Technically . . . . technically red raspberry leaves are best harvested in the spring. However, there is a warning associated with that. You must know which leaves to clip without potentially harming the raspberries to come. Well, I use the raspberries too and I wasn’t going to take a chance on ruining my summer raspberry harvest. The leaves can also be harvested in the fall. I am one of those who cuts back her bush every fall, so when I do that I take advantage of the leaves that are left on the bush.
Why Harvest Raspberry Leaves?
Raspberry leaf is fantastic for my lady parts, but the benefits go far beyond. What? You want more specifics? Ok, here ya go (found most info here but raspberry and raspberry leaf are pretty well documented to have these benefits):
- high in chelated iron, magnesium, and calcium – minerals that often are too low in our diets and need supplementation
- contains fragirine, which tones the muscles of the pelvic region, especially the uterus
- stimulates breast milk production and returns uterus to former shape after giving birth
- can help alleviate morning sickness
- can help stimulate contractions around the time of birth (there are warnings that raspberry leaf should not be consumed in 3rd trimester unless you want to induce labor
- tannins in raspberry and the leaf help with diarrhea and upset stomach
- reduction of excess phlegm
- it’s been said to calm digestion and reduce colic in breastfeeding infants
- it’s been touted to reduce bed-wetting (I’m guessing this is because of the toning qualities that it has on the uterus as well).
This is what my berries look like at the end of the season. If it stayed warm and the sunlight was more consistent, I’d bet they would grow all year. But around the end of October production really slows up and berries become much smaller. Time to cut back and harvest the leaves.
The bush is seriously out of control by the end of the season.
This goes against some conventional wisdom, but I cut back the ENTIRE bush for next season. Apparently, you can leave first year canes and they will grow spring berries, but the second year canes need to be cut. Seriously, I couldn’t tell you which is which so I cut them all back. I usually have a harvest coming in by July. And I personally think they are much more productive this way.
I make two piles of leaves. One is the compost pile and the other are leaves to sort through to make into teas, tinctures, oils. This picture and the one that follows are examples of leaves worth saving.
The younger fresher leaves are the leaves worth saving. I suppose you can harvest the older larger leaves but they will not have the impact that the younger leaves do in regard to effectiveness. And just because it bothers me, I also avoid the leaves with bug holes in it. Generally, those are the older leaves though.
Wear gardening gloves when dealing with raspberry bushes. They have tiny thorns that lodge in your skin. Not only do they hurt, but it is difficult to remove. In this picture you can see examples of older leaves with bug holes that I would not use to dehydrate.
These are my chosen leaves. I am very selective. Also, chose to do this outside on a beautiful day. You don’t want to deal with any buggies in the house.
Dehydrate the leaves in the oven at 170 degrees for about 30 minutes. It’s really quick. I do them in batches as I have a lot. It’s better to use dried raspberry leaves rather than taking a chance with fresh leaves that are starting to wilt. Apparently, fresh leaves that start to wilt can have a negative effect on your tummy. Dry those babies!
Crunch up the dried leaves. Make sure all leaves have dehydrated thoroughly.
Store in an airtight glass mason jar until ready for use in a tea, tincture, or other format.
In the spring I plan to transfer some of the runners to another bed. If I remember, I will do a post to show you how to expand your raspberry garden from existing plants. Raspberry bushes are extremely prolific and yield an abundance without asking a lot in return. I’ll take raspberries over strawberries ANYDAY for that reason.
Check out these other gardening posts:
Post links to: Frugal Days, Real Food Wednesday, Fresh Foods, Thank Your Body Thurs, Simple Lives, Keep it Real Thursday, Pennywise Platter, Fight Back, Small Footprint Friday, Fill Those Jars, Monday Mania, Homestead Barnhop, Fat Tuesday, Scratch Cookin‘, Traditional Tuesday,