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Wal-Mart is Not Your Garden’s Friend: Iris in May?


Horticultural Warning: For those that may be interested in buying bulbs at Wal-mart…

While in the Plover, WI Wal-mart on Monday with my Mom, we happened to stroll down the aisle where they had bulbs/tubers/rhizomes — glads, canna, iris, etc. Among the selection of about 10 iris varieties were 2 Dutch Iris — “Miss Saigon” and “Eye of the Tiger”.

20170506_142747Miss Saigon

My first reaction at seeing any iris – Dutch, Siberian, Bearded, or otherwise – is that this is NOT the time of year to plant iris. You plant them in the late summer/early autumn.

Dutch Iris do not grow in Wisconsin — they are for the southern states. Further research on my part shows that “Miss Saigon” is for Zones 8-11 and “Eye of the Tiger” for Zones 6-9. Wisconsin is mostly Zone 3 and 4 with a bit of 5 in the southeastern part. (NOTE: Plover is a 4.) Just like the short day onions I wrote about previously, Wal-Mart just throws whatever on the shelves because most gardeners that shop at Wal-Mart do not have enough knowledge to know that they are being taken. Just because you are getting a good deal at the checkout counter does not mean that you are getting what you think you are getting. And Wal-Mart is NOT the only offender — I have seen the same in years past at Sam’s Club, ShopKo, KMart, Menards, Home Depot, and other big box chains are notorious for selling things that they -say- grow in your area, but a quick variety search online shows how much they have lied to you. By buying products that are not for your area, you have just wasted your money on what will be an expensive annual, plus you will likely tell everyone you know that you have a “black thumb” when it comes to gardening.

Miss Saigon 2Eye of the Tiger

If you want something reliable that will truly grow well, spend the extra few cents/dollars and go to a reputable horticultural seller. If you need advise on where to go, send me a message and I can send you info.

Please feel free to share this post with your friends.

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© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

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Growing Spinach through the Winter in Wisconsin


“There is a fellow around here who plants bulk spinach in his garden each fall and then harvests it in early spring. I’ve only heard about this guy; I’ve never actually met him, so I can’t ask any questions. Do you know whether it actually is possible to plant spinach in the fall? If so, which variety would you suggest? We have a 20 foot X 20 foot plot we plan to plant out. I usually plant it with winter rye to prevent erosion, but this alternative sounded really nice.

John Mueller”

 

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Hi John,

Thank you for the post regarding spinach.  Yes, it is possible to grow spinach in Wisconsin during the winter, but you have to have a few tricks to get around old man winter.

I’m not sure if you and I are thinking of the same farmer, but there is one down by Paoli or Monroe that does this as a business and sells spinach through the winter at the Madison Farmer’s Market.  I want to say the lady’s name is Judy Hagman or Hageman or something similar, because she spoke to our organic horticulture class when I was in graduate school.
winter-spinach
The way that spinach can be grown here is by using a high tunnel, which is a form of hoop house.  If you are not familiar with them, they are pretty much like a poly-plastic greenhouse.  The heating inside comes from the sun and there usually is no mechanical equipment like fans and heaters involved.  Depending on the parameters of a farmer’s operation, they may be stationary or moveable.  They can be used to extend a growing season (planting corn or tomatoes in April inside) or to use over the winter.

Spinach planted in the autumn can be harvested with repeated cuttings through the winter and into the spring. Autumn planting date is critical to winter harvests.  Through the short cold days of winter spinach continues to grow, but at a much, much reduced rate.  This growth reduction takes effect around mid-November around here.  Autumn crops must grow vegetatively before this time to carry the crop through the winter.  Usually a good time to plant to get crop to the proper stage of growth is in September.

If you are interested in having your own high tunnel, I recommend first checking out a book called “The Four Season Harvest” by Eliot Coleman.  You can get it from your local library or you can purchase it online or in person at Barnes and Noble (because they usually have at least one on the shelf when I’m looking for new books in that area. Coleman is from Maine and he is VERY knowledgeable about how to grow just about everything in high tunnels — and even has one attached onto his house.  Definitely a good read.

I hope this information helps you out.  If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask.

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© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Buy Big or Buy Small: Does Pot Size and Quantity Matter with Tomatoes?


“My friend and I don’t agree with how we buy our plants. My friend buys all her tomatoes and peppers in little packs of 3, 4, or 6. They look so skinny and sickly. I always buy mine in single pots because they are bigger and better and blooming. She tells me I am nuts to spend so much money on the same thing as her. I know my plants will grow better. What do you think? I plan to show her your response, so make it good!

Janelle”

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Dear Janelle,

Thanks for your questions. Sorry to burst your bubble, but bigger isn’t always better.

Commercial greenhouses sell single potted tomatoes, peppers, etc. to:

1. Appeal to the customer’s eyes by having them think that big plant with flowers will produce fruit soon.

2. Appeal to the customer’s brain by making them think that the plant will be healthier and better because the single potted plants are always darker green and have such a sturdy stem.

3. Appeal to the customer’s wallet because things that are more expensive are better quality.

Tomato Transplants

The sad thing is, all of these things are untrue when it comes to plants.  There are so many reason why that:

1.  Days to Maturity:  If you have ever looked at a packet of tomato seeds or the plant stake that is included in a pot when you buy the tomato plant at the greenhouse, you will see that it has “– days after transplant”. With tomatoes and other plants that require a boost indoors before being planted outside, the days to maturity is based on the days after transplanting. It doesn’t matter if your plant if 4 inches tall with 6 leaves or 12 inches tall with 16 leaves: it will still take the same amount of days after transplanting to have fruits.

2.  Transplant shock: Transplant shock occurs to every plant when it is taken from one place and put in another. It doesn’t matter if you have a large root mass or a small one — all movement is shocking to the plant. The larger the plant is, the more shock it will have and the longer it will take to recover from the shock because it is an older plant. (For those in the northern states, most greenhouses start single potted vegetables 4-8 weeks earlier than those in multipacks).  So while your large tomato plant is recovering from the rude awakening of being put into your garden, your friend’s little tomatoes will quickly recover and soon be as large (if not larger) than yours and yours will still be recovering and not growing.  In general, the best size plant for transplanting is one that is 4-8″ tall. Any larger than that and you are setting yourself up for a lot of shock.

3. Flowers don’t mean fruit: Just because a tomato is flowering when you buy it doesn’t mean those flowers will have fruit. Flowering is often a sign that a plant is in shock. It’s like the plant is saying, “oh no, things are not right in my current environment, I need to flower and produce fruit because I may soon die.”  Flowering tomato or pepper plants in a greenhouse indicate that your plant has been growing for a long time (probably since February or earlier) and is more than ready to be producing fruit. However, the little pot that it is growing in is a much smaller amount of soil than the plant requires to make fruit. The flowers will usually drop without producing fruit or the fruits that are produced will be small and of low quality. Also, if you plant your transplants soon after purchasing them and leave the flowers on, they will produce fruits, but the plant will focus on producing those fruits only rather than growing larger and making more fruits. It is always best to pinch off all buds and blooms on vegetable plants when they are transplanted into the soil.

4.  Extra Green Color: When you go to the greenhouse, you notice that the larger plants are always much darker green. This is because the greenhouse overfertilizes the single pots to increase their size and make them as dark green as possible. When you get the plant home and don’t continue to overfertilize it, it will go into ‘starvation’ mode and not grow. If you think continuing to overfertilize the plant will help it, you are wrong. Overfertilizing will prevent flower/fruit development. (And if you are wondering how the plants at the greenhouse flowered while being overfertilized, it is due to shock. Same thing won’t happen when the plant is in your garden with plenty of root space, light, and water.)

5. Expense: The truth is, seeds are cheap. Insanely cheap. On average, an open pollinated or heirloom variety will cost about $0.001-0.005/per seed (that’s right, tenths of a cent).  Hybrids usually cost $0.005-0.05/per seed.  While there is an addition cost of fertilizer, water, etc., it doesn’t come close to adding up to the premium price of the single potted plants. And, as a person that used to work in the greenhouse industry, the greenhouse owner is chuckling over the people that buy ‘premium’ plants all the way to the bank.

So, Janelle, unfortunately for you, your friend has it right.

Don’t believe me? Research done by the Samuel Roberts Foundation, Iowa State, and UC Cooperative Extension backs me up on this.

I hope this information helps you out and that you make a wiser decision in the future. If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask.

 

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© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Why Kill the Asian Lady Beetles?


A lot of people have told me lately that they are ‘saving’ the ‘ladybugs’ in their house to ‘help the farmers’. I am sorry, but are you nuts???

Like wine? Clean food and air? The roof over your head? Then read on!

Melissa Watkins's photo.

FYI folks: These are not traditional lady bugs, but a species known as Harmonia axyridis (Asian Lady Beetle, Harlequin Ladybug, Multicolored Lady Beetle, among others) that was introduced by the USDA and chemical companies into the Midwest in the 1990s. Reportedly, Asian Lady Beetles have heavily fed on soybean aphids (yet another happy little pest introduction from the USDA chemical companies), supposedly saving farmers vast sums of money. However, most farmers I have talked to never see them and neither do their crop scouts. But guess what they do see? Lots of aphids!  What do they do?   Spray just as heavily as before.

Er, ok, so where are the little Asian Lady Beetles if they are not in the field?

If you grow grapes, cherries, or any type of berry, you already have the answer…

images 2imagesIMGA0401

(Photos used with permission of the Universities of Illinois, Minnesota, and California Extensions, respectively)

To read more on this issue, check out Influence of Berry Injury on Infestations of the Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle in Wine Grapes over at the Plant Management Network site.

So now you are saying, well, Mertie, that’s great and all, but why should I kill them in my house?

1. They get into food, leave their waste products on your plates, and stain fabric. Eat one and you will never let another live.  As a person that has the misfortune of having them live in the home during the winter, I can tell you that we have at least a couple episodes happen each winter. Most recently I ate one in a grilled cheese. I had four sandwiches to make, and in that small window of prep time, one snuck in. YUCK!

2. They bite and many people have allergic reactions.  It’s like getting a mosquito bite if not allergic, but much worse if you are (a Facebook friend from MN recently had anaphylaxic shock from a bite).

3. Over years, they become a fire hazard. How? Check the insulation in your home. Believe it or not, their dead little carcasses (because most that come in die in your home) are very flammable. Chalk this up to life experience on the time my Grandpa swept them up by the 5 gallon pails and put them out on the burning pile…

4. The bacteria that lives on their dead carcasses is harmful to humans.  The substances cadaverine and putrescine are produced during the decomposition of Asian Lady Beetles and transported throughout the home via ductwork..  A 2005 study in the Journal of Epidemiology and Human Health found a fourfold increase in cadaverine and putrescine in homes in Iowa with high levels of dead Asian Lady Beetles (in excess of 100 bugs per cubic meter of the home; it is estimated that many homes in rural areas of Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, and Minnesota far exceed 100 bugs per cubic meter).  This would put the levels well above recommended levels within a home

Feel like saving those bugs now?

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Cytospora Canker on Spruce


“Help!!! I have been trying to get help from Jung Seed, but I don’t seem to get anywhere with their customer service.  Here are the emails I have exchanged with them:

Me on 10/17/15:

I think we have a fungus that is killing our blue spruce trees we bought from you this spring at the Sun Prairie Garden Center.  The staff at your store directed me to contacting customer service.  Is there a treatment or spray that we could do to try to save the trees. Thank you for any help/suggestions.

Lori in Customer Service on 10/23/15:

Are you sure this is a fungus?  What does it look like and exactly what is happening to the trees?  What part of the tree is being affected?  I need more information in order assist you.  You cannot treat the symptoms without accurately without being sure what you are dealing with.  We will wait to hear from you.

Me on 10/23/15:

Thanks for the reply.  I suspect it’s a fungus because our area has had a problem with it.  I’ve attached some pictures.  The needles are dropping – seems like from the inside out and bottom up.

Cytospora 1 Cytospora 2

After this, I never heard anything back.  I resent the above email twice during the next week, and then called.  The person that answered the phone named Rachel seemed as clueless about spruce trees as anyone I had ever spoke to and told me that it was not a fungus but me not taking proper care of the tree.  If I had further questions about tree care, I should go ask the extension agent in my county.

We don’t have one in our county anymore and the local Master Gardeners field the questions until the vacancy is filled.  From my past experience, they don’t know much at all.  When I asked and explained what I had been told by Jung’s, the Master Gardener lady said she agreed with them because the people there are so knowledgeable and would not be wrong.  Sure…  So, I come to ask you since Jung’s thinks I am nuts and Master Gardeners are inexperienced and naive at best.

Thank you!

Myrna”

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Hi Myrna,

Thank you for the email regarding your blue spruce trees.  It looks like they are suffering from a fungal disease called Cytospora Canker.  Cytospora Canker is observed most often on older trees, especially those that are planted in poor sites. Trees weakened by environmental stresses, such as drought, freeze injury, or high temperatures, also are more susceptible to canker diseases. The Cytospora Canker fungus may attack many different species of hardwood trees, conifers, and shrubs.

Spruce trees infected with the Cytospora Canker fungus typically show scattered branch dieback, often starting on the lower branches. A close look at the dead branches usually reveals the presence of sticky white sap. Infected trees produce this resinous sap in response to the infection by the canker fungus.

The Cytospora fungus gains entrance into branches or twigs of trees through wounds or branch stubs. Over time, the fungus encircles or girdles branches, causing death. Brown needles can be observed on killed branches, but they eventually fall off, leaving bare branches.

As with many diseases, the best control for Cytospora Canker is prevention.  Plant trees in a good site, one that is well-drained and allows unrestricted growth as the tree matures. Adding mulch around trees increases overall health in many ways, including reducing competition from turfgrass. If dry conditions occur, water deeply if feasible. Any cultural practice that promotes good tree vigor helps prevent canker diseases.

Pruning out diseased branches is the primary means of treating trees showing symptoms of Cytospora Canker. Scout declining trees closely for cankers.  Prune at least 4-6 inches below any visible cankers. Some branches may need to be pruned back to the trunk. To minimize spread of the disease, prune only during dry weather. The fungal spores of Cytospora can be easily spread when conditions are wet. Fungicide sprays are generally not effective at controlling canker diseases.

For more information, I’ve included the local extension brochure on Cytospora Canker.  It can be found here:
http://vilaslandandwater.org/land_resources_pages/land_resources_lawn_n_garden/lawn_and_garden/trees_and_shrubs/evergreen_trees_shrubs/problems/a2639_cb
s_cytospora_canker.pdf

I hope this information helps you out.  If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask.

 

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© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

Potted Bulb Garden and Cutting Back Perennials


“It would be fun to have specific directions as to how to build a potted bulb garden.    I think it has to sit in the refrigerator (40 degree area) for 12 weeks.

Also you could write about the proper time to cut down perennials.  I’ve heard the new thinking is let them stand until spring (to feed our winter friends) and then chop them down inch by inch to create mulch.

Denise”

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Hi Denise,

Thank you for the email regarding your bulbs and perennials.

Forcing Bulbs

Bulbs made to flower at other than normal times are said to be forced. The practice of forcing is commonly used to flower daffodils, hyacinths, tulips, crocus and other spring bulbs during the winter. With proper planning and care, bulbs can supply color for the home from late November until early April, when they begin to flower normally outdoors.

Steps for forcing include selecting the most suitable varieties, potting bulbs properly in well-drained potting medium, providing proper
cold-temperature treatment, bringing bulbs into a cool room, and placing the plants in a display location when well-developed.

Stage 1:  Preparation
Any spring-flowering bulb can be forced, but to be successful, select types and varieties known to be good forcers. Hyacinths and daffodils are generally the easiest to force. Tulips are slightly more difficult, but with proper treatments they can be forced successfully. Many small bulbs such as crocus, grape hyacinth and snowdrops also may be forced.

The general procedure for forcing all these bulbs is similar. Begin by buying only top-quality, flowering-size bulbs for indoor forcing. Good bulbs contain ingredients necessary for successfully producing roots, leaves and flowers.

Hyacinths are usually the most easily forced spring bulbs. They may be forced in water or potted in a container. Potting should be done in late September or early October. Plants will flower about one month after being brought indoors from the chilling treatment. Earliest bloom from bulbs can be expected about mid-January.

Many varieties of daffodils can be forced. Paperwhite Narcissus are suitable for earliest forcing either in pots or in water.

All varieties should be potted before the end of October for adequate root growth and chilling. Dates listed in the table are the earliest that bulbs planted in October should be brought into forcing conditions. Most varieties flower about one month after being brought indoors, although timing varies due to varieties and individual forcing conditions.

Hyacinth varieties for forcing:
Variety        Color        Pot no later than    Earliest date to bring indoors
Anne Marie        bright pink    Oct. 1            late December
Delft Blue        porcelain blue    Oct. 1        late December
Jan Bos        red        Oct. 1            late December
L’Innocence        white        Oct. 1            late December
Carnegie        white        Oct. 1            early January
Myosotis        pale blue    Oct. 1            early January
Ostara            dark blue    Oct. 1            early January
Pink Pearl        pink        Oct. 1            early January
City of Harlem    yellow        Oct. 15        mid-February
King of the Blues    deep blue    Oct. 15        mid-February
Lady Derby        rose pink    Oct. 15        late January
Orange Boven        orange-salmon    Oct. 15    late January

Daffodil (Narcissus) varieties for forcing.
Variety        Color                Forcing dates
Accent            white; salmon cup        March to April
Barrett Browning    white; orange cup        January to April
Bridal Crown        golden yellow        March to April
Carlton        double white; orange center    January to February
Cassata        creamy to pale yellow    January to April
Dutch Master        golden yellow        January to April
February Gold    bright yellow        January to February
Flower Record    white; orange-rimmed cup    January to February
Fortune        yellow; coppery-orange cup    January to April
Ice Follies        white; yellow cup        January to April
Las Vegas        white; lemon yellow cup    January to April
Mt. Hood        ivory white            January to April
Tete a Tete        yellow miniature        January to February
Unsurpassable    yellow                March to April

Tulip varieties for forcing.
Variety        Color                Earliest date to bring indoors
Apeldoorn        orange-scarlet        early February
Apricot Beauty    salmon-rose            early January
Attilla        purple violet        mid-January
Bellona        golden yellow        early January
Blizzaard        creamy white            early February
Christmas Gold    deep yellow            early January
Christmas Marvel    cherry pink            early January
Couleur Cardinal    cardinal red            early February
DeWet (General)    orange                early January
First Lady        reddish-violet        early January
Garden Party        white-edged red        early February
Gudoshnik        pale yellow streaked; rose pink    early February
Jewel of Spring    yellow-streaked red        early February
Kansas            white                early January
Make Up        white with red edge        early February
Merry Widow        red with white edge        mid-January
Olympic Flame    yellow-flamed red        early February
Orange Nassau    double-orange scarlet    mid-January
Orange Wonder    bronzy-orange        mid-January
Paul Richter        scarlet red            early January
Peach Blossom    double deep rose        early February
Preludlum        salmon with white base    early January
Queen of Sheba    mahogany-edged orange    early February
Westpoint        yellow                early February

Stage 2:  Potting

The following materials will be needed for potting bulbs:
–Pots 4 to 8 inches in diameter. Short pots known as azalea or bulb pots are preferred.
–A well-drained potting medium such as a blend of Sphagnum peat, vermiculite and perlite. High fertility is not essential, but good drainage is important. No fertilizer is needed at potting time.
–Wood, plastic or metal labels.
–Thermometer for checking temperatures.

Procedure
All bulbs are normally potted in October.

*Add enough soil mixture to fill the pot so bulbs are placed as follows:
–Hyacinths and tulips: Allow only the tip of the bulb to show above the soil line.
–Daffodils: Plant so about one-half of the bulb shows above the soil line.
–Small bulbs (crocus, snowdrop, grape hyacinth, etc.): Plant so they will be about one inch below the soil line.

*Set the bulbs in the pot. One large bulb may be placed in each 4-inch pot.  Use six tulips, three hyacinths, five daffodils or 15 crocus (or other small bulb) in each 6-inch pot. All bulbs in a pot should be of the same kind and variety to ensure uniform flowering. Place tulips with the flattened side of the bulb toward the outside of the pot.

*Fill around the bulbs with potting medium to the proper height. Firm the medium with light pressure, but avoid tight packing. After planting, the final potting medium line should be about 1/4 to 1/2 inch below the rim of the pot.

*Label each pot with variety of bulb, date of potting and expected date to begin forcing.

*Add water until it drips through the drainage hole in the bottom of the pot. After about one hour, dump out any water remaining in the saucer.

Stage 3:  Rooting
After potting, keep hardy bulbs where temperatures range between 35 and 48 degrees F; 40 degrees F is ideal. These temperatures may be found in a cool north room, basement, crawl space, bulb cellar, outdoor trench, refrigerator or cold frame.

An unheated basement or storage cellar is most convenient because temperatures don’t fluctuate greatly and the cooling is quicker and more satisfactory. An old refrigerator may be used for a few bulbs.

A cold frame is easily built outdoors and may later be used for other gardening activities. Place the pots to be forced in the cold frame and cover them with sawdust, straw, leaves, peat moss, shredded styrofoam or other material. The cold frame should be in a shady place or on the north side of a building so the soil is as uniformly cool as possible in October and November. No sash is needed on the cold frame.

When preparing only a few pots, place them on the surface of the ground close to a building. Cover them with peat moss, leaves, straw or similar material and invert a box or bushel basket over them for protection.

Bulbs stored outdoors will normally get sufficient moisture from the soil around them after initial watering. Indoors, bulbs should be kept moist at all times. Overwatering, however, may cause bulb rot.

Roots should develop soon after potting. Excellent root growth is essential to good growth and flower formation. Potted bulbs should be placed outdoors at least three weeks before the first hard freeze is expected. This is an important period for good root development.

Stage 4:  Top-growth

A few varieties may be brought indoors after about 12 weeks of cooling, but most will require 13 or 14 weeks to develop the necessary roots and top growth. Indoor forcing takes three to four weeks. To extend the bloom period, remove potted bulbs from storage at weekly intervals.

If potting medium and tops are frozen when plants are brought indoors, place plants in a cool room (about 40 degrees F) for two or three days to thaw out slowly. Don’t touch the plant tops when they are frozen.

If plants are not frozen, bring them directly to a cool, bright window where temperatures range close to 60 degrees F. Don’t place them in direct sunlight. Keep bulbs watered, but fertilizer won’t be needed.

Stage 5:  Bloom

When flower buds are almost fully developed, pots may be moved to the area in the house where they are to be displayed. Avoid placing them in full sunlight or close to a heater. The life of the flowers can be lengthened by placing the plants in a cool room at night.

Bulbs that have been forced indoors are usually of little value for outdoor planting afterwards and should be discarded.

Forcing bulbs in water

Tender types of Narcissus such as Paperwhite and Soleil d’Or don’t require cold treatment before being forced into bloom. These are the most popular and dependable bulbs for forcing and may be grown in water with pebbles for support.

Hyacinths can be forced into bloom in containers that will support the bulb with only its base touching the water. Bulbs should be cleaned before placing them in glasses. The best time for starting the bulbs is in October.

Keep the glasses containing the bulbs in a cool (45 to 50 degrees F), dark location until tip growth is 3 to 4 inches long and the flower cluster emerges free from the bulb. This may take 8 to 12 weeks. When the top growth is well-developed, move the glasses to a cool, bright window.

As for your perennials, you can chop them down if they herbaceous (not recommended for roses or other woody perennials that come back on the same stems/foliage).  However, the only thing to keep in mind is to wait until the foliage had died back.  If the stems or leaves are still green, the foliage is still feeding the plant and preparing it for winter.

I hope this information helps you out.  If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask.

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© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Pruning Raspberries and Blueberries


“We purchased many bare root raspberries and blueberries in the spring for our new garden…. Many of the raspberries bore fruit this fall.  I’m wondering how they should both be pruned this fall?  Please
advise…
Thanks
Jesse”

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Hi Jesse,

Thank you for the email regarding your raspberries and blueberries.

First question: do you have summer-bearing/everbearing or fall-bearing types of raspberries?

Raspberry PruningIf you have a summer-bearing and everbearing types of raspberry, you do not want to prune it in general.  The berries will be produced on canes from the previous year.  The only ones that you should think about pruning would be those that have grown up beyond the area you have designated for them, or any that are spindly or diseased.

As for fall-bearing types, you definitely want to prune them in late winter/early spring before the buds break dormancy.  Prune all canes that bore fruit last year; they won’t fruit again. These will have grayish,
peeling bark.  To force your everbearing raspberries to produce only one crop in the fall, prune back the entire raspberry bush in early spring. As the canes grow back in the summer, remove outside suckers and thin the canes to about 6 inches apart. Keep the sturdiest canes. This technique will give you a larger fall harvest and is good if you also have summer bearing raspberry bushes and you want to stagger the harvests.

As the summer goes on, you can always prune out any dead, broken or diseased canes or those that are outside your designated row area. Of course, you can prune broken, dead, diseased or infested canes at any time of the year, the sooner the better.

And one other thing:  wear thick gloves as raspberries have some serious thorns on them. And use clean, sharp tools.

As for the blueberries, spring is the best time to prune. Before domancy has broken, remove any diseased or broken wood, plus crossing branches. You want the bush to have a narrow base and a wide, open top that allows sunlight and air in.

I hope this information helps you out.  If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask.

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