Question: I live in the Pacific Northwest. We have summer-bearing red raspberries that have grown 10 feet tall. I pruned out all the old fruiting canes, but I'm wondering what to do about these tall new canes?
Answer: These tall canes are the primocanes, or first year vegetative canes, that grew this year. However, they will be the floricanes, or fruiting canes, for next summer's crop, so don't remove any of these canes unless they're overcrowded. In January or February in your area, you can tip prune the tops of these canes to stimulate more lateral branch growth further down the cane and more fruiting. This is also a good time of year to fix your wire trellising that keeps the canes upright. To tip prune, remove the top portion of these tall canes so the canes are about 8 inches above the top trellis wire in your row. Often this top portion of the cane gets damaged by wind and cold, so stimulating more berry fruiting lower down on the cane is a good way to increase production. Next spring the canes should send out side shoots and produce more fruit at a height that easy to harvest.
Question: I have some fall broccoli in my Virginia garden and some creature has chewed one plant almost down to the ground. The others are healthy, but I fear for their lives. What should I do?
Answer: It sounds like you have a woodchuck in your broccoli patch, Woodchucks love broccoli and this one may be getting in some last nibbles before hibernating for the winter. While repellents, containing products such as hot pepper spray, garlic and rotten eggs, may confuse a woodchuck temporarily, the best way to protect your broccoli crop from woodchucks is with a fence. Construct a 4-foot tall wire fence, burying the bottom foot into the soil at a right angle to the garden. Leave the top foot of the fence unattached to the fence stakes. When a woodchuck approaches the fence, its natural instinct is to either dig under or climb over it. If it digs under, it will meet the fence buried in the soil. If it tries to climb it, its weight will pull it back down because the fence is unattached at the top. Either way, it gets to start hibernating early and you get your fall broccoli crop.