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What you need to know about COVID-19: August 7, 2020
Q: I read your article on insects and disease in raspberries and thought you might be able to provide insight into my problem I am having in Calgary, since neither of the two appears to be the issue. I used to have a row of raspberry bushes along the south-facing wall of my garage. They produced so much fruit I didn’t know what to do with it all. Over the past several years I noticed that the new growth didn’t grow as tall as it had previously, to the point that after the initial spring sprout the plants never grew much higher that 18 inches at most.
I dug up the patch and supplemented the soil. I replanted new bushes, added compost, watered and fertilized. One year, knowing that the plants are essentially weeds and can grow anywhere, I thought I might be babying them too much so let them do their own thing. However, I didn’t notice any improvement. They are no more than a foot tall but the leaves look healthy. The plants last year still produced berries that still have a lot of flavour.
I planted a hosta further down from the raspberries this year in a more shaded area and after about a month, while the leaves look healthy, the plant itself does not appear to have grown. I used the dirt I replaced to fill some gaps along my house foundation and laid down some grass seed. The area is lush and green. So, the soil seems to be OK, at least for grass. I do have a very large evergreen tree close to the garage and I am thinking that it may be sucking up most of the water but I am afraid of watering too much for fear of drowning the roots. Any thoughts you might have would be appreciated.
A: Wow! I admire your dedication and you have done every single thing I would have advised you to do to try to get to the bottom of the issue. Can the evergreen be the cause? It is possible, and I would not worry about overwatering. Before you water anything check the soil for moisture. Is it feeling dry? If it is dry on a regular basis this might be the issue. The only other thing I would do is get the soil tested by a soil lab, because there might be a nutrient deficiency.
Q: Your personal advice and local paper columns have been a wealth of information to me over the years. Now I have a dilemma I did not anticipate. I have two grape vines — one valiant approximately 17 years old and one beta approximately 14 years old. Over the years, every year they have grown up and over a trellis and have provided enough grapes to produce several jars of grape jelly. I have been cutting them back to the original old vines (approximately five feet high) every year.
For the first time this year they have appeared to not grow any new vines. However, in the past few days I have noticed new shoots coming from the very bottom of the original plant. Have I lost them to last winter’s cruel cold and extremes? Should I remove them or leave them to regrow from the bottom up again, or will they come back as usual next year?
A: Thanks so much for your lovely and kind words. What a shame that after all these years your grapes took a kick from old man winter. I would definitely let the new shoots grow up and not remove the plants just yet. Give them a chance this season and re-evaluate next season.
Q: My cherry tree was full of blossoms in the spring. Now there is not a single cherry on the tree. What has gone wrong?
A: The most likely issue is that the blossoms were damaged by a late frost. Another possibility is that if the tree is in the middle of your lawn then nitrogen from lawn fertilizer could have affected the blossoms as well. Good luck and happy gardening!
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