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How To Propagate Your Berry Plants

Once you have decided which berry plants to grow for your winter fruit-stock, then the next decision has to be how to go about it!Fortunately this is not rocket science, and growing berries to make Jam’s, Jellies, chutneys and a whole selection of fruit smoothies – not to mention great comfort food like fruit pies etc – is definitely doable for most folks.

So with that said, here is a brief outline of the methods to propagate your berry plants.

Seedlings:

Trellis for blackberries

A simple frame-work like this would be ideal for two rows of blackberries or other trailing cultivars.

Most varieties prefer well drained, loamy well-composted ground with a good mixture of manure and organic material. Some support is usually required, especially when the fruits develop and the branches will sag with the weight if not tied to something.

Planting against a wall or fence where wires can be strung is ideal, or making a simple frame like the one in the picture will enable two rows to be supported by the one frame-work.

The young plant should be dug into the ground and pruned quite severely to encourage new growth, especially if you are hoping to get new shoots to transplant later.

Layering:

Layering is anotbegging berriesher popular way to expand your berry planting. This is done in two different ways as is seen in the following pics.

Pegging the lowest shoot to the ground will result in it growing roots and establishing itself as an individual plant. This is usually ready to cut away and transplant after at least 1 full seasons growth.

 

 

Mound Layering as per the picture is a popular way to get a few shoots ready for transplanting at the one time. Simply cut the main shoot down to ground level or 1 inch below, the cover with soil.

mound layeringThe main shoot will grow accompanied by side shoots that will in turn root themselves as per the diagram. These are simply cut away below the roots and transplanted to their new home.

Growing Berries:

This is the latest book by author James Paris, laying out everything you need to know in order to grow your own juicy berries. Covering aspects such as Organic planting methods and pest control without the need for chemical pesticides or fertilizers, this is an ideal ‘starter kit’ for those interested in growing their own fresh fruit berries.

Companion planting methods are also highlighted as playing a major role in any attempt at Organic growing methods.

Growing Berries: How To Grow And Preserve Strawberries, Raspberries, Blackberries, Blueberries, Gooseberries, Redcurrants, Blackcurrants & Whitecurrants.

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With ever more people taking an interest in growing their own vegetables as part of a drive towards self-sustainability, or at least a growing desire to take more control of what they consume; the interest in how to get more out of the often small spaces available is, unsurprisingly, growing also. Thankfully there are a number of ways to grow veggies in small spaces such as Raised Bed Gardening, Square Foot Gardening and Container Gardening. This technique is especially important for the numerous city-dwellers who have taken up the idea, and for whome large garden space – or any garden space at all – is virtually non-existent.

Enter the technique of growing veggies in limited spaces!

SFG Layout

Typical layout of a Square Foot Garden

Square Foot Gardening as with Raised Bed Gardening, allows you to truely maximize your growing abilities, by concentrating a number of different plants within the same small area. In the SFG method this area is measured at 4 x 4 feet square. This in turn gives you 16 foot-square areas in which to grow your plants. Now I’m the first to admit that this does not seem like a large enough growing area to supply the average family; however nothing could be further from the truth, and the fact is that with correct planting this small area is indeed extremely effective at ‘producing the goods.’

A quick scan of this picture shows the typical layout of a SFG. The trick is to plant your veggies in such a way as to take control of the natural benefits that each plant will offer it’s neighbor in relation to pest control and nutritional benefits. This is a technique known as Companion Planting, and is extremely effective for groing plants in such concentrations – something that often leads to all sorts of problems in conventional gardening.

Consider A Raised Bed Garden:

Raised Bed Gardening Techniques are similar in many ways to SFG, indeed many would argue that they are both concepts of the same idea; that is they both grow vegetables in a confined area using ‘special’ growing medium.

companion planting ideasIn fact the main differences between the two is in the area concerned, the hight of the ‘boxes’ and the principles behind the ideas themselves. With regard to the growing areas, the typical Raised Bed system is 9 foot by 3 foot. The SFG system is as mentioned earlier 4 x 4 foot, and the average height of a Raised bed is 12-18 inches compared to 6 inches for a SFG.

As for the principles behind them. The SFG is mainly about rotational planting allowing the growing of a diverse range of different vegetables; whereby the RBG really concentrates on producing more of the same species in each bed – usually about 2 or 3 different vegetables.

However…it should be obvious to the reader that both these systems are liable to the interpretation of the gardener. For instance there is nothing to prevent me from growing just one crop in the SFG, and at the same time growing multiple crops in the RBG. Indeed there is nothing preventing me building a SFG in the same way as a Raised Bed – just with higher sides!

In reality the gardener concerned must weigh up the different aspects of the two systems, then just go for it :) It’s not rocket science after all. Provide your plants with the correct amount of nutrients, light and water – and they will grow just fine. Incorporate some Companion Planting ideas  and they will grow even better!

How About Container Gardening?

Another aspect of growing vegetables in tiny spaces, is Container Planting. As the name suggests this is simply taking any available container and planting vegetables suited to the size or make-up of said container. This means that good healthy vegetables can be grown on your patio or window sill! Many books have been written on the subject of growing vegetables in containers of all shapes and sizes, growing tomatoes in containers being off particular interest it seems.

Apart from the obvious advantages of this method for those without any space to consider the other options discussed, the container gardener has the advantage in that the containers can be moved around to take best advantage of the sunlight – an option that is not open to the other systems. (though to be fair the SFG can be portable if built correctly)

 

 

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Composting Bins and Prize Courgette (Zucchini)

Growing Courgette

Massive courgette grown almost by accident in composting bin!

Growing Courgettes or Zucchinis as they are known in the USA, isn’t really difficult generally speaking. However I just had to include this beauty that my sister has growing in her back garden (behind the chicken coop actually). She tells me it happened almost by accident as she had a compost bin full of compost, and nothing to do with it – so she decided to throw In a Courgette plant that was spare from her greenhouse growing.

The result quite astounded her, as the tiny plant grew into an impressive monster – far outstripping the same plants grown with tender care and love in a greenhouse environment! She has had several monster Zucchinis from this plant already – the last one so big she gave it to the local Indian restaurant – and looks like she will have a few more before the growing season is over.

So what can this growing success be put down to? Well to be fair, it is not due to all the care lavished on the monster plant; as mentioned it was grown in a compost bin at the back of her garden – all she did was water it occasionally.

composting binThe ‘secret’ to this massive growth was down to one thing – the well-rotted compost material in the bin. This was compost made up of general garden waste, kitchen waste and a good mix of grass and leaf moult. Left to rot for 2 + years, and so in an ideal condition for growing vegetables. Simple really, and emphasises the prime ingredients for growing any vegetable; nutrients, water and sunlight – the results of the right mix of these three ingredients means that a healthy plant is almost inevitable.

All this just empathises the results that you can achieve by composting. I know that it takes a while before you first see results; but once you get started then you will have ‘fresh’ compost year-on-year if you do it correctly – and exercise some patience.

Oh yes, plant care….hmmm this particular plant has had very little, but I have to say, this is quite exceptional and not the general rule – and it seldom pays to make a rule out of an exception :)

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What On Earth Is Companion Planting?

You may well ask this question, especially if you are keen on growing your vegetables or fruit, without the help of chemical insecticides or fertilizers. In fact a good knowledge of Companion Planting is essential if you are an Organic grower – or just someone who is interested in trying to save our environment from the pollution it is being subjected to daily.

Plants That Grow Well Together:

One of the essentials of companion planting, is a knowledge of which plants grow well together – and which do not! Here is just a sample from my latest eBook – Companion Planting: The Vegetable Gardeners Guide.

Here is a list of plants that grow well together, with a brief explanation of just why this is the case. Although this list is not by any means an exhaustive list in itself; it only takes a little imagination to bring different species together, when you have the most basic gardening skills; and the knowledge that is contained in these notes to guide you.

Asparagus:

Best companions include: Tomato, parsley and Basil; and French marigold planted alongside will deter beetles. If on its own or just with Tomato plants, then Comfrey can be planted around as a good source of nitrogen for both plants.

Beans:

Companions include; Beetroot, cabbage, celery, carrot, cucumber, corn, squash, pea’s, potatoes, radish, strawberry.

Beans produce (draw from the air) nitrogen, that is beneficial to the other plants

Nasturtium and rosemary can deter bean Beatles, while Marigolds can deter Mexican bean Beatles.

companion plantingCabbage Family:

Companions include; cucumber, lettuce, potato, onion, spinach, celery.

Chamomile and garlic can be grown to improve growth and flavour.

Marigolds and Nasturtium can be grown alongside to act as decoy for butterfly’s and aphid pests. While mint, rosemary and sage will also deter cabbage moth and ants – as well as improve flavour.

Carrots:

Good companions include, beans, peas, onions, lettuce, tomato, radish.

Including chives in the area will improve flavour and growth, while onions or leeks will distract the carrot fly by masking the scent of the carrots; as will sage or rosemary.

Celery:

Bean, tomato and cabbage family make good companions for celery.

Nasturtium, chives and garlic deters aphids and other bugs.

Corn:

Good companions are Potato, pumpkin, squash, tomato and cucumber.

French marigold deters beetles and attracts aphids from tomatoes.

Plants That Do Not Grow Well Together:

Just as important as this list, is a list of plants that will do more harm than good if you should plant them in close proximity to one another. Here is just a brief look at what THE BOOK says…

There are a few reasons why some plants should not be grown alongside others if you are considering the organic method of growing your vegetables.

I mention particularly organic, because the general idea behind companion planting is to avoid the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers whenever possible.

 

Some plants should not be grown together simply because they both attract the same pests or other predators, others because they make the same demands on the soil, leading to them both producing a poor harvest. Some plants grown close together may produce a damp environment that leads to fungal or other infection.

 

Here are some plants to avoid if possible when considering a companion for your veggies.

 

Beans:

Should not be grown in the same vicinity of garlic, shallot or onions, as they tend to stunt the growth of the beans.

Beets:

Should not be grown along with pole beans, as they stunt each other’s growth.

Cabbage
Is generally thought not to do well near tomatoes, mainly because the tomato plant can shade the cabbage. Avoid planting near radishes, as they do not grow well together.

Carrots:

Avoid planting near dill as this can stunt growth. Dill and carrots both belong in the Umbelliferae family, and if allowed to flower it will cross-pollinate with the carrots.

This is of course just a snippet of the information that is available in this kindle ebook – You can get ‘The Fully Monty’ on the link below.

<<<<<Get My Companion Planting Book For Kindle Here!>>>>>

 

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Time To Eat The Produce – Simple Mediterranean Salad

tomato saladOk, I just couldn’t resist putting up this post, when my wife produced this fantastic salad on the first decent day of spring we’ve had so far in the UK! Sitting on the deck with a few friends in the sunshine, with the Song-thrush singing it’s lungs out in the background; and a glass (or three) of crisp white wine – it was heaven…and the salad wasn’t too bad either :)

Seriously however, this is what growing your own veg is all about; the chance to enjoy the fruits of your labours with friends and family. It’s much more than just ‘growing stuff;’ it’s as much about social interaction, as it is about healthy eating. In fact you could say that gardening is a truly holistic past-time that can bring families and whole communities together.

Salads are the sign that spring/summer is here at last, and this baby is certainly a contender for top salad . Just the fact of tomatoes with mozzarella cheese and basil, always reminds me of sitting in a restaurant in Florence, watching the world go by!

Salad Recipe

4 oz Mozzarella cheese

1 dozen baby plumb tomatoes

Hand-full of fresh basil (torn)

Hand-full of rocket

1 cucumber chopped into cubes

Sprinkle of extra virgin olive oil or other dressing

Salt & ground black pepper

Slice the plumb tomatoes length-ways. Slice the cheese into slices about 1/4 inch thick. Lay out in layers as per the picture, with cheese, tomato & basil between the layers. When done add the rocket and remaining basil leaves; then sprinkle with extra virgin olive oil or a dressing of your choice. Ground pepper and rock-salt to flavour.

 

 

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