Learn How to control raspberry pests

How to control raspberry pests

Here is a list of common raspberry pests and diseases and what you can do about them:

Spur blight, Cane blight, and Anthracnose:

These diseases cause various kinds of spotting (reddish blotches where leaves attached; large brownish purple areas; gray spots with reddish margins) that result in withered berries and death of leaves, side shoots, or canes. Control with pruning and good site selection so canes stay drier; do not prune canes when wet; if necessary, spray lime-sulfur in spring just as leaves emerge.

Orange Rust:

This disease, evidenced by bright orange pustules on the undersides of leaves, affects only black and purple raspberries; there is no cure so remove infected plants, including the roots, as soon as the disease appears to prevent spread from one plant to another.


A soil borne fungus that causes leaves to yellow, wilt, then die; there is no cure so avoid planting where other hosts of this disease, such as tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants, have grown recently; the most resistant raspberries are the reds and yellows.

Crown Gall:

This disease causes tumorous growths in plant crowns and root systems, and cannot be cured once a plant is infected. Avoid with healthy nursery stock and by inspecting the roots of new plants before you put them in the ground.

Gray mould:

This disease, which covers the fruit with a light gray fuzz, is most prevalent in wet weather; avoid it with good site selection and pruning for air circulation, by picking and discarding infected berries, and by harvesting often.

Phytophthera root rot:

Most prevalent on red raspberries although Killarney and Boyne are somewhat resistant; avoid this disease by starting with pest-free plants and planting them in well-drained soil

Cane borers:

Look for the tell-tale wilting of canes beginning above where these insects do their boring; the cane may also be swollen where insect entered and have a series of puncture holes; prune out and destroy infected canes as soon as you notice them.

Raspberry crown borer:

This insect causes whole canes to die or break off easily; dig out and destroy infected plants; vigorously growing plants are less likely to be attacked.

Spider mites:

These small, spider-like creatures cause white speckles, then discoloured blotches, to develop; look closely to see their silken threads; control by keeping soil moist and, if necessary, spraying insecticidal soap or lime sulfur.

Essential harvest tips from the garden

Essential harvest tips from the garden

Dry up, herb

Have a bumper crop of herbs? A few easy ways to preserve your harvest: First, rinse and then dry your herbs well or spin them clean in a salad spinner. To air-dry, fasten twine or rubber bands around the stems of small bunches of herbs. Punch a few air holes in a paper bag for ventilation, and place the herbs inside (the bag keeps dust and bugs off). Lightly twist the mouth of the bag closed around the herb stems with a twist-tie, and hang the bagged herbs upside-down in a dry, airy space. In a week or two, when the leaves are dry, gently strip them into the bag and pour them into clean, dry, airtight jars.

You can also microwave your herbs dry. Place one layer of herbs on a paper towel; cover with another paper towel. Run the microwave on high a minute at a time until the herbs are completely dried. (Watch carefully.) Store the same as air-dried herbs.

Freezer fare

You can also make “herbal ice cubes,” perfect for winter recipes. Simply blend your selected herbs with enough water to form a pourable puree. Then freeze the herbal mix in ice cube trays. After your herbs are frozen, pop them out of the trays and store in airtight containers marked with the date. (These are best used within three months.) Each cube should be equal to 1 to 2 tablespoons of fresh herb. Basil and dill are two herbs that work particularly well.

You can also make a basil pesto concentrate, a true winter treat. Place 2 cups of fresh basil leaves and a cup of parsley in a blender with 1 1/2 cups of olive oil. Add garlic cloves and ground pepper to taste. Blend into a puree. Pour the mixture into ice cube trays and freeze. Later, pop out the frozen cubes and store in a separate container. When you’re ready to make pesto, thaw cubes and blend in pine nuts or chopped walnuts, more oil, and parmesan or romano cheese to taste. For a different treat, replace the basil with fresh cilantro leaves. Leave out the cheese; use cilantro pesto in oriental, curry, or seafood dishes.

A ton of tomatoes?

If you’ve got a late-season bounty of fresh tomatoes and want to process them quickly, here’s a time-saver: Slice an “X” at the bottom of the fresh, ripe tomato. Drop it in boiling water for 30 seconds to a minute until the skin begins to wrinkle. Lift out the tomato and remove to an ice water bath. Once cool, you’ll find you can peel the skin off easily.

The braid-y bunch

To make garlic braids, harvest bulbs when leaves are still slightly pliable. Here’s how author Maggie Oster makes hers: Pick unbruised bulbs and dry for a few hours. Brush off soil and trim wispy ends. Cut a 6-foot length of twine. Gather three bulbs and tie the stems together near the stem base with one end of the twine. Begin braiding the stems like a three-section hair plait; cross one outside stem over the center stem, then the other. Work the twine as a unit with one of the stems. After making several crosses, work in additional bulbs. Each new stem will be combined with a previous stem or stems. You should always be plaiting only three sections. No one stem will extend for the entire length of the braid. When the braid is the preferred length, tie off the end and make a loop for hanging. Hang in an airy, dry, shaded place until completely dry or store unbraided bulbs in mesh bags.

Learn everything about Broccoli

Broccoli is so easy to grow

Broccoli (Brassica oleracea) has long been a favourite homegrown vegetable, dating back thousands of years to the Mediterranean region. It tops the list of nutrition-packed vegetables—it’s high in vitamins A and C, riboflavin, iron, folate, niacin, and calcium. Broccoli is praised for its high content of sulforaphane, a natural chemical that induces enzymes to detoxify cancer-causing agents. This tasty vegetable also contains indoles—nitrogen compounds that appear to protect our cells’ DNA from carcinogens. No wonder broccoli is considered the number one cancer-fighting vegetable.

The best news for home gardeners is that broccoli is not only healthy and delicious, but also easy to grow. With careful planning, you can get months of nonstop broccoli production.

Plant for seasonal harvests

For the best broccoli production, plant early, midseason, and late varieties. This way, you can scatter the harvest across the entire season.

Plant early varieties as early as possible in your region. Plant midseason varieties around the same time as early varieties. They require an extra week or so to mature, so they’ll extend production into early summer.

For late varieties, sow seeds directly in the garden in late June, July, or August (depending on your region and the variety’s days to maturity) for harvest after a light autumn frost.

Garden preparation

Like all crops, broccoli needs a rich, loamy, well-drained soil chock-full of organic matter. The plants are heavy feeders and have a high demand for nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. About two or three weeks before planting seedlings, work generous amounts of compost and well-rotted manure into the broccoli bed. If your soil is acidic, use ground limestone to sweeten the soil to a pH of about 6.7 to 7.0.

The sweetest, most tender broccoli is harvested in cool weather. Broccoli produces best when the nights are 60°F to 70°F and daytime temperatures stay below 80°F. Hot weather can turn broccoli bitter and cause the plants to “bolt” into seed production, so plan ahead to make sure your plantings mature while the weather is still cool. To further beat the heat, plant broccoli in a bed that receives partial shade in the afternoon.

Sowing and growing

When buying broccoli plants from garden centres, you usually have no idea how old the seedlings are, what stress they’ve encountered, or what diseases they may be carrying. If you start your own plants from seed, on the other hand, you have better control of the variables and can choose from a wider selection.

Start your plants indoors five to seven weeks before the expected last frost date in your area. For example, if your region’s last expected frost is on May 15, you’ll need to start broccoli seeds in late March or early April. (Keep in mind that the “days to maturity” indicated on a broccoli seed packet refers to the time after you plant seedlings in the garden.)

The seeds germinate quickly. When the plants are two weeks old, move them to a cold frame to harden off, or harden them off gradually by placing them outdoors for increasing amounts of time each day. Transplant them two to three weeks before the last frost date. Small, month-old plants make the best transplants; older plants are usually stressed and often doomed to failure. If a hard frost is expected, protect your transplants with cloches, plastic cones, or other covers.

For late summer or fall crops, sow seeds directly in the garden. Your fall broccoli should mature around the first expected frost date in your area, so plant most varieties two to three months prior to that date. Studies have shown that direct-seeded broccoli produces higher yields than transplants.

Growing tips

Spacing is critical for broccoli. Its shallow root system needs room to spread to obtain enough water and nutrients, and it doesn’t compete well with other deep-rooted heavy feeders. Studies have shown that generous spacing between plants produces larger heads and increases yields significantly. If the plants are spaced too tightly, you’re likely to get “button” heads and few side shoots. Space your plants at least 18 inches apart; 24 inches is ideal for most varieties.

Mulch will keep weeds at bay and will help keep soil cool and moist. Spring crops, in particular, will appreciate several inches of clean straw, leaves, and compost when warmer weather arrives. You can also plant a “living mulch” of lettuce, spinach, and other leafy greens around the broccoli plants. These shallow-rooted plants shade the soil and make efficient use of valuable garden space.

Water moderately throughout the season. The critical time for watering is early in the season, to prevent “buttoning” (minuscule heads), and during head maturation. Do not water from overhead with a hose or sprinkler when the heads are maturing, because water pooling on the heads can lead to disease problems. Instead, use soaker hoses or a drip-irrigation system, or water by hand at the base of the plant.


Broccoli heads are actually immature flower clusters and must be harvested at their prime. Check the broccoli every morning as it nears maturity. Gently rub the heads with your thumb—if the buds are tight and firm, let the plants grow another day. If the buds feel loose, it’s time to harvest. If the buds begin to show yellow and are about to blossom, you’ve waited too long.

For varieties that produce side shoots, cut the central head about five inches down the stalk, removing some of the developing nodes. This helps the plants produce large side shoots at the lower nodes. Cut the stalk at an angle to prevent rainwater from pooling in the cut stem. 

Controlling pests and diseases

Here are the most common broccoli pests and what to do about them:

Cutworms: A plastic cup with its bottom removed makes a simple cutworm collar. Push the cup, wide end down, about 1 inch into the soil around each plant. Cutworms won’t climb over or dig under the collar. When the broccoli stem is large enough, remove the cup.

Cabbage loopers, root maggots, and cabbageworms: To keep moths from laying eggs on your plants, grow plants under a floating row cover. Row covers also protect plants from the flies that produce root maggots. Cover plants immediately after planting and leave the cover on throughout the season. Even when the weather gets warm, the lightweight covers don’t overheat the plants.

As a second precaution against ravenous caterpillars, use Bacillus thuringiensis, better known as Bt and sold under the trade names Bactur, Dipel, and Thuricide. A natural pesticide, Bt kills only butterfly and moth larvae and is nontoxic to humans and animals. Spray broccoli weekly as soon as you see tiny cabbageworms on the undersides of the leaves.

Disease problems: Plant disease-resistant varieties, and make sure at least three years pass before you plant a cole crop in the same garden space (especially if clubroot, a soil-borne fungus, is a problem in your garden).

14 favorite broccoli varieties

Early varieties    

‘Early Dividend’ (43 days) One of the largest broccoli varieties. Produces a central head up to 12 inches across as well as side shoots 3 to 4 inches across.    

‘Green Goliath’  (53 days) Bred for early and extended harvest. Large blue-green heads have many side shoots.    

‘Packman’  (50 days) Widely adapted to various garden conditions, and can be grown early, midseason, or late; extra-early spring plantings may “button,” however.    

‘Small Miracle’  (54 days) Small, compact plants with large 7-inch heads; tolerates closer  spacing than other varieties.     

‘Southern Comet’  (55 days) All America Winner with large central head and rapid growth  of side shoots.

Midseason varieties       

‘Belstar’   (60 days) Holds its mature central head for over a week; some side shoots.    

‘Coronado Crown’  (58 days) Highly heat-tolerant. Produces an 8-inch head and plenty of side shoots.    

‘Gypsy’   (58 days) Produces uniform, medium-sized heads on large plants; heads hold well in warm weather.    

‘Nutribud’  (58 days) Open-pollinated variety with large amounts of glutamine (an important healing nutrient).    

‘Premium Crop’ (62 days) Produces large heads with superior flavour, but few side shoots—basically a one-head crop. 


Late varieties       

‘Diplomat’   (68 days) Produces uniform, medium to large heads. Performs especially well in the Northwest and Northeast.    

‘Marathon’  (68 days) Highly tolerant to cold; a popular variety in California.    

‘Minaret’  (95 days) An open-pollinated Romanesco type (Italian broccoli with a conical head and distinct taste) that produces light-green clusters of spiral buds.    

‘Waltham 29’  (80 days) The traditional late broccoli, popular since the late 1950s (when it  was introduced); open-pollinated; compact plant with many side shoots.