Blackberries and raspberries are easy to grow

A: ‘Kiowa’ and ‘Gem’ are good blackberries. ‘Caroline’ and ‘DormanRed’ are excellent raspberries. Space plants two feet apart in a row. Management is easier if you install a heavy wire running horizontally four feet above the plants. Tie the canes to the wire to make harvesting and pruning less difficult. Fertilize in April and June each year.

Q: I'm trying to make an ecological indigo vat for dyeing yarn blue and the recipe calls for pickling lime. What is the difference between garden lime and pickling lime? Lynn Pollard, e-mail

A: They are two different chemicals. Garden lime is calcium carbonate but pickling lime is calcium hydroxide. Calcium hydroxide is much more alkaline than garden lime. You can't substitute garden lime for pickling lime because you need a high pH to dissolve raw indigo and get it to infuse your threads. Other alkaline materials, such as sodium hydroxide (lye), could be used to make your vat alkaline but sodium hydroxide is quite caustic. A little bit goes a long way!

Q: I put down pre-emergent last week before a horrific amount of rain fell. Do I need to redo it?
Brian Rouse, e-mail

A: I think you're fine unless there is a lot of slope to your lot. If soil washed down, it could carry the pre-emergent granules with it. If no soil washed away, the chemical just dissolved into the earth and will work as promised..

Q: Can you advise me as to a good fertilization schedule for scuppernongs? Tim Lewis

A: For established vines apply three to five pounds of 10-10-10 per plant in March of each year. Apply one-half pound of ammonium nitrate in June. Grapes have a relatively high requirement for magnesium so apply two to four ounces of Epsom salts to young vines and four to six ounces to established vines each year.

Q: What tips do you have on growing fennel? Jennie Rush, East Cobb

A: There are two kinds of fennel: herb fennel is known for its aromatic seeds and tender, fragrant leaves. It has a wonderful anise-like flavor. Florence fennel, commonly called finocchio, develops a bulb-like base that is used fresh or steamed. Plant a few seeds of either in a sunny spot now and repeat the process every week until mid-April. Harvest herb fennel leaves when the plants are six to ten inches tall. Keeping the plants cut back will extend the harvest but eventually the plants will bolt and make flower stalks. To harvest seeds, cut the heads when the seeds are mature but before they begin to shatter. Hang the heads upside down in brown paper bags to finish drying, catching the seeds as they fall. Cover finocchio bulbs with soil to blanch them when they are two inches in diameter. Harvest the bulbs before they bolt in hot weather.

Listen to Walter Reeves Saturday mornings on AM 750 and 95.5 FM News-Talk WSB. Visit his website,, or join his Facebook Fan Page at for more garden tips.

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