Garden Q&A: Canadian clearweed and black raspberry patch

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Canadian clearweed is able to adapt to soils rendered toxic by invasive garlic mustard.

A plant just appeared this year in my yard. Should I let it grow as a ground cover or is it a problem?

A bright light in the invasive plant battles, Canadian clearweed is able to adapt to soils rendered toxic by invasive garlic mustard. Clearweed is a native annual, terrific in woods or wild areas, but it reseeds readily, so it can be a nuisance in ornamental beds. It’s incredibly easy to pull; you don’t need an herbicide. Stems are so watery-tender, you can walk on and crush seedlings. It will produce tons of seeds, so remove seedlings or toss them in a natural area.

My amazing black raspberry patch produced great this year, but it has become a stickery mess with huge weeds. My neighbor mows down his raspberry patch in late fall. Can I do that to control my weeds?

You cannot. Your neighbor undoubtedly has red raspberries that will regrow and fruit next summer on new canes. Black raspberries fruit on the previous summer’s canes, so you mustn’t cut off this summer’s new canes. After they fruit, canes die. Prune dead canes to the ground. The easiest way to control weeds and manage black raspberries is to grow them in a row, so you can easily reach the crowns for pruning and harvesting. Transplant your raspberries into rows. There is no easy solution to your weeds at this time of year. Wade in and start weeding. Don't bother pulling or digging tall, huge weeds. Cut them off at the base. Don’t let them go to seed. In the future, keep the patch mulched. Black raspberry plants require a light spring pruning. Aim for about yard-long canes and foot-long side shoots. Search the HGIC website for culture detail, including pruning.

University of Maryland Extension’s Home and Garden Information Center offers free gardening and pest information at extension.umd.edu/hgic. Click “Ask Maryland’s Gardening Experts” to send questions and photos.

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