Monthly Archives: March 2015

BANANAS & GINGER BRING TROPICS HERE

Spring Coming? Might As Well Go For Something(s) Tropical

   Do I smell spring in the air? Must be. And the calendar confirms that it’s just around the corner. These hints finally stir longings for that season — even for a skiier. And what better way to welcome spring in than with attention to some tropical plants.    My banana plants have weathered winter very well this year, indoors, of course. Last year I was proud that my one plant survived. After all, banana is a truly tropical plant. It shivers at temperatures below 50° F. and enjoys 80° days and nights as its broad, satiny leaves drink in year ‘round bright sunlight, occasional rains, and humid air. Even if my house was warm, which it is not, only a relative paltry amount of sunlight streams through even a south-facing window, and the air is bone-dry. Hence my pride.    My philosophy …

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A FRUITFUL YEAR IN THE OFFING

 More Fruits to Plant!?

Pawpaw, tastes like crème brûlée

   You’d think, after so many years of gardening and a love of fruits being such a important part of said gardening, that by now I would have planted every fruit I might ever have wanted to plant. Not so!    Hard to imagine, but even here in the 21st century, new fruits are still coming down the pike. I don’t mean apples with grape flavor (marketed as grapples), a mango nectarine (actually, just a nectarine that looks vaguely like a mango), or strawmato (actually a strawberry-shaped tomato).    There are plenty of truly new fruits, in the sense of kinds of fruits hardly known to most people, even fruit mavens. Over the years, I’ve tried a number of them. Aronia is a beautiful fruit that makes a beautiful juice, so it’s getting more press these days. I grew it and thought it …

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FRUIT BOOK GIVEAWAY, AND FRUIT FUTURES

 The Eternal (Fruit) Optimist

   We fruit growers get especially excited this time of year. On the one hand, there’s the anticipation of the upcoming season. And on the other hand, we don’t want to rush things along at all.    Ideally, late winter segues into the middle of spring with gradually warming days and nights. Unfortunately, here, as in most of continental U.S., temperatures fluctuate wildly this time of year. Warm weather accelerates development of flower buds and flowers. While early blossoms are a welcome sight after winter’s achromatic landscapes, late frosts can snuff them out. Except for with everbearing strawberries, figs, and a couple of other fruits that bloom more than once each season, we fruit lovers get only one shot at a successful crop each season.    How did all these fruits ever survive in the wild? They did so by not growing here — in the wild. Apples, …

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COMPOST TEA: SNAKE OIL OR PLANT ELIXIR?

Is the Jury Still Out on Compost Tea?

    In gardening, as in life, you can’t help but want to love some things, compost tea being one of them. After all, compost is good, tea is soothing, so what’s not to love about compost tea?    Perhaps it depends on how you brew your tea. Traditional compost tea was and is made by hanging a burlap bag of compost in water, then diluting and drenching the ground or the potting mix of a potted plant with the nutritious, coffee-brown liquid.    More recently, “aerated compost tea” (ACT) has soothed gardeners from coast to coast, the result mostly of the promotional efforts of soil scientist Dr. Elaine Ingham. This tea is brewed similarly to the traditional tea, except that extra foods, such as molasses (honey would seem more in keeping with the tea theme), brewers yeast, and bran, are also added, and — most …

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