Thursday, 23 August 2018

Grow Raspberries and Blackberries

If I could grow only one fruit, it would be raspberries. They're my favorite to eat, and unaffordable in the markets, even during berry season. Fortunately they're very easy to grow in hot climate, and for the most part they're trouble-free. If I lived in the south where raspberries do less well, I'd grow some gorgeous fat blackberries, which like hot climates. Raspberries and blackberries are known as "bramble fruits" because they are so thorny surely a deliberate move on nature's part to make them harder to pick. Like roses, they are an exquisite prize that you earn only by putting up with a little aggravation.
Bramble fruits are perennial plants that bear on biennial canes. This means that the roots live indefinitely and send up canes each year that generally fruit the second season, and then die. By removing dead canes that have finished fruiting and letting the new ones grow, you can maintain a berry patch for many years. Since the patch is a permanent planting. It's worth spending some time at the beginning to figure out just which berries you should grow. Red raspberries appear in early summer, usually in July although there are some fall-blooming varieties.
They bear for a few blissful weeks during which you gobble as many fresh raspberries as you possibly can. Since they don't keep well, then freeze the rest or make them into jam. You can stretch this early-summer Nirvana to a month or more by planting several varieties that ripen at slightly different times. Yellow raspberries are excellent for home growing too.
They are very sweet but not quite as appealing to birds as the red ones are. You rarely find yellows for sale in markets, since they don't ship well. So they make a special home-grown treat to serve alone or mixed with red and black raspberries. They grow exactly like red raspberries, on sturdy, erect plants, and many are hardy even in Zone 3.
Both red and yellow raspberries send up new canes from the crowns and also from the roots as suckers. So even if you plant only a few you will soon have many. Raspberries and other brambles are self-fertile, so you need only one variety to ensure pollination though some growers maintain that their yield is greater if they grow two.
Black raspberries, also called "black caps," are quite different from red ones. Their canes are arching or trailing and send out vigorous fruiting side branches. Although red raspberries are borne mainly on the long and slender canes and black raspberries don't produce the multitude of suckers that red raspberries do. Most are hardy only to Zone 5 or 6, but unlike the red ones, black raspberries will tolerate a fair amount of heat. Their flavor is also a bit more tart and rich, making them a superb choice for baking, for ice cream or for jams. Purple raspberries, a cross between black and red, grow much like the black ones, though they are often more hardy.
You can also plant ever-bearing raspberries for a fall harvest. These don't really bear all summer; rather, they have two crops, one borne on second-year canes at the usual time, and another borne in fall on the tips of new canes produced that season. If you cut these back after the fall harvest you will sacrifice the summer crop, but this means that the fall one will be bigger. I prefer to grow them this way, for a big fall crop. I can always plant a standard summer-bearing variety for the early crop. Ever-bearing varieties can be the red or yellow.
Blackberries are larger than raspberries and a bit less sweet. They are also less cold-hardy and do best in moderate or warm climates. The plants are extremely vigorous and vary as to their growth habits: some have strong, erect canes; others are trailing and will lie on the ground unless supported; still others are semi trailing. Some varieties are thorn less. Boysenberries and loganberries—both of which are large and wine colored, growing on trailing plants—are simply blackberry varieties.
Site for Raspberries and Blackberries
The best site for bramble fruits is a slightly sloping, sunny hillside where cold air drains away. They will take a bit more shade than other fruits, but a sunny location will provide a better yield, especially in cool climates. Avoid sites where any of the Solanaceae have grown in recent years (page 184), since these all share with brambles a susceptibility to the verticillium wilt virus. It is also best to separate red and black raspberries by 300 feet, if possible, since seemingly healthy red plants can transmit diseases to the less-resistant blacks. Wild raspberries and blackberries can also transmit diseases, so it is wise to eradicate any you have on the property. Be sure to pick a well-drained site; none of the bramble fruits will grow where it's mucky.
Soil for Raspberries and Blackberries
Most soil types will grow bramble fruits as long as drainage is good. Moderate fertility is sufficient, though the plants will appreciate sonic bone meal and some rotted manure or compost worked into the soil. The more organic matter 10 the soil, the better; it will help the soil to hold moisture.
The soil should be slightly acid about 6.0 is ideal, but a range of 5.5 to 7.0 is acceptable. Remember that this is a permanent bed, and all weeds, rocks and other obstacles to good growth must be removed at the beginning. The soil should be enriched, lightened and well tilled throughout the bed before you do your planting.
Planting Raspberries and Blackberries
It is very important to buy certified virus-free plants. Your neighbors will tempt you with offers of free raspberry plants when it's time to weed out the suckers between their rows. Turn them down, or there's a chance you'll start out with diseases you'll never get rid of. Root nematodes can also get started in your garden this way, and the nursery you buy from should be able to guaran¬tee their stock to be free of these, too.
Planting time is early spring, except in Zone 6 and southward, where fall or even late-winter planting is possible. You don't have to buy very many plants of each variety, especially red raspberries. Keep in mind that in a few years you'll be throwing out extras. A dozen plants, spaced 3 feet apart, will soon give you a large harvest, with each foot of row producing about a quart of berries. Hence, plant blackberries and black raspberries about 4 feet apart, trailing blackberries 5-6 feet apart.
If I'm planting more than one row I make sure that the rows are pretty far apart a good 10 feet is best. When I'm pruning or picking I like to be sure that no wayward canes will reach out and grab me from behind. If you are using a trellis system you can space the rows more closely. Make sure that the roots do not dry out between the times of buy them and the time you put them in the ground.
And moisten your plant holes. Moreover, plant raspberries a few inches deeper than they were growing in the nursery, blackberries at about the same level. Cut red raspberries and blackberries back to 6 inches, but cut black raspberries back to ground level as a precaution against disease. Then water the plants some more.
Growing for Raspberries and Blackberries
It is very important to give all bramble fruits a constant water supply while they are growing and especially when they are forming fruit. A good thick mulch of an organic material such as salt hay will help a lot. It will also keep weeds from working their way into the berry plants' root systems. In addition, mulch will keep you from having to cultivate the soil. This is an important advantage, as cultivating can nick the plants' shallow roots. Which in the case of red raspberries can promote excess suckering?
But even with mulch, you should watch soil moisture. If it's dry weather and a crop is ripening, laying a soaker hose along the rows will definitely increase your yield. Top dress each year in early spring with at least a shovelful of compost or rotted manure for every foot of row, or apply a handful of commercial fertilizer such as 10-10-10 to the same area. The most important job in growing bramble fruits is keeping the plants properly pruned so that the bed does not become an impenetrable tangle of thorny canes. Each berry type has a different way of run rampant, but fill rampant it will.
Red and yellow raspberries, doesn’t branch much but they do send up lots of canes. Every year in early spring you should go out to the raspberry patch, wearing a long-sleeved shirt and leather gloves, and prune out any winterkilled canes at ground level. Then cut hack all the remaining canes in about chest height. You will see what remains of the little berry clusters after the herrios have been removed. Stole let the job go until winter or early spring, you'll still be able to distinguish the old canes because they are darker, with peeling bark. Any part of the plant that looks diseased should be removed at whatever time you spot it.
1 don't bother to use any kind of a trellising system with red or yellow raspberries, because the stiff canes support themselves so Well. I use the hedge-mw method, just letting the row fill in with new plants until it gets about I V: to 2 feet wide. Any wider than that, and it's hard to match and pick. Every spring, I pull up all the suckers that come between the rows and later in the season too, as they appear. It is also a good idea to thin the plants within the rows, pulling up some of the new canes so that the remaining canes are about 6 inches apart.
Some gardeners do use a trellis sys-tem for raspberries, either because they find them easier to pick this way, or because they're short of space. Trellised rows can be as close together as 5 feet. Keep in mind, though, that the farther apart they are the better the air circulation, and the less chance of disease. You can use a system similar to the four-arm system for grapes. Or you can box the vines by running wires on either side of a thick wooden post, trapping the vines between the wires. Also nail 2-foot crosspieces to the posts, as on a telephone pole, to make a wider box. You can also just place metal stakes 2 feet apart and string wires along those. Brace the end posts to keep them front bending.
Black raspberries don’t sucker freely. Their way of running amok is to bend over their long canes so that the tips root in the soil between your rows. If you let them do this, pretty soon you won't have any rows, just solid berry bushes. Cut off the new canes to about 2 feet tall in midsummer. They will cause them to form lateral branches, which will bear fruit next year. In early spring cut back each of those lateral branches to about 12 inches long.
Then after harvest cut back the canes that have fruited, just as you do with red raspberries. If you prune them this way you can keep the plants fairly short and erect, so you shouldn't need to trellis them. Thin the rows as needed, and pull up any plants growing between them.
Ever-bearing raspberries bear the first year, in fall, at the tips of the canes. It you want a second crop, cut off the tips after harvest. Then the following season they'll bear on the uncut portion in early summer. Then cut back the whole cane after it finishes fruiting. Both crops will be smaller than that produced by ordinary summer-bearing raspberries. To get one big fall crop instead and simplify your pruning job as well cut all the canes back to the ground after the fall harvest.
If you're growing blackberries, then cut the first-year canes hack to 3 feet in midsummer to encourage lateral branches, which will bear fruit. The In late winter or early spring cut each lateral branch to about half its length. So, after harvesting and cut back at soil level canes that have borne fruit. Thin the new canes so that they are about 6 inches apart. Whether or not you trellis black berries depends on what type they are. If they have erect canes and you prune them well, they can stand alone like raspberries.
If they are trailing or semi trailing, they’ll need some kind of support. You can bunch the canes together and tie them to stout stakes.  But they'll enjoy better air circulation if you train them on wires. Either use the four-armed system mentioned for grapes. And also trying a number of canes to each wire and letting a few trails along the ground as well. You can also use the box system. With trailing varieties you'll have to tie the canes to whatever support you use.
Propagating new bramble plants is easy. Do it at the time you would normally plant them in your area. For red raspberries just dig up some suckers and replant them. For black raspberries bend a cane over and bury the tip in a pocket of enriched soil, anchoring the tip with a rock or a bent wire just as you do with a stem you are layering. Blackberries can be propagated by replanting suckers, by rooting the tips of canes. Or by digging up some roots on the edge of an established clump and replanting them. With all these methods, cut the stems back to the appropriate height when you replant.
Pests and Diseases
There is a long list of diseases of bramble fruits, though yours may escape all of them, especially in cool climates. Fortunately there are a number of things you can do to keep berries healthy, even in areas where diseases are common. First, buy new, clean stock. Remove all plant debris winterkilled stems, canes that have home fruit, and any diseased parts of the plant as promptly as possible, and either burn the debris or cart it away. Don't leave it lying around the property, even in the compost heap.
Remove all wild bramble plants from the property. Try to provide the plants with good air circulation by choosing the right site, pruning and thinning the canes, and trellising them if necessary. Provide good water drainage for the roots. Feed, water and mulch as needed to keep the plants vigorous, but avoid giving them excessive nitrogen. Finally, seek out varieties that resist specific diseases that are prevalent where you live.
Some diseases to watch for are mosaic, which makes leaves yellow and mottled. Botrytis cane wilt which makes new canes wilt, verticillium wilt, which causes canes to wilt suddenly in hot, dry weather. Anthracnose produces purplish spots on the leaves then grayish growth on the stems powdery mildew. It covers the leaves with whitish powder; orange rust shows up as bright orange pustules on the undersides of the leaves. Leaf curlvirus makes the leaves dark green and tightly curled; and spur blight, which produces brown spots on the canes.
Foil hungry birds with plastic netting if they're getting too much of your crop. If you have lots of berries and pick often you may not find birds a big problem. The netting can be draped over the plants, but it is hard to remove for pruning and picking that way. So you may want to erect a lightweight wooden or metal frame to support it. This can be either box-shaped or constructed like a frame house.
Japanese beetles bother raspberries, pick them off or use milky spore disease Hose off aphids, or spray them with insecticidal soap they can transmit diseases. Prune out canes infested with borers and remove plants with galls that indicate crown borers, Fruit worms. Which eat the buds and the berries, can be sprayed with rotenone; the soil should then be cultivated around the plants in late summer and early fall to keep the worms from overwintering there as pupae. A few raspberry varieties, such as 'Purple Royalty,' are insect resistant.
Harvest Raspberries and Blackberries
Pick berries only when they are ripe, but don't let them sit on the bush too long. Pick at least twice a week when they are bearing. Be careful not to squeeze the berries; just pull them off the stem gently. (Raspberry cores will stay on the stems.) Keep your pail or basket in the shade as you pick, and don't let the berries get more than a few inches deep in the container or they'll squash. Put in the refrigerator until you're ready to use them.
Varieties of Raspberries and Blackberries
For summer-bearing red raspberries, the old standby 'Latham' is fine, but there are other good choices too. 'Newburgh' is vigorous, hardy, productive and disease resistant, with a big berry. 'Canby' and the very large 'Thornless Red Mammoth' have practically no thorns, for easy picking `Reveille,' Sunrise' and the huge 'Titan' arc extra early.
'Taylor' is hardy, vigorous and especially fine tasting. 'Willamette,' a large, dark red berry, is recommended for the west coast, and the vigorous 'Dorman Red' is the one to grow in the south. The ever bearing ‘Fallgold’ is the most popular yellow variety. Of the ever-bearing reds, 'Heritage' is the most universally grown, but the hardy, disease resistant ‘Fall Red' is well worth trying. 'Scepter' and 'Indian Summer' also have good disease resistance. Popular black raspberries include the vigorous, upright standby 'Bristol' and 'Black Hawk,' which is both disease and heat resistant.
Especially cold hardy varieties are the large `Cumberland,' John Robertson' and the disease-resistant `Jewel.' Allen' is sweeter than most. For purples try the large, sweet 'Royalty,' which is hardy and both insect and disease resistant. ‘BrandyWine’ is a good, fairly hardy, tart variety that people favor for jams.
`Lowden Sweet Purple' is anthracnose resistant and almost seedless. Good erect blackberries for the south include 'Cheyenne' and the sweet early ‘Rosborough’. ‘Darrow' and oily King' are hardy upright varieties. ‘Boysenberry’ ‘Loganberry' and 'Lucretia Dewberry' are tasty trailing varieties. Among the thorn less blackberries `Chester' and 'Hull’ are especially hardy, and Black Satin and `Thorn free' especially disease resistant. Moreover also try Thornless Boysenberry. Also Read: Why You Need to Eat More Vegetables?

Thursday, 16 August 2018

Growing Method of Broccoli

I have a great respect for Broccoli because it appreciates the cool climate in which we live. In a long, cold spring, a summer with little sun, or a fall with no Indian summer, there is always Broccoli and all it asks is that I keep up with the picking. Gladly I can keep up with the picking and make a whole meal out of Broccoli, olive oil and garlic. Our basic green broccoli, sometimes called “sprouting broccoli” and ‘calabrese’ in Europe, came originally from Italy. It makes a big plant with deep, spreading roots. Broccoli is an edible green plant in the cabbage family whose large flowering head is eaten as a vegetable.

The big broccoli “bunch” that you buy in the grocery store, really an immature flower head, is usually only the beginning for the home usually only the beginning for the home gardener. After the central cluster is cut  back, side shoots develop that can be back, side shoots develop that can be harvested for a long time if the summer is not blistering hot. In warm-summer climates the tight buds will “rice,” or open as flowers too soon, thus ending the crop, so southern gardeners plant at all crop that will bear well into the winter instead.

Select Site for Broccoli

Choose a spot with good drainage and air circulation where broccoli and other members of the genus Brassica have not grown for several years. Full sun is nice, but partial shade will also sustain broccoli and can even retard bolting. The plot need not be large. Even though the plants get fairly sizable (2-2 1/2 feet tall and spread) each one produces a lot of broccoli. Six plants in a 4-foot-by-6-foot plot is a good number to start with. Passionate broccoli eaters will want more.

Select Soil for Broccoli

Soil should be fairly rich to begin with. As a leaf-and-stem crop, broccoli needs plenty of nitrogen. I dig in a shovelful of well-rotted manure for. Each plant you could substitute a shovelful of compost or a small handful of 10-10-10. Calcium is important; you can make sure it is there by adding crushed limestone. Keep in mind that this will also raise the pH—something you would want to do anyway if your soil is acid. The ideal for broccoli is a neutral 7.0. It is even more important to add organic matter to the soil, to help it retain the steady moisture supply that broccoli needs.

Planting Broccoli

In planting broccoli there are several schedules you can follow. Start seeds indoors in a sunny but cool place, six or seven weeks before the last average frost date. And set the seedlings out as 5- to 6- inch plants, two or three weeks before the last expected frost. Or you can sow directly in the garden; in a cool climate. So you can do this a month or two before the last frost; in a warm one do it in very early spring. Usually broccoli is grown from seedlings transplanted into the garden. Either ones you grow yourself or ones you purchase in a nursery.

After preparing the planting holes as described above, set the transplants an inch or two lower in the ground than they were in their pots or flats, watering them and firming the soil around them. Cover the young plants if you think there might be a really hard freeze. Though, the space seedlings about 18 inches apart each way if you are using a grid, or 18 inches apart in rows with 2-3 feet between the rows. For direct seeding in the garden, sow several seeds in hills and later snip off all but the strongest plant in each. Space the hills the same distance apart as you would transplants.

Cutworms like young broccoli plants, so it is a good idea to use collars to roil them whichever planting method you use.  Where summers are hot, people seed in a second crop in late spring or early summer. That will mature alter danger of ricing is past, or they sow a later crop for fall harvest. A crop can even be sown in fall and wintered over for a spring harvest if winters are mild.
To save space the early crops can be inter-planted with something else if the plants are wide enough apart. Fall crops are seeded in July or August. Good mulch will help the plants retain moisture. But in times of drought give them a good long soaking with a hose if the soil is dry. Extra enrichment is really needed only when you’re trying to hasten maturity to beat the heat. In this case a side dressing of blood meal or fish emulsion soaked in (not dug in) helps.

Pests and Diseases

The only pest that ever bothered my broccoli was the small green cabbage worm, which is very common. It never did much damage to the plants, but it had a way of turning up as a surprise garnish at the dinner table. Well camouflaged by its color, even after picking, the worm turns white when cooked. “Good protein!” a well-brought-up dinner guest may exclaim diplomatically, but unless your diners have an unusually good sense of humor, you’ll want to check ‘carefully for worms before cooking or soak the broccoli in salt water to kill and dislodge them.

If they really chew up your plants, catch them early next year by applying rotenone or BT when you see the cabbage white. Moreover, butterfly fluttering above them, though you might prefer author Catherine Osgood poster’s method. She goes out and swats the butterflies with a tennis racket. Spray off aphids, and foil root maggots with tar-paper mats. Most hugs won’t bother your late crops. Diseases like blackleg, black rot and clubroot are best prevented by crop rotation. In the case of clubroot (puny, yellowed plants with misshapen roots), boost the pH to 7.0 with some lime.

Harvest Broccoli

When the first nice bunch has formed in the center of the plant (it won’t be huge, like the one in the store, unless it is a large-head variety), cut it off at 4-6 inches with a sharp knife. New ones will form in the leaf axils around it, and all over the lower stalk. If you don’t keep picking, the green heads will send up tall yellow flowers. A row of blossoming broccoli looks beautiful.

But is embarrassing to a good gardener, for it means that the plant will stop producing edible stalks. So keep up with the picking, even if you cannot keep up with the eating and freezing. You can cook and eat stalks with flowers that have started open. But the opened buds turn brownish when cooked and look almost as unappetizing as cooked cabbage worms.

Broccoli Varieties

The popular broccoli varieties are ‘Waltham 29,’ the early `DeCicco,’ and ‘Calabrese’ (`Green Sprouting’). Most people prefer the ones with good side-shoot production, not the ones that produce just a one-shot head like the ones sold in stores, although sometimes this is exactly what you want, either for a quick spring crop before a hot summer, or to make freezing the crop more efficient. ‘Green Comet Hybrid’ is a good fast maturing variety for this purpose.

‘Premium Crop’ is a good single-crop variety. ‘Green Duke’ is a good variety for the south. Another kind of broccoli that is recently very popular is broccoli raabor raaba or rabb or di rapa, depending on how you spell it. This is grown by direct seeding in rows or blocks. It never forms a head at all, just small branches. Both these and the young leaves are tender and delicious. Also Read: Amazing Health Benefits Of Sapota Fruits

Sunday, 6 May 2018

How to Grow Strawberries

In growing strawberries you must know what to expect. Indeed you will get luscious red fruits for short cakes and pies, and in a lot less time than you would have to wait for tree fruits. Yes, strawberries are vigorous perennial plants that grow like crazy with very little encouragement. They take up relatively little space in the home garden. But your venture will be disappointing unless you acquire a bit of strawberry savvy.

Established beds that are left to fend for themselves will have all sorts of problems. They may suffer from bugs, diseases and weeds that creep in. The plants will become overcrowded and will overrun the rest of the garden. Old plants will, over time, bear less and less heavily; their crowns will push up out of the soil and be winter injured. And what you assumed would be strawberry fields forever will be nothing but a strawberry mess. To prevent all this from happening you will need to put a little effort into managing those beds. You may even decide that growing strawberries as an annual crop is the way to go.
Types of Strawberries
Therefore, there are four different kinds of strawberries, each of them wonderful for different reasons. The classics strawberry plants bears for a few weeks in June or earlier in warm climates and then quits. Strawberry festivals were inspired by this kind, because the output during those weeks is so great that you either needs to bake them, can them, freeze them or open up your doors and feed the whole town.
“Ever-Bearing” strawberries, the second kind, don’t really bear all season. They produce two crops, the first at the usual time and the second in late summer. Neither crop is as large as that of June bearing plant, nor do ever bearing types tend to be a little less hardy, but for gardeners who want two modest harvests rather than one big one they are just right. “Day-neutral” strawberries are a new development. They are less sensitive and to the difference between long and short days than the first two types.
They bear most of the summer, even as days lengthen, letting up only in the very hottest weather. These are perfect if you are more interested in a steady supply of strawberries than an avalanche. Day-neutral varieties are often plant in fall and harvested the following spring even in relatively cool climates. Give this a try even if you live up north and see how it works for you.
Finally there are the “Alpine” strawberries or fraises des bois-tiny little elongated fruits from Europe that are similar to the little wild strawberries that grow in the United States, but are bigger and easier to pick. You have to grow a great many plants to have more than a sprinkling of fruit to top a bowl of cereal or a whipped cream covered cake or a pie, but a great many Alpine strawberries plants is not a bad thing to have. You have had excellent luck growing them from seed. They do not spread by runners the way other strawberries do and so require less managing. They are also very pretty and can be used as decorative edgings in flower gardens as well as for a food crop. Best of all, they bear all season long.
Select a Site
First of all, you need a sunny spot for strawberries. It should also be a warm one, to support the plants escape late spring frosts. These can nip the blossoms, turning their center black and preventing berries from forming. Thus when selecting a gentle south facing slope not a pocket that traps cold air. You need a spot with good drainage or the plants will rot and get diseases. If your drainage is not excellent consider growing strawberries in raise beds.
The vegetable garden is a good place for strawberries if you can spare even as little as 60 square feet. You can also grow them among fruit trees as long as the berries get enough sun. You might plant two rows of fruit trees with an avenue between them and a path down the center, then edge the path in strawberries. Also, if your space is very limited, you might grow a small crop spaced intensively in a raised bed or in one of those strawberry barrels or pyramids you see advertised. While these look charming on a terrace, however, don’t expect the kind of yield you would get from a bona-fide strawberry patch.
Soil Required for Strawberry
In addition to needing a well drained site, strawberries need soil that is fertile and very generously supplied with organic matter. Well-rotted manure, thoroughly dug in, will accomplish both purposes. The pH should be a bit on the acid side 5.5 to 6.5. Removing all weeds from the site is of utmost importance, especially if you want to keep a bed going for a number of years. Like many gardeners, you will learn the hard way what perennial weeds, particularly grasses, can do to a strawberry bed. It is best not to plant on a spot where grasses or hay have been growing recently; instead choose a more established garden area. You might even prepare a spot by growing cover crops and turning them under for a year or two before planting.
Planting a Strawberries
Strawberries are normally planted in early spring, although in warm climates they can be planted in fall. Fall planting will give you a crop the first spring. Strawberries are available at most garden centers. Where they are grown in flats, just like vegetables, however the most inexpensive way to buy them is bare root, in bundles. Strawberries may carry viruses that will ruin the crop and be hard to eliminate from your garden, so unless you have a very good local source, order strawberries by mail from a reputable company that will certify them as disease free stock. One year old plants will usually bear just as soon as order ones, and they are cheaper.
Well, you can start with 25 plants, since you do have to fuss with strawberries a bit its best not to overextend yourself. In any case, 25 plants will perhaps be all you will need because each mature plant will produce as much as a quart of berries. If you find you enjoy strawberry growing a lot and want to freeze them or make jam, add more plants of several different varieties in subsequent years. If the plants arrive before planting time, put them in the refrigerator with the plastic wrapping open, and keep the packing around the roots slightly moist. Moreover try to plant them as soon as possible, or at least heel them into the ground. Take special care not to let the roots dry out any time.
When your soil is thoroughly prepared, mark out some nice straight rows. Although there are several different ways to arrange a strawberry plot, depending on how you want to manage the subsidiary plants that form on runner, they all start with straight rows. If you watch the way strawberry plants grow, you will see that the original plant that you put in the ground, called the mother plant, soon puts out long thin stems; these are the runners.  When they get to be about 9 inches long they turn up at the tips and put down roots, forming daughter plants. If left to their own devices the daughters send out their own runners and produce granddaughters and pretty soon what you have is a thick, unproductive ground cover. So some form of birth control is always needed with strawberries.
If you are laissez-faire kind of gardener, try the matted-row system. The plants are set out about 18 inches apart in rows 3 to 4 feet apart and are allowed to send out as many runners as they want. To keep the space between the rows from filling up with plants, go to your path after harvest and get rid of the outermost plants on each side of a row, either by removing granddaughters individually by snipping the runners and digging up the little plants, or just by  running a mechanical tiller between the rows. When you are done, the row should be only a foot or two wide. It is also a good idea to remove some of the mother plants from within the row. Leave the newest ones, which will bear more vigorously the following season. If you remove as much as 75% of the vegetation, your patch will be the better for it.
If you are a meticulous kind of gardener, you will like the spaced-row system. Here you set the strawberry plants a t least 18 inches apart and remove some of the runners from each so that there only four to six of them spaced at least six inches apart. Some rather compulsive growers even reposition the daughters to make the spacing more even. In future years, keep removing older plants so there is always at least six inches of space around each of the remaining ones.
The last method is for tidy gardeners, it is commonly and rather misleadingly called the “hill system”. So no true hills are involved, however you simply set the plants fairly close together 12 inches apart in every direction if fine, 18 if you have plenty of space and remove any and all runners that form. This forces the mother plant to put its energy into fruiting rather than making runners, though it will form multiple crowns.
You can make single rows, or space the plants equidistant from each other in a grid but don’t make the patch so wide that you can’t reach into it easily from the outer edge. If you have to step into your patch at picking time you will squash a lot of precious berries. Eventually the mother clumps will get too dense, so if you are growing your own replacement plants you will want to let just some runners grow and form new plants. This method works particularly well for the day neutral strawberry varieties, which tend to produce fewer runners anyway.
Moreover, whatever kind of spacing you use for strawberries always set the plants into the ground the same way. The roots should be spread out but pointing down ward. The best way to do this is to dig a cone shaped hole  with a smaller cone of earth in the center of it, then drape the roots over the earth cone, rather like the way day lilies are planted, but with only one plant per hole. B e absolutely sure that the crown the place where the roots join the stem is exactly at the soil surface too deep, and the crown will rot; too shallow, and the roots will dry out. Also be sure to firm the soil well around the roots. Water thoroughly. If your soil is not very rich you can use a weak liquid fertilizer solution at planting time.
Growing Method
The first year, little spring planted strawberries will produce some flowers but these should be pinched off so that the plant will put its energy into growing and producing a fine crop for next year. Mulch between the plants and between rows will help conserve moisture and keep down the weeds, and winter mulch laid over the plants may be necessary. You can use the same material for both purposes something light such as straw or salt hay. Apply the winter covering about Thanksgiving time, or whenever hard frosts are a regular occurrence, and then brush it aside to expose the plants at blossom time. Don’t take the mulch away, though leave it next to the plants and use it for a quick emergency cover if late frosts threaten or fro covering the ground under ripening berries to keep them clean and rot free.
Moreover, top dress the plants once a year at blossom time with rotted manure, compost, or a balanced fertilizer like 15-15-15. If the weather is dry, make sure the plants get an inch of water per week, especially when flowering and forming fruit. And be sure to keep up with the weeds, removing them while they are still tiny, especially if you haven’t mulched. With June bearing strawberries it is also a good idea to cut off the foliage right after the harvest. Timing is important either cut plants down as soon as your crop is finished or not at all, otherwise there won’t be enough time for new leaves to grow and nourish the plants for the rest of the season. In a small patch you can cut plants down with sheers; in a large one use a scythe, a sickle or a power lawn mower set so that  the plants are cut back to 1 ½ inches tall. Then fertilize and water deeply.
One decision you will have to make no matter what growing method you use is how long to keep a patch going. If there are a lot of disease problems in your area you may find that starting a brand new crop in a different part of the garden every year will keep the plants much healthier. But you will always need to have two patches going at once. While one patch is producing another one will be growing to replace it the next year. It’s up to you how you manage your patches. If your plants never get disease and you are not much interested in trying new varieties, you may prefer to just keep the same patch going by removing the older plants each year.
Pests and Diseases
You will assuredly have some problems with birds eating your ripe strawberries, and possibly with chipmunks as well. If your crop is big you may not lose enough for that to make much of a difference, but if it is a small one you should protect it. Birds can be deterred by plastic netting, cheesecloth or the agricultural fabric. These will provide some measure of protection against chipmunks too, as will a series of chicken wire covered wooden frames.
White grubs in the soil, especially those of June bugs, can eat the plants roots. If your plants wilt suddenly even when it’s not dry, pull one up and see if the root system looks damaged. The best way to deal with grubs is to avoid planting in areas where sod has recently been growing. If you still get them, try pouring a weak kerosene solution one tablespoon of kerosene to a cup of water on the soil around the plants.
Moreover, rotating your strawberries with other crops will help keep both insect and disease problems under control, but take care that you don’t plant them where tomatoes and other Solanaceae have grown recently or melons, raspberries, mint or roses. These can all harbor verticillium wilt, which wilts plants and stunts their growth. It is also very important when growing strawberries to remove all plant debris from the patch, because it can rot and harbor fungus disease. This includes berries that you don’t pick because they are overripe or have been nibbled or otherwise damaged. Toss these into a separate basket and destroy them.

Another disease to watch out for is red stele, a fungus that rots the strawberries roots. Both verticillium and red stele are cool climate, cool weather diseases. Botrytis fungus and other rot diseases are best fought by good sanitation and thorough picking. Virus infected plants must be destroyed, and the place where they have gown should not be used for strawberries for a number of years. In fact it’s best to wait awhile before growing strawberries anywhere following a virus attack. Virus diseases are difficult to identify, so it is advisable to consult your extension service if your plants are doing poorly and you can’t pinpoint the problem yourself. Fortunately there are now varieties that resist strawberry diseases have noted some with good general diseases resistance.
Harvesting Your Crop
Strawberries can be harvested the second year after planting. With June bearing ones this will mean waiting for about fourteen months for your first crop, but in climates where fall planting is safe your crop should be ready the following June. Wait for the berries to be fully red, not green at the tip, before you pick them. Resist the temptation to beat the birds to the strawberries by picking them almost ripe. They will not ripe well off the vine. Strawberries, despite their bright color, can be hard to find; lift the foliage up to see those hiding underneath. Never grasp the berry itself when you pick, because it is easily bruised instead pinch or snip the tem. Collect and store the berries in shallow containers, in a layer no more than 5 inches deep or the weight will crush those on the bottom.
There are so many strawberry varieties available that it is sometimes hard to know which to choose, but here are some guidelines. The most popular every bearing strawberry is “Ozark Beauty” good for most regions. Some other cold hardy ever bearing varieties are “Fort Laramie” “Superfection” and “Ogallala”. Those with more disease resistance than ‘Ozark Beauty’ include ‘Ogallala’ and ‘Quinault’. The best day-neutral varieties are ‘Tristar’ and ‘Tribute’ both fairly disease resistant. There are also so many varieties available, but it is highly recommended to consult your Extension Service for about your specific area.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Top 13 Weird Furits

13. Sugar Apple

The sugar apple is a strange fruit, which taste is just like a pineapple-banana combo. The fruit is looking like an overgrown pinecone; the scaly, green skin is filled with an edible custardy pulp. It’s a good source of fiber and contains antioxidants and B vitamins.” Therefore, it contains low-calorie treat in farmers markets, gourmet grocery stores in the Spanish markets. Sugar-apple is high in energy, an excellent source of vitamin C and manganese, a good source of thiamine and vitamin B6, and provides vitamin B2, B3 B5, B9, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium in fair quantities. The fruit is alike in sweetness to the sugar-apple but has a very different taste like pineapple. The arrangement of seeds is in spaced rows, with the fruit's flesh filling most of the fruit and making grooves for the seeds, instead of the flesh's occurring only around seeds. Source: Charismaticplanet

12. Rambutan

This hairy fruit looks like a sea creature than a fruit, but don’t let its spines and leathery, red skin fool you. Rambutan taste is very sweet and mildly acidic like grapes. This delicious fruit is full of vitamin C and iron, the fruit’s translucent flesh resembles a boiled egg and is similar to a lychee in texture. This fruit can be found in Asian market and eat it right from the rind, but discard the single seed are toxic. However, in canned form, you can mix it right into a fruit salad for a tropical twist.

11. Noni

This is a favourite fruit of juice lovers, because it is only for sipping.  Therefore, only a half cup of Hawaiian noni juice has 15 calories and 1.5 grams of sugar, which is low for fruit juice.  This fruit also contains over 50% of the daily recommended value of vitamin C.” Pick up the nutrient-packed fruit in juice and powder form at health food stores and drugstores like Walgreens particularly during your period. “It was usually used in Polynesian cultures to treat menstrual cramps; preliminary animal studies have also shown the juice of this fruit is linked to cancer prevention and treatment.

10. Annatto

The spiny, heart-shaped fruit looks edible, partially, when its seeds can be eaten, and they’re loaded with antioxidants, including tocotrienols, a form of Vitamin E which has been shown to fight cancer-forming cells. Annatto is an orange-red condiment and food coloring derived from the seeds of the achiote tree , often used to impart a yellow or orange color to foods, but sometimes also for its flavor and aroma. Its scent is described as "slightly peppery with a hint of nutmeg" and flavor as "slightly nutty, sweet and peppery". To reap the benefits, look for the seeds whole or in powder form in the Latin food section of the supermarket or at Latin markets, and enjoy their nutty, peppery taste as a seasoning on meats, soups and rice dishes and in baked goods. But the super seeds have another purpose: They give butter its yellow color.

9: Jackfruit

If you’re a fan of bananas, you’ll go bananas over jackfruit. Under its enormous, prickly, green exterior (it’s the largest fruit grown on a tree), the jackfruit’s numerous bulbs have a sweet, buttery flavor. “It’s a good source of vitamin C and one of the rare fruits rich in the B-complex group of vitamins, which benefit memory and mood and can even ease migraines,” says Dimitriou. “They also increase energy and diminish heart-disease risk.” When cooked; add jackfruit, sold at Asian food markets, to jams and desserts. Or fry them as chips.

8: Horned Melon

This fruit has horn-like spines, hence named it “Horned Melon”. It is also called Kiwano, Jelly Mellon, Hedged Gourd, Melano and KiwanoCucumis metuliferus. The horned melon has orange skin/lime green with a refreshingly fruity taste, and textures same to passionfruit or pomegranate or combination of banana cucumber and lime. It is grown in the United States, Portugal, Italy, Germany, Chile, Australia, and New Zealand. The fruit primarily used as a snack, salad, salsa, cocktail and for decoration. Some also eat the peel, which is very rich in vitamin C and dietary fiber. Moreover its health benefits include high in Vitamin A, Beta Carotene and Magnesium, has high water content, is good for weight loss and is packed with other vital minerals. The fruit can be used in cooking, but when eaten raw, most suck out the pulp.

7: Carambola

Carambola or starfruit, is the fruit of Averrhoa carambola, a species of tree native to the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Nepal, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Mauritius and Seychelles. The fruit has prominent longitudinal ridges, running down its sides usually five when cut in cross-section, hence its name in cross section, it resembles a star. The entire fruit is edible and is usually eaten out of hand. They may also be used in cooking and can be made into relishes, preserves, and juice drinks. Carambola is rich in antioxidants, potassium, and vitamin C; and low in sugar, sodium, acid, and also a potent source of both primary and secondary polyphenolic antioxidants.

6: Pitaya (Dragon Fruit)

A pitaya is the fruit of several cactus species indigenous to the Americas. Pitaya usually refers to fruit of the genus Stenocereus, while pitahaya or dragon fruit refers to fruit of the genus Hylocereus. The sour pitayas are a variety that is commonly eaten in the arid regions of the Americas, refreshing, with juicier flesh and a stronger taste. Dragon fruit is a tropical fruit that has become increasingly popular in recent years. People enjoy it for its unique look and taste, and there’s evidence it may provide health benefits. Dragon fruit is a low-calorie fruit that is high in fiber and provides more than one-third of the RDI for vitamin C. Dragon fruit contains several antioxidants that protect cells from damage. These include betalains, hydroxycinnamates and flavonoids.  Dragon fruit may look exotic, but its flavors are similar to other fruits. Its taste has been described as a slightly sweet cross between a kiwi and a pear. Dragon fruit is easy to prepare and can be enjoyed on its own or paired with other foods in healthy recipes.

5: Guanábana or Soursop

The agressive looking guanábana contains a docile white custard-like and headily perfumed flesh. It is usually made into a paste, ice cream or agua fresca, but can be consumed as is. But be sure to buy a nice ripe one. The flavour of the fruit has been described as a combination of strawberry and pineapple, with sour citrus flavour notes contrasting with an underlying creamy texture reminiscent of coconut or banana. Soursop is widely promoted as an alternative cancer treatment, however, no medical evidence that it is effective.

4: Passion Fruit

This fruit is native to South America, grown in green houses to boost its flavor. It is usually found bright red in color but variations can exist, you might also get to see them half green and half red and quite bulky in size.  There are two types to know about, one is the poisonous sibling and the other as passionate as its name. How natural is that, because it is cultivated commercially in tropical and subtropical areas for its sweet, seedy fruit is a pepo, a type of berry, round to oval, either yellow or dark purple at maturity, with a soft to firm, juicy interior filled with numerous seeds. The fruit is both eaten and juiced; passion fruit juice is often added to other fruit juices to enhance aroma. Passion fruit flower is the national flower of Paraguay.

3: Ackee

This is Jamaica’s national fruit. The seeds of this fruit were bought from West Africa into Jamaica on a rumored slave ship and from then on this has become the delicacy around the Caribbean. To eat this fruit, one has to remove the black tops and cut open the fleshy yellow arils, because the reddish region in between is very toxic. Ackee you are very tricky! The fruit is pear-shaped, however when it ripens, it turns from green to a bright red to yellow-orange, and splits open to reveal three large, shiny black seeds, each partly surrounded by soft, creamy or spongy, white to yellow flesh the aril. The dried seeds, fruit, bark, and leaves are used medicinally.

2: Buddha’s Hand

You may be scared in the first look, but didn’t feel a thing when you’ll swallowed it; it just tastes like a lemon. The fingered citron is unusually shaped citron variety whose fruit is segmented into finger-like sections, resembling a human hand. It is called as such because of its shape, it resembles a tightened octopus. It is found in China and India. It is used to flavor fish and eaten raw with spices when mixed with salad. Buddha's hand fruit is very fragrant and is used predominantly in China, Malaysia and Japan for perfuming rooms and personal items such as clothing, and in cupboards to keep out the smell. The Buddha’s Hand fruit can also be eaten often as a zest or flavouring in desserts, savory dishes and alcoholic beverages or candied as a sweet. The sliced, dried peel of immature fruits is also prescribed as a tonic in traditional medicine.

1: Tamarillo

Tamarillo is known as the popular sibling of the regular tomato we use every day, its paler and burnt in color. The fruit is eaten by scooping the flesh from a halved fruit, when lightly sugared and cooled; the flesh is used for a breakfast dish. The fruit is distinctively shaped seeds in the middle when you slice it in half. Tamarilllo fruit grows in Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Colombia and tastes similar to the Passion fruit. The fruit color varies from yellow and orange to red and almost purple. Sometimes they have dark, longitudinal stripes. It is used in making juices and in certain areas of Bolivia it is used in cooking, particularly to prepare the sauce. In the industry it is used as a strong preservative because the fruit contains a high amount of pectin.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Pyracantha, An Evergreen Plant Provides Seasonal Interest and Berries

“Pyracantha” is the scientific name of firethorn plants, an evergreen plant that is easy to grow and provides seasonal interest and berries can handle the simple care of firethorn bush. “Pyracantha” is a genus of large, thorny evergreen shrubs in the family Rosaceae, with common names firethorn or pyracantha are native to an area extending from Southwest Europe east to Southeast Asia. The Pyracantha plant can reach up to 20 feet tall, having seven species provides white / red flowers, (produce during late spring and early summer) and orange and yellow berries from late summer and mature in late autumn. The plant is valuable ornamental plants, decorative flowers and fruits often very densely borne.

The “Pyracantha” aesthetic characteristics in conjunction with their home security qualities make them an alternative to artificial fences and walls. “Pyracantha” is also good shrubs for a wildlife garden, providing dense cover for roosting and nesting birds, summer flowers for bees and a plenty of berries as a food source. “Pyracantha” berries are mildly poisonous as their seeds contain cyanogenic glycosides, however in some colder countries “Pyracantha” and the related genus Cotoneaster are valuable sources of nectar when often the bees have little other forage during the June Gap. Birds love the berries of the “Pyracantha” and take shelter from wintry blasts all through the long cold season and spring bloom is just the icing on the cake.

How to Grow “Pyracantha”

It is possible to grow red berried “Pyracantha” from seed, and then you need to do collect seeds from plant in the autumn, remove the outer coat of seed and place the seed in your fridge for 60 days to break the seeds cold dormancy mechanism. Lightly scratch the seed coat with some very fine sand paper to scuff the hard coat, then you can sow the seeds as normal. Moreover “Pyracantha” is very easy to propagate from stem cuttings and this method will produce rooted cuttings until spring, but cuttings taken after December never seem to grow as well as ones taken between Sep to Dec.

Moreover select a sunny, shady or a partly sunny location for growing firethorn shrubs. They can also thrive in dry or moist soils, though damper areas produce bigger plants. Therefore, you may want to choose a fertile, moist place when planting firethorn. Also consider the location of your shrub prudently. The plant’s remarkable looks are paired with prickly leaves that snag and scrape. Plant the shrub away from doorways, gates and entryways. Hence dig the hole twice as large as the root ball when planting firethorn and provide consistent water while establishing. Install firethorn in fall for the healthiest plant and best results.

Monday, 16 May 2016

Tarragon (Artemisia Dracunculus)

This is hardy perennial becomes a woody shrub, normally about three tall. Tarragon is a species of perennial herb in the sunflower family and it is widespread in the wild across much of Eurasia and North America, and is cultivated for culinary and medicinal purposes in many lands. It is long, slender, dark green leaves have a strong, slightly licorice like flavor that you either enjoy or you don’t. People normally love it in salads, in sauce béarnaise, in vinegars and many other ways too. Ideally like to have a big tarragon plant in the garden so that it can harvest great gobfuls of it in summer, plus one or two potted plants inside for winter. You should buy only plants labeled French Tarragon. The tarragon market has been infiltrated by a Russian variety that, while a vigorous plant, has little or no real tarragon flavor.

Well, if you want to grow Tarragon then prefers full sun but will take some shade as well. It grows best in very well drained slightly sandy, alkaline soil. If your soil is heavy and wet, make a raised bed and mix plenty of organic matter into it. In very hot climates the plant may go dormant in summer. In cold climates cut the plants back in fall. If it gets extremely cold where you live, mulch with evergreen boughs or salt hay. Unlike Russian tarragon, French tarragon is not grown from seed. Tarragon is one of the four fines herbs of French cooking, and is mostly suitable for chicken, fish and egg dishes.

Moreover, you need to purchase a plant or obtain a division or a stem or root cutting from a friend. Dividing your plants every few years will keep them vigorous and also keep the flavor strong. To bring tarragon plants indoors pot up and let sit in freezing weather for a few weeks. Therefore, cut leaves for dying at a time when it is not rainy or humid, by hanging them upside down in a paper bag or in a dark, airy place. Store the leaves in airtight jars. Freeze in plastic bags or containers or as tarragon butter. Make tarragon vinegar, but try to keep a pot of fresh tarragon around all the time if you are a tarragon lover, because it tastes best fresh.