GROWING FRUIT & NUTS

TIPS FOR GROWING BLUEBERRIES THE RIGHT WAY

Blueberry plants produce delicate-looking gems of fruit that it seems they need a lot of tender loving care to flourish. On the contrary, blueberries are one of the easiest plants to grow because they last and bear fruits for many years. Grow blueberries inside and be responsible for taking care of your crops and for making sure that the plants produce as many fruits as they can.

1. Purchase blueberry plants, which are at least two years old. This makes transplanting the berries easier. This will save you on costs as well.

2. Plant the berries in areas where they can get full sunlight. When planting blueberries inside the house, it is imperative that they are placed in a spot where they can receive sunlight throughout the day.

3. Plant more than one variety. Blueberries are self-pollinators but cross-pollination allows them to yield fruits in bigger quantities. This will allow you to grow big blueberries.

4. Add peat moss to the soil. Blueberries love acidic soils and mixing peat moss with the soil will increase its acidity.

5. Add fertiliser that is rich in nitrogen twice during the season of growth. This increases the soil's fecundity. Care should be taken that the soil is not fertilised too much or too frequently to avoid any adverse effect on the plants.

6. Water the plants regularly. New plants generally require more water than mature plants. Adult plants need to be watered just to keep the soil moist. Overwatering might cause the growth of fungus or root rot.

7. Prune the bush on its fourth year of growth. Blueberries need to be pruned to keep them healthy and to encourage growth. Low, drooping undergrowth, dead, and diseased limbs all need to be cropped in the process. Keeping your plants healthy will help you grow huge blueberries.

8. Remove flowers if the plants are less than three years old. This is to allow the plants to grow and be stronger. This will also prevent the blueberries from bearing fruits prematurely.

 Growing blueberries is easy. All you need to do is provide your blueberry bushes with the care they need and they'll give you the best reward in exchange - their delicious fruits!

 

Article by Donna Sampson 


GROWING BLUEBERRIES AT HOME

Blueberries have been in health news a lot lately. Packed with anti-oxidants and tasty as well, many gardeners are wondering about growing blueberry bushes in their own garden. Planting blueberry bushes in your garden is possible with a little preparation.

TIPS FOR PLANTING BLUEBERRY BUSHES

The most important thing to remember when growing blueberry plants is that they need a very low pH balance to grow well. Most home gardeners will need to prepare special high acid soil in order to provide the proper blueberry plant care.

The problem with this is that the acid in the soil can quickly leach away, leaving the blueberry bushes without enough and harming nearby plants with too much. For care of blueberry bushes, you may want to consider growing blueberry bushes in containers, or at the very least, in tubs buried in the ground. This will provide containment for the high acid soil the blueberry plants need.

Another factor to consider when planting blueberry bushes is the length of time it takes for them to grow to a fruiting age. How long does it take a blueberry to grow big enough to produce fruit? It can take 3 – 4 years before they will produce fruit.

Blueberries also produce better if they are cross pollinated. This means that growing blueberry bushes of different varieties will help with their production. Before growing blueberry plants, you need to choose a type of blueberry to grow. There are three basic varieties, northern highbush, rabbiteye, and southern highbush. Each are suited for different climates and you should research which is best for your climate. Once you know the type you can grow, there are dozens of varieties to choose from.

Many people also wonder when do you plant blueberry bushes. The right time for planting blueberry bushes is early to mid spring.

Some final notes on proper care of blueberry bushes. Remember that they need full sun to do well. They also need consistent watering to fruit well. For good blueberry plant care, you may also want to consider pruning your bushes as needed.

Growing blueberry plants in your garden can be rewarding. With a little tender, loving blueberry plant care, you can be serving your very own homegrown blueberries in no time.

 

Article by Michelle Smith


GROWING BLACKBERRIES

Blackberries are good to eat and easy to grow. They may be a bit too easy to grow, as they are weeds in some areas. What this means is that when planning your blackberry growing area you must be able to keep them from spreading too much. Blackberries should not be confused with dewberries. Dewberries are a native species that grown along the ground and do not get over about a foot tall. They can take over, though, and provide little shelter or food for animals, creating an ecological desert. Blackberries grow upward on canes. They, too, can take over a pasture and leave it useless.

Blackberries, however, have been somewhat domesticated and produce loads of tasty berries. These berries make it worth the trouble to grow the blackberry. Blackberries produce berries on canes that are a year old, so won't bear for the first year after they are planted. They make you wait a year to get their goodies.

Blackberries like well drained, sandy soil with a pH of 4.5 to 7.5. They really grown best at a pH of around 6.0 to 6.5. Blackberries will grow in heavy black clay soils and really thrive in raised beds. Warm weather friends, they grow in zones 7,8, or 9 and require weekly irrigation once they are established.

Blackberries are usually planted from cuttings or from bare root plants. These plants take up a lot of room, so space them three feet apart and keep the rows eight to twelve feet apart. The plants will eventually grow to form an impenetrable hedge if you let them, so bear that in mind when planning your garden.

Blackberries have to be pruned. The first year, cut your canes back when they reach 36 to 48 inches by cutting off a third of the cane. This encourages branching of the plant. The second year, floricanes emerge. These are the canes that have flowers on them and that produce the fruit.  After all the fruit is ripe, the floricanes die and should be cut away. Cutting them away immediately after harvesting the fruit leaves more resources for the plant to produce more floricanes and to grow.

Weeds compete with the blackberries for resources, so keep your plants weeded. As mentioned earlier, blackberries require irrigation and drip irrigation is the most efficient.

Blackberries require nitrogen fertiliser but rarely anything else. Fertiliser is spread along the row at bloom and at the recommended levels for your soil. This will vary depending on your soil chemistry. A soil test will let you know how often you need to apply nitrogen and how often you need to do so.

Blackberries can get several fungal and bacterial infections. The best prevention here is making sure weeds are removed, using drip irrigation, and making sure the plants have plenty of air circulation. Blackberries should be checked frequently for pests and treated as needed.

Blackberries are really easy to grow. They have lots of fruit. Wear a long sleeve shirt to pick them to protect against thorns and refrigerate the berries as soon as possible after picking. They ruin quickly, so process them or eat them within a few days of picking.

 

Article by Stephanie Suesan Smith  
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HOW TO PLANT BLACKBERRIES

Blackberry is a perennial plant with biennial stems. It contains high nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin K and dietary fibres. So naturally it is liked and recommended for everyone. Blackberries also known for important nutrients like beta carotene, lutein and manganese. This is a fruit that has a lot of important antioxidants, which is very helpful in fighting diseases and boosting the immunity system.

Planting blackberry is very easy as it requires minimum time. First dig the soil in the garden where the plant is to be grown. Before selecting the plants, check their condition so that you select only the healthy ones that come without any disease. It is essential that the soil used for tree planting is well-drained and enriched. Planting blackberries in a row is the best way to grow them however, it is important to keep a check on the growth as blackberries tend to overgrow.

It is a must to decide on the type of blackberry that has to be planted. Blackberries are available in erect and trailing varieties. This plant variety needs lot of sunlight for a steady growth, so choose a location that has plenty of good sunlight. Ensure that the soil contains moisture and has proper drainage system. The amount of water that is provided to the blackberry plant is also very important because excess water will damage the plants. The plantation area where the blackberries are to be grown must be free from weeds. So, a through cleaning and removal of the weeds is necessary before planting. Many research and studies recommend the spring or pre spring season for planting the blackberry as they prefer to grow well during this time.

Once the soil is ready, holes should be dug. These digs must be big enough to fit the blackberry plant's root freely. Once the plant is kept in the dug, the roots need to be covered and secured with large amount of soil. Generally four to six feet of each plant is required for erect variety of blackberry. This space between the plants is important for the growth of the plant else it may affect the development of other plants.
 
On the other hand the trailing variety of the blackberry plant needs four to ten feet of space between each plant. In between each row of the plant a space of eight to ten feet is required. Once the plantation is completed, watering them at right time in correct proportions is very important.

 

Article by Chris Cornell  
Grow Guides
www.growguides.net

 

Chris is the writer of this article, you can visit us for more information on How to Plant Blackberries and How to Grow Blackberries.


HOW TO GROW RASPBERRIES

Perhaps not quite as popular as strawberries, raspberries come in a close second in the favourite berry stakes. Imagine some now with thick, rich cream!

Having got your taste buds interested, why not try growing your own if you have the space? They are, though, best suited for areas which have mild winters and cool summers.

Once established your raspberry bushes should continue to produce for about 10 years, so it pays to prepare the soil well and take care of it during the year.

They prefer well-drained, slightly acidic soil in a sunny spot. If you soil is borderline alkaline or chalky, then you will need to adjust it. Adding wood ash helps keep the ph balanced and improves the taste!

Plant from seedlings - unless you really want the challenge of growing from seeds. Plant them in late spring.

They are best grown against supports (stakes, trellis style etc) as this will make the berries easier to pick as well as keeping them clean. Keep as weed free as possible. Do not plant with blackberries as these will take over.

There are two types of raspberry - biennial and everbearing. The latter do not sucker, but do have branches, while biennials have canes that keep coming and living for two years before dying off.

Growing your raspberries in a thin longish line will aid the fruit to grow the length of the canes. Biennials will produce from the top during the first year and then move down the cane - so ensure that part is not shaded. Prune the tops if they become out of reach.

Biennials need to be spaced about 3 feet apart in the row and, when the suckers have filled in the row, cull to about 7 or 8 per yard.

PROPAGATING

Layering is the easiest method for everbearing varieties. Biennials sucker enough that you don't have to worry about this for them.

Remove any suckers from biennials that are more than 6 inches from the mother plant.

When layering, bury the tip of a low branch into the soil about 4 inches deep. The next spring, clip the cane about 8 inches tall and simply move it to its new spot.

Because of their branches you will need to place these types about 4 feet apart. They will produce multiple canes, so thin them out to 6 or 7 each.

After the harvesting has finished, it's good to take off of new green canes a few inches and cut summer fruiting ones back to ground level during the autumn, and autumn bearing ones prune in late winter.

Raspberries are a hungry and thirsty fruit which like full sun. Shade will prevent fruit coming.

Tip: plant peas and beans in the space between the raspberries to enrich the soil during the first year. This will also help keep the weeds down as raspberries do not like competition.

 

Article by Peter Damien Ryan
Better House & Garden
www.betterhouseandgarden.net


Peter Ryan is a landscape and gardening expert and can be reached at www.betterhouseandgarden.net


HOW TO GROW RASPBERRIES: USEFUL TIPS AND HINTS

Raspberry is an aggregate fruit and one single raspberry is a cluster of several small fruits arranged around a central cavity. They grow best in areas where the climatic conditions are mostly mild winters and cool summers. They grow in soil which is well drained and slightly acidic in nature.

They can be propagated by many ways for example, seeds, stem cuttings, tip layering, and through the modern method of tissue culture. The highlight of these plants is that they joyfully procreate by underground runners. When a planter plants one cane in a year, the next year he can find a dozen of raspberry plants in the same spot!
 
Spring is the ideal season for planting raspberry plants. They can be grown either by planting the stems straight on the soil or by the method of container gardening too. To plant them on the soil first, the soil should be raked well and cleared off all the weeds. Then the soil should be turned with organic compost a few times. The next step involves digging a hole of ten inch depth as the raspberry roots are quite shallow.

The vegetable beds in which these plants are planted should be in such a way that the distance between two plants should be two feet and placed in rows which are eight feet apart.

When the raspberry plants are laden with fruits, they become top heavy and so they should be given supports to keep them falling over due to the weight of the fruits. Raspberries usually need cane staking or a support of trellis to withstand the weight. These supports are also a help while picking berries as they make picking berries easier and also assure of them being clean as the berries do not fall on the ground.

Pruning is done to get rid of the older canes and to take substantial care of the newer canes that can produce more fruits. In summer, the planters can see the new canes begin to bear fruit at the top and this continues until fall. Raspberry plants need some nitrogen substitutes to achieve their full growth of about 6 or 7 feet but care should be taken not to give them an overdose of high-nitrogen fertiliser as the fruiting season approaches.
 
Raspberries are used in all kinds of desserts ranging from ice creams to fancily decorated cakes, etc. They are also made as bumbleberry pies by mixing them with all the summer fruits. For using in winter, large quantities of this fruit are stored by freezing.

 

Article by Chris Cornell  
Grow Guides
www.growguides.net

 

Chris is the writer of this article, you can visit us for more information on How to Grow Raspberries and How to Plant Raspberries.


GROWING GOOSEBERRIES IN THE HOME GARDEN

You don't usually see gooseberries as much as say raspberries, cherries or strawberries - yet they have a wonderful taste and effect on the palate so if you have room give them a go.

There are many varieties of gooseberry to try, from those that have tiny, sweet yellow fruits to those that produce large, red dessert types.

Try growing more than one variety of both dessert and culinary types to extend the picking season.

The plants grow to between three to five feet high and can be dense with thorny arching branches which need to be controlled. This means pruning away inward growing branches to permit good airflow and sunlight to penetrate.

In the winter remove all inward growing branches, plus dead and diseased canes. Also thin out the rest if they seem over-crowded. Cut back to a young shoot. Shorten any new growth to about half.

As with roses, keeping the centre open for air movement and sunlight, helps keep the plant healthy and allows it to be more disease resistant, especially to fungal problems.

Gooseberries are usually long-lived and like most fruits prefer, well-drained, friable soils well composted and mulched. Include well-rotted manures in the compost. The mulch is important as they prefer cooler, moist soil.

Plant your canes just a wee bit deeper than where they were previously and at about 3 feet apart. If you have more than one row - keep about 6 feet between the rows.

Prune in late winter or early spring during plant dormancy.

Gooseberries mainly bear their fruit on older wood (2-3 years) so by having some of each age (1, 2, 3 years) will help maintain a regular renewal of fruiting wood.

You may need to consider netting as the birds love gooseberries too!

PROPAGATION

While American cultivars are easier to propagate than those of European origin, the latter are arguably better tasting.

Cuttings, about 12 inches long can be prepared in the autumn. Remove though any tip growth. Choose those pieces that still have a couple of leaves left on them.

You can tip layer and mound layer and this does mean that the resulting small plants are ready for transplanting the next autumn.

The easiest way is to buy container grown bushes - and when planting make sure the root ball surface is at ground level. Always keep them moist until well established.

And, if you have limited space grow a standard in a tub container!

I don't fertilise - because, I believe if you have good compost and mulch, then this should be enough.

 

Article by Peter Damien Ryan
Better House & Garden
www.betterhouseandgarden.net


Peter Ryan is a landscape and gardening expert and can be reached at www.betterhouseandgarden.net


HOW TO GROW STRAWBERRIES

GROWING LUSCIOUS STRAWBERRIES

I used the phrase growing 'luscious' strawberries because that adjective is rare with store bought strawberries! But, not if you grow your own!

Part of the problem with supermarket strawberries is our demand for them to be available all year round - so the growing is forced, the plant modified and the result is loss of full flavour.

I also wonder how much of their nutritional value is compromised compared to home grown ones. The larger ones - which often look good and inviting are renowned for being poor in flavour. Of course, the new cultivars are claimed to have both desirable qualities - size and flavour - but I am yet to be convinced.

HOW TO GROW STRAWBERRIES

Strawberries can be grown from the tropics down to sub-polar regions, obviously with different care requirements. Common to all areas though is good well-drained, friable soil that is well composted and mulched.

For the home grower, you can plant in a dedicated garden bed or in pots. Strawberries are herbaceous - which simply means that the stems and leaves die off to ground level at the conclusion of the growing season, but return in the next season.

They produce runners in the summer, which can be cut off and planted elsewhere for more plants. Plant size will vary, but some varieties may get to 18 inches tall by 36 inches wide - so if growing in pots, choose a smaller plant, unless you have biggish pots.

Make the beds raised or mounded up. Place straw around the plants to keep the fruit clean and to stop moisture creating fungal issues and rotting the fruit. Commercial growers use black plastic, but I find that straw is better at home as it means less soil renewal work when the plant has finished producing the fruit for the season.

Avoid planting strawberries where you have previously grown tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, eggplants and other berries in the last three years as fungal diseases from these plants may still be present and infect your new plantings.

A recommended system is to use a 3 year rotation system. Establish 3 beds if you have the room. The first year the new plants in Bed 1 will be very productive and will produce runners.

Take runners from bed 1 - put into bed 2 and develop it. Put runners from 1 and 2 into bed 3. By then bed 1 will need a rest and leave it for a couple of years before re-planting. You can try soil change over, but that is a lot of work.

Like-wise with pot growing - change the soil annually.

Recommended varieties: Cabot (late, mid season), Kent (high yields), Tristar (summer into autumn), Veestar (early season)

Wait until the strawberry is about three quarters ripe and then pick to beat the snails and birds getting to them before you do!

 

Article by Peter Damien Ryan
Better House & Garden
www.betterhouseandgarden.net

 

Peter Ryan is a landscape and gardening expert and can be reached at www.betterhouseandgarden.net


HOW TO GROW STRAWBERRIES

STRAWBERRIES (THE QUEEN OF FRUITS)

Nice red, small and packed full of goodness, vitamins, anti oxidants, low calories, high fibre, cholesterol free, fat free – pound for pound, more nutrients than oranges, apples, bananas

Strawberries, - help to burn stored fat (due to the anti oxidants found in the red colouring)

  • boost short term memory
  • can help to lower cardiovascular diseases
  • can help to ease inflammation (by lowering the levels of “c-reactive” proteins)
  • promotes good bone health with the potassium, vitamin K and magnesium
  • may assist in preventing oesophageal cancer
  • anti aging as they are filled with biotins that help build strong hair and nails, and skin sagging
  • promotes good eye health
  • 1 cup of strawberries approximates to about only 54 calories

And folklore says that if you split a double strawberry in half and share with someone of the opposite sex, you’ll soon fall in love.

All I know in regards to the above, is that they taste really good.

What I do know though, is that growing strawberries is easy. You don’t necessarily need much space, and it’s a great way for kids to get involved from go to wo (mouth).

You can grow strawberries either in the garden, or in pots, so they’re ideal for balconies, and small patios/gardens, so long as they are in a sunny position, in well drained soil with good structure, with regular watering and feeding. Strawberries are very adaptable climate and soil (and are grown from tropical Queensland down to Victoria and Tasmania.

If growing in the garden, it’s preferred to have in a raised garden bed. To start, prepare your soil

  • add some poultry manure or dynamic lifter, or compost and some fertiliser
  • allow a couple of weeks before planting your strawberries which should be done between approx April and August (Earlier planting with produce fruit earlier – approx October/November)
  • Planting your strawberries approximately 30cms apart in all directions.
  • After planting then apply some surface mulch, to help prevent weeds, maintain soil temperature and prevent moisture loss during summer. When the plants start bearing fruit, the mulch helps prevent mould on the fruit.
  • Weed matting can also be used prior to planting. Lay out the matting across the bed, and cut slits into it at the correct intervals (30cms apart).  Fruiting is generally earlier due to the warmer soil.

Growing in pots, either dedicated strawberry pots with holes already made into them, or your pots for which you cut holes into. Can also use 1/2 wine barrels, and Styrofoam tubs. As per your garden beds, ensure you use a good soil, again mixed with poultry manure/dynamic lifter/compost.  

Maintenance of your strawberry plants

  • remove straggly roots before planting
  • remove old/dead leaves
  • after flowing begins, feed with a liquid fertiliser every few weeks (always feed as per directions, with care not to over fertilise)
  • remove ‘runners’ as they progress (these generally don’t bear fruit as they are using all the plants energy reserves to further spread. However, these can also be used grow new plants)
  • you can generally expect to get about 3 years of fruit from healthy plants – after which time, it’s time to start again

Now the fun part – picking/eating

  • fruit should be clean and brightly coloured
  • there should be no signs of soft spots or mould
  • look for a green stem cap and no white or green on the fruit
  • this fruit doesn’t tend to last too long once it’s ripened and picked, so use as soon as possible or preserve (Personally I’d go the eat straight away option, on their own, on a pavlova, with ice-cream, on your weetbix, on a cheese platter, in a smoothie).

 

Article by Chris Pritchard
Ambleside Property Services
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GROWING STRAWBERRIES ORGANICALLY

For those who are starting an organic garden, you have to know how to go about growing strawberries, as well as other fruits and vegetables. Depending on where you plan to grow, and what conditions you have set for organic gardening, there are a few things to consider when growing strawberries.

SELECT YOUR SITE

When growing your strawberries, you have to choose the proper site to ensure proper growth. In selecting the site you must consider: high amounts of sunlight, enough space for the fruits to grow, choosing a site where you can get rich soil, and selecting a site where drainage is not going to be an issue.

SUN

When planning your garden you have to make sure that the strawberries get a minimum of 6 hours a day of direct sunlight. Whether you grow them indoors, or whether you have an outdoor space in your yard, making sure you can control the amount of sunlight, and the amount of time the berries get that sunlight for, is critical to getting the growth you want.


SOIL

Choosing the right soil is also something to consider when growing your strawberries. You have to first clear the area of growth from weeds and other matter, to ensure you are starting on a fresh slate. When selecting the soil you should choose organic based soils, but you must also look for something that is higher in pH, as the berries will strive and grow more quickly with the higher pH levels. Choosing an acidic soil, 5.5 to 6.5 on the pH scale is the ideal soil for growth; during the growth cycle you also have to constantly check the soil, and increase the pH levels as necessary, in order to see the optimal growth for your organic berries.

DRAINAGE

The strawberries are not going to grow if they are sitting in water, therefore drainage has to be considered. Whether you choose to grow them on a raised bed, or whether you choose to create a unique irrigation system to drain the water, is up to you, and the amount of time you have when growing strawberries. Making sure you properly drain the area, and clear the growth area of sitting water, are some of the things you have to do if you want to ensure proper growth in your garden.


 PLANTING

The planting process is pretty straight forward, as is the watering of the berries. Depending on the class of organic berries you choose (June bearing, ever bearing, or day neutral), you might have to consider a few additional factors to ensure proper growth, and the quicker they grow, the quicker you will enjoy the sweet tasting fruit. When growing an organic garden, you must also consider external factors, especially if you live in larger cities (pesticides, pollution, air quality, etc). By keeping all relevant factors in mind, and knowing where and how to grow your organic garden, you are bound to get the results you want when growing strawberries organically.

 

Article by Eric Connelly 


GROWING LEMONS

Lemons are a vitamin rich fruit which can be ideal for home gardens, with the fruit being able to be picked over a long period of time.

Lemons can be grown throughout Australia, from warm/mild climates to hot and dry inland environments (with suitable irrigation though). There’s 3 main varieties grown here

  • “Lisbon” which is the most common in Australia. It’s a vigorous tree that can grow up to 8+ metres. This variety produces a heavy crop of fruit from mid winter to early spring. (Also the variety with thorns – and nasty ones at that)
  •  “Meyer” which is the most cold tolerant variety and generally grows to about 2.5 metres and produces numerous crops of medium sized lemons, all year round. This variety is great for growing in pots
  • “Eureka” is the more traditional variety. This can grow quite tall but with regular pruning to encourage a bushier tree which is also much more manageable. This bears fruit year round, but more so in winter.

Lemon trees tend to be self shaping, but can be pruned to keep at a manageable height and can fill a space in a yard quite well. If space is an issue, then they can do quite well in pots, also espaliered along a wall or fence. Even if you’re not particularly interested in the fruit, with their dark green glossy foliage and fragrant blossoms in spring, they are a great ornamental tree.

PLANTING

  • Plant in a north facing and sunny position, with protection from strong winds
  • Most successful on sandy or loam soils (ie, soils with good drainage – heavy soils/clay that don’t drain well, can become too wet and cause root-rot problems)
  •  If drainage is poor, then build up the bed by about 30cms and improve the texture of the soil with sand and organic matter
  • It’s best to plant in early autumn or early spring (to limit the extremes of both the cold of winter and the heat of summer which the tree is still establishing itself)
  • I always suggest that when buying plants and trees etc, that you purchase from a reputable nursery – this will hopefully give you the best chance of buying the best, strongest and healthiest stock.  (try avoid trees that have become pot bound)
  • Make your planting hole relatively shallow, but about double the width of the pot that you’re taking the tree from
  • Gently tease out the root ball (if your tree has become root bound though, you may need to be harder on them and/or actually cut some of the roots away)
  • Plant to a depth whereby the bud union is above the soil level of the garden
  • Gently pack the soil in around the tree and water in well.

 

Article by Chris Pritchard
Ambleside Property Services
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GROWING YOUR OWN ORANGE TREE

Have you ever thought about growing your own orange tree? Well, the process is not actually that tough and just about anyone can do it. All you need is a few supplies, a slightly green thumb, and a little patience. This article will identify the steps for growing an orange tree on your own from nothing but the seeds. Follow these steps and you’ll be well on your way to being able to harvest your own oranges for making juice, jam, or whatever it is you want to make.

The first step of growing an orange tree is to gather your seeds from an orange and immediately start the planting process. If you wait too long, the seeds will not be any good and you’ll simply be wasting your time. The best germination method, in my opinion, is the soil method. To use the soil method, fill a plastic container or cup with potting soil and plant the seeds 1/2 an inch below the surface. Make sure that the container has drainage holes so that excess water may be drained. Water the seeds just enough to make the soil damp, but not so much that the soil becomes over soaked. Cover the container with plastic, store it in a warm place, and keep the seeds moist until they sprout. Sunlight is not necessary until this occurs.

When the seeds have sprouted, move the plastic container to a sunny area, remove the plastic, and continue to water the seeds as needed. As the plant continues to grow you may want to transplant it to a bigger container or pot in order to provide enough room for it to grow even more. Continue to water in order to keep the soil moist and don’t allow it to dry out.

Your orange tree will continue to grow and grow until it is big enough to produce its own fruit. When this occurs you’ll be able to harvest the oranges and make juice, jam, syrup, or any other kind of treat that you wish. The orange tree is quite delicate in its younger stages so be sure to pay close attention to the way it is growing and how much water and sunlight it is getting. If you see that your tree is leaning a little too far to one side, you’ll need to anchor it and force it to balance out by applying pressure, causing it to lean the opposite direction. From this experience you’ll begin to better understand that a little time and dedication spent on your part will help you grow a wonderful orange tree that you’ll be able to enjoy for many years.

 

Article by Kristy Brown


GROWING CITRUS TREES

Growing citrus trees in the garden or backyard will provide us with delicious, juicy fruit for quite some time. Citrus trees are evergreen trees with shiny leaves that will bring beauty to any landscape. A regular sized citrus will grow to be about 30 feet tall. Smaller trees are also available such as dwarf citrus trees and semi-dwarf trees which can grow in containers or trained as a shrub in the landscape. The fruits of the tree are of the Rutaceae family. The citrus fruits are available in different forms and sizes ranging from round to oblong and they are full of juice and flavour. The blossoms on the citrus trees have a beautiful fragrance.

Lemon, lime, grapefruit, sweet orange, and tangerine are considered the most popular. There are also a number of citrus varieties of each category and some species are only for ornamental use such as trifoliate orange. This particular orange tree is a deciduous tree and the fruit cannot be eaten. The citrange is a hybrid of the trifoliate and sweet orange that resist frost and are full of juice but they are inedible and are most often used as rootstocks. There are some hybrids of the grapefruit and tangerine that are known as tangelos that are also very delicious.
 
Some of the other types of citrus available for planting are pink-fleshed lemons, red-fleshed or blood oranges, and red-fleshed or ruby red grapefruits. There are even variegated forms of citrus; these are the ones that have leaves and peel with a mixture green and white.

Citrus is very sensitive to temperature conditions. If the temperature drops below freezing it can ruin the quality of the fruit; if it drops too low it will kill the tree. Lemons and limes do best if they are grown in the warmest areas.

Cooler climate regions will produce the deeper orange colours of both the peel and the juice. The thickest skinned citrus usually occur in the dry, desert regions and the juiciest in humid, wet regions. Grapefruit will have a sweet taste in hotter climates and an acid taste in the cooler areas. The flesh of the blood orange will be red in cooler regions but be mottled in warmer regions.
 
Lemon trees along with lime trees will bloom on and off throughout the year and continue to give us fruit all year long. Most of the other varieties of citrus trees will flower during the spring, but the ripened fruit can remain on the trees for several months. Three or four mature regular sized citrus trees are capable of supplying a family of four in fruits for a good part of the year; but you need a large yard to be able to handle 4 regular sized trees. Five to six of the smaller semi-dwarf or dwarf citrus trees in containers or a small yard should produce almost the same amount of fruit.

 

Article by Barbara Volkov  
Gardener's Garden Supplies
www.gardenersgardensupplies.com

 

Barbara and her husband have several citrus trees in the backyard. Barbara has a number of articles on her website Gardeners Garden Supplies regarding different aspects of gardening, she would like you to come find interesting tidbits.


HOW TO PLANT APPLES

People might think that the process of growing apples can be finished within minutes. Although this can be true to a certain extent but, the real process requires a lot more time and effort to give a desired result. An important thing to keep in mind while planting an apple seed is, that the seed will have to transform fully into a fruit bearing tree. The time for this to happen will be approximately two to two and a half years. So you should begin early in order to enjoy delicious fruits.

LOCATIONS FOR PLANTING THE SEEDS

The location where apples are to grow is a very important factor to be kept in mind while planting the seeds. A temperate climate (where the weather is not too hot or cold) is the best location for an apple tree to flourish. Areas of latitudes of approx thirty five degrees and sixty five degrees north and south are known to have such type of climate.
 
Apples can also be grown in areas having an average temperature in the winter and where the expected freezing point is not more than two months. 
Now that we have discussed the conditions required for an apple seed to flourish, let's begin the learning process.

STEPS FOR GROWING APPLES

STEP 1: BUY THE SEEDS

Almost all people would prefer growing apples from seeds. This can be done by bringing some seeds from fresh apples and placing them in a fridge contained in a damp or moist paper towel. In about six weeks time the seeds will begin to sprout. You need to wait till this time.

STEP 2: PLACE THE SEEDS IN SMALL POTS

Have small pots or containers ready with potting soil and place the seeds in them. Moist soil will benefit the seeds in growing, so keep checking if the soil is moist or not. You then need to place these pots/containers in a sunny spot.

STEP 3: MOVE THE PLANTS WHEN READY

Once the plants appear to be large enough to grow outside, you can transfer them to an outdoor location. Placing them outdoors will not be sufficient. You need to ensure that proper ventilation and sufficient sunlight (at least 12 hrs a day) is received by the plant.


STEP 4: TAKE PROPER CARE

A large amount of pruning and high amount of fertilizers is essential for an apple plant to grown. You need to make sure that your plant gets these. 


STEP 5: WAIT PATIENTLY

An apple tree will mature only in about two year's time. Hence you will have to be patient and take proper care till then.

It is essential to understand the specific points in learning the process of growing apples. The task of growing apples would appear to be less tedious once you learn these points and keep in mind that apples take a few years to grow.

 

Article by Bennie Polkbelcher  
Grow Guides
www.growguides.net

 

Bennie Polkbelcher is an expert in the field of Home Improvement. She has written various articles on that How To Grow Apples. You can find more information on planting a vegetable garden here: How To Plant Apple Seeds.


HOW TO GROW APPLES

The first thing you need to grow apples is a long-term commitment. Growing apples takes considerable time and quite a bit of work. Still, if one of your fondest childhood memories is the apple tree in your backyard, producing your own apples is a satisfying part of gardening.

SITE SELECTION

Before you begin growing apples, make sure you have room for at least two trees. Typically, two apple trees bear enough fruit to keep a family of four in good supply. Apple trees need to grow in full sun, which means they need at least six hours of sunlight each day. Even dwarf varieties need to be spaced at least 8-feet apart. It is also essential to provide your trees with good drainage. Although apple trees tolerate a variety of soil types, they prefer sandy loam to sandy clay loam with a pH of about 6.5.

CHOOSING CULTIVARS

You probably wonder why you need two trees to grow apples. Apple trees are self-incompatible. Simply put, this means that even the most industrious bee (bees are the chief pollinators of apple trees) can't persuade two trees of the same variety to bear fruit. So, to grow apples you usually need two trees of different varieties. Some nurseries offer apple trees that have two or more compatible cultivars grafted on the same tree; but to be on the safe side (and to get enough apples for a family of four) you still need two trees. A flowering crab will also pollinate your fruit-bearing apple tree and is useful in pest deterrence, as you'll see later in this article.

Although apples trees grow from seed, it takes several years and a significant amount of nurturing to produce an apple harvest from seed. The easiest way to begin growing apples is to purchase either bare root or container grown trees from your favourite garden nursery.

In addition to fruit size, taste, and colour, your nursery professional can recommend trees that are cold hardy for your area, bloom at approximately the same time, are pollination compatible, and are disease resistant. You'll find that purchasing disease resistant cultivars makes a generous cut in your apple tree maintenance time!
 
When selecting trees from a catalogue or Internet site, you need to make these comparisons between cultivars. Look for catalogues and sites that list compatible cultivars for you.

How high your tree grows also depends on the type of tree you plant. Dwarf varieties reach 8 to 10-feet in height, semi-dwarf trees grow 10 to 15-feet tall, and standard trees may reach heights of 20-feet or more.

Although their yield is less, dwarf and semi-dwarf rootstock typically bears the same size fruit as standard size trees and is overall easier to manage.

 

Article by Linda Jenkinson  
Gardening Guides
www.gardening-guides.com

 

Linda is an author of Gardening Tips Tricks and Howto's. The next part of this article is available at our site www.gardening-guides.com, where you can also download the whole series as a free full colour e-book. Just follow the links.


GROWING APPLES IN CONTAINERS

Due to the limited space in the garden, many people want to know how to grow apple trees in containers so that they can be put in any location indoors or outdoors. Before you do the real planting, you should make a small research on the apple trees suitable for the pot cultivation. You should consult some experienced gardeners instead of believing what the label says in the gardening store.

The most important factors are the height and the span for the adult tree. You should choose the best size to suit for your home or garden. If possible, it is recommended to plant two trees simultaneously to increase the quality and quantity of the product in autumn. They should have the same blooming dates which will facilitate the pollination from each other. Apart from that, the surrounding temperature is another factor for tree selection. The chill hours for each apple tree is different, and you should the time is adequate for your apple trees to grow under a certain temperature. For example, the Fuji apples need 400-600 hours of chill time while the Anna apples need about 200 chill hours to grow. If you are living in a warm area where the chill hours could be less, you should choose the suitable trees for that climate.
 
Regarding the planting time, the spring and autumn seasons would be recommended for most apple varieties. The size of the container should be big enough to accommodate the root expansions in the future. You can do some trimming on the roots before putting your tree into the pot to avoid the entangling. When filling the soil into the pot, you need to provide a stake to help the tree grow uprightly. During the first few days, you need to water your apple tree thoroughly. Due to the fact that the container will dry more quickly than the gardening soil, you should water your trees more frequently than the plants in the field. You should keep the soil moist once the tree is staring to grow. When the winter is approaching, you should decrease the watering times to make the soil just lightly moist. This can help the plants prepare for the dormancy in cold days.
 
During the growth of your potted apple trees, you may need to do some pruning work occasionally. All dead or sick branches should be removed asap to conserve nutrients for the health ones. Whichever method you choose to do the trimming, please ensure that each branch will receive adequate sunlight during the day. Regarding the fertilisers, you can buy some commercial ones specially designed for apple trees from the garden stores. Some organic fertilisers will be a good choice. When you decrease the amount water in cold days, remember to do the same thing on fertilisers as well. Fertilising on winter days should be avoided because the early growth in cold winter times will be harmful to your trees.

 

Article by Paluiz Chow


GROWING APPLES AND PEARS

Apples and pears can be grown in a variety of ways, ranging from free standing specimens for the middle of lawn or border to nearly trained types for growing against a fence or a wall or other type of supporting framework. If you are growing more than one tree, in an orchard for example, you will need to space the trees according to their eventual size, which is dependent on the root stock. Trees on dwarfing root stocks can be planted five feet apart, while trees on vigorous root stocks should be up to 25 feet apart.

Container grown fruit trees can be planted at any time of the year, but they will establish more quickly and be easier to look after if they are planted in spring or autumn when the soil is moist and warm, which encourages rapid growth and so establishment. Bare root specimens, however, have to be planted during the dormant season, which is between autumn and spring. The planting technique for fruit trees is the same as that described for ornamental trees and shrubs. In summer, cur back any new side shoots to three leaves and new growth on existing side shoots to the first leaf.
 
In winter, thin out any of the older spurs if they have become congested, then cut back the main stem's new growth to six inches. The main aim when pruning a fan tree is to maintain the fan shape. In spring, cut out any new side shoots that is pointing towards or away from the wall. If necessary, reduce the number of new shoots to about one every six inches. To support trees against wall, use wires held by vine eyes. Depending on the type of vine eye, either knocks them into the wall or drill and plug before screwing them in.
 
Pass heavy duty galvanized wire through the holes in the eyes and fasten to the end ones, keeping the wire as tight as possible. If you have had an infestation of pests or diseases, fumigation is a good way to rid the green house of the problem. You may be able to keep plants in while you carry out the process, or you may have to fumigate in an empty green house. All you have to do is check the label. If vine weevil grubs destroy your plants by eating the roots, try controlling them with a parasitic nematode. A suspension of the nematodes is simply watered over the compost soil mix in each pot.

 

Article by Dayante Rossdale  


GROWING PEACHES AND NECTARINES

These two fruit names are a bit of a tautology as they are the one and the same - just one is a bit fuzzy and the other clean-shaven!

If you are prepared to put in a bit of extra work, growing peaches and nectarines is well worth the effort because both for the fruit and the addition to a beautiful landscape through their blossom, perfume and foliage. Also, you will not only save money, but you will get a real taste of their flavour, as so many supermarket fruits have become too dry, fibrous and tasteless.

While there are thousands of peach cultivars around the world, they basically can be reduced to three major types or groups:

Nectarines
Freestone (fresh fruit peaches) 
Clingstone (canning peaches)

The flesh can be white or yellow, though the latter is the preferred one in the U.S. Peach trees can be subject to serious pest and insect problems - so from the 'get go' it is important to choose only those that do well in your region and are disease resistant.

Planting a tree that is correct for your climate and other growing conditions at least ensures that it has the best chance of thriving. If your climate etc is borderline for peach and nectarines, don't bother - or be prepared for a tree that will struggle. Self pollinating, they can be grown as a single in your landscape. Plant them in full sun where they do not get shaded by nearby trees or buildings.

Make sure the soil is well drained (rich sandy loam) - they do not like 'wet feet'. It is recommended, if possible, prepare the soil well in advance for a year or two before planting. I am not sure how practical this is really - but at least you must prepare the planting site well in order to give the tree the optimal growing conditions. Consult your local nursery about this.

Plant in the spring and make sure the bud union is about an inch or two above the ground. Don't just prepare a hole the width of the root stock. Actually dig up, compost and mulch for an area about 6 feet in diameter.

 

Article by Peter Damien Ryan
Better House & Garden
www.betterhouseandgarden.net

 

Peter Ryan is a landscape and gardening expert and can be reached at www.betterhouseandgarden.net


PEACH TREE CONTAINER GROWING

Peach tree container growing can be a lot more relaxing than growing a peach that is actually planted in your garden. Container growing has become very popular these days due to the fact that many homes do not have ample room to plant fruit trees in their gardens; backyards have become much smaller. Planting a dwarf peach tree in a container gives one the ability move the entire container indoors to protect it from late spring freezes or winter frosts in the Southwest. Peaches are conducive to having early flowers that produce fruit; early enough for a frost to really harm them.

Home and garden centres and your local garden nursery are excellent places to purchase dwarf trees. A dwarf or an ultra-dwarf peach tree is the best for container growing and you can leave it in the container for the entire life of the tree. If you plant a full-sized peach tree in a container will need to be replanted into the ground after a few years if it ever going to grow to maturity. It could become root-bound or could possibly die if left in the pot. The dwarf peach tree varieties will come in various heights ranging from 5 feet to 15 feet. The dwarf Red Haven peach trees will grow to 15 feet while the dwarf Golden Glory peach trees will only grow to about to 5 feet. Both varieties of peach trees will produce delectable tasting fruit.
 
After you have purchased your patio peach trees, be sure the containers will be large enough for the expected maturity height of the tree. A 5 foot tall mature tree, the Golden Glory, will need a five-gallon container and the 15 foot tall mature tree, the Red Haven, needs at least a fifteen gallon container. In order to keep the peach trees from becoming water logged in the spring and summer the container should have several drainage holes in the bottom.

Place your pot on a drainage tray and fill with pebbles, gravel or marbles to roughly 2 to 3 inches high. This allows better water drainage so the peach tree roots are not in constant water. Next you want to fill your pot half-way with a peach tree soil or loamy compost soil. Place the young peach tree in the container and fill with soil under and the plant. Now you can fill the remainder of the pot with soil within a couple of inches from the top but be sure the graft line is still exposed and not under the soil. The graft line is the area where the dwarf meets the parent plant; if you cover the graft line with soil roots will begin at that point and you may end up with a full size tree.

In order to remove any air pockets that were formed while planting you will need to completely soak the fruit tree with fresh water. For best results always add the recommended dose of tree fertiliser that was provided to you from the garden nursery or home improvement centre. Some garden nurseries will offer a warranty for a year if you use their brand of fertiliser.

Your new dwarf fruit tree will need roughly 6 hours of sunlight every day. The best part about container growing a peach tree is the fact that if you yard does not one particular area that gets 6 steady hours of sunlight you can use a two-wheeled hand cart to move your tree to another part of the yard for the remainder of the sunlight. Once the tree has become established you can leave it in the best area with the most sun. Container grown dwarf fruit trees need us, the gardener, for all its nutrients and water because they cannot search them out in the ground soil. We can give them a liquid fertiliser every couple of weeks, and water completely when the soil begins to get dry. Give them only enough water so water will be standing in the drainage tray and only give water again when the water in the tray water has evaporated. In the colder climates you may want to bring the dwarf tree indoors and place it near a window during winter. 

Some of the soil may become dislodged or seep through the drainage holes of the pot, so it is best to have extra potting soil handy. You can have larger peaches on your tree if you pinch off every other peach. The more peaches you have on the tree the smaller they will be but your peaches will produce sooner in a container than if planted in the ground.

 

Article by Barbara Volkov  
Gardener's Garden Supplies
www.gardenersgardensupplies.com

 

Barbara Volkov and her husband enjoy a lot of gardening even in a small backyard. Container growing is a good idea for fruit trees in a small area. Barbara has a number of articles regarding gardening and invites you for a visit to her website Gardener's Garden Supplies.


GROWING PLUMS

I think Greengage plum jam is just to die for - out of all the plum jams around - and Satsuma plums are the best tasting as fresh fruit.

Though having said that, the Greengage is a very refined and exquisitely flavoured fruit - a good choice if you prefer a yellow flesh variety.

Unfortunately, like most gages, most variants have a fairly high winter chilling requirement, and fruit poorly, if at all, in warm temperate areas.

I find a lot of plums in the supermarket to often be too sweet or too dry - so I recommend sticking to Greengage and Satsumas.

There are heaps of varieties available and really your own preference should decide what to grow.

The main varieties are European (prunus domestica) and Japanese (prunus salicina)

Check with your local nursery which are the best to grow in your region.

The Satsuma or Japanese plum is a vigorous grower and needs strong pruning during the winter. As with all plum trees, prune back about a third each year.

Plum trees are best started with a bare root planting in the autumn. They usually will take about three to five years to fruit, but then will give for decades afterwards.

Tip: soak the roots in water for about 60 minutes before planting and stake until well established.

Plum trees prefer an area with sun exposure, well mulched coils and good drainage.

Like apples, plum trees are easy to grow and fairly forgiving. Buy root stock which is already in a pot and it will start to grow straight away.

Don't over fertilise - about a cup for each year of age, once a year.

Too many fruits will overburden the branches to breaking point, so it is a good idea to thin them out when only about an inch in diameter. Space between fruits - about the spread of your hand.

While like many fruit trees, plums do attract pests, if you have prepared the soil well with good compost and manure, plus mulched, then the plants natural immune system can be at its optimal - and this is best for organic cultivation and gardening.

 

Article by Peter Damien Ryan
Better House & Garden
www.betterhouseandgarden.net


Peter Ryan is a landscape and gardening expert and can be reached at www.betterhouseandgarden.net


GROWING GRAPES - A BEGINNER'S GUIDE TO GROWING GRAPES FROM HOME

There is almost nothing as nice as growing something yourself and seeing your hard work and sweat turning into something that you can appreciate. Growing fruits and vegetables yourself is so healthy because you know what has gone into the product and what you are eating. Growing grapes has gotten to be something that many people enjoy. And more importantly they enjoy using those grapes for their homemade wine or some of the best jam you've ever tasted.

Growing grapes is something that used to take place on several of the farms across the country but for a while now was seldom seen. But much to my delight I'm seeing more and more yards with a beautiful trellis full of vines and grapes. Not only is growing grapes on your farm a good way to work outside but the taste is so much different than what you would get out of store bought grapes. And amazingly enough growing grapes aren't all that hard. You will just have to have the patience to get them growing good from the start so that you can enjoy them for years to come.
 
As with any type of gardening, when growing grapes you have to have a good soil base for your grapes to get growing well. To have a good soil base you must fertilise. There are many ways that you can fertilise, from the store bought chemicals to the fertiliser that is found in every pasture that has cows, goats or horses in it. If you are one that prefers to use stuff that is bought from a store because you think it's in some way better, then you go right ahead. But I think that the fertilisers that have been here since ruminants were created are the best.

If you use fertiliser from a horse or a cow you will need to be sure that it has set for a little bit so that it doesn't kill the plants because of the fact that it's too "hot". But if you want to plant now and don't have time to let the fertiliser sit, use goat fertiliser. Manure from a goat is considered "cool" manure meaning that it won't overheat and kill your plants if not let sit. You can put a little bit around the base of the where you intend to plant the vine before hand and then some afterwards. By doing this, growing grapes will be an easier and far more fruitful task.
 
When growing grapes the plant will need approximately one inch of rain per week for that first year. If you experience a dry spell then of course you will need to water your plants. If you are worried about being able to keep the soil moist then you might consider using AquaRocks as they will work to hold in the moisture.

With these two items here being the main factors you have to worry about, you are well on your way to growing grapes that everyone will enjoy.

 

Article by Matt Granger  
Grape Growing Secrets
www.grapegrowingsecrets.com

 

Matt Granger has been growing grapes for over 30 years and is an expert in backyard grape growing and grapevine farming. For a bundle of free tips and advice on how to grow grapes, visit his personal grape growing website here: www.grapegrowingsecrets.com


A GUIDE TO PLANTING AND GROWING GRAPES

Here is a helpful guide on how to plant and grow grapes. It will give you a list of the basic steps you will need to take to grow very healthy and strong grape vines.

TEST YOUR SOIL

Before you begin to plant your grape vines, you want to make sure that you have picked a proper place to do so. Many grape growers will test their soil before they plant. This ensures that there are the right amount of nutrients within it. It will also detect the pH levels of your soil. You want your levels to be right around 6.5, ideally.

PREPARE YOUR SOIL

Once you've picked out your spot, you will want to prepare the ground for planting. It is wise to turn your dirt so that it becomes loose. The roots of your grape vine will grow better when the soil has been loosened. It also will ensure that there is proper drainage for your grape vine, which is a key factor when growing healthy grapes. If there is too much moisture sitting in the soil, it could end up damaging your vines.


PLANTING THE VINES

You will need to dig a hole large enough for the root system once your soil is prepared. Then hold your vines in the hole and begin to place the dirt around it, patting gently. Make sure not to cover your buds while doing this. If your soil is on the dry side, you can re-water. Otherwise, they probably will not require that at first.

WATER, ANYONE?

It will be very important that you maintain proper moisture when your vines start to grow. It is best to water your plants in early morning or late evening, not when it is hot. The water will just evaporate.

ADDITIONAL GRAPE VINE NEEDS

Making sure you have a trellis set up for your vines to grow on is crucial. In the will vines will grow around any structure near it. It is good to plan ahead and get that set up prior to planting your vines. It is good to make sure the trellis is very sturdy. It will be there for a long time.


AS YOUR GRAPE GROWS

As your vines start to produce, you will need to spend some time tending to your grape vines. This means you will need to prune your plant regularly. It will prevent overcrowding. If over overcrowding occurs your vines will not yield as many grapes.

Growing grapes is not as difficult as it seems and it can be very rewarding. Following these basic guidelines will help to ensure proper growth and abundant amounts of grapes.

 

Article by Melissa K Wood  


CHOOSING SOIL FOR GROWING GRAPES

The soil is where any plant anchors itself with its intricate root system. It supports the roots, which in turn supports a plant's entire structure. Aside from physically supporting plants of whichever kind, the soil also supports their nutritional intake. Soil contains nutrients and minerals on its own and with the help of good watering, the plants' roots can absorb these essentials for their nourishment. Because different plant species have distinct needs, soil preparation is unique for each of them. Thus, the soil for growing grapes is prepared in a manner that's different from other plants.

In general, the soil for growing grapes should have two basic qualities: it must be well-draining and acidic. No plant - other than aqueous and water-tolerant plants - will want their root systems to be submerged in water for a long time. Also, grape vines are better grown on acidic soil so that they can produce less-acidic fruit. Depending on the variety, grapes are ideally grown in soil with a pH between 5.0 and 6.5.
 
There are different soil types to choose from. There is clay soil, a silt and sand soil mixture, loam, chalk, granite and schist, gravel, limestone, and volcanic soil. Growers from around the globe use these different soil types depending on the grape varieties they are growing. To name a few, Germany uses granite and schist to grow grapes used in making fruity wines while the Napa Valley of California uses volcanic soil to grow the best wine-producing grapes. But when talking about a properly draining soil for growing grapes, chalk soil is one good option.

Chalk is actually a form of limestone. It has a soft consistency and a cool temperature. Chalk soil is considered to be the best-draining soil because it is capable of holding an adequate amount of water - enough to nourish the grape vines. The drawback with chalk soil is that because it contains high amounts of calcium, an alkaline, it produces grapes that have high acidity. It has the advantage of controlling the growth of a grape vine's canopy though, allowing the grapes to ripen quickly.

Upon consideration of the nutritional value of the soil, the best soil for growing grapes is loamy or sandy soil. Sand actually has particles larger than clay. These particles do not stick together as with clay soil, giving it a loose consistency and inability to hold water for long. But by mixing it with poorly draining clay soil for example, the soil becomes "sandy" and is able to hold water yet still drain appropriately. And since clay soil has a high mineral content, grape vines will still be well-nourished.

Loam soil, which is actually a combination of silt, clay, and sand, is a highly fertile soil that is rich in nutrients and organic matter. Because it contains these three types of soils, it proudly boasts the two best qualities that a soil should have for growing grapes. This is why loam is also used by many as a soil for growing grapes.
 
To check for the acidity of your soil for growing grapes, you can visit a local garden centre that's willing to test a sample for a price. You can also purchase cheap pH testing kits from these same gardening centres, from nurseries, and from hardware stores. The higher the pH is, the more alkaline a it is. Your goal then is to lower the pH to make it more acidic.

A popular way of acidifying dirt for growing grapes is to incorporate sulfur into it. About 1.2 ounces of ground rock sulfur should be added per square yard. Other soil types will require you to add 3.6 ounces of the same mineral per square yard. Other things that you can add include compost leaves and peat moss.

 

Article by Renee Mitterand 


HOW TO GROW AVOCADOS - ONE OF THE TOP 10 SUPERFOODS

Avocados - contain healthy mono-unsaturated fatty acids, helping to lower bad cholesterol. They also contain antioxidants, potassium, magnesium, folate and fibre. Avocados contain many vitamins, mainly the B complex and vitamins A and E, as well as folic acid and iron.

Avocado helps your body to absorb more nutrients from other foods; such as when you eat tomato and avocado together in a salad.

The avocado tree (Persea americana) is an evergreen tree originating from Central America and the West Indies. Their growth habit varies - depending on the variety - from tall and upright to well-shaped and spreading. It is a fast growing tree with deep green, elliptical leaves that tend to drop constantly.

CULTIVATION

Avocado is frost tender while young, so if you live in a cold climate you will need to grow them near a North facing wall ( in the Southern Hemisphere - South facing in the Northern Hemisphere ) or in a grove of other trees.
 
Don't mulch around your avocado trees during winter as you will increase the frost damage on the leaves. Instead grow smaller plants and herbs around them.

You also need to provide perfect drainage as avocado is susceptible to root-rot. Deep, rich soil in full sun, with shelter from the wind are all important factors in deciding where to grow your trees. Water deeply during summer.

Avocados are self-fertile, but if you want good crops it is best to plant at least two compatible trees. If space is limited you could try growing them in the same hole and let the trunks twist around each other.

As avocados are evergreen, you can plant any time of year.

*My own personal tip is to take great care of your young avocado trees by protecting them from direct summer sun and shelter them from the wind for their first few years. Create a hessian shelter for them. You can remove it when your trees are about two metres tall.*

FERTILISING

Growing a green mature crop before planting your avocado tree will enrich the soil giving your new plant the best start. Feed young plants with small amounts of organic fertiliser regularly (about every 8 weeks) during the growing season. Spread the fertiliser evenly around each tree going just further out than the canopy drip line.
 
For mature trees, fertilise with 10 litres of organic poultry manure per tree applied on top of a layer of organic mulch.

PICKING

Avocados won't ripen until they are picked or they have fallen from the tree. This is of great benefit as it means you can have a long season. You can start to harvest them when they are quite immature - even fruit as small as a golf ball. They won't taste as nutty or rich, but you can still enjoy them.

You can leave fruit on the tree until it falls naturally, which will give you a long harvesting time.

If you have the space you might consider growing several varieties that fruit at different times of the year and you will have a year-round supply of this wonderful, healthy fruit.

 

Article by Julie Williams  
1 Stop Organic Gardening
www.1stoporganicgardening.com

 

Hi, I am an avid organic gardener and am known by my friends as the recycling queen. I live on a small country property in South Australia. 

It is my mission to encourage as many people as possible to start organic gardening (I know you'll become addicted). This will improve both our individual lives and the wellbeing of our personal and global environments. 

Anyone can grow their own healthy food with Organic Gardening. Click here to get started now! Organic Gardening, Healthy Living... 


GROWING FRUIT IN CONTAINERS

Apricots, figs, apples, nectarines, and many other tree and hush fruits are perfect for container cultivation. They can be protected against the weather and given exactly the conditions they need. Some appreciate greenhouse protection throughout the year for earlier crops of improved quality, others stay indoors over winter and after two to three weeks of acclimatization spend the rest of the summer on the patio as a specimen plant. When choosing tree fruits for containers, always buy them on dwarfing root stocks.

Growing early flowering fruits, such as apricots and peaches, in containers under glass will protect blossom from cold weather and leaves from peach leaf curl, but you will need to pollinate by hand. Those flowering later in the season, when the greenhouse windows and doors are open, will be visited by insects but it is probably best to hand pollinate as well to be sure of a crop. In a container in my garden I grow an apple called 'Galvillc Blanc d'hiver' that makes wonderful Tarte aux Pommes. Traditionally, it would have been grown by Victorian head gardeners against a sheltered wall or in a pot under glass. Apples and pears need pollen from other compatible varieties that flower at the same time.
 
Blueberries, cranberries, and their acid-loving relatives, which thrive on peat and need a pH of 4-5.5 in free-draining compost, are ideal in containers, although two or three plants are generally needed for a good crop. They should be mulched with wood shavings and watered with rainwater..Any soil-based potting medium is good for soft fruits and trees, while an annual topdressing with nitrochalk is beneficial for alkaline-loving stone fruits. Gooseberries and red or white currants can be grown as ornamental half standards in containers, making a talking point by a doorway. Arguably they make better ornamentals than culinary fruits as there arc-so few ret apes exploiting their virtues.

Figs, which have a reputation for taking over the garden, can be constrained in pots. I asked Ferry Read, whose nursery holds the National Collection of figs, which ones he recommended before buying mine. I now have Ficus carica 'Rouge de Bordeaux' (6-9), which he described as one of the best. Figs in pots need to be given high-potash fertilizer once a week from late spring until harvesting. Prune out the growing tips after four or five-leaves and repot in spring.

Apricots can be grown in containers on 'Pixie,' a dwarfing rootstock. Two new varieties, Prunus armeniaca 'Tomcot' and P. a. Tlavourcot' flower profusely and are worthy to stand alongside old favorites such as P. u. 'Moorpark' (5-9).
 
Vines also grow happily in containers. Victorian head gardeners grew them so that the pots could be brought into the centre of the grand table and the grapes picked straight from the plant. They are started as one-year cuttings, transferred into 12-18-inch pots and the growth trained round the type of flat frame that is used to support weeping roses. Once the vine has grown around the frame, tie it in. Allow the vine to produce two bunches of grapes in the first season and, in later years, only one bunch per spur at 12 inches apart.

Treat bush and tree fruit as specimen plants, repotting every two or three years and top-dressing annually in spring in the intervening years.

Most strawberry planters are too small for growing strawberries, which are better grown in beds and borders.

 

Article by Avinash Bikumalla


USING ORGANIC GARDENING METHODS

Organic gardens offer a perfect opportunity to grow healthy herbs, fruits and vegetables using earth-friendly methods. The process of organic gardening means no artificial ingredients, such as chemical-based pesticides, are applied to the garden or lawn. Also, these gardening principles are easily applied to any garden set-up and promote the growth of virtually any plant life.

WEEDS AND PESTS

Gardeners can take full advantage of the safe and natural ways to get rid of most species of garden pests. Many natural pesticides help to eliminate the most common pests to attack plant life. A solution of vinegar and water can tackle many pest issues. Also, a variety of herbs can be used in the process of controlling the pests.

A simple natural pesticide includes spraying a diluted mixture of water and natural soap. This is very effective at eliminating the aphid infestations. Once the aphids start to clear from the leaves, the plants should be given a further spray with clean water. Another natural option includes a combination of garlic and onion mixed in water. This can act as a general insect repellent.

Also, rather than using artificial pesticides to control the population of unsightly weeds, a gardener can use a variety of natural alternatives. The use of household vinegar is also a high effective tool at killing weeds. Combine 15% household vinegar with water to create a simple spray mixture. Apply this to the plant life during periods of bright sunlight. This will kill off the weeds without causing any damage to the plants.

FERTILISING

Another way to use the organic materials is to create a fertiliser to promote the health of the garden and lawn. Organic fertiliser relies on the composting and mulching processes to allow a variety of materials to decompose naturally.

To retain the quality of the soil, it is recommended that the top 5 or 6 inches are tilled. This will help keep the majority of the nutrients at a level that can benefit the health of the plant life. Also, a good quality organic mulching material should be applied to any exposed soil. This should be layered at a depth of 2 or 3 inches. The addition of mulch is beneficial to prevent soil eroding, discourage weed growth, maintain moisture content, and encourage plant growth.

All in all, the organic gardening practices help to maintain the beautiful and healthy garden in the most natural, effective and safe way possible.

 

Article by Kyle Vail


THE ESSENTIALS OF COMPOSTING

Distinct from mulch per se, compost is decayed organic material used as a fertiliser for growing plants. It is matter that is almost completely broken down or decomposed.

THE ESSENTIALS OF COMPOSTING

The benefit of compost is that it gives you an earthy, dark, crumbly soil that is excellent for all plants due to having been enriched by the decomposed materials. So, in this energy conscious world, it is an easy way to recycle your yard and kitchen wastes, and is a critical step in reducing the volume of garbage needlessly sent to landfills. The natural cycle of life always provides natural compost as leaves fall in the Autumn and throughout the year with evergreens.

Piling up, they begin to decay and when returned to the soil the living roots continue the process of reclaiming the available nutrients. Generally however, in the home garden this isn't enough - hence making your own compost heap is so beneficial. And today, in many countries, including the United States, you will find this practice increasing across households - not just with avid gardeners who have been always doing it. Probably it will become as commonplace as recycling cans and paper is now. Composting is a simple process that you can make as sophisticated as you like. Basic composting requires minimal effort. You can choose a bin or a bin-less system.

COMPOSTING FUNDAMENTALS

Compost is done by billions of microbes (fungi, bacteria, etc.) that digest the yard and kitchen wastes (food).

If the pile is cool enough, worms, insects, and their relatives will help out the microbes. Like people, these living things need air, water, and food. If you maintain your pile to provide for their needs, they'll happily turn your yard and kitchen wastes into compost much more quickly.

THE BASICS

AIR

The waste will need to be aerated occasionally for the microbes to survive as they breathe air. 

This will also help break up materials that tend to mat (e.g. grass clippings, wet leaves) and take longer to decompose otherwise. Just turn the compost periodically with a pitchfork - though some compost bins nowadays have inbuilt turning mechanisms operated by an external handle that does the mixing for you - aerating the compost.

MOISTURE

Keep the pile fairly moist - like a kitchen sponge - that is wet but not soaked. Too much water mats the materials too much.

INCLUDE

The mix of compost can be classified as 'browns' and 'greens'. Greens are the wastes from the kitchen - fruit and vegetable scraps, leaves, fresh manures and so on. The browns are things like dead leaves (autumn leaves), hay, straw, sticks and woodchips, sawdust and the like. Mixing browns and greens is the best nutritional balance for the microbial activity. The browns are bulkier and help keep the pile aerated and the greens maintain needed moisture. If too wet just add more browns and vice versa.

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS

In winter your compost heap may go dormant - but it will revivify in the spring. While hotter piles of compost do decompose somewhat faster, a temperature of about 50F is sufficient, provided aeration and the mix is correct. Size does matter! The compost pile needs to be at least a cubic yard (3 foot high and wide) to heat up and stay hot for a long period of time. When finished the compost will be dark in colour and has an earthy smell (like the smell of soil). Although bits of hard-to-decompose materials (such as sticks) will still be evident they will finish decomposition in the garden bed.

QUICK BOOSTING COMPOST

By making a tea out of your compost - combine equal parts of water and compost and let it sit for a while. - you can give your plants a boost by using the liquid as a foliage feeder. This also applies to worm wee which you can collect from your worm farm. Just dilute it all a bit though.

WHAT TO COMPOST

Grass and lawn clippings - layer these thinly and place drier compost in between.

Alfalfa composts very quickly. Be careful of greens that have lots of seeds which can re-sprout, e.g. hay. Moisten first. 

Food wastes - Fruit and vegetable peels/rinds, tea bags, coffee grounds, eggshells, and similar materials are great stuff to compost. Avoid composting meat scraps, fatty food wastes, milk products, and bones -- these materials are very attractive to pests. 

Leaves - like lawn clippings - layer thinly or they will mat. 

Straw - will help keep the compost aerated.

Weeds - can be used but avoid those that have begun to go to seed. 

Woodchips and sawdust - - although these can be used straight onto the soil as mulch, they can also be used in the compost pile. Don't use chemically treated wood.

WHAT NOT TO COMPOST

Chemically treated woods 

Diseased plants - composting heat may kill disease organisms - but you can't be sure all of it will die.

Meat, bones, fatty food wastes 

Pernicious weeds - unless they are completely dead and not gone to seed.

 

Article by Peter Damien Ryan
Better House & Garden
www.betterhouseandgarden.net

 

Peter Ryan is a landscape and gardening expert and can be reached at www.betterhouseandgarden.net