inch cubes
6 garlic cloves, crushed
5 cm / 2 in a cube of root ginger, peeled and crushed
4 green chilies, finely chopped
1 DSP garam masala
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
large handful coriander leaves, chopped
1) Cook the spinach with a small quantity of water until wilted. Remove from heat.
2) Melt the ghee in a heavy-based saucepan and fry the paneer until golden brown, turning occasionally.
3) Remove paneer from the pan with a slotted spoon. Add the garlic, ginger and chillies to the saucepan (there should be enough fat left in the pan, if not add a little more). Fry for one minute, stirring constantly.
4) Add the cooked spinach and any liquid from the spinach. Stir and simmer for 10 minutes.
5) Add the double cream, chopped coriander leaves and salt to taste. Gently simmer for five minutes.
6) Serve with rice.
(Paneer is an Indian cheese available from good supermarkets and Indian stores – if you cannot find it, use Halloumi cheese)