Gardener's Grapevine 2014.04.30

This past Saturday I did a lot of different jobs both inside and outside the house. In the gardening it is so disheartening to clean up the yard only to come back to leaves stuck in the same beds that you cleaned out the week prior. Where do the blasted things come from?

Our neighbors keep their lawns tidy, so are the trees hiding a few for a later throw-down? I have been cleaning small maple trees out of everything, also. When we bought the house 27 years ago there was a small maple tree out back and it was so pretty. Now it is a beautiful beast that overachieves in the seed department. Piles of flyers are everywhere. Ever since I was a child I've called maple seeds "flyers," as I'm sure many children do.

I tackled a job this weekend that is always a pain, but one I’m always happy I did. Art and I pruned and tied up the raspberry canes. We have ever-bearing raspberries which are the big, fat, red, juicy ones that produce fruit twice a year. I love the fruit, but the pruning, not so much. My arms and lower legs look like I got in a fight with a feral cat. My gauntlets have worn out, and I had on capris, which were not a good choice for that job. I wore leather gloves, but gauntlets are so much better. Raspberries will grab you through your clothes.

Mitzy decided to help, but her kind of help is usually not the best. She grabbed a dead cane and carried it off only to come back to me with it stuck in her fur. She was walking around with a big thorny raspberry cane stuck to her ruff, but wasn’t able to get it off though she was fighting with all her might. I laughed so hard. She is a very happy puppy, just a little too nosey for her own good.

I don’t know how many of you raise raspberries, but if you do I'm sure you realize why they are so expensive. They are a lot of work; not just the pruning, but picking the fruit also.

I went to Google and asked for information on raspberries. I was led to the Arbor Day Foundation’s site. This site is a great source of information. It said that ever-bearing raspberries need to be planted where they are  well-supported, as the canes get very heavy when the fruit is in full production. Ours are growing on the fence. They are a shallow rooted plant and need to have frequent moisture in the surface soil. After the first year, do not mulch the bushes unless your soil is sandy. For fertilizer, the plants need nitrogen or a 10-10-10 nitrogen fertilizer. Spread it three to four inches away from the base of the plants, otherwise you will risk burning the root base.

For pruning, do not prune at all the first year. Raspberries will grow better if pruned, so light and air gets to the plant. The second year prune the plants, removing the dead canes and any that look diseased. The dead canes are very easy to spot; I wait until the canes start budding out. The dead ones won't have any buds, plus they are very brittle. Cut them out with a pair of hand pruners. Tie up any canes that are bending over.

If you love raspberries, this is all worth it. If not, I recommend not even starting.