Category Archives: Books

SO MANY FRUITS, SO LITTLE . . . ?

How Can Something So Nutritious Taste So Good?

    Black currants are a berry brimming with vitamin C (in comparison, oranges are like water) and other health goodies, with an intense, rich, to me resin-y flavor that pairs well with dark chocolate or, on bread, with peanut or any other nut butter. Not everyone enjoys the fresh flavor, but that’s okay. Not everyone needs to enjoy every kind of fruit.

Belaruskaja black currants

    What the doyen of horticulture, Liberty Hyde Bailey, wrote almost 100 years ago about apple varieties also applies to fruits in general: “Why do we need so many kinds of [fruits]? Because there are so many folks. A person has a right to gratify his legitimate tastes . . .  There is merit in variety itself.”    With that said, just about everyone does like black currants once they’ve been cooked and sweetened to make jam, juice, pie, …

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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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GOOD BOOKS, GOOD LECTURES

One Book = Years of Experience

    I’ve been gardening for over 30 years. Don’t be impressed. The number of years spent with hands in the dirt doesn’t necessarily confer any particular expertise in the field (pun intended). Some gardeners do the same foolish things year in and year out, or never sufficiently investigate other, perhaps better, ways of doing what they’ve been doing. Or not appreciate cause and effect. (Was it really the compost tea spray that led to bountiful yields last year, or was it reliable rainfall interspersed with bright, sunny days? The tendency is to hold the former responsible.) Or, the wizened, old gardener’s wealth of knowledge might not extend beyond what they’ve grown on their own “back forty,” severely limiting the benefit of any wisdom passed on to others with a shorter history of gardening.    Reading is a efficient way to squeeze wisdom of others, reflecting decades …

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To Every Thing There is a Season

Pruning is reduced to small steps, in time & process

So many branches, so little time. Or so it seems. Annual pruning is needed to get the best out of most trees, shrubs, and vines, of which there are many here on my farmden.

But wait. My brother once remarked — and the remark rang true — that a large part of feeling overburdened from so much to do comes from thinking about it, rather than doing it. And now that I think about it — if I may be allowed a bit more thought — many trees, shrubs, and vines do not need annual pruning except for size control, in which case a different plant or dwarfer variety could have been planted. My witch hazel shrub is in that hardly-ever-needs-pruning category, as is fothergilla, goumi (an attractive shrub with tasty fruits), mountain laurel, and rhododendron. 

Witch hazel is a shrub …

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Hormones Get Pumping

More Brussels Sprouts, Cabbages, & Pears with Hormones

It’s time to get the hormones pumping. No, not by me embarking on some testosterone-fueled, garden-related feat of strength or endurance. Not even my own hormones, but the ones in my plants, more specifically my brussels sprouts plants. And actually, quashing the action of one hormone so that other hormones can come to the fore.

Let me explain: Brussels sprouts are not only a member of the cabbage family but are the same genus and species as cabbage, as are broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, and kale. Differences in these plants lie in the way growth of the stems and leaves are expressed. Cabbage has a single stem that’s been telescoped down to very short internodes, resulting in a tight head of overlapping leaves. With kale, internodes along the stem are further apart, allowing each leaf to unfold fully on its own. They also look different …

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Good Gifts for Gardeners

Holiday-gifts-in-garden-cart

What would be a good gift for a gardener at this gift-giving time of year? Every gardener has his or her special inclinations, gardenwise, so each of us warrants a special set of gift possibilities.

Still, certain expendable items are sure to please any and every gardener. Tops on my list would be a big ball of twine. Twine is useful for everything from lashing blue spires of delphinium and floppy tomato vines to stakes to tying pea vines to a trellis or grape vines to support wires. Not just any twine will do; best is twine made of natural fibre, such as hemp or sisal, so that it can be gathered up to be composted along with the plants it supported at season’s end.

Gloves are another expendable item great for gifts. Gloves made from leather and some synthetics last for years. Among my favorite gloves for everything …

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