Ask an expert: Blackberries and raspberries aren’t ‘enemies’ but may do better given space from each other – OregonLive


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Spring is in the air and we’re betting you’re gearing up for gardening. If you’ve got questions, turn to Ask an Expert, an online question-and-answer tool from Oregon State University’s Extension Service. OSU Extension faculty and Master Gardeners reply to queries within two business days, usually less. To ask a question, simply go to the OSU Extension website and type it in, and include the county where you live. Here are some questions asked by other gardeners. What’s yours? Q: I’m planning on creating a berry patch in a sunny to partially shaded area of my garden. I’m planning on having blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, marionberries, Concord grapes and maybe some annual fruit like melons if they fit. I’ve been researching best practices and some say to not plant blackberries and raspberries near each other as they are enemies. However, I’ve seen others that shows them growing next to each other. I’m confused as to whether or not I should have all of my berries in on area or break them up into two guilds in separate gardens. – Klamath CountyA: Blackberries and raspberries are closely related and not really “enemies” of one another, but there are a couple considerations of why you might want to give them their own space.Regarding the training and pruning of the canes, it’s going to be easier to manage them if like varieties are together. For both berries, there are primocane and floricane fruiting types that are pruned a little differently.Another consideration is that the plants will pull the same nutrients from the soil, and attract the same pests. By breaking the berries up into groups with other things planted between, it does break up the pest pressure a bit. This can be helpful with virus disease, as well.Did you see our new publications on blackberries and raspberries? I have provided links to them below- there are some great pictures to illustrate some of the pruning points. – Nichole Sanchez, OSU Extension horticulturistBlueberries.Joel Bissell | MLive.comQ: I have heard of some kind of powder that can be used to kill blueberry bushes, where you would cut off the stalk and apply the power to the cut area still in the ground. But I cannot find information about the powder anywhere. Can you help? – Coos CountyA: I do not know what “powder” you are referring to. There is nothing registered for home garden use or commercial use that fits this description. Why not just dig out the plants? Even big, old plants only have roots down to about a foot. They are very easy to dig out. I’d recommend that rather than using any chemical herbicide.Also, are you sure you want to kill blueberry plants? If they are no longer productive and that’s the reason you are interested in removing them, then you could try renovating the bushes with a pruning to about 1 to 1.5 high. See our new publication for how to do this.If you don’t want them in that spot, then you can do the same and move them to another spot. They are easy to transplant and now is a good time to do this. Again, some ideas on this in the above publication. – Bernadine Strik, OSU Extension berry specialistsQ: Due to the recent ice storm I have an abundance of green leaves and needles from fallen branches. Can I use these green materials as a mulch in the garden without aging or composting them? Are there any caveats I should know about? – Clackamas CountyA:  For purposes of this answer, I need to assume that the downed material is free from insect infestation, and not diseased.  The general rule is that these are valuable resources as mulch, so long as they are small enough so as not to prevent water from reaching roots.  The other caveat is that you should not incorporate any materials from walnut trees, due to a chemical that inhibits growth in many plant species. Here is an Extension article with more specific information. – Kris LaMar, OSU Extension Master GardenerHairy bittercress is a winter-annual weed. File photo. Q: There are a lot of answers about hairy bittercress on the internet, but none seem to match what I’m seeing in the yard. I don’t use herbicides, and am trying to clear our large yard (1/3 acre) by hand. I’m crazy, probably, because they are everywhere. I at least want to knock them back to a manageable level.Already this early spring I see very tiny plants that have a seed pod, and others that already have a tiny flower. To me this means that they can be spreading seeds this early, so I need to watch for them all summer long? I guess I thought the seeds would come later in the year. Maybe it has to do with the mild winter?I’ve also heard that the seeds can lie dormant for up to seven years. Is that possible?! Terrible news, if so. I really want to get to where I only have to worry about them coming from outside our yard. – Lane CountyA: There are different species of bittercress. Most common in the maritime Pacific Northwest is little western bittercress. It is a winter annual with a taste like watercress. It comes up in winter as a rosette and then shoots up little white flowers, which make a seed capsule that then shoots out the seeds to more growing ground up to 8 feet away.That gives it its other common name, shotgrass. I admit that I tolerate it as it is shallow rooted and easy to work with. To clear a patch of it, you can use a scuffle, hula or onion hoe and just barely skim under the ground. It has been reported that bittercress plants are capable of producing over 5,000 seed, most of which can germinate within two weeks after being dispersed. Some lie low until the area is cleared and then pop up. Usually by summer they disappear, unless the area is watered. They prefer cool and moist conditions. Personally, I use bittercress and chickweed as a cover crop in the winter in the garden and then use them in salads. – Pat Patterson, OSU Extension Master GardenerQ: What is the best organically-permitted treatment for an active cabbage worm problem in my kale? Is crop rotation important? – Lane CountyA: There are a number of caterpillars that regularly attack kale and other cabbages relatives. These include various armyworms, cutworms and loopers, whose adults are moths. There is also the imported cabbageworm, whose adult is a white butterfly. Here are some cultural controls from the PNW Insect Management Handbook that can be used on the armyworms, cutworms and loopers.Weed control is important. Lambsquarters and wild mustard attract egg-laying females and provide a source of food for larvae. Fall tillage can help destroy overwintering pupae.Control weeds, grasses, and debris in the vegetable garden that provide cover; hand-pick cutworm larvae after dark, using a flashlight to find them, if practical. Scratch the soil at the base of plants to find larvae in the daytime.For imported cabbageworms, the PNW Insect Management Handbook does suggest that crop rotation could be important. Here is what they say on the subject: Make new plantings as far as possible from those of the previous year. At the end of the year, harvest crops without delay. Plowing under or destroying plant residues at this time eliminates an important food source for the overwintering generation of cabbageworms.As far as sprays go, Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki (Btk) is a good option. It is a biologically-derived toxin that specifically kills caterpillars feeding on plants and is not toxic to other organism (including you).Other sprays that are accepted for organic production include some formulations of neem oil (azadirachtin), and some formulations of pyrethrins and spinosad. These pesticides are less specifically targeted for killing caterpillars though. – William Gerth, OSU Extension senior faculty research assistantNote to readers: if you purchase something through one of our affiliate links we may earn a commission.
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