Liv Fruitful with Livi Lou! She is currently breeding strawberries, developing a garden product, trialing plants and researching the history of heirloom fruit varieties. She writes about unique perennials and fruit plants, so that you can grow an ornamental fruit garden. www.livilougarden.com facebook.com/livilougarden
 

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The Ultimate Crop-Cage  

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Jun 26
New Berry Varieties  

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Honey Bees: The Queen Signal  

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What’s the shuck?  

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The Emotional Benefit of Trees   (2 comments)

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Bushel & Berry: Baby Cakes  

 

 

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A Strawberry with Pineapple Taste: an exclusive variety
by Livi Lou - posted 04/01/16

Pineberries are white colored strawberries with red seeds and derive their nickname from their unique pineapple taste. If you enjoy tasting the wide array of unique tasting garden-grown fruit, you may have already heard of pineberries. 

Pineberries are not new.  They are a forgotten variety from history.  In the US, this recent revival of pineberries included only heirloom varieties such as White D or White Carolina. However, new varieties are being bred, especially in Europe.

Nourse Farms in Massachusetts provides a Holland bred cultivar of the pineberry called Natural Albino.  This is one of the first new and ‘improved’ pineberry varieties available in the US. 

Nourse Farms propagates all their plant stock from tissue cultures to ensure that their plants remain virus free and healthy. It is a fascinating process. To learn more about tissue culture propagation, you can watch their YouTube video about it.

Natural Albino is definitely an improvement on heirloom pineberries.  Below is a photo of Natural Albino (left) and White D (right) that I picked from my garden.

 

 

Not only is Natural Albino the prettier berry with its pure white color, but it also tastes better.  White D’s acidity might suggest some kind of tropical flavor, but Natural Albino actually does taste like pineapple…

… if you let it ripen perfectly.

With Natural Albino, your patience will be rewarded with a true pineapple flavor.

I had picked my first few Natural Albino berries too soon. They were pure white and getting soft, so I figured they were ripe.  It is a bit more difficult to tell when pineberries are ripe.

Natural Albino is a beautiful plant that holds its large, healthy and deep green leaves high.  It easily survives the winter and prefers full sun.  It is a June Bearing plant with dime sized berries. 

Nourse Farms is the only outlet that offers Natural Albino in the US.  I encourage you to try this variety, especially since you can be confident that the plants with be from healthy stock.  Natural Albino is not self-fertile and requires a pollinator, so Nourse Farms includes the red strawberry variety Sonata with your Natural Albino purchase.

 

  ~ Thanks for Reading!

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Reviving potted blueberry roots?
by Livi Lou - posted 03/25/16

What do Air-Pruned Roots look like? And do they need root-pruning?

 

I decided to take a look at my Jelly Bean blueberry bush’s roots.  It is being grown in a Smart Pot, a fabric pot that ‘air-prunes’ the roots and keeps them from becoming root-bound.

In my previous posts about Jelly Bean, I thought that its root might have become ‘root-full.’   If so, I would do a little root-pruning to revive it.

Below is a photo of Jelly Bean before I removed it from its pot.

 

However, I did not expect to discover this…  There are hardly any roots!

 

 

I understand that blueberries have ‘shallow’ roots compared to other fruiting plants.  I understand that Smart Pots air-prune and create fibrous roots.  But this is abnormal.  The roots should still have developed downwards all the way.

In the pot, resting in the remaining soil, was a Japanese beetle larva. 

 

 

Could one larva destroy almost all the roots?  Japanese beetles lay their eggs in July.*  Then the larvae eats the roots until winter.  So that’s actually plenty of time to do damage.

In my previous post, I described how Jelly Bean became ill in September.  At the time, I thought it could’ve been disease or drought. 

Now there’s a third possibility. Maybe its roots had been destroyed and it could no longer uptake water and nutrients efficiently.   

Perhaps the roots were destroyed by another means such as root rot, but then there would’ve been decayed roots left in the soil.**  I’m thinking it was that Japanese beetle larva.  At least, I am aware of this now. I’ll continue to monitor Jelly Bean’s health.

 

   ~ Thanks for reading.

 

 

* Here is a link to info about Japanese Beetle life cycle from Cornell University.

**Here is a video about root rot from the University of Kentucky.

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The best size starter container
by Livi Lou - posted 03/18/16

There are varying recommendations in regards to container size and the type of crop you are growing.

While the ultimate mature size of the plant is important to consider, I would not fret over the container size. I fret less with a fabric pot, which eliminates the potential of becoming root-bound. 

After all, the threat of being root-bound is the main concern in regards to proper container size.

 

A 5 gallon pot is a good starting size, even for large plants such as fruit trees.

 

Yes, even for fruit trees!

 

In Spring 2015, I planted these fruit trees in 5 gallon Smart Pots. Here they are a few days ago (March 2016). They have done fine in this size pot and I will keep them in these pots for at least another season. Maybe even longer, since I want to keep the trees small in stature.

 

A common mistake is to get too large of a container.  You want to start with a pot that is slightly larger than the root system.  Then you can re-pot to a larger one over time.  You can also root-prune or keep it in the same pot to dwarf or ‘bonsai’ the plant.

 

If you are growing fruit trees, I would recommend re-potting to a 7 gallon pot after two to three years of being grown in a 5 gallon pot.

 

Gardening is about learning, which is best done through experience. Don’t fret too much about pot size. Just get started!  Start with a 5 gallon—ideally fabric—container, some good potting soil and natural fertilizer, and a healthy plant.  A recipe for success!

 

 

    ~ Thanks for reading!

 

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