Pruning Raspberries

It’s that time of year again, when I give my rasberries a major chop. Always a scary prospect and I’m sure I Google it every year to make sure I’m doing the right thing.

I think this is a littler earlier than previous years, but if you read my post about catching up, you’ll know that I completely neglected my garden at the end of summer, so the raspberry canes were finished a long time ago. If you don’t keep on picking the fruits, they just stop producing.

Pruning raspberries is really important whether you have summer or autumn fruiting varieties. If you don’t prune, they become congested and bear less and less fruit – you want to keep them strong, healthy and productive. How you prune them, however, is different depending on when your raspberries produce fruit.

The first thing to pay attention to is that my raspberries are autumn fruiting raspberries. Autumn fruiting raspberries produce their fruit – yes – in the autumn. Mine really start fruiting around the middle-end of August and last throughout September and into October, maybe even a little further in a good year. These are the easiest to prune because you just cut all the stems down to the ground once the season is over (or by February at the very latest) – I leave a couple of inches just to see where they are. This feels pretty dramatic, to be honest, but it’s the best thing for the plant, because the autumn fruiting varieties grow their raspberries on this year’s canes. Easy.

The reason you need to be sure whether you have a summer or an autumn fruiting variety is that summer fruiting raspberries grow on last year’s canes, just like blackberries, loganberries etc. This means that if you cut all the canes down as you would the autumn fruiting types – I’m sure you’re ahead of me here – you will have a year without raspberries. Disaster.

If you have summer fruiting varieties, at the end of the season, you need to cut down the canes that produced fruit this year – they’ll be browner and more woody. Next year, your raspberries will be produced on the new, greener canes that have grown this season. Once you’ve cut down the old canes, go through and thin out, cutting down weaker-looking canes.

Don’t forget to support your raspberry canes as they grow. Happy pruning!

Nothing quite like seeing your own raspberries in action. This was my raspberry and pistachio cake from last Christmas, from Helen Goh and Yotam Ottolenghi’s Sweet recipe book. I love it so much I’ll put it anywhere I possibly can. Like here.

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