Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Renovating brambles and berries.

If you did not renovate your strawberries and brambles during the fall there is still time to do so.  The process is simple and will help the fruit stay clean and keep canes and rhizomes healthy.  In this blog I will cover how to renovate both strawberry beds as well as raspberry and blackberry bramble patches.

The bulk of the work in the strawberry patch is in the cleaning up of detritus and last years leaves.  The bed should then be given a high phosphorus fertilizer with a 1-2 nitrogen to phosphorus ratio something like a 15-30-X fertilizer would be correct for this application.  the "X" is the potassium content and although potassium is essential for plant metabolic function this number is not as critical as the nitrogen or phosphorus. Don't worry about getting it on the green leaves that are still up from the last season because you are going to trim these off collect them and then mulch the bed with cedar or dry straw.  The new plants will push their way through the mulch and the application of fertilizer will help the plants set blossoms and fruit.  The reason for the mulch comes later in the season when you don't want your berries sitting on wet soil.

The raspberry and blackberry patches are a little more involved.  If you have not already done so you need to build a two wire trellis supported by stakes above the brambles.  The trellis should be about five feet high at the top and the middle wire at about three feet. When I first planted my beds I did not think that I needed to do this as my brambles were against a fence. I was wrong.  The process of tying the brambles up to strings fastened to the fence was a big pain in the neck and I quickly learned my lesson.  If you need a more attractive solution try using plastic coated wire and bamboo so that the trellis looks nice and the bamboo blends in with the mature canes.  The brambles are then fastened to the wires so that the trail along the wires horizontally.  The brambles that don't reach the wires or new shoots can be fastened to taller shoots at diagonals.  Then you will need to take pruning sheers and clean off all old leaves and stems from the previous year. Rake and clean the detritus from the bed and apply a general purpose fertilizer like 10-10-10.  Canes that break off during this process can be cut at an angle like you would cut a flower for a vase. Dip the cut end of the cane in rooting hormone and stick it into the ground and voila you have another plant.

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