Oooh, I do love raspberries, don't you? But, if you're going to go to the bother of growing your own, you'd hope that the end result will be better than (or at least as good as) anything you could buy in the shops, yes? Despite recent heavy rain which has perked up my raspberries no end, I can't help thinking (again) that Autumn Bliss aren't quite hitting the spot for me.
I've written before about my disappointment with the quality of the Autumn Bliss raspberries that I'm growing here; I could also add confusion to disappointment as I read online that Autumn Bliss, bred in the UK, have large, firm fruits with an excellent flavour. That doesn't sound anything like mine. In past summers, the fruits on my Autumn Bliss canes have been small, squishy and slightly tart; sighting of a large plump and firm fruit would cause great excitement, so rare was it. So I can only assume that it's something to do with my soil. Dig down about 12-15 inches and I'll find clay - but raspberries are shallow rooted. I confess to having never tested the pH factor of my soil and raspberries apparently like a slightly acidic soil. I wonder if mulching with coffee grounds would help. (The lack of regular watering is probably another huge factor.)
Last year I was tempted to rip them out and start again. They take up a fair bit of veg patch space (not as much as summer fruiting canes though) and I want those big fat raspberries that you see in the shops. (Don't we all?) I started looking.
I made a start at replacing the canes by buying a few Polka canes early 2014 but couldn't quite bring myself to dig up the old canes until the new ones were established. So I now have a patch of Polkas and a line of Autumn Bliss. Time for a comparison.
|Polka on the left, Autumn Bliss on the right.|
I've been picking a bowlful of raspberries from each patch every couple of days throughout August. I've probably got about 8 Autumn Bliss and 3 Polka canes but the Polka raspberries fill the bowl more quickly, being consistently much larger and firmer than the Bliss berries. Their taste is better too, being slightly sweeter.
The Bliss canes, however, usually start fruiting earlier in mid-July. They're cut down in late November, leaving just one or two canes per plant at 40cm. I've pruned like this every year and have found that this is a method that works for getting a small but earlier harvest. The Bliss canes were still fruiting in early December last year while the Polkas had all finished by then.
There are other considerations. I find that Polka hold their shape better and for longer on the cane than Autumn Bliss and the latter fruits occasionally have a slightly musty flavour. And why am I finding slug trails on fruit at the top of the Bliss canes? Now that's determination for you.
I think my decision is made. Roll on with the replacement programme. I'm also thinking of trying Joan J and perhaps some gold raspberries.
What about you? How do you grow yours?
Have you got any favourites or have found a variety to be particularly successful? I'd love to know!
And do you mulch and net your raspberries?
|More Polka berries on the way ….|