All About Gardening and Gardening Q & A
by Pernell Gerver

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"One-Step, Organic, Easy Spring Lawn Care"

In spring each year when people are doing spring cleaning outdoors to get their yards in shape, I’m often asked about an alternative to buying a four-step program for their lawns. They don’t want the hassle of having to do so much work on their lawns to make them look good. Many also say they are unhappy with the results they get from the four-step programs. Also, a growing trend is to not use chemicals on their lawns anymore and instead use natural and organic lawn care products. What’s more, many people want a combination of both organic and easy, one-step all in one product which wasn’t doable until lately. Click on a product name below to read more about it and order it from Pernell Gerver's Online Store.

Each spring I apply my Organic Lawn Weed and Feed, a new lawn care product that’s easy, one step, and 100 percent organic. It’s a two-in-one product that’s all you need. The first part of the two in one is a slow-release organic lawn food that fertilizes the lawn and makes it green up fast without burning it. If your lawn is thin or has bare spots, Organic Lawn Weed and Feed will fill in bare spots so overseeding is unnecessary.

This product is safe for people, pets, wildlife, and the environment. What’s also nice is the lawn can be walked on right away after applying it and children and pets can play on the lawn as well.

This product is safe for people, pets, wildlife, and the environment. What’s also nice is the lawn can be walked on right away after applying it and children and pets can play on the lawn as well.

Organic Lawn Weed and Feed can be used on all types of lawns and grasses. I apply it myself using a spreader and you can use any type of spreader or do it by hand. Apply it anytime now through spring.

As well as being my once-yearly weed and feed for the lawn, I also use it on bare ground or on top of mulch in my flower beds, vegetable gardens, and around trees and shrubs in the landscape. After I’m done applying it to my lawn with my spreader I grab handfuls of it and scatter it throughout all my plantings. It’s safe if it touches the leaves of the plants. With it I no longer have to weed any more or mulch any more.

Click here to order my Organic Lawn Weed and Feed, Herbicidal Soap Spray, and other organic lawn care products from my Online Store. You can pick up your order free, no shipping charge, at any of my Gardening Workshops or you can have your order shipped.

Pernell Gerver's Gardening Q & Aby Pernell Gerver

"Botrytis Causes Shriveled Raspberries"

Q. I have a patch of 'Heritage' raspberries. New canes grow in luxurious profusion, six to seven feet high with loads of blossoms (75 to 100 on each cane). Blossoms turn into healthy, bumper-appearing crops of young berries, but right before ripening the tips of the canes dry up with the berries. Is this mosaic? Any control? Thank you.

A. From the symptoms you describe, fortunately it does not sound like mosaic. Mosaic is a virus disease that causes mottling or streaking on the leaves. I say fortunately because like other viral infections there is no known cure for viruses at this time although neem oil looks promising. Oftentimes viruses are spread by insect vectors which means when the insects feed on a diseased plant the disease sticks to the insect's mouth parts and when the insect feeds on the next plant the disease then gets spread to that plant. Controlling insects is the best way to prevent plant viruses. Spray Neem Oil regularly to control the insects.

Gray mold on red raspberry fruit - control with Neem Oil

Gray mold on red raspberries

Brambles such as raspberries and blackberries are particularly susceptible to viruses. Always buy brambles that are certified virus-free.

The problem you mentioned only affected the berries and tips of the stems which makes me think it was one of the gray molds which is a fungus and one of the most common fungi here in western Massachusetts is botrytis.

Botrytis attacks the ripening berries. You might see the berries covered with a white or gray moldy material. This causes the fruit to rot and shrivel up. The fungus spreads quickly especially on overripe or bruised berries.

Botrytis on raspberries and blackberries is pretty common. It is at its worst during the hazy, hot, and humid weather we get in summer which aids botrytis and other fungi, especially at the time the plants bloom as well as at harvest time.

There are a few things you can do to prevent and control this common problem. Spray Neem Oil once a week starting when the raspberry plants bloom right up until harvest. Don't water from above. Provide good air circulation by keeping the plants apart and space the rows far enough apart.

Click here to read more about Neem Oil and order it from Pernell Gerver's Online Store

Click here to submit gardening questions for Pernell Gerver's online Q & A column.

Click here to read previous online columns in the archives.

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