Archive for March, 2013

Planting Blackberry Plants in Your Garden

March 31st, 2013

Blackberry plants are a delightful bramble fruit that bring a deep and luscious flavor to any summer treat. Planting blackberries is reasonably easy, and the plants are hardy and fairly easy to keep. With a little care and preparation you can bring this wonderful fruiting plant to your garden with ease.

English: Blackberries (Rubus), ripe and unripe...

English: Blackberries (Rubus), ripe and unripe on a bush. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Where to plant blackberries

Blackberries are hardy in zones 5 through 10. To start a blackberry plant, find a sunny to partially shaded area in your garden. You’ll want well drained soil with a ph of between 6 and 7. All blackberry plantings will benefit from some sort of a trellis, with the trailing species of the plant very nearly requiring one.

Keep the roots of your blackberry plants moist until planting. And place the plants two feet apart with the crown of the roots no more than one half inch below the dirt’s surface.  It’s best to work plenty of organic matter into the soil and mulch to keep out weeds.

Blackberries will do well in full sun to partial shade.

Soil for the blackberry plant

The plant prefers well drained sandy, loamy, or clay soils. The plant will do well in nutritionally poor soils and that makes it a great plant for troubled soil areas. The plant is fairly well drought tolerant.

Fast growing and invasive

Blackberry plants are not considered good companion plants and should not be planted near other species. The blackberry is a fast growing species and will take over an area. So be sure that you have plenty of space around your plantings in order to avoid the blackberry plant from taking over your other garden items.

Erect and trailing

There are two types of blackberry plant species: erect and trailing. The erect plants will grow canes that will usually support themselves, however they can benefit from a trellis system. The trailing species of the plant requires a trellis system for support. Both species of the plant will tend to bunch together producing a thicket of foliage and fruit that is known for its thorny flowering buds.

Care and growing

Plant when the soil has warmed. When planting, dig a hole deep enough as to not bend the roots. Place the plants in the hole as described earlier, and be sure to keep the plantings set apart two feet in rows seven feet apart.  Blackberries produce fruits on their second year canes, and the canes will then die off. You should trim back the dead canes at the end of the season.


Pick the berries as soon as they have matured into very dark purple or deep red appearance.


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Which Strawberry Plants to Plant in Your Garden

March 30th, 2013

Strawberry plants are one of the most ideal fruit bearing plants to have located within one’s garden.  Not only do they require only a limited amount of care and space, but these plants will provide a significant amount of fruit each blossoming season.  Additionally, they provide a beautiful accent to any garden, with their vivid red fruits and their lush green vines and vegetation.  It is important to know, though, that there are differences in the different kinds of strawberries plants available for planting, as mentioned below.

A strawberry Français : une fraise Galego: un ...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

All Star Strawberry Plants appear to be one of the most well liked strawberry plants by customers throughout the nation.  Not only do these plants provide a large strawberry fruit, but they are extremely weather resistant, even in comparison to the general weather resistant strawberry plants.  While planting strawberries, it is also important to note the times in which the plants are expected to produce the largest amount of fruit.  With this plant, that would be in the month of June, while there can also be slight variations in the timing of arrival.

The Sweet Charlie Strawberry Plants are well liked by customers that are seeking a strawberry plant that produced a strawberry that is sweeter, in taste, than most others.  These strawberries are doted as tasting synonymous with a strawberry that has been sprinkled with sugar.  Additionally, The Sweet Charlie Strawberry Plant is among the many strawberry plants that are considered extremely disease resistant.

Finally, The Cardinal Strawberry Plants are considered to be a pleasant medium between the two aforementioned plants.  They are generally rather sweet in flavor, provide a dark colored berry that is pleasing to look at with a glossy skin, but they also beginning growing the most in the months synonymous with All Star Strawberry Plants.  This means that the berried generally begin to grow around mid-season, or in the calendar month of June.  It is possible that slight variation will occur within the growing date, but this is the general time that such behavior takes place.

Growing strawberry plants in one’s garden is not only an ideal plant to grow for the most professional of gardeners, but it is also an ideal plant to utilize when beginning to plant a garden for the first time.  Not only will you need limited area to do so, but these plants will grow in some of the most harsh of conditions, allowing you to learn their behaviors as they blossom.

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Health Benefits of Goji Berries

March 12th, 2013

Besides being a beautiful, vibrant plant that is very easy to grow, the Goji Berry plant also has many health benefits. It grows fast and produces a beautiful purple flower that is followed by a delicious, juicy red berry that will remind you of a small pepper. It will begin to flower and produce fruit in the early spring and continue all year long, with the proper care, until well after the first frost, when it will drop its leaves and go dormant for the rest of the winter. Most anyone can grow this medical marvel plant either inside an apartment in a sunny window or outside in a garden.

And, after reading the following medical benefits, why would anyone not want to grow this amazing plant. Botanically called the Lycium barbarum and also known as “Big Lifeberry,” and wolfberry, the Goji berry plant has been around for many years. They are also a member of the nightshade family, but do not let that frighten you because so are the potato, tomato and sweet potato, pepper and eggplant. The Goji berry plant grows wild in its native Himalayan mountains range of Mongolia and Tibet and has been in use in both China and Tibet for many thousands of years, medicinally and as a food ingredient.

Some of the goodies Goji berries contain include: Loads of vitamin C, and A, high in fiber, over 15 times more iron than is in spinach, all the essential amino acids, a higher concentration of protein that all other fruits, 21 trace minerals including, zinc, calcium and selenium and more carotenoids than any other known food. To say that the Goji berry is a nutritional powerhouse is at best, an understatement. In addition, this powerful little berry also contains antioxidants, polysaccharides for the immune system, is considered a natural anti-inflammatory with both antifungal and antibacterial properties. These berries are well known among the Chinese to both increase longevity and strength.

Wolfberry is the common name for the fruit of ...

Wolfberry is the common name for the fruit of two very closely related species: Lycium barbarum (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are many health benefits of the Goji Berry plant. Chinese medicine claims some of the Goji berry benefits are helping the kidney and liver areas, help low back pain, eyesight and dizziness. Research has shown extracts of the Goji berry will boost the health of the brain and help prevent Alzheimer’s disease and other age related diseases. Other research shows the Goji berry will help prevent heart disease, boost the immune system, produce calmness, improve sleep, and give a general feeling of good mental well being. Further research shows the Goji berry will help lower cholesterol, may help prevent cancer, and slow the aging process by minimizing the damage to cells and DNA from free radicals.

It is also said that consuming Goji berries over time may help treat high blood pressure, diabetes, age related eye problems and fevers. Goji berries can be eaten either dried like raisins, cooked, raw, or made into a juice and put in teas, and other juices. They are usually either eaten raw as a snack, added to a homemade trail mix, or made into an extract or tea. The raw berries are delicious in cereals and oatmeal, and you can soak the dried berries in water and use them and the juice in smoothies.

It should be noted that as amazing and full of health benefits as this powerful little berry is, it may produce adverse interactions when taken with medications like blood thinners, or those for high blood pressure or diabetes. It is always recommended that before you take Goji berries, you first speak with your physician about any side effects from any medications you are on. In addition, if you have an allergy to pollen, it is advised that you not consume this fruit, but if eaten in moderation, the incredible Goji berry should be safe.

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Grow Goji Berry Plants in Your Home Garden

March 11th, 2013

Grow Goji Berry Plants which one of the easiest plants you can grow once it is established. They can be grown in either full or part sun, but prefers full sun and well drained soil. The rate of their growth is quite fast and soon you will see a beautiful purple blossom come up in your late spring garden. They are called the Goji “Berry” plant because they produce a beautiful red berry that, as you will learn in another article, contains many health benefits. Even though they grow to a height of 5 to 6 feet, they can also be grown in containers, outside on a patio or in a sunny window.

English: In 2010 Chris Kilham traveled to Chin...

English: In 2010 Chris Kilham traveled to China’s remote Ningxia region, to see the Goji harvest. As a Medicine Hunter, Chris has witnessed the cultivation and harvesting of many plants around the world. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If grown outside, they will tolerate zones 3 through 10 as they are very cold and heat tolerant and once established, will also tolerate a certain amount of drought, but since it is a plant that produces a fruit, you are recommended to water it on a regular basis. Too little water can cause stress and keep your Goji from producing flowers and fruits. Since the Goji is considered a deciduous plant, it will lose its leaves usually right after the first frost hits. Even though the Goji will adjust to most any soil, you will receive the best results if the pH stays between 6.8 to 8.1.

You can either test the soil yourself or take a sample to be tested to your local Department of Agriculture. If the pH needs to be higher, use lime and if the pH needs to be lower, use aluminum sulfate. Even though the plant grows to a height of 5 to 6 feet, they can still be grown in containers because once the roots touch the bottom of the planter, the plant will stop growing. Whether grown in the garden or in a container, it is best to use strong stakes and gently tie up the long canes to make harvesting the berry a bit easier. Since the Goji berry blooms on new wood, you should prune the lateral branches to both encourage more new growth and make the plant easier to manage. Once the berries appear, they will attract all kinds of wildlife, so unless you are growing the plant in a container, you might consider protecting the plant by using bird netting around it. Sprays are not recommended unless they are vegetable safe.

The Goji plant will usually not produce fruit until the third season, but if they are grown in a container, you might see fruit in the first or second season. The fruit is a beautiful bright red berry that is juicy, sweet and will get even sweeter the longer they remain on the plant to mature, so as tempting as it is, try not to pick the berries until they fully mature. Because the plant is cold tolerant, it will produce flowers and berries until well after the first frost. If you buy your Goji plant at a nursery, repot it into a larger planter, set it in a sunny window and allow it to get established before moving them outside. If container growing outside, you will want to provide the plant with about an inch or two of mulch to help retain moisture.

Fertilizing is important and should be done in early spring just after you see new growth start to appear. The best fertilizer for your Goji plant is rose fertilizer or anything that is used for woody plants. If growing more than one Goji plant outside in the garden, be sure to plant them 5 to 7 feet apart to allow plenty of room for growth and to make harvesting the berries easier.

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How to Attract Butterflies to Your Garden with Shrubs, Herbs and Perennial Plants

March 5th, 2013


What could be more enjoyable than sitting in your garden with lots of beautiful butterflies fluttering about? Gardeners are planting butterfly gardens, which not only have become a popular hobby, but, also, make for very beautiful gardens. While many gardeners plant amazing flower gardens with hopes of attracting butterflies, however, the butterflies don’t come because the wrong shrubs and perennial plants have been planted.

English: Français : Papillon monarque (Danaus ...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sometimes butterflies will not come to a garden because of pesticide use. The first thing you should do in planning for your butterfly garden is to rid the area of unwanted pests without using chemicals.

There are a few other things you can do to ensure that butterflies will come to your garden. Choose an area in your garden that is sunny with about 5 to 6 hours of sunlight per day, as adult butterflies only feed in the sun. The area needs to, also, be sheltered from heavy winds. As much as butterfly need to eat, they also do not want to fight harsh winds while trying to feed.

Another important aspect to a good butterfly garden is water. Like humans, butterflies need water. A couple of shallow bird baths where you can keep clean water will not only allow butterflies a drink, it will give them a place to rest.

There are two types of plants that butterfly use, those that provide food for the offspring and those that provide nectar for the adults. In a quote from the National Wildlife Federation, “Attracting butterflies involves incorporating plants that serve the needs of all life stages of the butterfly.” They go on to say, “The insects need places to lay eggs, food plants for their larvae (caterpillars), places to form chrysalides and nectar sources for adults.”

Most butterflies, including the Monarch butterfly, feed on buddleia, commonly called butterfly bushes, for nectar and milkweed to feed the caterpillars. Other ways to make the area more butterfly friendly are using flat stones or other large flat surfaces where butterflies can rest and spread their wings. Because butterflies are such delicate creatures, they will also need shelter and a little shade.

Plants that attract butterflies are buddleia or butterfly bushes, lavender, monarda or bee balm, veronica, salvia, rosemary, thyme, sage, roses, yarrow, lamb’s ear, hydrangea, weigela, rudbeckia, echinacea, Shasta daisy and yucca are excellent selections for a beginners butterfly garden.

Recap of How to Attract Butterflies to Your Garden:

  • Limit pesticide use
  • Place your garden in a sunny area protected from heavy winds
  • Plant fragrant, summer flowering butterfly plants
  • Use flat surfaces for the butterflies to rest
  • Have a shallow water source

By adding some of these suggestions into your garden, you can attract butterflies all summer long.


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