Extension Sustainability – Master Gardening
By Alan on Mar 09 in Blog tagged Blake Thomas, Dennis Adamson, Extension Sustainability, gardening, Master, Master Gardener, Orchid, Paige Gardner, protect, Roslynn Brain PhD, The Family, threatened | Comments Off
“… credible information and trainings fostering increased awareness and behavioral change to improve environmental, social, and economic conditions.”
By: Dennis Adamson
Recently Alan recently received an e-mail from our friend Roslynn Brain, PhD, the Utah State University Sustainable Communities Extension Specialist.
You might remember an article I did on a presentation of hers for the Utah Master Gardener Conference in the fall of 2011. Go to:
In her recent e-mail she said, “I thought you may want to explore and do a write up about my new statewide website and social media regarding Utah State University Extension Sustainability. I have lots of fact sheets out now – and you can see many of them on each of the sub pages (land, air, food, water, and energy) Lot’s of interesting, exciting stuff!” The website is:
I went to the site and was impressed by all of the work that she and graduate assistant, Blake Thomas, working on his MS in Human Dimensions of Ecosystem Science and Management in the Department of Environment and Society at USU
and undergraduate research assistant, Paige Gardner, majoring in Art Education and minoring in Sustainable Systems are doing.
Just what is Extension Sustainability? The site explains it as: “… credible information and trainings fostering increased awareness and behavioral change to improve environmental, social, and economic conditions.”
“[It] is the capacity to improve environmental, economic and social conditions.”
“To live sustainably is to follow an ethic, not a rigid set of rules … a human matter, not exclusively an environmental one … it must include successful problem solving and objective measurement … energy and natural resources serve as its core basis. The most common misconception about sustainability is that it has to involve sacrifice and, in relation, that its main focus is on recycling and consuming less.”
One of the articles found on their home page was, “Local Land Trust Purchases 30 acres to Protect Threatened Orchid”. This was particularly interesting to me since the area that I live in used to have hundreds of acres of fruit farms. Now there are few orchards left. My city was famous for its fields of strawberries and the annual city celebration is called Strawberry Days. There are no longer any commercially producing strawberry fields in the city. All of the strawberries used in the strawberries & cream cups sold during the celebration have to be imported from outside the state.
Another project that Roslynn is the director is Utah-Farm-Chef-Fork.
She states that it is, “ a USDA Specialty Crop grant we received to train farmers and chefs about effective communication regarding local food sourcing.” When I searched for information on this program I found, “Join us at a Utah Farm-Chef-Fork farmer or chef/owner training and learn benefits as well as ways to overcome common barriers with sourcing locally, and develop a local-sourcing game plan to help your business. Receive Utah State University accredited Utah Farm-Chef-Fork certification for your completed efforts”. It has a place where interested individuals can click to register for free training.” There is one at Thanksgiving Point, where I am an Advanced Master Gardener, in April. I will see if Roslynn would allow me to attend to report on this initiative in a later blog.
Deuteronomy 30:9 ”The Lord thy God will make thee plenteous in every work of thine hand … in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy land, for good: for the Lord will again rejoice over thee for good…”
Dennis Adamson – Master Gardener
For The Family
UPDATE – Making Your Own Paper Seed Starting Pots
By Alan on Jan 28 in Blog tagged Dennis Adamson, garden, make your own, Master Gardener, seed, starter pots | Comments Off
Planning On Planting?
Making Your Own Paper Seed Starting Pots
By Master Gardener – Dennis Adamson
Paper Pots Update
I have been working on my paper pots so I will have a stockpile when I want to plant my garden seeds. At first I was tearing the pages out of the newspapers, folding them and then rolling them freehand on the small cup. I had set a goal of doing 10 a day. This meant that I was getting the supplies out and then having to put them away each day to keep my wife happy since I was doing it in the comfort of our family room.
I decided that there had to be better and easier ways to do it. The first thing that I decided to do was to tear the pages out and save them up. When I had several days saved up I folded them. I used an extra remote control to press the folds crisply and stacked these all together. A pencil or other items could be used to do the same thing.
On Saturday I got the cup and tape back out and started making the pots. I brought the piano bench over by the couch and set the folder paper down, put the cup on it and rolled it while it was firmly on the bench. This allowed me to keep the paper going right along the edge of the cup and at the same time rolling it more tightly and neatly. I also put a small piece of tape on the bottom to hold it in place more firmly until after I have put the soil in it. I will then remove this piece of tape.
Doing these additional tips I was able to keep the process more orderly and faster. I was also able to do it while watching TV. I guess that makes me a multitasker.
When you look at the folded newspaper picture you will note that there are 2 stacks. I still find it easier to use a single page folded twice. I am going to do a few that are 1/2 pages that are folded only once. This makes a thinner paper pot, which I suspect will allow the roots to grow through these easier. They are more flimsy though. I will experiment with a few of each by planting them in my cold frame, once the weather is warmer, and then digging them back out to exam the root growth through both. I will let you know how this turns out.
The seed and gardening catalogs are coming to my home every day now. I am already thinking about starting some of my seeds soon. One catalog had some peat pots that were an excellent price. Being the penny pincher that I am, I decided to see if I could find a cheaper price online.
This led me to the discovery of paper pots made out of used newspaper. There were paper pot makers on sale for $15-20. The tight Scotsman that I am (Actually only 3/4 Scot, 1/8 English & 1/8 Danish) made me look for ways to make one. This led me to one made from PVC pieces. Those of you who have seen my articles in the past know that I have made raised bed platforms, arbors, low tunnel hoops and the framework for my seed starting grow lights from PVC. This could be made for about $3 plus the gas to and from the store. I found one site that used Origami folding to make them.
This was way too complicated for my taste. Then low and behold I came across an Internet site showing how to make they using a drinking glass. Not only did I have these already, but I could also make paper pots of different sizes if I wanted to.
The best glasses to use have straight sides. Larger ones and even slightly tapered drinking glass can work and make larger paper pot.
I will take you step by step through the process.
First: obtain used newspaper. If you don’t get a newspaper ask a neighbor, friend or family member to save them for you. Don’t use the glossy inserts.
Second: use one page of newspaper. There are those that use a whole sheet and others ½ or even less of a page. I have experimented and found that 1 page works best for me. Fold the page in half two times.
Third: pick the glass that you want to use. Roll the folded newspaper around the glass leaving enough of the one edge above the glass to fold into the mouth of the glass to form the bottom of the paper pot. Fold the upper edge tightly over the lip of the glass.
Fourth: slide the glass out of the paper roll, turn it around and press it in to roll to completely form the bottom of the paper pot. You can tape the side of the roll to keep the pot together better when you put the soil in it. If you are not going to take the paper pot off when planting, use a biodegradable tape. Medical anti-allergic paper tape, found in most pharmacy sections or some masking, transparent or carton sealing tapes can also be found in biodegradable forms.
If you have a slightly tapered glass don’t wrap the paper as tightly so that it can be removed. If you desire larger paper pots use a larger drinking glass. Most standard ones have about a 3 1/4’’ diameter mouth. I then use a full sheet of newspaper and only fold it once. This allows adequate depth and still gives you enough overlap to form the bottom of the pot. I was about to make a 3 1/2’’ wide by 4’’ deep pot using this technique.
Master Gardener for The Family,
If You Run Out Of Room For Fruit Trees – Master Gardner: Dennis Adamson
By Alan on Sep 17 in Blog tagged bread, Dennis Adamson, fruit trees, jam, Master Gardener, plums, run out of room, solution, velcro | Comments Off
If You Run Out Of Room For Fruit Trees
Master Gardner: Dennis Adamson
I ran out of room for fruit trees some time ago. I had 2 compost containers built out of railroad ties, 3 high. I had been moving the compost from one enclosure to the other and then tilling and watering the compost as I moved it from pile to pile. Long ago I decided that it was much easier to buy a cubic yard of compost, at a relatively cheap price, at a nearby waste disposal plant. I turned these areas into raised garden beds. The fence behind these faced east, but because of the height of my raised bed there is also afternoon sun from the west. I still wanted to utilize the space in the beds, but also wanted to plant some fruit trees. I thought back to when we lived in Virginia where we visited colonial homes and cities. I noticed the use of espalier for some of their fruit trees, especially at Mt. Vernon.
Espalier (ess-PAL-yer or yay) is the practice of controlling the growth of the tree so that it grows relatively flat or 2 dimensionally against a fence, path, trellis or wall. Most of us are very familiar with this practice in the growing of grapes. (Photo espaliered grape vine) At first the name just applied to the framework to grow the plant on, but has also become the name for both the plant and the technique.
I decided to try to do some research first and went to:
They had a long list of trees, shrubs and vines that have been traditionally espaliered. I decided on the Santa Rosa Plum. Some of the reasons for picking this type is that it is generally an easy to grow and is a popular plum tree. You can find it in semi-dwarf or dwarf varieties. It is also self-fertile, meaning that it doesn’t need a companion tree for pollination.
I also did research on the various espalier forms. I found an excellent pdf article from Flemings Nursery that showed the various forms in diagram and also how to train your plant to this form:
I then went about constructing my framework using treated lumber posts that I attached to my railroad tie raised beds. From the posts I bolted in eyehooks that I could attach turnbuckles to. I then stretched 14-gauge wire between the turnbuckles and turned them to make the wires taught. I was now ready to purchase and plant my trees. The following YouTube video shows the technique nicely, though it is slightly different than mine where I attached a turnbuckle to the eyehook. Either system, as well as others will work.
I went to a local nursery and purchased a plum tree that was already growing in nearly a flat plane and planted it so the trunk and main branches were just in front of the wire. I had previously found that a fan shape was a good design for plum trees, so that is the form that I used. I then pruned the trees and attached the limbs to the wires. I use Velcro garden tape instead of stretchy garden tape since it can be easily moved and utilized again in another area.
An excellent video on initial pruning and attachment to the wire is:
Two techniques of growing espalier against a brick wall are found at:
It will take a couple of years for the trees to mature enough to produce fruit. The fruit that forms during the early years should be removed to allow the strength of growth to go to the woody portion. You will also need to prune the tree each year to maintain the form that you want and to train the new growth.
This last summer we got 16 lbs. of plums off of one tree. My wife was able to get 4 batches of plum jam out of it. This year I planted a Red Haven dwarf peach tree to try to espalier it.
Since fall is the second best time for planting trees, you might want to consider trying to plant and start espaliering a fruit or ornamental tree.
And now for a nice slice of bread, butter and plum jam, yum!
Matthew 7: 17 “Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit;”
For The Family
A Visit To An Advanced Master Gardener’s Farm
By Alan on Jul 24 in Daily Inspiration tagged a visit to an advanced Master Gardener's farm, asparagus, currants, Dennis Adamson, Duane and Erln Madsen, gooseberries, Mapleton, master gardner, raspberries, Ut | 2 Comments
A Visit to an Advanced Master Gardener’s Farm
A couple of weeks ago many of our Advanced Master Gardener Group visited the farm of one of our members. Duane and Erlyn Madsen’s farm is in Mapleton, UT. They have 20 acres and are trying to be more self sufficient. When you first walk down the lane you pass a large traditional garden.
We then went inside a large building they call Mapleton Manor. This is used for many family functions, storing farm equipment and once a year for an Advanced Master Gardener/Master Gardener lab and luncheon. Erlyn was busy preparing for the luncheon.
Her husband Duane gave us a brief outline of what they were doing on the farm.
He said it is in a low cold area of Mapleton so they don’t grow any fruit that has a pit.
They have 2 chicken coops and this year they have 100 baby chicks. They were offering them free to anyone that wanted to take them home.
They had a well drilled and at 360′ they hit water. A column shot 200′ into the air. They were hoping that it would turn into an artesian well, but after things settled down the water only came up 200′ into the well. They have a pump on it that runs their irrigation system for the farm. The rock is a fake one that covers the electrical system for the pump and the controls for the irrigation system.
For instance they irrigate their raspberries 2 hours every other day when the berries are ripening. They have a large orchard of filbert (hazelnut) trees. They have several apple trees. They are also looking into growing apricot trees from Uzbekistan that are especially hardy and also said to be sweeter than the American and Western European varieties. They may even try a cold hardy pistachio.
Duane is also proud of his asparagus. He makes a trench 18” deep and 18” wide and then fills it with organic mulch. He then continues to mulch it every year. He grows millennium, purple that he likes better and Jersey Giant which he likes best of all. He took us to the purple asparagus and broke some off to eat raw. I was surprised how good it tasted.
One of their specialties are raspberries, currants and gooseberries. They like them for their antioxidant properties as well as their flavor. They turned us loose in their patches and we gobbled down red, purple, black and yellow raspberries and blackberries.
They also had black currents and Invicta gooseberries to try. Duane said that the Invicta gooseberries had to be fully ripe when picked.
I don’t think that I had ever had a gooseberry before, but I found the flavor to my liking. My favorite is still the blackberry.
Duane talked about the Triple Crown and Chester blackberry varieties which are thornless and are floricane varieties. This means they grow on last years canes. The Prime Jim, Prime Jan & Prime Ark 45 are primacane varieties that grow in the current years growth and fruit in Aug-Oct.
We ate so many berries that we almost ruined our appetites for the luncheon. While we were eating our luncheon Janet Stocks talked to us about the Cornaby family raspberry farm in Salem, UT. They grow 20 acres of raspberries and they harvest with an automatic harvester. They only grow primacane varieties so all the fall pruning that they have to do is to cut the canes down to the ground each year.
Erlyn provided us with a list of the red raspberries
that Janet gave her. Autumn Bliss:
This variety does not have as many berries as other varieties, but are great for fresh eating. They are a rounded berry and very sweet. They have truly big berries, but also big seeds.
Maybe this has one has the biggest berries of all the varieties grown in their raspberry farm. Carolines: Of their 20 acres 14 are planted in Carolines. They have the smallest seeds, have the traditional raspberry flavor, are lighter in color and can be picked when they are a little greener. These are Janet’s first choice for jam. They are very high in antioxidants.
Heritage: A good spring bearer. This has a heavy crop. It is a sweet berry and softer than the other. Not as disease resistant as the fall bearers they grow.
Jacqueline: This has a long and skinny oval berry. It is very dark purple with a rich, intensely sweet flavor. It is quite seedy but, holds up well.
Joan J.: The core of Joan J has a hook at the bottom which makes this one harder to pick than other raspberries. It is an awesome berry and ranked very high on the antioxidant list.
Polka: This is a SHOW berry. It is 2nd biggest of those on this farm. It is a pretty red but, lighter in color. They come on earlier by about 2 weeks of the other fall varieties listed here. They have a tight skin which makes them shine and they hold their shape well. This variety is a favorite for fresh picking and for selling at the farmers’ market. They are planting more of this kind. Janet puts a fondant in the cavity and then dips them in chocolate.
They don’t grow the black raspberries because they have a lot of seeds are also tricky to prune.
The ones that the Madsen’s grow are: Huron: large, glossy attractive fruit, ripens early, bred to replace “Bristoll Black” which is also early but smaller.
Munger: Most disease resistant
Jewel: Superior quality, excellent flavor.
The purple raspberries they grow are: Brandywine: fairly erect, large, unsurpassed for pies, jams & jellies out produces reds by 25%, place 30” apart.
Royalty: sweetest of the purple raspberries, and good for jams and jellies.
The Taylor a red/purple raspberry: the Madsen’s think it is the best flavored of the reds/purple when really ripe, ready the first week of July.
Erlyn had the following comment on yellow raspberries, Brent Black grows 41 varieties of red raspberries (no purples or blacks) and a few varieties of yellows at his Utah State experimental station in Kaysville, UT. Every year they have taste tests and every year the yellow Anne’s win for the best taste of the reds and yellows he is growing.
Janet had several flavors of the jams that they make. They had a raspberry/jalapenos that she recommended trying it on the ham sandwiches we were making. I took her up on this and it was delicious with just the right amount of kick.
Janet also told us that their farm also provides many of the raspberries for the Bear Lake Raspberry Days held each August. Bear Lake, especially the Utah side, used to produce large crops of raspberries. This has declined in the last few years. This is similar to Strawberry Days in Pleasant Grove, UT where I reside. There used to be many acres of strawberry here and the celebration was started over 100 years ago to showcase the strawberries. Now they have to be shipped in for our celebration. Garden City, UT on the shores of Bear Lake is also known for their famous strawberry shakes.
There was even an article in the New York Times in 1989 about these shakes. My wife especially likes these shakes since she is an ice cream nut.
Of course there are many more varieties of all of the blackberries, currants, gooseberries, and raspberries than were listed in this article.
“I went down into the garden of nuts to see the fruits of the valley…” Song of Solomon. 6: 11
Next week: Tips on growing and pruning
blackberries and raspberries.
Dennis Adamson - Master Gardner
email@example.com = Send Dennis any questions you may have!
For The Tamily
Grafting Tomatoes – By Master Gardener Dennis Adamson
By Alan on Jun 05 in Blog tagged bleach solution, cotyledons, Dennis Adamson, Dr. Larry A. Ruff, grafting, grafting clips, grafting tomatoes, healing chamber, Lehi, Master Gardener, moisture probe, razor blades, rootstock plant, scion, seeds, sterile water, temperature, Thanksgiving Point Gardens, transplant, Utah | Comments Off
Week 60: Grafting Tomatoes
I am going to delay the overall propagation article until the next week. In last week’s article I talked about Dr. Larry A. Ruff’s description of grafting heirloom tomatoes onto more vigorous, disease-resistant tomato rootstalk. This was part of one of our Advanced Master Gardener lectures at Thanksgiving Point Gardens Lehi, UT.
I looked on the Internet for the grafting clips and found a seller that had 15 for $10. I checked with one of the seed companies and found that for an additional 50% cost I could get 200. I have already received them and included was 6-page information sheet on the correct tomato grafting procedure. I thought that those who want to try this would enjoy a full description of the process.
They recommend starting the seeds for grafted tomatoes 6-8 weeks before transplant. If one is faster growing than the other then start the slower growing ones a day or two before the faster growing ones so that the stalks will be nearly the same diameter at grafting. (Later, in the article, will be a description of a way to get around this.) Also, grafted tomatoes stop growing during the healing process so they will take one to two weeks longer to get to the transplant stage. They also recommended over-seeding by 25% so that you will have plenty of plants to attempt the grafting.
The plants are usually ready to graft 2 ½ to 3 weeks after sowing. The easiest way check, if they are ready to graft, is to take a 2mm grafting clip and make sure the stalk fits snuggly into it.
They recommend the soil temperature be 80°F (27°C). This can be obtained by using with a soil heating mat and a soil temperature probe. After germination reduce the temperature to 64-66°F (18-19°C) to encourage a stockier plant. They will also need sunlight or grow lights at this point.
Be as sterile as possible in the grafting process. They recommend washing the work area with a bleach solution. Thoroughly clean your hands or use surgical type gloves and don’t smoke in the grafting area. It is best to do it indoors where there is a constant temperature, out of the sunlight and with no fan or draft present. Always use new razor blades and clips. You can even heat sterilize the blade by holding it over an open flame.
The grafting procedure starts by taking the rootstock and cutting the stem with the razor blade at a 45° angle just below the cotyledons. The cotyledons are the embryonic first leaves of the plant and usually have a different appearance than the later leaves. They will be the bottom leaves when the plant forms other leaves. The scion is the portion of the plant that contains the desired leaves, flowers or fruiting portion that carries the genetic portion of the plant that you wish to duplicate. Find a scion whose stem matches the diameter of the rootstock stem and sever it, again just below the cotyledons at a 45° angle. If the stalk is too large on the scion at this point, then move above the cotyledon to where the stem matches the diameter. The same technique can be used if the rootstalk is too large in diameter. If this is done then the rootstock may re-sprout from latent buds. These can be removed later. Some people will remove all but the leaf at the growing point to decrease respiration and the number of leave for the plant to support. Experiment to see which works best in your hands. Put the grafting clip ½ way over the rootstalk half and then put the scion half in place, matching up the angled ends. If the temperature is hotter than desired, mist the plants before grafting. You can continue to re-mist in the healing chamber or go high tech and use a cool mist humidifier in the chamber. Another tip is to put the scions in sterile water to keep them moist if you want to do more than one at a time. If you do multiple sessions of grafting, change the razor blade and re-sterilize the area and your hands.
They recommend a ‘healing chamber’, near the grafting station, to minimize the movement of the grafted plants. The healing chamber keeps the plants at high humidity (80-95%) and in indirect low light to diminish their respiration and drying while the new vascular components reconnect at the graft site. The soil should be kept at 71-74°F (22-23°C). Water the plants the day before planting, but not on the day of grafting. Too much water in the soil will send water up the stalk and push the scion off the graft junction. Try to keep the chamber closed for 3 days while monitoring them from the outside. If they appear to be wilting, you should raise the humidity level. On the 4th day open the chamber and check the moisture level, preferably using a soil moisture probe. If you need to, water the plants using a bottom watering method and then reclose the chamber. On the 5th day allow the humidity to slowly decrease by opening the chamber a small amount. If wilting occurs, close again and retry each subsequent day. Eventually you will get the plants to where they are thriving without the cover on. The plan is to gradually getting them to normal greenhouse temperature and humidity. After a few days in the greenhouse or similar conditions they are ready to be handled. The silicone clips should fall off by themselves as the stem increases in diameter. They claim that the spring-loaded clips have a greater potential to constrict the growth of the stem.
When you plant the grafted tomatoes, be sure that the graft site is about the soil level or the scion will send out roots and negate the whole grafting process. Also prune any suckers as they develop since these will grow into a rootstock plant. At this point treat a grafted tomato the just as you would a normal tomato.
The following site is the source of most of the information in their article and also has step-by-step photos of the process.
This will give you their grower’s library and you can click on: Grafting Tomatoes for Increased Vigor and Disease Resistance.
Another positive factor with grafting is that the yield appears to increase. In 2010 Johnny’s research farm in Albion, Maine used 3 plants from 5 different tomato varieties and grafted them onto a hardy rootstock. They also grew 3 plants on their own rootstock. They showed an average of over 40% greater yield on the grafted plants with one, Geronimo being 66%. The full data can be found by going to the above site and then to: Grafted Tomato Yield Data.
Another site that has step-by-step photos and instructions is:
Alma 16: 17 … “but that they might receive the word with joy, and as a branch be grafted into the true vine, that they might enter into the rest of the Lord their God.”
Next week: Propagation
Dennis Adamson – Master Gardener
For The Family
Rhubarb. – By: Master Gardner Dennis Adamson.
By Alan on May 16 in Blog tagged all about, Dennis Adamson, master gardner, Rhubarb, rhubarb pie, The Family, theFamily, Week 19 | Comments Off
When our youngest son and his wife came over for Mother’s Day they said that they had another present for my wife. This one would be delivered in several months. They couldn’t even tell her exactly what the gift was going to be. I was so dense that I didn’t get the meaning for a few minutes. For some reason this made me think of our son’s favorite desert, strawberry/rhubarb pie. Since I have already talked about strawberries, I will discuss rhubarb this week.
The history of the rhubarb, in Western Europe, goes back to Roman times. They imported the root came from an unknown barbarian land beyond the Vogue (sometimes called the Rha) River. The plant became known as the plant imported from the barbarians across the Rha River, hence Rha barbarum or rhabarbaum. The modern English word became rhubarb. Later it was found to come from China where it can be traced back to 2700 BC. The plant also grows naturally in India and wild along the Volga River. This is often called Russian rhubarb.
It has primarily been used for medicinal purposes and not until the late 1700s or early 1800s are there records of its use for culinary purposes. It is primarily eaten in Britain, the United States, Australia and New Zealand. Many think that it is a fruit because of the way that it is used in cooking. In the United States it became even cloudier because a New York court considered it to be a fruit for regulatory purposes in 1947. This way, if called a fruit, it could be taxed at a lower rate than as a vegetable. A similar thing happened to the tomato in the US and is why many think that the tomato is also a fruit. They are both botanically vegetables. Its botanical name for rhubarb is Rheum rhabarbarum and is a cousin to the sorrel plant. The common garden rhubarb is Rheum x coltorum. The x stands for hybrid.
The petiole (leafstalk or just stalk) is the edible part. The root was and still is used as a laxative. The leaves, though huge and lush green, are poisonous. The main poisonous substance is oxalic acid which is nephrotoxic (toxic to the kidneys). The LD 50 (Lethal Dose where 50% of the population will die if they ingest q certain amount) of pure oxalic acid is about 25 grams. It would require eating 5 kilograms (11 lbs) of the leaf to produce this amount. There are probably other toxins in the leaf so it definitely shouldn’t be eaten. The oxalic acid breaks down during decomposition so the leaves are safe to place in your compost pile. The stories that the stalks become more poisonous, if they are exposed to frost or freezing temperatures, are not true. However, you will still find one state extension service still reporting that freezing causes the oxalic acid to migrate from the leaf to the stem making it more poisonous. The stalks do contain small amounts of oxalic acid, but not in high enough concentrations to be considered hazardous. It is reported that you can make an organic pesticide out of the leaves by letting them steep in hot water and then using the solution to spray the foliage of your plants.
Most consumers prefer the bright red stalk varieties, myself included. The stalks range in color from the bright red to nearly green with pink or speckled varieties in between. Even though most of us think that the bright red are the sweetest and most flavorful, it is reported that they don’t grow as well and have a lower yield. Green varieties are said to be more productive and are the sweetest according to one source. Victoria is probably the greenest variety available. Other varieties recommended by the University of Illinois Extension Service are: Canada Red (long, thick stalks, extra sweet), Cherry Red (rich red inside and out), Crimson Red (tall, plump petioles), MacDonald (tender skin; brilliant red), Ruby Valentine (petioles 22 by 1-1/2 inches, good flavor).
Rhubarb is low in calories (26 in one cup of uncooked diced) and high in potassium (350 mg in one cup). The calcium is bound by the oxalic acid and can’t be used by the body so it shouldn’t be used as a source of calcium. The vitamin C content is fairly low (10 mg) as is the fiber content (2 grams). The high acidity (pH 3.1) is counteracted by the sugar used in most of the recipes.
It is a cool season crop that grows during the spring and summer and then becomes dormant and dies back during the winter. It then resumes growing in the spring. It grows best in areas where there are cool fall and winter temperatures with fertile well drained soils. Rhubarb does best in full sun, but can take some shade. The plants do best if the soil is moist, but not soggy. The plant will usually remain productive for 8 or more years. Fertilize in the spring and then again in midsummer with a balanced fertilizer to maintain the vigor of the plant.
You shouldn’t harvest rhubarb during the 1st year after they are planted. This allows the plant to establish a vigorous root system. During the 2nd season it is recommended to harvest for only one to two weeks and then subsequent years for 8 to 10 weeks. Most recommend that they not be harvested after midsummer (some say mid-June) unless you plan on discarding the plant the next season. However, the University of Illinois Extension says that in Illinois they don’t start harvesting until mid-June and do a 2nd harvest in August. Once the stalks start getting smaller you know that the food reserves in the plant are dropping. Continued harvesting during the summer weakens the plant and decreases the next years harvest. It is also recommended that only 1/3 to 1/2 be harvested at a time. The stalks should be harvested when they are crisp, fairly thick and before they develop coarse fibers. If cutting is used to harvest the plant, be careful not to damage emerging growth. Purists tell you to harvest by hand. Grasp the stem as close to the base as possible and then gently pull and twist until the leafstalks come away. Another technique is to pull down and slightly to one side.
If the plant starts to form seed stalks and flowers, these should be cut at the base of the plant as soon as they appear because they take food reserve away from the rest of the plant. Maturity of the plant, genetics and environmental conditions are factors in the plant flowering and setting seed.
Rhubarb is usually grown from dormant crowns or by division. Growing from seed is said to work best in warmer climates. Division of the rhubarb crown is usually done after 5-6 years of growth. This is done in spring when the 1st buds appear. Use a shovel to carefully dig down around the plant and lift it from the ground. If parts of the root break off they can be left in the ground. I use my garden knife, but you can use your hands, a hatchet, shovel or other sharp instruments to divide them. Remove any rot that you see at this time. Try to include a crown, as much root as possible and try to have 4-5 buds with each division. Loosen the soil to a depth of about 10 inches and add compost, peat moss or well-aged manure and a small amount of fertilizer high in phosphorus and potassium. Tamp the soil down to remove air pockets. Cover the crowns with 1-2” of soil and water well. Once the new buds start coming up add a mulch to help control weeds and keep the plants from drying out as easily. Keep a 2” clearance of the mulch around the crown. The spacing between plants should be 36-48”. If you are going to be delayed in replanting them, place them in the refrigerator. Rehydrate them by soaking for a couple of hours or overnight before planting.
Common problems for rhubarb are: the snout beetle, Rhubarb curculio. This beetle bores into the stalks, crowns and roots. These will need to be treated with an insecticide or by removing and destroying the diseased portions of the plants. Their eggs are usually laid in July. Potato-bugs and many other plant insects can be a nuisance. These bugs lay their eggs on the rhubarb stalks and leaves and then will hatch and start eating the plant. Slugs can also be a problem. Keep the area well weeded and have good spacing between it and other plants. You can treat the insects and slugs by picking them off by hand. Another technique to control insects is by using an insecticidal soap spray. Make sure to spray the underside of the leaves and stalks. Fungal growth can occur on the crowns and stems resulting in rot. This usually occurs in humid climates with poor air circulation. Remove the diseased portions and apply a fungicide. You will see spots on the leaves and possibly holes in the leaves as well. A serious crown root rot is caused by a fungus called Foot Rot. These plants have to be removed and discarded. You may have to relocate your rhubarb plants to an area that is drier. Red Leaf disease has been reported in Western Canada. The leaves turn reddish and quickly wilt. The roots decay in the center. These plants must be removed and new ones shouldn’t be planted in these areas.
Rhubarb can be grown in pots. They will need a large container that has at least a 3 cubic foot capacity. Grow only one plant per pot. If your summers are hot, choose a light colored pot. Use dark colored pots if you are in a cooler climate. Plastic pots don’t leach the water and are lighter in weight. Make sure that you are able to move the pot. This is especially true it you want to move the pot to maximize the amount of sunlight that the plant gets during the day. Use or make a good potting mix for the soil. You can use slow release fertilizer in the mix. Rhubarb grown in a pot will need more care to ensure that they receive the necessary nutrients and water. They can be covered by a shade cloth if it is particularly hot.
Another technique for growing rhubarb, mainly in England, is called forcing. Forcing is done when you want to harvest rhubarb earlier in the season. It is also reported to produce sweeter, more succulent stems. Forcing is done the moment the new buds appear. A pot with a large hole in the bottom is place upside down over the plant until the shoots start to grow up through the hole. The pots warm up in the sun and gets the plant off to a faster start. Some even place manure around the pots. As the manure decomposes it gives off additional heat. Larry Sagers says that covering your rhubarb with a plastic garbage can will produce the same effect.
Fresh rhubarb stalks can be put in plastic bags in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. They can be chopped into 1/2 ” pieces and placed on a cookie sheet and frozen. Once frozen they can be put into a freezer bag where they can be stored up to 6 months. When cooking the rhubarb use a non-reactive pan such as anodized aluminum, stainless steel, teflon or enamel coated cast iron due to the high acidity. Otherwise they will turn brown. Rhubarb can also be canned and dried.
Rhubarb, is often called ‘the pie plant’. It is prized for its tartness which adds zest to pies, tarts, jam and other desserts. In the US it is most often teamed with strawberries. English recipes often use ginger with it and the French puree it into a sauce served with fish. The pastry chef, Gina DePlama says rhubarb is wonderful when accented with flavors such as lemon, vanilla and mint, and when cooked its soft texture is nicely matched with raspberries and strawberries. There are even whole recipe books out on cooking with rhubarb.
If you haven’t grown rhubarb, give it a try. At least go to the grocery store and get some rhubarb and use it in a recipe. As the saying goes, “Try it, you’ll like it”.
Some links that will provide you with more information on rhubarb are:
“O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.” Psalms 34:8
Next week: Clarence Whetten’s garden
Master Gardner For The Family
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Herbs – Master Gardening With Dennis Adamson
By Alan on May 09 in Blog tagged Dennis Adamson, herbs, master gardner, provident living, The Family, theFamily, Week 18 | Comments Off
Week 18 Herbs
When I was an undergraduate in college in the 60s, Simon and Garfunkel sang a song called Scarborough Fair. It came out in an album whose title name came from the 2nd line of the song. The song was originally an old ballad from the United Kingdom. Later it came out as a single after being featured in the sound track of the movie The Graduate. The 2nd line is: Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. At that time I wasn’t into gardening and thought the line was: Parsley, sage, rose, mary and time. I wasn’t sure what it meant, possibly about a girl named Mary who at that time liked parsley, sage and roses. As a matter of fact older versions of the ballad had these version: Sober and grave grows merry in time, Every rose grows merry with time, There’s never a rose grows fairer with time. The version using herbs didn’t appear until the 1800s.
Before the advent of the modern grocery store, where both dried and fresh herbs have become readily available, herbs grown in gardens were the major source of seasonings for foods. They were also used for medicines, storing with linens, early air fresheners, means of covering the bad taste of meats or stale water before refrigeration, dyeing homespun fabrics and as fragrances.
They are now primarily used for flavoring foods, in fragrances, as ornamentals plants, in perfumes, cosmetics and for medicinal purposes. As Master Gardeners we are advised not to discuss ways to use plants that we grow as medicines. We are able to point out those plants that have been scientifically studied and proven safe and reliable for use with humans.
Medicinal herbs have long been used to cure illness. Many of these cures are anecdotal, meaning the reports of effectiveness are based on personal accounts or testimonials and not on proven facts or sound research. “But while present medical knowledge recognizes some herbs as having healing properties, others are highly overrated.” as quoted in a West Virginia Extension Service bulletin. They go on to say, “Medicinal herbs should be used carefully. Some herbs are harmless while others can be dangerous if consumed.”
By some accounts there are 40-60 or more different kinds of herbs. They do not come from a specific family and this is why there will never be an absolutely defined number. Most herbs were originally from the Mediterranean region so they may not grow quite as well in your climate.
My experience with growing herbs has been limited mainly to use as an ornamental plant. I have chives, lavenders and sages growing among other annual and perennial ornamentals. I use varieties of thyme as a ground cover. I grow parsley and cilantro for use in cooking, that is my wife’s cooking. I also grow mint for sentimental reasons. My deceased mother grew mint and brewed a tea from its leaves. She served it to us with lots of cream and sugar. I remember enjoying it as a child. Since it has a tendency to run, I have it planted in an area where it can’t get away.
I planted my spare strawberry pot with herbs using the same technique described in the week 15 article on strawberries. I then placed it in my greenhouse. All of these herbs have been thriving wonderfully.
Recently I had the opportunity to hear about some of the herbs in our Advanced Master Gardener class at Thanksgiving Point. It was entitled, 7 Must Have Herbs for the Kitchen. It was given by Tessa Zundel, one of our classmates. As I go through it you will find that she actually lists 8 herbs. Since, as far as I know, none of us are professional editors or English majors, I get a good laugh out of such things and don’t get too critical over these matters. Few in our class are professionally trained in horticulture or work in the field. We are just lovers of gardening trying to learn as much as we can about gardening for our own benefit and to pass this love of gardening on to others.
1. Basil Ocimum basilicum Tessa lists this as her all time favorite herb for the kitchen. It is considered a summer annual in many climates. The seeds should be sown after any danger of frost has passed. It germinates best if the soil is 70 F (21C). It can also be grown as an indoor plant. If you start it indoors, be cautious of moisture. The seedlings are prone to damping off. Damping off is caused by a fungal infection that can destroy plants rapidly. Basil is probably the most prone to this of all the herbs. A damp environment, crowding and poor air circulation all contribute to this. A light covering of the soil with sand or perlite will help absorb the moisture and a fungicide may be needed. Plant in fertile well drained soil with lots of sunlight. Prune every 2-3 weeks to encourage growth. Stem cuttings can be taken late in the season and planted indoors to overwinter plants. There are several varieties. Tessa likes Thai, Genovese, Sweet Dani and Lime among others. ‘Purple Ruffles’ is also a favorite variety with purple ruffled edged leaves.
Basil is most commonly used for tomato sauces, pestos and vinegars. It can also be placed whole or torn into pieces in salads or on tomatoes. They can be used in salad dressings. Place them in the garden where you will brush against them and release their aroma.
They can be used fresh, dried or frozen. Most recommend brushing the leaves with olive oil before freezing. There is the recommendation to tear vs. cutting the leaves when using them in salads. The reason given is that cutting damages more cell walls and causes the leaves to discolor more rapidly. Others say that cutting will also discolor the other greens in the salad. Try both ways and see which you prefer.
2. Garlic Allium sativum This is a hardy perennial herb that is usually grown as an annual. It prefers sun, but will grow in partial shade. Plant it in rich well drained soil. It should remain moist until it begins to ripen. Then you should withhold water. The individual cloves can be planted 1 1/2 – 2” deep in fall or spring. Carefully dig the bulbs in late summer so as to not bruise them. The common or soft necked varieties will store for months in a cool dry place. These are the ones you see braided and hung and also the ones found in most grocery stores. The other main type is the hardneck garlic. There are several varieties and it has been recommended that you buy a sampler to plant so you can see which you like. The garlic plant has long stalks called garlic scapes. There is an ongoing debate over whether to remove the scapes as they grow or to leave them. Those that remove them feel that the cloves in the bulb grow larger. They often use the scapes in salads or in cooking. Bruising the garlic clover refers to placing your knife flat on top of the garlic clove and hitting it so that the garlic is a bit smashed, but preferably still in one piece. This releases the flavor.
Garlic can be used fresh, dried, roasted, powdered or cubed. It can be infuse in oil and vinegar.
3. Chives Allium schoenoprasum (not to be confused with garlic chives Allium tuberosum) They are grown in similar conditions to garlic. Propagation is said to be easier from division of existing plants, but they can be grown from seed. The division can be done every 3-5 years. Plant the bulbs in small clumps.
The flowers can be harvested and added to salads. Tessa says that harvesting the flowers will improve the taste of the stem. Use the stems on any dish that might benefit from a mild onion flavor. Chop the stems and add to potato and other salads, in omelets and other egg dishes, on baked or mashed potatoes, sandwiches and soups, . They can also be added to cream cheese and butter. When doing this, allow them to sit for at least an hour so the flavor will be infused throughout the product.
As previously mentioned, they are also a wonderful ornamental with the bright round flowers and sleek foliage.
4. Sage Salvia officinalis This is a hardy perennial that grows in zone 4-8. Mulch it in the winter. It prefers full sun and a light, dry well drained alkaline soil. Propagate by seeds or 4” cuttings. There are several varieties. The non flowering broad-leafed variety is often called Holt’s Mammoth. There are several flowering varieties. If using these, pick the leaves before the plant flowers. One class member likes the variety Pineapple. They said it is a good pollinator and smells and tastes something like pineapple.
Sages are used for flavoring. I especially like it in dressings (stuffings). It is also used in medications, perfumes and cosmetics. They are also used as ornamental plants.
5. Fennel Foeniculum vulgare Plant in full sun, avoid planting in clay soils. It is a perennial herb that has a mild anise flavor. The leaves and fruits (often called seeds) can be eaten. The Florence fennel has an enlarged base that looks like a bulb and is eaten as a vegetable.
6. Thyme Thymus vulgaris
It grows best in full sun, well drained fertile soil, preferably alkaline. It is a hardy perennial growing in zones 3-8. Mulch in the fall. Propagate by taking 2-3” stems or by division in spring or autumn. They can also be grown from seed. Harvest frequently to promote new growth. Some people think the flavor of the leaves are best when the plant is in bloom. Thyme can be added to stuffings, marinades, fish dishes and the lemon thyme can be made into a tea. There are several varieties of thyme that are grown as a ground cover. When they flower they are good pollinators.
7. Rosemary Rosmarinus officinalis Place in a sunny area with fertile well drained soil. It is a tender perennial that will need protection in colder climates. The variety Arp will handle Zone 6. Seeds can be started indoors or seeded outside when temperatures permit. It is easier to propagate by cuttings. They can be harvested year round, but take the largest crop before flowering. Dry the whole branch and then strip the leaves when storing. Use fresh or dried in salads, lamb & pork dishes, potato dishes, breads, butters and oils. They are also used as ornamental plants and are good pollinators.
8. Coriander (cilantro) Coriandrum sativum In the USA the fresh plant is often referred to as cilantro. The dried seed is referred to as coriander. It is an annual in cold climates, but self-sows readily. This can create spreading problem. Cilantro can take sun/part sun in rich well drained soil. It will go to seed in warm weather so seed in succession to have a constant supply of leaves. The leaves, stems and roots are edible. Young leaves are used in salsas (why I grow it) and for salads. The stems are used for flavoring soups, bean and casseroles dishes. The roots are cooked as vegetables and used in curries. The dried seeds are used as a spice. Tessa says it can be grown indoors, but she finds it to be stinky.
If you plan to dry or freeze herbs, pick them in the early morning, just before the flowers open when the leaves are at their most flavorful. Remove unsightly, damaged or diseased leaves. Gently wash them and then let then remove the excess moisture by allowing them to sit on a paper towel.
Many prefer to air dry herbs, but they can be dried in ovens or food dehydrators. A small amount can even be carefully dried in a microwave oven. They are dry if the leaves crumble off the stem. As with all dried herbs, be careful not to crush the leaves before you plan to use them. Crushing the leaves releases the aromatic essential oils.
Freezing will result in a limp leaf when thawed and are best used in cooked dishes. Marilyn Herman, in a University of Minnesota Extension Service article describes methods of freezing.
Place a few sprigs or leaves in freezer wrap or in an airtight, freezer container.
Spread on a tray or cookie sheet and place in the freezer. When frozen solid, pack into airtight containers.
To use in soups or stew, dice washed herbs and pack into freezer ice cube trays. Fill the spaces with water. Freeze and pop out cubes and put in airtight containers.
The following links have other lists of herbs that you might want to look at to grow in your garden or inside your home:
(This site will lead you to several other links on herb gardening.)
Growing Herbs indoors
You can grow many herbs indoors, but usually less productively. They require the same conditions as herbs that are grown outdoors: plenty of sunlight and fertile, well-drained soil. Most will use indoor grown herb fresh rather than drying or freezing them.
A south or west window is best. Even with maximal light during the winter, you may need to supplement the natural light with “grow lamps” or fluorescent lights.
Herbs grown in a container inside or outdoors will benefit from a soil or potting mix of approximately 2 parts soil mix to 1 part of perlite or sand. Vermiculite may retain too much moisture and cause the damping off previously described in some herbs. Some recommend adding one teaspoon of ground limestone per 5-inch of pot.
Good drainage is important. Avoid leaving water in the overflow saucer at the bottom of the pot. Allow some drying between waterings, but don’t allow wilting.
You can seed annual herbs in pots in late summer. Perennial herbs can be placed outdoors during the summer. Bring back indoors before the first frost.
Fertilize like you do your houseplants. Prune to encourage growth and maintain appearance of the plant.
From Growing Herbs at Home by Ray R. Rothenberger Department of Horticulture, University of Missouri-Columbia as found in savvygardener.com
Inspect your herbs for pests. If in a small container, dip the whole plant in an insecticidal soap and swish for a couple of minutes to coat the entire leaf surface. Repeat 1-2 times a week for about a month to clear up the problem. Plants in larger containers or in your garden can be sprayed with insecticidal soap.
Proverbs 15:17 “Better is a dinner of herbs where love is…”
Next week: rhubarb
Correction on a previous article on composting. A reader noted that there was an error in the list of items to compost. The edited article placed treated lumber and walnut shells with those items that can be composted. When articles get edited they are sometimes reformatted. Parts can be highlighted, cut and then pasted into another area of the article. In this case this method left the last 2 items that shouldn’t be composted with the items that can be composted. This also meant that they were not included in items not to be composted.
Treated lumber products, even with the newest method of pressure treating, probably shouldn’t be composted. Some gardeners won’t even consider using treated lumber in the frames of their raised beds. You will find horticultural specialist that will have differing opinions on whether to use them in the garden. The following statement from Askville by Amazon might clarify the issue of using treated lumber in the frames, “Certain national gardening publications have raised concerns about the safety of using treated lumber in food gardens. Pressure-treated lumber uses CCA (chromated copper arsenate) or ACA (ammoniacal copper arsenate) as a preservative. However, studies done by Texas A&M Agricultural Extension Service showed insignificant movement of these compounds into surrounding soil. Pressure-treated lumber has no proven effect on plant growth or food safety. However, on Feb.12, 2002, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a voluntary decision by the lumber industry to move consumer use of treated lumber products away from a variety of pressure-treated wood that contains arsenic by Dec. 31, 2003, in favor of new, alternative wood preservatives. Alkaline cooper quaternary (ACQ) is a relatively new wood treatment that is available in some areas of the country. This product is higher in copper than CCA but is free of arsenic.”
As for walnuts shells, the black walnut produces a compound called juglone. This can be toxic to other plants. The following was gleaned from an article produced by the West Virginia Extension Service on Black Walnut Toxicity. Juglone is not only found in in the shell, but in buds, leaves roots and stems. Plants growing next to a black walnut tree can be effected. Other trees producing juglone are butternut, English walnut, pecan, shagbark hickory, and bitternut hickory. The quantities in them are so low that adverse effects to other plants have not been noted. Some plants sensitive to juglone are cabbage, eggplant, pepper, potato, tomato, apple, blackberry, and blueberry. Other plants tolerant of juglone are lima beans, snap beans, beets, corn, onions, parsnips, cherries and black raspberries.
I appreciate any input on my articles and if corrections are warranted, I will bring them up in subsequent articles. This gives me an opportunity to clarify some issues especially when there aren’t unanimous opinions on subjects or contradictory information found in the literature.
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Strawberries. By Master Gardner Dennis Adamson
By Alan on Apr 15 in Blog tagged containers, Dennis Adamson, diseases, everbearing, fertilization, junebearing strawberry, master gardner, minimal space, raised beds, strawberries, The Family, theFamily, Week 15 | Comments Off
Strawberries – The Family Garden
When I was growing up we had several rows of strawberries. I was often required to weed and then when ripe, pick them. Since they were growing right on the ground I remember how sore I would be bending over to complete the tasks. When I started gardening as an adult strawberries weren’t high on my list of things to plant. I mainly did it because my wife enjoyed eating fresh strawberries even if it was only a handful. I bought strawberry pots and tried raised beds, but I was never very successful. When I got into Master Gardening I decided that it was time to learn how to properly grow them. Because of limited space I have gone to a raised bed. This year I broke out the old strawberry pot and decided it was time to try this technique again.
In a Utah State University Extension Service article the authors state that “strawberries are one of the most popular small fruits in the home garden…relatively easy to grow, require minimal space, and produce the first fruit of the new season. A properly maintained 4 feet by 8 feet bed of strawberries will produce 10 to 15 pounds of berries per year for three to five seasons.”
(Strawberry plants only produce for about 3-5 years, then the quality of the fruit becomes less flavorful and is much smaller. The runners that start new plants then become the mother plants. It’s a way to reproduce strawberry plants, but very time consuming and doesn’t lend itself to small raised beds and containers.)
First we need to talk about the 3 main types of strawberries. The following is found at an excellent site that I would recommend researching before starting to grow strawberries:
Strawberry Plants .org The ONE stop for EVERYTHING related to strawberry plants and growing strawberries…
“Junebearing strawberry varieties: Any list of strawberry varieties will probably contain more June-bearing strawberry varieties than any other. June bearers are tremendously popular and common. They typically produce the largest strawberries, and do so over a period of two to three weeks, on average. Most June bearing strawberry varieties produce a harvest around the month of June, hence the name. However, strawberry varieties are further classified into Early Season, Midseason, and Late Season. By selecting strawberry plant varieties that produce during different parts of the season, you can prolong your harvest and enjoy fresh strawberries for an extended period of time. June bearing strawberry varieties are often planted using the matted row system.” (see the StrawberryPlants.org site for details of this planting system.)
“Everbearing strawberry varieties: Everbearing strawberry varieties aren’t really “everbearing.” They generally produce two harvests per year: one in the spring and another in the late summer or fall. Under ideal conditions, it is possible for some everbearing strawberry varieties to produce three berry harvests. In general, everbearing strawberry varieties put out less runners (or no runners at all) than the June bearing varieties, as most of the plants productive energy is directed toward producing multiple strawberry harvests. Everbearing strawberry varieties are often planted using the hill system or in locations where space is limited.” (This system is also described in the above site.)
From the USU Extension Service article: “Strawberry plants propagate themselves by sending out runners (stolons) that form daughter plants. The two management systems best suited to home garden production are the Matted Row and the Hill systems, and differ in how they handle runners. The Matted Row system is often easier to manage effectively, but the hill system also has advantages in weed and disease management and improved fruit size and quality.”
Returning to the StrawberryPlants.org: “Day-neutral strawberry varieties: Day neutral strawberry varieties are unique. Unlike June bearing varieties, day neutral strawberries will produce a good yield in the first year they are planted. They flower and set strawberries whenever the temperature is between 35 and 85 degrees. They will still be producing fruit in October during milder years. The drawback to day neutral strawberry plants is that they produce smaller strawberries than do the June bearing and everbearing strawberry varieties. Their fruit is usually small to medium in size, rarely exceeding one inch. Day neutral strawberry varieties are can be planted using the hill system or in raised beds or containers.”
For small raised beds and containers I would recommend using day-neutral strawberry varieties because of higher yield and longer production. They also don’t tend to send out runners that form daughter plants.
Crowns must be placed right at the top of the soil line or they will not survive (rotting if placed too deep and drying out if placed too high). Blooms exposed to late freezes (without protection) result in a limited harvest.
Plant viruses are a common problem in strawberries as are crown, root and fruit rot caused by fungal infections. Powdery mildew and mites can also be a problem. Avoid keeping strawberry beds in the same place for more than five years to prevent buildup of soil-borne pathogens. Also, avoid planting strawberries in areas where peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, or okra, have been grown recently, as these harbor the Verticillium wilt pathogen according to the USU Extension Service article. Once infected you will need to replace the plants. Some varieties have more resistance than others.
Strawberries do best in sandy or sandy/loam soils. If you have clay soil, raised beds are a must. The site must get 8 hours of full sun for best production. A balanced fertilizer should be worked into the soil and again in late summer. Some even recommend applying a low rate of nitrogen fertilizer every 3 weeks when the plant is actively growing. Since they have shallow roots they need to be watered frequently, especially during the fruiting period, if the weather is hot and dry. You can put your finger into the soil down to the 1st knuckle and if dry water the plants. You can also use a water meter to determine the need for additional watering. During the winter water infrequently. Strawberries don’t compete well with weeds so keep them under control. Plastic or organic mulches will aid in controlling the weeds in raised beds. During the winter strawberries should be provided protection against severe frosts. Organic mulches or heavier garden fabrics can be placed over the plants for winter protection. A low tunnel can be helpful in the early spring to protect the first blossoms. These blossoms are the ones that tend to produce the largest strawberries.
Strawberries do very well in pots. This is a bonus for those with little growing space. Additionally, pots can be moved to maximize the growing conditions or to winter over the plants. Optimum growing temperatures for strawberries are between 70 and 85F. If it gets hotter the container can be moved to obtain some afternoon shade. Keeping the roots cool in the summer with light colored pots will also help. The best containers for growing strawberries are strawberry pots. These have multiple small pockets around the sides. The small pockets will hold individual plants and the top opening can usually accommodate 6 plants. If the strawberry pot is terracotta, the pot should be soaked before planting so the dry terracotta won’t wick the moisture out of the soil. There are plastic strawberry pots that mimic terracotta like the one I have or ceramic ones. They come in various sizes and prices. Containers generally need to be watered more often than raised beds.
Step-by-step planting of a strawberry pot
Thoroughly clean the pot with a dilute bleach solution, especially on the inside to prevent any diseases from old plants and soil from getting into the new soil and plants.
If the drainage hole is in the bottom, protect it with a rock or piece of broken pottery so the soil won’t come out the drainage hole.
Prepare a 1 1/2” PVC pipe watering stem.
a. Cut a length of pipe that is 2” or more above the surface.
b. Mark a line parallel to the top of the container and then one 3” below this to start your holes so your holes will be below the soil level.
1) drill holes that are 1 1/2” apart with a 1/8-1/4” bit (I used a 3/16”)
2) drill straight through both sides, split the difference between the first 2 holes and drill through again, it works out to 1 1/2” between them.
3) drop down 1 1/2” and offset and drill again until you reach the bottom of the tube.
c. Plug the bottom of the pipe to allow the water to come up the tube and water the whole container and not just run out the bottom. (I used a plastic grocery bag wadded up in the bottom of the pipe.)
d. Cover the top of the pipe with something while placing the soil so the soil won’t get in the tube.
Use a good potting soil or the compost/vermiculite/peat moss type mix. Moisten the soil before placing it in the container.
a. Add fertilizer (I use a time release form so I don’t have to repeat the fertilization process as often) Check the labels, I purchased one that was $3 more, but lasts for 4 months vs another one of the same size that lasts only 2 months.
b. Fill with soil to the first row of pockets and then plant the pockets.
c. Continue to fill the container in layers until your last layer is 2” from the top of the container.
a. Fill the tube at least twice.
b. Gently water the soil around the plants at the top and in each pocket.
One last concern, birds. Birds, especially robins, love strawberries as much as we do. If this becomes a problem then you might need to cover the plants with netting. This does make picking more difficult, but may be the only way you will have strawberries for yourself. Many other techniques such as scarecrows, rubber snakes, fake owls, etc. as less effective. Slugs and snails can also be a problem.
Harvest berries as soon as they are ripe.
Remove any rotted fruit or yellowing leaves as you see them.
Some article,s that you might research, will suggest using blood and/or bone meal for fertilization. These can be purchased at most nurseries or stores with garden centers.
Overwintering any sheltered location such as a garage or workroom.
Strawberries are self fertile, but they need the actions of insects, or the wind to transfer the pollen to the correct flower parts in order to produce fruit. You can grow them indoors, but you will need to play bee. Rub a Q-tip or a fine small paint brush around on all of the flowers in order to pollenate them if you want berries. Wait for the flower to wilt. If it wilts within 48 hours, then the plant was successfully pollinated. If not, repeat the process. You can try natural methods such as setting the plant outside when it is windy or shaking the plant gently. You could borrow bees from a bee farmer, but it might be difficult getting them to leave your house :- )
Deuteronomy 30:9 “And the Lord thy God will make thee plenteous in…the fruit of thy land, for good: for the Lord will again rejoice over thee for good.”
Next week: Sprouting
By Dennis Adamson
firstname.lastname@example.org = ask Dennis any gardening questions?
For The Family
Master Gardening – Providing The Proper Conditions For Propagation
By Alan on Mar 21 in Blog tagged Asian pear tree, bare root, compost, cool season crops, Dennis Adamson, fertilize, grafted onto hardy rootstock, greenhouse for warm season plants, liquid root stimulating fertilizer, pea seeds, peat, Providing the proper conditions for propagation, radiation therapy, Vermiculite, week 63, well watered | Comments Off
Providing the Proper Conditions for Propagation
By: Dennis Adamson
Master Gardener – For The family
I was planning on a much longer article, but my radiation therapy has made me more fatigued than I expected. My radiation oncologist said that seems to be happening to some of the patients, even though they are able to give very localized tissue radiation treatment. He said that it would probably last for 2-3 months after the last treatment. I may have to take a break in the articles for a while. I will tell you though that I have been truly blessed during this trial by the loving kindness and tender mercies of the Lord.
My son came over and potted 3 bare root Asian pear trees a week ago Friday. We did it this way so they can remove some foliage and trees from the area where we will plant the trees at their home. They are all grafted onto hardy rootstock. They should be planted as soon as they arrive. If they can’t, then inspect the packing around the roots to make sure it is still moist and then re-wrap the tree and place it in a cool dark place like your garage.
Soak the roots for 2 hours before planting in water. The roots are spread out and the soil is tamped down around the roots. The graft joint is left a few inches above the soil. The container is well watered and I also fertilize with a liquid root stimulating fertilizer at this time. When we get ready to plant the trees we will cut the bottom off of the container and then score one side from top to bottom. A hole will be dug and watered, and then the container will be placed into it. The soil will be filled in on 3 sides of the container with the scored side showing. It will then be cut through and the remaining pot gently lifted out of the hole. The hole can then be completely filled in. The photo of a bare root fruit tree with a graft union was found at: http://www.gardensbygabriel.com/blog/2011/10/19/roots-equal-fruits/
Bare root fruit tree with graft Planted in container
Buds starting to come out
My daughter-in-law, Janie, and some of the grandchildren, who live in our same town, potted another Asian pear tree on recently. Janie and her youngest, Leah, weeded and raked 2 of the raised beds. Compost will be added to these two later.
Janie and Leah weeding Leah raking
Cleaned out beds
Two other granddaughters, Elise and Ashley, then prepared the raised beds for planting. First they cleaned out the beds. Next they prepared a soilless mix composed of 2 parts compost, one part peat and one part vermiculite to be added to the beds. Elise then watered the beds and place pea seeds. She then pushed of the seeds down with the eraser side of a pencil.
Elise and Ashley mixing Ashley adding mix to beds
Elise watering mix Elise putting peas in place
Pushing peas into soil with pencil Ashley putting hose away
I sorted out all of my seed packets and threw out those that were old duplicates. Some that weren’t duplicate, but were older, I started a seed germination test. See my article on ‘Saving and Storing Seeds’, which tells you how to do this:
After teaching a class on ‘Ornamental Grasses’ for the Utah State University Extension Service Advanced Master Gardener class at Thanksgiving Point Lehi, Utah I picked up some additional seed packets to replace some that I had used all of the seeds.
Seeds sorted out Home germination test
Preparing to teach class
Once my grandchildren have more time we will plant the rest of the cool season crops and then start planting seeds in the greenhouse for warm season plants. These will then be transplanted outside once the chance of frost has past.
Alma 38: 5 … “I would that ye should remember, that as much as ye shall put your trust in God even so much ye shall be delivered out of your trials, and your troubles, and your afflictions, and ye shall be lifted up at the last day.”
Psalms 103: 4 “Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;”
We’ll have to see what comes next depending on my health.
Note: Dennis is currently in the hospital taking radiation therapy. He is not only an amazing Master Gardener, He is a Master Friend! This is Dennis’s 63rd article in a row and he insists on trying to provide these for those who follow him at TheFamily.com even from the hospital! If you have enjoyed his articles and want to wish him well, send him a note along with any questions to:
Introduction To Propagatiion – Master Gardening
By Alan on Mar 14 in Blog tagged asexual propagation, automatically watered, bicycle riders, controlled by computers, cuttings, Dennis Adamson, Dr. Larry Rupp, fertilized, from Central and South America, greenhouses, introduction to propagation, large stores, Larry Sagers, machineputting plant plugs in pots, Master Gardener, master gardening, micropropagation, orticulturalist Specialists, patenting a plant, propagation, seeds, sexual method, The Family, trademarks | Comments Off
Week 62 Introduction to PropagationOlson’s Nursery
On Monday March 5th our Advanced Master Gardener class had a lab at Olson’s Nursery in Santaquin, UT. Chas Olson, a 4th generation member of the family owned company, gave us a tour around the facility. It is a huge facility made up of interconnecting buildings and greenhouses that provide plants to many of the large box stores in the Intermountain West. Much of it is automated. The photo shows a machine taking several plant plugs and putting them in the pots that will be sold in the stores. They still rely on human resources to assist in the process. I found it interesting that they were using bicycle riders to take seeds and other small packages to the far-flung greenhouses on the property to get from building to building. He told us that they grow the plants from either seeds or cuttings. Most of the cuttings come from Central and South America. They are cut on the weekend and shipped by overnight air express. They receive them on Monday and place the cuttings in the growing mixture. This one process that is all done by hand. They use a soilless mix of peat and perlite, usually in a 70:30 ratio and will add fertilizer and lime as needed. Each type of plant has its own ‘recipe’ that they program into a computer that will then tell the machinery to provide the proper mix and for the containers. In the greenhouses the plants are usually automatically watered and fertilized as needed. The temperatures in the greenhouses are also automatically monitored by sensors and controlled by computers.
This lab was a great lead-in to our introduction to propagation. The information for this topic comes from a chapter on Plant Propagation by Dr. Larry Rupp and Larry Sagers, Extension Horticulturalist Specialists, Utah State University Extension Service, in the Utah Master Gardener Manual.
Plant propagation is broadly divided into sexual methods: those coming from seeds and having the next generation of plants being genetically different from the parent plant;
and asexual propagation: either naturally occurring, such as with tubers or by artificially cloning plants.
The asexual (vegetative) method uses somatic cell division from the vegetative portion of the plant and not from the sex cells. The somatic cells that can divide and grow are called meristems. Several parts of the plant can be used to provide the meristem material: root tips, vascular cambrium and buds. Even non-meristem cells can change to meristem. With this process there is no recombination of material from the parent plants. These plants have the same genetic material as the mother plant. There are however, seeds that are produced asexually, called apomictic seeds. Dandelions are an example of an apomictic seed and the new plants will have the same genetics are the mother plant.
During subsequent weeks I will discuss propagation from seeds, cuttings, layering, special structures such as: bulbs, corms, rhizomes, tubers and tuberous roots, propagation by woody plant cuttings, grafting & budding, and by tissue culture (micropropagation).
Plant propagation is a means of providing a large number of plants less expensively than buying plants that are already growing. However, we need to be aware that there often has been a time consuming and expensive process behind the development of a unique plant. Because of this the United States and other countries have enacted laws to help protect the rights of plant breeders and nurserymen. An example of this, in the USA, is plant patent laws. They can be applied for “any distinct and new variety of plant, including cultivated sports, mutants, hybrids, and newly found seedlings, other than a tuber-propagated plant or a plant found in an uncultivated state”. Such things as: a new color, disease resistance, drought tolerance, flavor, storage quality or other measurable trait can be patented. Most patents are granted to plants that are asexually produced. The patent will last for 20 years from the date of filing. You may not propagate a patented plant unless you have the specific permission of the patent holder. They will usually require a royalty from you to allow you to propagate the plant.
The US also has a Plant Variety Protection Act (PVPA). The PVPA gives patent protection for those patented plants that are propagated from seeds. The developer will be given a plant-breeding certificate. The cultivars must be “novel, distinctive and stable” to get the certificate. This law also covers potatoes and other tuber-propagated plants. The certificate covers 20 years for most plants and 25 years for shrubs, trees and vines. The PVPA certificates are transferable.
Trademarks: this is a less expensive process than patenting a plant. This is more of a marketing technique. Most people will choose to buy a trademarked plant because they know the famous cultivar. A person can still cultivate the cultivar, but they can’t use the trademarked name. A plant can be trademarked in the US for 10 years. These can be trademarked over and over again.
The chapter also lists other means of protection, such as contract laws, the International Union for Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV), trade secrets, and sometimes utility patents: patents issued for the invention of a new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or a new and useful improvement.
Reference for the chapter in the manual is: Kester, D.E., F.T. Davies, Jr., & R.L. Geneve. (2002) Jarmann and Kester’s plant propagation: principles and practices. (7th Ed.) Prentice Hall
There is an interesting account of what appears to be taking a cutting and propagating it. This is found in the Old Testament, Numbers 17:
“And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,Speak unto the children of Israel, and take of every one of them a rod according to the house of their fathers, of all their princes according to the house of their fathers twelve rods: write thou every man’s name upon his rod. And thou shalt write Aaron’s name upon the rod of Levi: for one rod shall be for the head of the house of their fathers. And thou shalt lay them up in the tabernacle of the congregation before the testimony, where I will meet with you.
And it shall come to pass, that the man’s rod, whom I shall choose, shall blossom … And Moses laid up the rods before the Lord in the tabernacle of witness. And it came to pass, that on the morrow Moses went into the tabernacle of witness; and, behold, the rod of Aaron for the house of Levi was budded, and brought forth buds, and bloomed blossoms, and yielded almonds.”
Next week: Providing the Proper Conditions for Propagation
For The Family
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