Scotland is often thought of as the soft fruit garden of the UK, with our damp, chilly winters and summer temperatures which do not soar to extremes, we are in a prime position to grow ravishing raspberries.
Autumn-fruiting raspberries, which can be harvested right through to the first frosts, are a delight at this time of year.
Unlike summer-fruiting raspberries, autumn-fruiting ones require no training or support structure, making them one of the easiest, and most vigorous soft fruits to grow.
Raspberries are a good source of vitamins C, E, and K, as well as manganese, fibre, and contain anti-fungal, and antibacterial properties.
Now is a great time to think about planting bare-root forms to give you that sweet but tart sensation of a gloriously ripe raspberry next autumn.
Choose a sunny spot which is sheltered from cold, drying winds to plant autumn-fruiting raspberries. They will thrive in slightly acidic, free-draining soil with a pH of around 6.0-6.5. Prepare the ground by digging in plenty of well-rotted manure or compost before planting.
Space canes at 40-60cm (16-23 in) between each one, and in rows 1.8m (6ft) apart. Plant at a shallow depth about 5cm (2in) below the surface.
Water regularly as the fruit is ripening to improve the size and weight of the crop.
Summer fruiting raspberries crop heavily for a short period, while autumn raspberries crop more steadily over a longer period, which avoids unmanageable gluts.
Raspberries should slide off the core when ripe if squeezed or pulled gently. Try to pick them every two or three days to prevent overripe fruits rotting and spreading disease. Leaving rotting fruit on the canes can prevent new fruit from reaching full size.
Once harvested, raspberries will store in the fridge for a few days, or they can be frozen, individually laid out on trays, then bagged for storage.
Autumn-fruiting raspberries are known as primocanes, meaning they produce fruit on canes made during the current growing season, unlike summer-fruiting ones which carry their fruit on canes that grew the previous year. To prune autumn-fruiting raspberries, cut all canes down to the ground in late winter.
If you grow summer-fruiting raspberries too, both varieties require very different pruning techniques, so keep them completely separate to avoid confusion.
Top Tip: when the shoots start to grow below the ground in spring, they will be stronger if the original cane is cut down to the same level as the soil.
Varieties to Try
Probably the best known and most reliable of the autumn fruiting varieties, producing a heavy crop of large, attractive red berries from late August until mid October. Once established, each plant can produce up to 2.5kg of berries with a deliciously sweet flavour, and good resistance to raspberry root rot disease.
A reliable producer of large, conical berries of a bright, red colour on sturdy, spine-free canes.
Many autumn-fruiting raspberry varieties have yellow fruits which make a lovely contrast from the usual vibrant red colour.
With sweeter, juicier berries than Autumn Bliss, the yellow fruit of ‘All Gold’ is considered the must-have yellow variety
Large, sweet berries are produced on slightly thorny canes with the potential for two fruit crops in the year, starting to ripen in late July, with the biggest yield later in autumn.
Raspberry’s Latin name, Rubus idaeus, comes from the Greek myth that all raspberries were white until the nymph Ida, nursemaid to the infant Zeus, pricked her finger on the thorns while she was collecting berries for him. Her blood is said to have stained all the fruit a vibrant raspberry red.