PRUNING RASPBERRIES AND BLACKBERRIES

There are two kinds of raspberry plants. Most produce a single crop of fruit on last year’s new growth in June and July. Everbearing raspberries produce a second crop on the current year’s new growth in August and September. Annual pruning can be done anytime from now until the end of February. The old growth from last year, which is usually turning yellow and brown by now, should be pruned off at or close to the ground. The new growth, which is still green, and in the case of everbearing types, may still have a few ripening fruits, should be left. I like to place posts at the four corners of the patch and run 3 strands of twine or wire between posts to hold the canes upright. If rows are long, extra posts may be needed between the end posts. As new growth progresses in the spring and summer, shoots need to be tucked inside the wire or twine.

Blackberries are similar to raspberries in that they produce fruit on the previous year’s growth. So all canes or vines which produced fruit this year should be removed. Blackberry canes are longer than raspberry canes and have vine-like growth. A few of the most vigorous canes or vines produced this year are usually tied to a single set of posts and wires. Then weaker new growth is removed.

PLANT BULBS IN POTS FOR INDOOR BLOOM

Besides planting bulbs outside this time of year, you can also plant them in pots or other containers for bloom this fall and winter inside your home. Most bulbs need to be cooled for about 12 weeks after planting in order to bloom, but a few require no special treatment. Most full-service nurseries and garden stores have wide selections of types and colors with specific directions on “forcing” them into bloom.

Paper white narcissus bulbs are pre-cooled and ready to be planted without any special treatment. Paper whites bloom in clusters of tiny, fragrant, daffodil-like flowers in either white or yellow. They are often planted in bowls or relatively shallow containers with just enough gravel or pebbles to hold them upright. They can be planted in deeper pots also. Just place the containers in a sunny area and keep them watered. They will bloom without any further treatment in about 4 to 6 weeks. If started in a cool, sunny location they develop a nice, compact shape. 60 degrees is ideal. If started in a warmer area, they grow taller and will need to be supported with a stake and string or tape.

Large, or miniature amaryllis bulbs can be forced into bloom in large, 6 to 8 inch pots. Large amaryllis are generally planted one bulb per pot, and smaller miniatures 3 to a pot. This native South African flower has already been pre-treated and will bloom in 5 to 8 weeks after planting. If you have an amaryllis from last year, quit watering now and place it in a dark, cool place for about 6 weeks. Then it can be brought into the light and will bloom again.

Tulips, daffodils, crocus, hyacinths and grape hyacinths are best for forcing with a cold treatment. The best tulips for forcing are the triumph strain which have medium height stems. Read labels or ask for the varieties which are best for indoor flowering. Almost any daffodil can be forced into bloom. Varieties such as King Alfred, Golden Harvest, Las Vegas, and Ice Follies are some of the best. The multi-flowering jonquilla and cyclamineus narcissus or daffodil can also be grown in pots. Hyacinths are the most fragrant of bulbs. Single bulbs can be forced in a special hyacinth glass which has a lower chamber for roots and water and an upper one for the bulb. Hyacinths can also be bloomed with several bulbs planted in a pot.

Tulips, daffodils, crocus, hyacinths and grape hyacinths can all be planted in ordinary flower pots. The smaller bulbs can be grown in 4 inch pots, but the larger ones need a 6 inch or larger pot.

Fill pots with potting soil, leaving an inch or more at the top. Then place bulbs close together in the pots, but not quite touching. They should be almost completely covered with just the tips showing at the soil surface. After potting and watering so that some water drains from the bottom of the pots, place bulbs in a cool, dark place for about 12 weeks or until sprouting has started. The ideal temperature is 40 to 50 degrees, which is the normal temperature of a refrigerator. If you have an extra refrigerator for summer, now is the time to put it to use for forcing bulbs. Check pots regularly and water as needed. Use different kinds of bulbs or make multiple plantings at 3 week intervals to spread out the blooming period.

You will notice roots at the drain holes and tops will begin to sprout when it is time to bring bulbs into light at room temperature. They will bloom in 2 to 4 weeks.

SOIL SWEETENERS

Our rainy climate causes soil to become acid. It is great for acid-loving plants like rhododendrons, camellias, azaleas, blueberries, and a number of other shrubs. However, most trees and shrubs, lawns, flowers, vegetables, and fruits prefer a less acid or sweeter soil. Lime and other products containing calcium and magnesium will improve growth. Fall is one of the best times to apply lime. Wherever possible, mix it into the soil with a light cultivation or hoeing. It can also be tilled, spaded or mixed into backfill in new plantings.

GARDEN INSIDE

As weather gets less attractive for outdoor gardening, I like to increase my indoor gardening. I enjoy colorful flowering potted plants, especially during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday period.

The chrysanthemum is one of the most rewarding potted flowers. They usually bloom for a month or longer. Pick plants which have some buds which are just starting to open for longer bloom. Mums come in many fall colors which are perfect for this time of year. Yellow, Bronze and Bronzy Red are some of the most appropriate. But if you like white, lavender, and pink shades, those are also available. They also come in a variety of flower types included spider shaped blooms and spoon-like petals.

Another favorite of mine is Kalanchoe, which comes in bright shades of red, orange, yellow and pink. They also bloom for several weeks. Cyclamen, in shades of pink, red and white will also bloom for a long time if you pick plants with unopened buds, often hidden down among the leaves.

Poinsettias are already appearing in stores. The new, long lasting varieties will stay in bloom for 6 weeks or longer if cared for properly. I like to use several plants in a variety of colors and flower types for holiday decoration. Four or more plants of the same kind will make an attractive, tree-like display if you put the center plant on an inverted bowl. Potted azaleas also come in bright Christmas colors.

When potted plants are moved from a bright, sunny greenhouse to a home situation, they use less water, and can be over watered because of water collecting in decorative foil pot covers. By watering plants in the sink with the foil removed, excess water will drain out the bottom. Feel the top of the soil with your finger. If it is still moist, wait another day or two until it dries on top.