Thursday, February 11, 2016

Gardening 21.01

After waiting for quite a while, I finally went out and got myself some berry plants.  I've always loved the wild blackberries that grow around California, but the store-bought ones never measure up.  I now know that the wild ones I like are Himalayan Blackberries, and are an extremely invasive species.  Anyhow, I went to a small nursery in Davis, Redwood Barn Nursery, and found myself a Thornless Triple Crown Blackberry plant, and a Thornless Boysenberry plant.  The place was fairly helpful and laid out what I need to do to keep these plants alive and productive for years to come.  They also had tons of empty plastic buckets in the back that they give away for planting!  

I'm going to take pictures periodically to monitor growth - here's how they're starting out!  I don't have much of a green thumb, but I am committed to making these work!

The plants I bought are bare root stock, so there's the roots and a couple sticks, but essentially no leaves.  The basics - plant them in a good soil, the inherent fertilizer/nutrients in the soil last about one year.  After that time, supplement with a helping of special fertilizer / plant food per directions on the bag you choose.  It was recommended I get the citrus mix, and based on watering directions I found online, the first 3 weeks after planting root stock, you don't want the soil to get dry at the top.  After a bit, you can start watering on a weekly basis, about an inch of water.  They need the first six inches (approximately) to be moist.  Watering more frequently may be needed as the plants are starting to produce.  I will need to investigate trellising at some point.  Also, once a shoot produces fruit, it will not produce any fruit the subsequent year and it is best to remove it then and there after harvesting.  I may mark these with little tapes so I can wait until the plant has finished the full season for sure, but we shall see.  It should be pruned right at the base.  

This page has some useful information about the plants!  

By comparison, here's my Trader Joe's-bought mint plant - honestly, I'm kind of disappointed in the quality of the leaves, maybe it's just not the right species or it needs a larger planter.  The biggest problem was the terrible insect infestation when I bought it - moral of the story: never buy plants from Trader Joe's, or actually any others that just let their plants sit out.  Also don't over water... that leaves the soil moist enough for insects to breed and grow.  Since with mint I'm growing it specifically to use the leaves, I tried to find a non-toxic solution for the insect epidemic, in my case: white flies.  The best one I found, which also helped with mold, was spices.  Cinnamon worked great, and when I ran out of that I actually switched to Curry Powder, but it seems to make the top layer of soil somewhat resistant to molds and insect larvae.  I just pull the leaves aside and layer it on the top of the soil everywhere.  Full disclosure: this planter once contained marjoram and thyme as well, but those died.  I think it was when I left it without water for too long on a vacation... and mold and insects.  In any case, I'm now being more regular about supplementing with plant food every 3 months or so, and carefully monitoring soil moisture to prevent over-watering.  Mint is pretty hardy, so I'll keep at it and see what comes of it!  And yes I need to prune it, I know...I'll get some rum and make mojitos.

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