Do Raspberries Need a Trellis? Tips for Growing Vertically
There’s nothing quite like the fruity zing of fresh raspberries, and when you grow them yourself, the delicious flavor becomes even brighter. While you don’t have to grow them on a trellis, growing raspberries vertically will give you better yields, prevent disease and rot, and provide an overall enjoyable gardening experience. And although it might take a little more work, building a successful setup is a relatively easy undertaking.
Do Raspberries Need a Trellis?
Raspberries grow on long canes that erupt vertically before arching back to the ground. They’ll fruit whether or not you trellis them, but containing them with a vertical support structure has several benefits.
By keeping the canes from falling, you keep the fruit suspended. It’s easier to pick raspberries and prune canes in this position, but more importantly, it keeps the fruit off the ground. Fewer critters will have access to it, and it will be less likely to succumb to disease, rot, or mold. Weather will also play less of an issue, as the trellis will keep the raspberry canes upright even in high wind.
The 4 Tips on How to Grow Raspberries Vertically
You can build your trellis in several ways. One of the simplest forms is a temporary setup with twine strung between two posts. Position wood posts upright in the ground about 15 feet apart, and run some string between them. An arrangement like this won’t hold up from season to season, but it will work with fall-bearing raspberries if you want to support them for a fall harvest.
A typical permanent trellis is a two-wire setup, perfect for all kinds of black, red, and purple raspberries. Follow these four steps to set up a functional raspberry trellis in your home garden.
1. Prepare the Area
Till a strip 2 feet wide to create a planting bed. Sow the raspberry seeds about 18–24 inches apart, but leave a foot or two of extra space on the ends to give the last raspberries loose soil to spread their roots. Water the seeds thoroughly after planting, and mulch as needed before setting up your trellis.
2. Build the Support Structures
Your support posts should be about 3–5 inches in diameter and 6–8 feet long. Attach a 24–30 inch-wide section of 2×4 lumber so the center sits atop one end of the long pole, creating a “T” shape. On both sides of the top cross-piece, attach an eye hook to hold the wires that you will install later.
The top eye hooks will hold the uppermost wire runs, but you will need two wires further down to help train the canes as they grow. You will need to attach eye hooks 2–2.5 feet below the top crossbar.
The bottom wires should be closer together than the top wires so that the canes can fan out into a “V” shape as they grow. You can insert eye hooks directly into the main support post a few feet below the crossbar, or you can also attach a 12–18 inch bar with eye hooks to create a wider spread between the two bottom wires.
3. Install the Supports
Install supports on both ends of each row, adding extras so that there is a support every 10–15 feet. Dig a hole about 2 feet deep (or more for longer poles). Make the hole deep enough for the crossbar of the support to sit 5 feet above the ground and the bottom wires about 30 inches above the ground. Put the posts into the holes, and fill them with dirt to hold the supports in place.
4. Measure and Add Wires
Measure the distance between the two end posts and add an extra 2–3 feet to your measurement. Cut four pieces of 10 or 12-gauge wire to that length.
Insert the first wire through the eye hooks on the left side of the top crossbar of each support, connecting them like a telephone line. There should be a foot or so of extra slack on either end. Wrap that slack back around the eye hook and twist it around the wire run, securing it in place and holding it taut. Repeat this with the other four wires.
Growing Raspberries on the Trellis
Raspberries grow with vigor, but they won’t naturally start to climb your trellis. After pruning your raspberry canes in the spring, loosely tie them to the wires with twine. Doing so allows light to reach the center of the plant, and it allows you to organize the canes into first-year and second-year growths. That will make it easier to prune down spent canes and nurture the ones that will bear fruit for the season.
Raspberries make a delightful addition to the garden, and if you’re growing a summer-bearing variety, using a trellis will make an enormous difference in the quality of your crop and the convenience of caring for it. There are several ways you can construct your trellis, and it doesn’t have to take more than an hour to set up a permanent structure. With this guide to growing raspberries vertically, you’ll see how the simplest steps can provide spectacular results.
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