Q & A: Fruit

Got a gardening question? Ask Susan! What follows are reader questions. Each time a new one comes in, I’ll add it to the top. To ask a question, drop me a note at Susan@susansinthegarden.com.

Q: Now that I had a great season of raspberries, what do I do?  Cut
them down to the ground? Can you help?

A: You could certainly prune your raspberries now or wait until late winter. You don’t want to prune all of them down, only the ones that bore fruit this year. Here’s a video of mine that explains this (along with other fall clean-up tasks): Fall Clean-up.

Q: I am desperate to find an organic way to rid my apple trees of codling
moths. This year, we lost our entire bumper crop of apples from four
trees to these insects. We have no leaf litter; I hung 25 plastic balls smeared with the Tanglefoot sticky substance purchased online, and put Tanglefoot paper bands around the trunks smeared with the sticky substance, all to no avail. Any suggestions? DC, Santa Fe, NM

A: In June, I wrote about what my husband and I do to grow our apples organically in the following blog post: Growing Apples Organically – 2017. However, I have some more recent information to share with you: A reader sent me a response to that post, indicating that she has been using codling moth attractant and has been getting about an 80% success rate of worm-free apples. She had asked if I thought she should also put on the nylon footies (refer to my blog post) to get 100%. My response to her was that if she’s only doing the attractant and getting 80% success, I wouldn’t bother doing anything else! So my husband and I have decided to try using the attractant as the only method of codling moth control on 1 or 2 of our apple trees next year to see how well that works. You can bet I’ll write another blog post about that! To learn more about apple codling moths, I have a new Organic Pest Control guide on my website. There is a page specifically on apple codling moths, to give you a good idea of their life cycle, etc. And there is also an information page on the apple codling moth attractants. They are homemade and one of the most important ingredients is molasses.

Q: I planted five plants in a 12 foot x 4 foot raised bed last year, ten
inches high.  This year they are growing out of the base ground around
the bed.  Why do they grow down, and move away from the bed and
reemerge in the gravel walk?  Darn plants anyway.  I am cutting them
at  the ground level outside of the bed to control them but I do not
know if that will help. SS, Spokane

A: No worries, this is what raspberry plants like to do! They send up runners here and there occasionally, I guess as a way of propagating their species. I get them, too, and I just pull them up out of the ground, roots and all. However, if you need more raspberry plants, you could gently dig them up and put them into your “official” raspberry bed!

Q: I have a question about blue berries. I live in Breckenridge, KY and have had blueberries for 3 years they just set there and don’t grow. What do I need to do to raise blueberries? My granddaughter loves them. DN, Breckenridge, KY.

A: We’ve grown blueberries successfully for about 25 years now and just love them. There are 3 things that come to mind as potential problems: 1. Are they getting enough sun? The plants need at least 6 hours of sun per day, but even more would be great.
2. Is the soil acidic? Blueberries require soil that has a low pH. You can address this by adding peat moss to the bed each year (be careful not to disturb the plants’ roots as they are very shallow) or by sprinkling sulphur on the bed. 3. Do you have multiple varieties planted together? Blueberries are self-fruitful, meaning they don’t necessarily need a pollinator, but you’ll get better productivity if you have different varieties. There are early, mid- and late-season varieties, so if you need to add any to your existing bed, be sure to choose another variety that produces during the same time of year for it to be an effective pollinator.

Note: For those who live in the Pacific Northwest, here is a link to Blueberry Cultivars for the Pacific Northwest, published by Oregon State University.