Archive | September 2015

Staking Fall-Bearing Blackberries


“I purchased some fall bearing blackberries.  How do we stake these up?  There are about three blackberries on the plant, but I feel we are going to have frost before they ripen. But, my question is how do we stake or tie these up?

Mary Weiner”

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Hi Mary,

Thank you for the email regarding your blackberries.  I’m glad to hear that they are doing well.

Fall Blackberries

Various trellis or support systems can be used with blackberries, but staking is simpler. Also known as the hill system, staking blackberries requires first planting bare root berries about four feet apart in a row.

1.  Drive in a metal T-post about 6 inches from each plant so that posts also stand 4 feet apart in the row.

2.  Run one strand of wire tightly between all posts in the row–attaching to each post–at a height of about 4 1/2 feet above the ground.

3.  Spread fruiting branches out along the wire. Twine these branches around the wire and attach them loosely with plastic plant ties.

4.  Tie later new canes, as they emerge, to the post, establishing the center of the berry hill. Continue to prune and train canes to the wire support and post as plants get established.

5.  Cut back and remove all floricanes–fruit-producing or second-year canes–after harvest, when they die back.

6.  Thin the remaining canes early in the following spring, leaving just 5 to 7 of the sturdiest canes per hill. Cut side branches of the canes back to 12 buds and then tie canes to the post or wire.

7.  Pinch off the growing tips of new canes when they reach the wire, to encourage side branches, or laterals, that will bear fruit the following year.

I hope this information helps you out.  If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask.

 

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© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Top 10 Tulip Varieties for Your Garden


Top 10 Tulip Varieties…

Timeless Favorites for Your Garden

There are thousands of different tulips to choose from, so how do you know which ones will give you the best results?

Though each year brings a flurry of new tulip varieties, new isn’t always better. In fact, some of the world’s best performing and most beautiful tulip varieties have been around for generations. These tried and true performers have proven themselves to be strong growers and excellent bloomers that can weather a wide range of climates and growing conditions.

Here are 10 classic tulip varieties to plant this fall and enjoy next spring.

Carnaval de Nice
A double late tulip introduced in 1953. Layers of gently cupped, snow-white petals feature raspberry-red stripes. Foliage has cream-colored edges. There’s simply no other tulip like it. Gorgeous in a vase. Fragrant. 16-20” tall. Holds an Award of Garden Merit (AGM) from the Royal Horticultural Society. 
Olympic Flame
A Darwin hybrid introduced in 1971. Big, goblet-shaped blossoms have bright yellow petals brushed with crimson inside and out. Great curb appeal. Like all Darwin Hybrids, Olympic Flame blooms in mid-spring. Height is 18”. AGM
Oxford
Introduced in 1945. Many consider Oxford the world’s best red Darwin Hybrid tulip. The glossy, bright red petals have a golden yellow base and jet-black center. Impressive height and bearing. Fragrant. 20” tall. AGM
Pink Impression
A Darwin hybrid introduced in 1979. The extra-large, egg shaped flowers are rose pink at the base and pale pink on top, often with hints of apricot, pale green or lavender, depending on the light. A great choice for perennial gardens. 20” tall. AGM
Princess Irene
A midseason triumph tulip introduced in 1949. Mango-colored petals feature dusky purple flames. Sturdy and weatherproof flowers smell like orange zest. Named for the sister of Holland’s Queen Beatrix. Height is 12-14”. AGM
Purple Flag
Introduced in 1983. Triumph tulips are known for their lovely colors. This one is a good, strong purple with a creamy white base. Makes an ideal partner for almost any other tulip. Stunning in bouquets. 18” tall.
Queen of Night
A single late tulip introduced in 1944. Queen of Night is the world’s darkest tulip. Its petals are maroon with a high gloss shine. Dramatic and very long lasting. Heat tolerant, too. 18-20″ tall.
Red Emperor
An early-blooming Fosteriana tulip introduced in 1931. Also known as Madame Lefeber. Its deep red flowers are tall and slender, and open wide on sunny days to display a jet-black center. Grows well in containers. Height is 18”.
Toronto
An early blooming Greigii tulip introduced in 1963. Each bulb produces a bouquet of 3 to 5 blossoms, which makes this an excellent cut flower. Coral-red petals and decorative foliage. Height is 14-16”.  AGM
Black Parrot 
Parrot tulip introduced in 1937. These large and expressive flowers are deep burgundy on the outside and almost black inside. Protect them from wind and hot sunlight. Magical in a vase. 18” tall.
National Garden Bureau’s members have a wide selection of timeless favorites as well as newer varieties of tulips available:
American Meadows
Burpee
Jung Seed
Longfield Gardens
McClure & Zimmerman
Park Seed
RH Shumway

And to make your fall bulb planting easier and more successful, check out these tools and supplies:
Bulb Bopper from Gardener’s Supply
Bulb Planter from Harris Seeds
ProPlugger

(Special thanks to Longfield Gardens for providing the content and photos for this e-newsletter.)

Time to Plant Your Garlic!


“Dear Mertie Mae,

What do I need to know about growing garlic?   Just the basics.

Thank you,

George”

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Hi George,

Thank you for your question regarding growing garlic.  Here are a few basic points to keep in mind:

1.  Where to buy
The first thing you need to figure out is if you want to buy organic or conventional grown and heirloom or non-heirloom types.  Some places sell great garlic and others not so much.  I personally recommend Seed Saver Exchange (get your order in when you buy your garden seeds!!! They sell out insanely fast!), and Territorial. Additionally, Botanical Interests (they have garlic assortments that give you a bulb of a few different varieties), Burpees, Dominion Seed House, Harris Seed, Jung Seed (order early or you will have a slightly mushy bulb based on my experiences), and Cook’s Gardens all receive high ratings on websites like the National Garden Bureau and such, but I’ve found that their quality and selection aren’t as good as SSE and Territorial.  There are many other places that offer garlic too, but as I haven’t tried them, I can’t say for sure if they are worth spending your time with.  If you are in the north, plant hard neck varieties (require winter chilling). If you are in the south, grow soft neck varieties.

2.  When to plant
Most experts say that in areas that get a hard frost before winter, it is recommended that you plant your garlic 6-8 weeks before that frost. While this may work in places other than Wisconsin, I have found that planting my garlic that early makes it not so hardy come winter.  I usually plant mine here in West Central Wisconsin (and in Central or Southern WI when I lived there back when) between October 1-14.  This allows the cloves to get established, but not spend a ton of energy growing.  They need that energy to get through winter!  And it works — even the old timers around use the rule of thumb to plant on Columbus Day (October 12).  If you are in a southern area with no winter, February or March is a better time to plant.

Garlic prefers well-drained soil in a sunny spot with lots of organic matter. It’s a rather narrow plant, so I like to plant it in double rows that are about 6-8 inches apart and then alternate (zig-zag) the plants down the rows to give them a little more space.  Plant the cloves 6-8 inches apart (12 inches if growing Elephant Garlic).  Garlic should be planted 3 inches deep.  Fertilize as you would onions.

3.  To scape or not?

Garlic Scapes
Trimming the tops of hardneck garlic (garlic scapes) is often recommended… but I don’t do it.  I’ve found that it never fails that if you trim them, there will be a rainstorm or heavy dew and the tops will get weird or you will get disease.  Also, letting them mature gives you small bulb-like cloves that you can put into the ground at harvest time and grow for next year’s crop (which I suspect is why the seed companies say cut them off — less profit for them if you let them grow!)

As long as you are properly tending your garlic with water and fertilizer, the bulbs will grow just as big.  If you decide to cut them off, they are edible.

4.  When to harvest
Harvest time depends on when you plant, but the key is to look for the garlic leaves to turn brown. Unlike onions or shallots, they don’t just fall over.  In Northern climates, harvesting will probably be in July or August, depending on the variety. In Southern climates, it will depend on your planting date. Either way, stop watering so the outside skin can dry out a bit and harvest within one week of matuity.  Waiting too long will allow the outer skins to disintegrate.

I hope this information helps you out.  If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask!

 

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© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.