My brother has a dog – a big, happy Golden Retriever – who visits occasionally when my sibling goes out of town. This had never been a problem until the pooch came to stay when the raspberries were in fruit.
Goldens are a friendly breed and love to be the center of attention, but on this visit, Asa had to stay in the back yard while we worked in the front. “He’ll be fine,” I said to my spouse, “he can see us through the fence and we can talk to him.”
We set about working and Asa set about barking, whining, and generally putting up a ruckus to get our attention. Our backs were to him, but we crooned soothing words at our visitor. Suddenly we heard what every parent knows is a bad sign: silence.
Slowly we turned to view a horrific sight – the dog had discovered the ripe red raspberries in full fruit. Plopped down in the patch, a huge grin on his face, this dog delicately reached out with his tongue and plucked the berry from the cane, wolfing it down.
“No!” I yelled, but that just prompted him to reposition himself to reach more berries. “No, no, nonono!” I cried, rushing at the fence. But he’s no dummy, and knew I couldn’t get to him as he gobbled faster, grinning through the juice. By the time I reached the back yard, little was left of the crop.
Stunned, we could only look at or de-fruited brambles in sadness. We couldn’t blame the dog, though. Everybody loves a sweet raspberry.
If you’re pining for a bit of fruit and want to put some in your yard, here are a few pointers. Practice safe gardening – buy certified disease free stock. Don’t take divisions from others unless you’re positive you know their patch is problem free. Choose a location in your yard with full sun, deep, loose soil, and good drainage.
If you have bare root stock, soak the roots in water 24 hours before planting. Pop them in 10-inches between plants and three feet between rows. Plan to control weeds, and put in drip irrigation.
Some raspberries produce fruit on the first-year canes (primocanes) in fall. Historically just the red raspberries, there are now varieties of blackberries which fruit on primocanes (PrimJan, PrimJim). This is a big step forward for places like Colorado, which had limited blackberry success due to winter kill of canes. Get ready to control the suckers of fall bearers – they can take over the yard. Heavier feeders than summer bearers, fertilize them several times in the season.
Summer bearers, or biennials, have shoot growth the first season and fruit on the canes in mid summer of the second year. They get tall, so trellis summer bearing raspberries. Summer bearers don’t need full strength fertilizer – light applications are fine during summer.
In our area red, gold, and black raspberries will give you a crop; purple ones are less reliable. Check out Planttalk Colorado for more information on growing these brambles, and tell your brother to leave his dog at home.