Summer blackberries are a joy of July. But after picking those backyard berries, give their canes a little TLC. That will help assure a good harvest next summer, too.
Blackberries and other berries bear fruit on second-year growth, so the canes sprouting now will yield next year’s crop.
To avoid creating a thicket, older canes are removed after fruiting. (For most varieties, they will not bear again.) After harvesting berries, cut those spent canes as close to the ground as possible.
Tie up new green canes to a trellis or other support, then feed the plant with a mulch of compost. When new canes reach 5 feet long, pinch off the growing tip. Berries don’t need much more care than that to keep them fruitful.
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Elsewhere in the garden:
▪ Pinch off blooms from basil so the plant will grow more leaves.
▪ Cut back lavender after flowering to promote a second bloom.
▪ Be patient and watchful in the vegetable garden. The recent heat wave should finally start ripening all those green tomatoes. Meanwhile, pick off caterpillars and be on the lookout for other pests. To prevent blossom end rot, keep tomatoes watered and their soil evenly moist. (Mulch helps.)
▪ Keep your squash, peppers and eggplant picked. That stimulates more production.
▪ Feed vegetable plants bone meal or other fertilizers high in phosphate to stimulate more blooms and fruiting.
▪ Stretch out your summer veggies into fall. Plant seeds for corn, beans, okra, parsnips, summer and winter squash, and watermelon. Plant sunflowers from seed and watch them reach for the sky.
▪ It’s not too late to add a splash of color. Plant petunias, snapdragons, zinnias and marigolds.
▪ One good thing about hot days: Most lawns stop growing when temperatures top 95 degrees. Keep mower blades set on high.