x-Rubus idaeus 'Autumn Bliss'
Raspberries are expensive to buy in the shops but are supremely easy to grow at home and autumn fruiting varieties such as 'Autumn Bliss' are by far the easiest.
'Autumn Bliss' was the first autumn fruiting cultivar and is still much loved today for its heavy crops of large, red juicy fruit. Cropping from August through to October, September is its most productive month, but be sure to net fruit against opportunistic birds and squirrels, which seem to love the scarlet berries.
Pick fruit regularly when the berries are a luscious red all over, tugging at them gently so that they come away easily from the plant leaving the central core behind. They are lovely eaten fresh, but can also be frozen, made into jams, fruit leathers or bottled.
Autumn raspberries fruit on growth made the current year - meaning that even those planted in early spring will crop in their first year. Plant in the dormant season from October to March, spreading out the roots and using the soil mark on the stems as a guide to not planting them too deeply. Give plants a warm, sunny, sheltered spot to help pollinating bees get to the flowers and to ensure you get a good, ripe crop before the first frosts.
If planting in rows don't be tempted to overplant as overcrowding can lead to fungal problems, plant canes about 50cm apart. Raspberries also grow well in large pots, roughly four canes per 40cm pot. They are best given some support to keep them in their place and make sure plants are well fed and watered - container plants are much more vulnerable than those in the ground and dependent on you for their food and drink.
All raspberries are hungry, thirsty plants so keep them well watered in dry summers and add plenty of organic matter, such as well-rotted manure or garden compost to the planting hole or trench, if growing in rows. Give plants a nitrogen feed in the spring, switching to a high potash liquid feed when the flowers start to appear in summer. A regular homemade comfrey feed throughout the spring and summer would also do.
Autumn varieties don't need support like summer types but can be tied into wires to keep plants in check and stop overcrowding. Simply cut all the canes down to the ground in late winter – February is the ideal time, well before the new growth appears in the spring.