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.

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New Berry Varieties  

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Honey Bees: The Queen Signal  

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Mar 19
The Emotional Benefit of Trees   (2 comments)

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Crimson Night Raspberry  




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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Tip for Protecting Container Crops
by Livi Lou - posted 03/11/16

If you’re like me, you most likely grow your tomatoes in pots. 


And if you’re like me, then you’ve probably had your fair share of deer, squirrel or chipmunk tomato attacks. I’ve even had a deer drag my tomato pot across the yard.


Applying netting to pots can be a challenge, especially when chipmunks just squeeze underneath it.

Photo of a net 'wrapped' tomato pot at the end of 2015 growing season.

I discovered a trick this past summer. And I feel like a fool that I didn’t realize this discovery sooner.

Close-up of stake through the net.

·       Place the netting on the ground.

·       Place the pot on top of the netting. 

·       Use your tomato stakes as usual, poking it through the net’s holes to the ground—this will keep the net off of the plant.

·       Then wrap your net upwards around the pot and its stakes, and use twist ties to close the opening.




Just like wrapping a present!  That only you can open. Just un-do a few twist ties and reach in to harvest your tomatoes. It’s much easier than reaching under the net.



   ~ Thanks for reading!

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