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Garden Guide Fruits and Vegetables

There is nothing more rewarding than growing your own fruits and vegetables and being able to eat the fruits of your labor. Once your package has arrived, open it immediately and remove any plants from plastic bags. If any items have plastic around the root balls, leave this on until planting because it helps preserve moisture. These are live plants and proper care must be taken to ensure health until ready for planting. Keep the plants moist and cool. Our fruits and vegetables are shipped in a dormant form so they can be transplanted outdoors once the soil can be worked in the spring. Light frosts will not damage the plants. If you are unable to plant immediately, the plants can be stored for a short period of time in a cool, dark location that will not freeze. They should also be kept moist, but not wet. An unheated garage, refrigerator, or cold cellars are ideal locations.

Growing Great Grapes
Choosing the right spot for any long lived perennial plant is important.

Varieties

Asparagus

Plant in well-drained, neutral soil in full sun. Asparagus grows in the same place for many years, so proper preparation of the asparagus bed is essential. Till the soil to a depth of 24", mixing in as much organic matter (compost and well-rotted manure) as possible. Dig a trench 8-10" deep and 10-12" wide. Space the crowns 12" apart with their roots well splayed out at the bottom of the trench. Cover with several inches of soil. Once the shoots begin to emerge, add more soil to the trench until, as the stems grow, the trench is filled. Mulch with 4-6" of organic material to conserve moisture and provide nutrients. Each spring, fertilize with a balanced, organic fertilizer. Once established, asparagus needs only moderate watering during the growing season. As tempting as it may be, do not harvest any asparagus stalks the first year. The second year harvest just a few stalks. The third and subsequent years, harvest stalks until they start thinning to less than 1/2" in dia. Always cut the stalks; do not break them off or risk injuring the crowns. In areas of the country with cold winters, wait to cut down the plants until early the following spring. In warmer areas, cut back the foliage when it browns. Hardy in zones 2-8.

Blackberries

All brambles require deep, welldrained soil high in organic matter. Choose any sunny location that has good air circulation and water drainage. Keep the roots moist until planting time. Cut plants back to 6" and place them in a hole at the same depth they grew in the nursery. Space blackberries 2' apart in rows 7' apart and provide a trellis for the trailing types. Water heavily and mulch to reduce weeds. Do not let the canes produce fruit the first year. These summer-bearing berries produce fruit on the second year canes. In the fall of the second year, prune spent canes to the ground and thin others to 4 canes per foot of row. Cut off suckers that grow outside the rows. Trim the remaining canes to 7'.

Blueberries

Blueberries must be planted where they have full sun for most of the day, well-drained, sandy, and acidic soil (pH of 4. 5 to 5. 5), that is high in organic matter. Plants have shallow root systems; keep the roots cool and moist. Space plants 4' apart in rows that are 7' apart and set plants at the same depth they grew in the nursery. Plants benefit greatly from a heavy mulch to conserve moisture and a yearly pruning of the mature plants.

Garlic

Plant in humusy, fertile, slightly acidic, welldrained soil in full sun. Bulbs grown in shade will be smaller. Break garlic into individual cloves and plant in the early fall or early spring. Plant 2-3" deep with pointed end up, allowing 3-6" between bulbs. Fertilize with compost tea or fish emulsion. Keep plant well-watered and mulched. In summer, when the foliage begins to yellow, stop watering. Break the tops over at the base to speed up the drying process. When the plant tops are brown and dry, gently pull the bulbs from the ground. Dry in the sun for several days. Braid or tie the garlic bulbs in bundles and dry them in a dark area with good ventilation. In the spring, shoots and flower stems can be used like chives.

Grapes

Grapes prefer fertile, well-drained soil and a site that offers full sun, good air circulation, with protection from wind, and late spring frosts. Grapes like a moderately acidic soil, (pH 5. 5 to 6. 0) with fair amounts of organic material or compost. Set plants 8' apart in rows that are 10' apart. After planting, grapes should be fertilized every 3-4 weeks with a well-balanced fertilizer. Pruning should be done in winter when plants are dormant, but not when it becomes too cold. Canes that have borne fruit should be pruned back sharply. Remove the old canes coming from the main stem and leave 4 new canes. The new canes should be cut back to 6-8” and 3 or 4 buds. These buds will produce the new shoots that bear leaves and grapes the following summer. Four of these new shoots will be used to repeat the same fruiting and pruning process the following winter.

Horseradish

Plant in the spring as early as the soil can be worked. Soil should be prepared in the fall so that it ia deeply dug, loose and amended with organic matter. Place the roots 18-24" apart in shallow trenches, with the top end slightly elevated. Cover with a 4-5" deep ridge or mound of soil. Plants grow 2-2 1/2' tall, and the roots make their greatest increase in size during the cooling weather of fall. Allow to grow as a perennial along one end of the vegetable garden and keep it weeded or mulch heavily to keep weeds down and conserve soil moisture. Water thoroughly if plants wilt during hot weather, especially in late summer-early fall. Harvest the roots as needed anytime from late fall, after a hard frost, until growth starts in the spring. Production is better if the plants are divided and replanted yearly, but plants will survive indefinitely without any care. Small pencil-sized roots may be saved from harvesting and replanted in the spring.

Onion

Sets Plant onions in rich, well-drained, pliable soil in full sun. Plant sets 1" deep, spaced 2" apart. As they grow, thin out every other one. Use the thinnings as scallions (actually true scallions are bunching onions). Keep well weeded, watered and fertilized for maximum bulb production. Pull onions to use fresh as you need them. To store onions, allow the tops to fall over naturally, then gently bend over any other upright stalks. After 2 days, pull the onions and set them on the ground to dry. If the weather is wet, bring them into a dry, well-ventilated space and place them on mesh or old screens to dry. Onions that still have green stems should be used first as they will not keep. Once onions have thoroughly dried, either braid the bulbs and hang or store in mesh bags (old pantyhose work well) or ventilated boxes.

Onion Plants

Plant immediately upon arrival. Do not leave bare root. Plant in good garden soil. with optimal drainage. Plant in rows, 2-3" apart. Press soil very tightly around roots. Water thoroughly after planting.

Potatoes

Early, midseason and late varieties may be planted in early spring when soil has dried and warmed. One of the earliest vegetables to be planted in the spring, do not be in a hurry to plant in March. Potatoes will rot if weather turns cold and wet after planting. Soil should be rich in organic matter and deeply worked in the fall prior to spring planting. Plant seed pieces, making sure each piece has at least one good “eye”, 3-4" deep in furrows and 10-12" apart. Cover seed pieces with soil. Rows should be 24" apart. After the potatoes break the surface, gradually build up a low ridge of loose soil by cultivation and hoeing toward the plants. This ridge, which may become 4-6" high by summer, reduces the number of green tubers which are not edible. Harvest potatoes after the vines have died. Because tubers develop 4-6" beneath the soil surface, a shovel or spading fork is suggested for digging potatoes. Be careful not to spear or cut the potatoes during harvest. In early summer, small “new” potatoes may be dug while the main harvest will be in late August or September. Store potatoes in a dark, humid room with a temperature between 38-40º. Check periodically for spoilage. Temperatures below 38º cause internal damage.

Raspberries

Raspberries are a bramble fruit and should be treated the same as blackberries. Plants are more erect than blackberries so they do not require support. Space red and yellow varieties 2' apart in rows that are 4-5' apart. The black and purple varieties should be spaced 3' apart in rows 7-8' apart. Plant the black and red varieties 300' apart to prevent the spread of disease. Little thinning is needed until plants have been in the ground a few years. When thinning brambles, leave the thickest canes and remove the thinnest. Prune the red and yellow varieties back to 8-12 buds on a cane, leaving the thickest canes at least 4-6" apart in the spring. Remove the fruiting canes after the harvest. Prune black and purple varieties when new growth starts in the spring, leaving 10-15 buds per cane and 4-5 canes per clump. Encourage branching by pinching back the tips of black raspberry plants in late summer. With the reds, remove suckers rather than canes from the original plants.

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