Raspberry ‘Polka’

Family: Rosaceae

Polish-bred ‘Polka’ is an autumn-cropping (primocane) raspberry.  This is one of my favourite raspberries to grow; I adore these beautiful fruits and admire their attractive sheen.  ‘Polka’ raspberries ripen a week or two earlier than ‘Autumn Bliss’ and most of the other autumn-fruiting raspberries.  ‘Polka’ produces a large harvest of raspberries from late summer all the way through to late autumn.

I have found that ‘Polka’ raspberries tend to keep for longer than other raspberries once they have been harvested; although to enjoy your harvest through the year you could always freeze some of your raspberries or turn them into jams, jellies, or preserves.  I have also found that ‘Polka’ is a very disease resistant and resilient raspberry cultivar; these raspberry plants are naturally strong and healthy.

This raspberry should be planted in the soil – ‘Polka’ is not a container plant.  Plant ‘Polka’ raspberry canes in full sunshine or partial shade in a sheltered position.  Avoid planting ‘Polka’ raspberries in an exposed, windy position, and don’t plant raspberries in soils that are wet or water-logged.  If your raspberry canes arrive in a bundle, untie them and separate the canes out, as they must be planted individually.  Space your raspberry canes 30-50cm (12-20in) apart, with extra rows planted 1.8m (6ft) apart.  Plant your raspberry canes at the same depth as the plants were originally grown – look for the soil mark on the canes to help you be certain of the correct planting depth.  After planting, cut the canes back to around 15cm from their base and apply a generous layer of mulch in spring.  Tie the new raspberry canes onto their support as they grow; although autumn-fruiting raspberries don’t tend to grow anywhere near as tall as summer-fruiting raspberries.

Plant raspberries while they are dormant from November to early March.  I always recommend looking out for nurseries or suppliers that sell their raspberry plants bare root.  Buying bare root raspberries is a more cost effective way to purchase plants; it also reduces plastic use, saves on water, and creates raspberry plants with strong and healthy roots.

Although it’s tempting to save money and plant raspberries that have been dug up from a friend or relation’s garden, it’s best to buy certified raspberries.  Purchasing certified stock will ensure you receive healthy plants, which are free from virus, and are certain to be the raspberry variety you wanted – something that isn’t guaranteed when your receive plants dug up from a garden or allotment!

Autumn fruiting raspberries like ‘Polka’ are very easy to prune.  After all the raspberries have been harvested in early winter, cut all the raspberry canes right down to ground level.  Do this in December, January, or February.  New canes will emerge in February or March and these stems will grow up and fruit in summertime.  It is possible to gain a longer harvest period by leaving ‘Polka’ raspberry canes unpruned; these old stems will fruit earlier in summer and the new canes will grow up as usual and fruit from late summer to autumn.  If you decide to try out extending your raspberry harvest time, do remember to cut the canes down to ground level after they have fruited for the second time.  Weed around your plants and apply a mulch of homemade garden compost, strulch, or peat-free compost around your plants in March.

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