Red raspberries are delicious and contain powerful phytonutrients that have antioxidant, antimicrobial and anti-carcinogenic properties. Aside from vitamins C and E, the tannin ellagic acids and a collection of flavonoids are the antioxidants in raspberries, (which outdo kiwis, strawberries and tomatoes). These compounds help protect critical cells and organs from damage caused by free radicals. They also have antimicrobial properties that help suppress certain bacterial colonies (and others like fungi). Research studies suggest some of the phytonutrients in raspberries inhibit initiation of, or halt the growth of, certain cancer cells. Both vitamin K and manganese help build bone matrix and are an excellent source of fiber. Raspberries have a fair amount of sugars, but the fiber and B vitamins slow the absorption of sugars and help break them down faster. Fiber plays a large role in a healthy digestive tract and helps regulate cholesterol levels. Raspberries also provide some folate, which reduces damage in blood vessel walls and supports fetal nerve development.
Vitamin and Mineral Content
Vitamins – C, K, B9 (Folate), E and small amounts of B complex
Minerals – Manganese, Magnesium, Copper, Iron and Potassium
Cardiovascular disease, atherosclerosis, osteoporosis, arthritis, macular degeneration and many cancers (especially colon cancer).
How to Grow
These delectable berries are simple to grow in moderate climates and do really well under organic methods. They take up a lot of room, but produce a plethora of berries. They are self-fertile and require only one variety to fruit. You can usually find healthy, disease resistant cultivars from a local nursery. They grow best in a sunny site in deep, thoroughly worked, moisture-retentive soil. The pH should be 6 or just under. (A pH above 7 causes iron deficiency in raspberries. Bring down the pH well before planting.) Plant in fall to early winter. With bare rooted plants, dig a trench a spade deep and 2 feet wide. Loosen the bottom and amend it with a few inches of well-aged compost, manure or planting mix. Place the canes down into the soil. Amend the soil you dug up as you did on the bottom while filling up the hole. Cut the canes to within 6 inches of the ground to encourage root growth. Separate plants by 3 feet and rows by at least 6 feet. For many varieties, create a post and wire support for the canes to grow along. Embed 6-8 posts in the ground. Connect the posts with wire, one 2 feet above the ground, one in the middle and one on top. As the canes grow, fasten them to the wires as they develop, maintaining a few inches between each cane. In late winter, mulch around the canes with compost or other organic matter. This prevents an iron deficiency. Before the fruit turns red, cover the canes with netting to prevent bird damage. Berries are ripe when the taste is right. To cook with, harvest some just before full ripening. Leave the central core of the fruit on the canes. If you cannot eat them all, store by freezing or canning. For ever-bearing varieties, fruit bears a small crop on the tips of first-year canes each fall and a larger crop on second-year canes. After you harvest all the fruit, cut all the canes that fruited to ground level. Space new canes 3-5 inches apart on the support and remove excess canes.
Most common pests are birds, aphids and raspberry beetles. Netting deters birds. Planting French marigolds reduces aphids by attracting their predators, ladybugs and hover flies. Raspberry beetle larvae feed on ripe fruit and fall into soil to form pupae. If you see deformed fruit, hoe the soil to bring pupae to the surface for birds to eat. If infestation is severe, spray with insecticide like rotenone when the first fruits turn pink.
Yellowing between veins on the leaves shows an iron deficiency. Quickly apply some foliar spray and spread a couple handfuls of nutrient rich fertilizer over the roots.