All summer the catbirds have been my constant companions in the garden. You could call our tiny in-town lot a “foodscape,” because in addition to many ornamental plants and shrubs, there are fruit trees, small plots (and pots) of vegetables and herbs, berry bushes and vines worked in here and there. It is the latter that no doubt has attracted the catbirds every summer.

I filled and put the jelly feeder out early in the season, hoping to attract some orioles. But it was the cheeky pair of catbirds that regularly cleaned it out. They were watching, calculating and biding their time until the blueberries and raspberries ripened up to their liking.

To protect the blueberries I topped the bushes with a length of row cover. Even so, the catbirds had no problem hopping under and then up into the bushes to eat their fill. Maybe eventually the bushes will produce enough berries so that we both will be happy. But apparently the catbirds felt slighted because they scolded and dive-bombed me whenever I went out to harvest. Same for the raspberries.

In spite of a very dry summer, this has been one of the most productive years for my two rows of raspberries. I expect it was the wet spring weather that set them up. They were heavily mulched with hay last fall when I put the lot to “bed” for the winter. Lots of rain in May and early June got them going strong. Then as they ripened, the dry weather prevented the mold and rot that often ruin part of the crop when we usually get more rain.

Whatever the reason, it was the biggest, juiciest crop of raspberries ever. The catbirds and we got all we wanted and more. Then about in mid-August it was over for the first crop. My raspberries are a mix of the ever bearing varieties, and they have already bloomed and set a second crop of berries that should be ready to pick later this month or in early October.

That means this is the time to prune out the old canes and give the new ones plenty of air and room to grow. And to tie up the rows to keep them neat and to prevent the canes from dipping down to the ground when they are heavy and full of berries. If you have not pruned your raspberries yet, now is the time.

If you have not already pruned the everbearing raspberries, now is the time. Cut away the brown canes which are the ones that produced this summer’s crop and leave the green ones which will produce the second crop soon and next summer’s crop as well. Lynette Walther

Examine the clumps of canes and you’ll notice that some are brown and some are green. If you follow those brown canes to the other end, you’ll find they are the ones that have already produced this summer’s crop.

The green canes will have the small green berries that will be the second crop. We remove the brown canes by cutting them near the base because they are finished producing. By doing so we give the growing green canes more air circulation to help prevent disease that can thrive in close quarters. Those same canes will produce again for next summer’s crop.

Because raspberries can experience a number of diseases and harbor pest infestations, it is best to not add the pruned canes to compost, and to remove them from the area. Once the old canes have been cut and hauled away, tie up remaining canes to keep them neat and supported throughout the coming months and winter.

This is a good time to add a layer of compost to the rows, and then mulch. Straw is a good, though expensive, mulch and offers the advantage of no weed seeds. I use a thick layer of hay, and I find that works very well to keep the rows tidy. Come next summer that heavy mulch will help to preserve moisture and moderate soil temperatures. It will also suppress weeds. As the mulch decomposes, it adds nutrients to the bed to improve future crops. It is the least I can do to make sure those catbirds have plenty of berries to enjoy next year.

Lynette L. Walther is the GardenComm Gold medal winner for writing, a five-time recipient of the GardenComm Silver Medal of Achievement, the National Garden Bureau’s Exemplary Journalism Award. She is a member of GardenComm, the professional organization for garden writers. Her gardens are in Camden.