Pruning Potted Raspberries

Nate is doing some spring gardening on his balcony in Seattle. The potted raspberry plant that he got last summer is showing signs of life.

Raspberries, as I’ve learned, have a two year lifecycle. The first year, the canes are called primo canes and the second year they are called floricanes. The floricanes are the ones that will produced fruit. After they produce fruit one year they are as good as dead, so you can prune those canes out.

Nate had a couple (and I mean two) raspberries from his little potted plant last year, but it has sent up two very long new shoots that should produce berries this year.

I know you’re supposed to prune out old raspberry canes each year to keep the plant from getting too crowded and thick.

But I’ve also seen some people clip the tips of the new canes back to encourage the canes to branch out and form side shoots that will grow even more raspberries.

We’ve decided to run an experiment…clip one cane and leave one unclipped: which one will produce more raspberries? (I realize this experiment has an N of 2, and is therefore more of a case study.)

First he started by cleaning out the old canes. It’s not a hard task. There were only three.

He trellissed the remaining three long canes against the balcony railing.

Of the two longest canes, he clipped 6 or 8 inches off the tip of one.

The other cane was left unclipped. I’ll have to remember to update you with the results of this experiment come July.

Making A Bushier Avocado

My avocado plant is growing pretty tall, and everything that I’ve read about avocados tells me I should cut down the stem to encourage side shoots.

I tried this once with a different avocado. Something that I read said that once it gets to be about 6 inches tall, cut off the stem to encourage side shoots. I tried that, and this is what happened:

Not exactly what I had in mind.

I ended up giving that avocado to my dad. It’s doing fine, but just looks a little funny with the kink in its trunk.

So, with my current avocado, I decided *not* to cut it off when it got 6 inches tall.

….But then….the peer pressure got to me. It seems like everyone says you should prune it to encourage bushier growth. And I do want a bushier plant.

This excerpt is from Plants from Pits (it’s not my favorite book, but I got it from the library before COVID-19 happened, and now the libraries are closed, so I’m working with what I’ve got):

My tree now has 14 leaves, so I decided today is the day to prune it.


Be brave…

Blurry again. My camera is focusing on the wrong thing.
I’m trying to take a picture of the plant, obviously, not the side of my neighbor’s house.

I initially just took one leaf and the top off, like the book said. But Stuff You Need to Know says “Prune the tree in such a way to leave many leaves, but prune enough above a leaf so that there are budding areas around the stem.” There were two other leaves very close to the cut I made, and I’m not sure there were any “budding areas” around the stem up there.

So, I took off a little more:

That should leave plenty of stem with budding areas, right? Let’s hope so.

Here’s the final product:

Do you think my avocado tree will ever look like this?

Rhododendron Clean Up

(And snow in March)

I was visiting my dad last week, and decided to do a bit of work in his yard. There is a rhododendron on the backside of his house near the shed. There are also a couple of azaleas nearby – I didn’t get a good photo of them, but you can see the edge of one in the bottom right corner of this photo.

This bed sits underneath the canopy of a giant oak tree that sheds tons of leaves and acorns in the fall, and this rhododendron bed was thick with leaves. The leaves were also stuck in the azalea branches weighing down the azaleas. (No photo, but believe me when I tell you they were looking pretty sad.)

I raked out the leaves and then pruned the rhododendron to clean it up and get it out of the way of the pathway. Here’s the blurry *after* photo I took (I need to work on my camera skills if I’m gonna to keep going with this site…):

And then this happened:

…in March!

Here’s the post-snow non-blurry *after* photo of the rhododendron:

It’s a little hard to tell in the photos, but all the leaves have been raked out the bed — 3 wheelbarrows-full of them — and a lot of the lower branches that were hanging over the walkway have been pruned out. Very satisfying in person.

I’ll try to remember to get a photo of it when it’s in bloom.

On a completely different note, I’ve started germinating my Meyer lemon and blood orange seeds and will have more to share with you on that later…