GROWING FIGS IN COLD CLIMATES video recording now available.

Watch, listen, and learn — on your own time — about GROWING FIGS IN COLD CLIMATES, with a recording of a webinar with Lee Reich. Now available online.

Learn about the nice quirks of figs, subtropical plants native to hot, dry climates, that make it possible to grow and harvest fruit from them even in cold climates. With that covered, I detail some practical applications of this information. Winter care, pruning, varieties, and speeding up ripening will all be covered. If you already grow figs, this webinar will help you grow more or better figs, and be able to manage them more easily. If you haven’t yet experienced the rewards of growing figs, you have a treat in store.

To access this video, go to www.leereich.com/video

TWO DISAPPOINTING FAILURES, TWO DELICIOUS SUCCESSES

Help!!

As flaming red petals drop to the ground beneath my pomegranate bush, I’m not hopeful. Sure, the flowers are beautiful, but the plant is here to give me fruit.

To survive winters here in New York’s mid-Hudson Valley (Zone 5), my plant’s home is in a large flowerpot which I cart into cold storage in late December and back outdoors or into the greenhouse in late winter or early spring. Even my cold-hardy variety, Salatavski, from western Asia, would die to ground level if planted outdoors. The roots would survive that much cold because of moderated below ground temperatures, but new stems that would rise from ground level would need to be more than a year old before flowering.

Potted pomegranate, but NOT mine

Growing in a pot, my pomegranate (and other potted fruit plants) need regular pruning and repotting. To prune the pomegranate, I snip off young suckers growing from …

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RAISING BASIL(S)

Continuing Education

“No occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth, & no culture comparable to that of the garden. Such a variety of subjects, some one always coming to perfection, the failure of one thing repaired by the success of another, & instead of one harvest a continued one thro’ the year. Under a total want of demand except for our family table I am still devoted to the garden. But tho’ an old man, I am but a young gardener.”

That’s what Thomas Jefferson wrote to Charles Willson Peal on August 20, 1811. Mr. Jefferson had it right. One thing, among many other, that makes gardening so rewarding for me is that there’s always something new to learn about plants and their cultivation.

Take basil, for instance, which I, like many of you, have grown for many years. I’ve always been satisfied with a good harvest, …

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WISE AND NOT SO WISE

A lot about this year’s vegetable garden warrants my patting myself on my back; other things warrant a nuggy (virtually impossible unless I was double-jointed). Let’s start with the pat-worthy stuff. Perhaps you’ll find some of it useful in your vegetable garden. Perhaps you’ll want to comment on it.

Good Moves

Sweet corn is one of my favorite vegetables, both fresh in summer, and frozen in winter. Evidently, chipmunks are also fans. I plant sweet corn — the old variety Golden Bantam — in hills (clumps) of three stalks per hill, the hills eighteen inches apart in the row, with two rows running the length of each three-foot-wide bed. I spread out the harvest with four plantings, the first on about the average date of the last frost, mid-May, and the last planting the end of June.

With a variation on traditional corn planting — “one for the rook, one for the crow, …

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PAYBACK TIME

Not a Gardener? I’m Honored

Perhaps some one or two of you readers of this blog might be just that — readers, not gardeners. An occasional reader has admitted this to me. Although I feel honored to be read by any non-gardener, herein is my effort to get humus under the fingernails of you gardening equivalents of “Monday night quarterbacks.” 

I reckon that now, when plants are lush and have already offered or are hinting at future offerings of fruits, vegetables, and flowers, is the easiest time of year to spur your enthusiasm. Also, it’s still not too late to start a garden. I started my first garden -– in Wisconsin -– on August 1st and reaped tomatoes, beans, and other vegetables!

I could begin by going on and on about the favorable economics of gardening, wowing you with statistics about how much cheaper it is to grow broccoli, peaches, and tomatoes than …

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FRUIT VS SHOOT

Note 1: I have some plants leftover from this past weekend’s  plant sale here at the farmden. Contact me by June 24, 2022 if you’re interested in purchasing to pick up any white currant, black currant, fig, or gooseberry plants (a number of varieties of the latter two).They’re all discounted at 25% off.

Note 2: My farmden is open for a Garden Conservancy Open Day on Saturday, June 18, 2022 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Registration is required, here.  

Shoots versus Fruits

I’ve been playing around with the orientation of some of my trees’ branches to influence how they grow. Branches pointed skyward generally are inherently vigorous, giving rise to long shoots, especially from their topmost buds. At the other extreme are branches oriented horizontally. They’re generally weak-growing, and tend to produce fruit buds rather than vigorous shoots and leaves. The cool thing is that if you or I change branch orientation, it changes …

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PLANT SALE, PLANT LIST

Plant Sale

•This year the 14th(?) Annual Plant Sale will be held live, here at Springtown Farmden in New Paltz, NY.
•Plants, available in limited quantities
•Here’s a not necessarily complete list of what’s available (pricing not yet determined):

APPLE (Redfree)
BLUEBERRY (lowbush, Berkeley highbush)
BLACK CURRANT (Belaruskaja, Titania)
RED/WHITE CURRANT (Red Lake, Primus)
FIGS (Sicilian, LSU Purple, Brown Turkey, Rabbi Samuel, San Piero, Unknown)
GOOSEBERRY (Captivator, Chief, Glendale, Poorman, Red Jacket
GARLIC CHIVES
GRAPE (Glenora, Brianna)
HARDY KIWIFRUIT (2 species)
HARDY ORANGE (Poncirus trifoliata)
HAZELNUTS (blight resistant Somerset, Raritan)
HELLEBORE
MEDLAR (Breda Giant, Puciu Mol)
NANKING CHERRY
PEAR (Asian Tsu Li, European Harrow Delight)
PULMONARIA
SWEET WOODRUFF
TOMATOES (heirloom varieties Valencia, Nepal, Pink Brandywine)
WILD GINGER

This year, there’ll also be lots of books (in addition to the ones I wrote), some for sale and some free. The books cover a wide range of gardening topics.

Date and Time: June 12, 2022, 9:30 AM – 1:00 PM
Location: Springtown Farmden in New Paltz, NY

Parking is available on the street, in the two driveways …

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REGIMENTING TOMATOES

What’s Better: Loosy Goosy or Soldier Straight?

I wonder how much our gardens reflect our personalities? Some gardeners clip their yew bushes “plumb and square;” other gardeners clip or shear away at their plants more haphazardly. Even in the vegetable patch, a temperament may be reflected in the way tomatoes are grown: Do the plants sprawl over the ground with abandon, are they contained within strings woven up and down the row, or are they neatly staked? (Woven tomatoes or those grown in wire cages are more or less sprawling plants, held aloft.)

Whatever your temperament, a good case can be made for staking tomatoes. Tomatoes on a staked plant are larger and ripen earlier than those on a sprawling plant. Good air circulation around leaves and fruits of upright plants lessens disease problems. And fruits held high above the ground also are free from dirt and slug bites. You’ll harvest less …

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Upcoming GROWING FIGS IN COLD CLIMATES webinar

Last reminder for GROWING FIGS IN COLD CLIMATES webinar. 

Monday, June 6, 2022, 7-9 pm Eastern Time

Cost: $35

Registration is necessary; register and pay (credit card or Paypal) at:
https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_4hqKduDNSyiuRGPBlmBObg

Contact me if you prefer to pay by check.

Learn what makes this subtropical plant so adaptable that you can harvest fresh fruit from it even in cold climates, and practical applications of this information. I’ll cover a few of the methods for being on your way to fig-dom, including winter care, pruning, varieties, and speeding up ripening. There’ll be plenty of time for questions.

San Piero fig, ripe

NO MO’ NO MOW MAY(?)

What and Why?

The Month of May has ended, as has “No Mow May.” If you’ve never heard of “No Mow May,” it’s the rallying cry of a movement that began in the UK, suggesting that all of us who nurture greenswards abandon our efforts for the month of May. In so doing, habitat and food, in the form of early blooming wildflowers such as dandelions, clover, creeping Charlie, and violets, would become more available to early season pollinating insects.

Let’s dive deeper into what “No Mow May” accomplishes, whether this movement has any drawbacks, and, finally, possible alternatives.

A lawn is typically a monoculture, or nearly so. Not mowing during this month when heat and rainfall spur rapid plant growth encourages more diversity, which makes environments more resilient.

Gasoline-powered mowers spew out great quantities of carbon dioxide and pollutants. Over the course of a year, one such machine pollutes the same amount as …

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