When Should I Cut My Rhubarb?
Often referred to as a fruit, rhubarb is a cool-season perennial vegetable that grows tall stalks used for creating jams, pies and sauces. Easy to grow, rhubarb is hardy to in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 to 8. Depending on the variety, the stalks grow 10 to 15 inches tall and the color varies from solid red to a slight red blush. Harvesting rhubarb at the right time will help ensure a good spring crop and healthy plants for years to come.
Each plant needs about 1 square yard of space to grow into its mature size and should not be planted too deep, or the stalk production may be delayed. A 10-inch hole filled with 4 inches of compost will provide a good foundation for the plant. To allow the rhubarb plant to become well established, do not cut the stalks during the first year of growth. Most plants will tolerate a light harvest in the second year.
By the third year, the plant is ready for its annual spring harvest. Rhubarb stalks are best cut when young, just as the leaves of the plant begin to expand, usually during mid May and into June. Over the short harvesting season, avoid cutting more than half the plant; the remaining stalks send nutrition back into the plant for the following season. Stop cutting the rhubarb if the newly produced stalks become thin, a sure sign that the necessary plant reserves are getting low.
Growing Healthy Raspberries!
There is nothing quite like a handful of juicy raspberries, fresh from the garden on a hot summer day. Full of vitamins, fiber and antioxidants, raspberries can provide months of fresh fruit goodness and plenty of dessert options. With a little care and attention to detail, the raspberry patch will continue to flourish year after year.
Be sure to select the right raspberry cultivar for the location the berries will grow in. Raspberries are hardy from U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 3 through 10, but the hardiness does vary for each variety. Raspberry plants are available as summer-bearing and produce fruit for roughly one month in early summer and then require no further attention until the next season, or as ever-bearing, requiring more work, but producing berries twice during the season, providing a summer full of fresh berries.
Raspberries do not like wet conditions and are susceptible to root rot. If the garden bed is made of fertile, well-drained soil, then plant the berries right in the ground. If the garden soil is poor, or mostly clay, plant the raspberries in raised beds to keep the roots from soaking in water and deteriorating. Plant raspberries in spring, ensuring the site receives least eight hours of sunlight each day and check the soil pH prior to planting; raspberries prefer a pH of 5.8 to 6.5. Avoid planting raspberries where previous plantings of tomatoes, peppers or potatoes have grown because diseases specific to those crops may pass into the raspberry plants if the virus still lives in the soil.
A trellis support will help keep the fruit-laden top-heavy canes off the ground and make it easier to manage and collect the berries as they ripen. Support for the berry plants also gives added protection during high winds. For a large patch of berries, place posts at 20 foot intervals, attach crossbars on each and run wire between each crossbar to help support the plants. For smaller patches, reduce the post distance.
Keep the raspberry patch weed-free and remove weeds when young; digging too deep to remove weeds will damage the raspberry roots. Adding a layer of mulch around plants in a well-drained location will help control weed growth. Fertilize annually with a 10-10-10 variant. Prune summer-bearing plants in early spring and again once the berries are harvested. Remove all dead or damaged wood and cut back tall canes to 5 feet high. After the second harvest of ever-bearing varieties, cut the canes back to ground level and they will sprout again in the spring.
The Best Time of Year to
Trim Blackberry Vines
Fresh blackberries picked from the vine are a healthy treat on a warm summer day. While easy to maintain, blackberries require regular pruning to ensure good fruit growth, plant health and pest management. New plants need care and pruning for overall health and survival while developing, and knowing the best time of year and canes to prune affects the long-term growth and vitality of blackberry plants.
Understanding how this berry grows helps you ensure the right type of pruning occurs at the right time. Blackberry plants are perennial; they will continue to grow and produce fruit for years, but the fruit-producing canes that sprout from the crown are biennial, lasting just two years. Primocane are the first-year canes where the new fruit buds develop and then go dormant in the winter, and the floricane are the second year of cane growth, producing the fruit before dying off.
Cut the tips of primocanes early in the season once they reach 36 inches high. Trimming promotes heavy bud development along the cane and additional side-cane growth, which in turn will provide a high fruit yield the following year. Fast-growing primocanes may require a second snipping during the growth season. Prune floricanes to the ground when the fruit production is finished, removing any weak or damaged primocanes at the same time.
Prune any canes that suffered winter damage, leaving up to eight healthy canes per plant. Prune back any side or lateral canes to 12 inches, ensuring the removal of any winter damage. Prune away weak, slow-growing canes less than 1/2 inch in diameter. Prune primocane-bearing cultivars -- which produce fruit on the canes grown in the current season -- to the ground in late winter or early spring. Primocane-bearing plants require no further pruning throughout the season.
Prune the stems of new plantings to force fresh canes to start growing. Pruning new plants also removes any disease that may be lingering along the stem. As needed throughout the year, remove any damaged or diseased canes to reduce potential pest problems, increase air circulation throughout the plant and eliminate the spread of disease. Keeping the plants free of debris also allows for good light distribution, which helps to provide plump, healthy berries.
Grow Ground Cherry
Also known as cape gooseberry, ground cherry (
Physalis spp.) offers a sweet-tart taste and they grow wrapped in paper-like husks on velvety, deep green plants.
Ground cherry is a non-stop producer right through until the frost hits and it's not uncommon to see up to 300 berries on a single plant.
Start ground cherry indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost for your area, or purchase transplants - they're becoming a common sight at many garden centres.
Plant in the garden once the risk of frost is over and the soil has warmed. They like an addition of compost when being planted and enjoy full sun. Regular water in a well- drained site is essential.
Ground cherries can be eaten right out of the garden, or used to make jams, jellies, pies or crumbles - anything you create with fruit can be done with these berries.
Ready for harvest in about 70 days from transplants, they do benefit from the support of small tomato cages; the plants can spread and the cages keep them better contained.
Small yellow flowers turn to green husks that become a golden yellow when ready to harvest. Keep an eye on them come harvest time - when they are ready, they may start falling off the plant.