Homegrown Pineapple

A little over two years ago, my daughter, B, started an after dinner gardening project. She plopped a discarded cut off pineapple crown of leaves into a pot. She treated it like many of her succulent plants: no prep, no … Continue reading

Darn Bumper Crop of Berries

Most of my flowers and perennials these days are generally low water users, at least once they became established, however the same is not true of all my edible plants. When the state officials announced the need for even deeper … Continue reading

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Winter Propagation Projects: Pomegranates

 

When the weather is too cold to do much work outside, I get a little over zealous and try propagating all sorts of plants, just to see if I can. Since I got a couple of new heat mats for Christmas, I am in the process of propagating a variety of plants including ‘Parfianka’ Pomegranate, ‘Sweet’ Pomegranate, ‘Strawberry Verte’ Fig, ‘Bababerry’ plants, Thornless Raspberry plants, and tomato seeds.  Because I spend so much time doting on the cuttings, my hubby says I am going to turn into Jordy Verrill from Creepshow who ends up covered in Alien Weeds if I am not careful. I hope not. Well, if I find a mysterious meteorite in the backyard, I promise I won’t put water on it!

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The pomegranate cuttings are in the peat pellets on the heat mat. These are a semi dwarf variety good for cooler coastal areas named “Sweet.” I originally bought my tree from Armstrong Garden center in Long Beach in January 2010 as a little one gallon tree.

Although I don’t have room for anymore Pomegranate trees, I had read they are one of the easiest fruits to propagate, so I just had to try.  And it’s true! I took a half dozen of cuttings from each of my two trees on January 14th, and I already had to transplant some of the little trees yesterday into 4 inch pots because the roots were growing out of the peat pellets and out onto the heat mat.  If I had know it would be this easy and quick to start pomegranates, I would have taken more cuttings. With the continuing drought in California, pomegranates are a good choice for a drought tolerant backyard fruit tree so I shouldn’t have a hard time finding new homes for the little pomegranate trees, once they are bigger and acclimated to the outdoors, especially since they are less common varieties.

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A new little pomegranate tree ready to be transplanted to a 4 inch pot. This one is Parfianka, rated by many folks as one of the best tasting pomegranates. My tree was originally grown by Duarte Nursery.

Propagating Pomegranates:

  1. Prep rooting medium like perlite, vermiculite, or peat moss.  I used Peat Moss pellets this time and soaked them ahead of time.  I have them on a tray over a heat mat.
  2. Take cuttings about the width of pencil and about 3 to 6 inches in length with sterile clippers.
  3. Score or injure the cuttings near the bottom end.
  4. Dip in rooting hormone (optional.) I like Dip and Grow liquid hormone for this, but be careful and follow the directions carefully.
  5. Place cutting in rooting medium.
  6. Mist a few times a day and water as needed.
  7. Watch for leaf growth.
  8. Transplant when they have sufficient leaf growth or like in my case, the roots outgrow the peat pellets.
  9. Slowly acclimate them to the outdoors.
  10. Over the first season of growth, pinch to make them bushy.
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Little new roots poking out of peat pellet on Pomegranate cutting

 

 

© 2014, .

Tons and Tons of Vincent Kiwis!

Okay, maybe not tons, but at least 50 or 60 lbs. of Kiwis, is my guess at this point. Although in past years, I have grumbled and griped a lot about the lack of pollination on my Kiwi vines, this … Continue reading

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How to Prune Bababerries and other Everbearing Raspberry Plants

 

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Bababerry plants along the driveway loaded with unripe raspberries. This photo is from a few summers ago, but I added it to show what the little raspberry patch looks like.

The past couple of years I have been received lots of questions via email regarding how to prune Bababerry plants, a variety of everbearing raspberry that grows well in Southern California and other low chill – warm climates.  Managing Baba raspberries is much the same as any other everbearing or fall bearing raspberry variety.  Most folks are able to pick fruit the first year they buy and plant an everbearing raspberry, including Baba. That is not the case on summer bearing raspberry varieties, which only produce on second year or two year old canes.  Since I am in the middle of my winter pruning chores, including pruning out the old wood on the berries, I figured it was a good time to take a short break and post something about it.

A new or first year cane on a raspberry plant is called a primocane.  A second year cane is referred to as a floricane or floracane.  Summer bearing raspberries only produce one harvest each summer and only on their floracanes.  Those two year old canes are then pruned out in late fall or winter, after bearing fruit. Everbearing varieties produce on the top half of primocanes the first fall, and then on the lower half the following Spring.

With all everbearing raspberries, the gardener can choose to have either one or two crops each year, depending on the pruning or management technique the gardener prefers to use.  Here at Hanbury House I often to prune to get two crops a year.  To do this, I prune out all the two year old canes to the ground each winter and just prune the top half of the primo canes from the previous season.  Although it is ideal to prune when they are dormant, if you are unsure what to prune at first, the chore can wait until the first new leaf buds begin break dormancy in early spring.

Usually I can tell which canes are two years old on my Babas just based on how the “skin” of the cane looks. The canes that are grey and/or really flaky looking are usually the old ones that need to be cut to the ground and completely removed. New canes usually emerge nearby. Any canes that are primocanes and produced fruit on the top 1/2 of the cane in the fall, usually look healthy and a medium shade of brown, with the top part being dried looking and sometimes has a few tiny barren side stems where the berries hung last fall.  They will also have new buds along the stem. I prune those canes down only about half way, to the point just below where the last berries grew or above where it looks like there is a live bud still.  Those pruned canes will bare fruit along the rest of the portion of the cane, usually in by mid to late Spring or early Summer.  Then, next winter, I prune the rest of that cane out as mentioned above.

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Bababerry Everbearing Raspberry Primocane needing to be pruned. I will prune right above the bud in the middle of the picture for fruit in the Spring or Summer.

The other method to manage everbearing raspberries is pruning all canes to the ground when the canes are pretty much dormant, typically sometime between the new year to early February, basically in the middle of winter. With this pruning method the gardener only gets one crop later in the summer or early fall, instead of two. This is the easiest method, and many folks prefer it, including my friend across the street that also grows lots of Baba berries. It is much less work, and a bit tidier looking. Either method, new canes usually emerge each spring around the base of the plant.

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Floracane at the end of the growning season on Bababerry. Notice how the cane is greyish and a little flaky. Some canes get even flakier. This is about to be pruned to the ground to make room for new primocanes on the raspberry plant.

Once a raspberry patch has been established for many years, the canes will have spread out and multiplied a lot.  Any canes that are outside the designated garden bed can be dug up and and used to start a new raspberry patch or shared with friends. The best time to divide and dig out canes, if you want the canes to survive the transplant, is in the dormant season.  If you are just trying to tidy things up, dig out the stray canes at any time of year. If you are still wondering if your raspberry plants are summer bearing or everbearing, here is short list of commonly grown varieties of each. I put an * next to varieties I have grown or my close friend across the street has grown at some point over the last two decades.

Everbearing raspberry varieties:

  • Anne *
  • Amity
  • Autumn Bliss
  • Autumn Britten *
  • Bababerry *
  • Caroline *
  • Dunkum
  • Heritage
  • Fall Gold
  • Indian Summer *
  • Kiwi Gold *
  • Josephine *
  • Polana
  • Rosanna *
  • Summit

Summer Bearing

  • Boyne
  • Canby
  • Latham
  • Meeker
  • Willamette

Bababerries are my favorite, and in my opinion, the best raspberry, out of the all the red raspberries varieties I have grown in our low chill Mediterranean climate.  I hope this helps those of you searching for tips on how to prune your raspberry plants.   If you still have raspberry questions, leave a comment and I’ll be happy to get back to you.

© 2014, .

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Red Reblooming Bearded Iris

 

Happy New Year!

Living in Southern California, we hardly get a break in the growing season, and Mid Winter often brings out some of first of the cool season blooms to my garden. One of my brand new, planted in September, reblooming irises sent up a spike just before Christmas and bloomed today.  I was so tickled and surprised to have it bloom already that I had to share my delight.  Irises are some of my favorite perennials. This red spotted iris is technically a NOID (no identity) bearded iris, but I am pretty sure it is Pepper Blend, by Moores, 1977. After seeing other similar irises, lots of research based on the history I know about it, and more importantly seeing a recent photo upload to the iris wiki of an iris exactly like mine, taken by iris hybridizer Richard Tasco. Other possibilities I considered were Etched Burgundy, a burgundy red plicata hybridized by Garrison in 1970 or Spiked Punch, hybridized by Moores in 1980, or Cayenne Capers Iris. The colors look different, at different times of the day and lighting. This second photo is more true to the bloom color.

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There is more info on Pepper Blend at reblooming iris at The American Iris Society’s online encyclopedia. And info on Spiked Punch, Etched Burgundy, and Cayenne Capers can be found there as well at this link. We are having a bit of a warm spell, and I plan to enjoy the lovely weather this New Years Day doing one of my favorite things, puttering in the garden.  I hope you also have a Happy New Year!

 

© 2013 – 2014, .

Adding More Plants To The Edible Landscape

  I actually didn’t get as many new edible plants and trees this winter or spring as I have in past years, but I still probably got more than I really have room for.  Basically, my small urban backyard is … Continue reading

How to Gently Get A Brooding Hen to Stop Setting

  Bantam Cochins are one of the best breeds of chickens for small urban backyards, mainly because they are generally quiet, curious, very friendly, easy to handle, kids like their small size and docile nature, they don’t fly like other … Continue reading

Spring Garden Gamble: Tomatoes in February

As a seasoned gardener, I should know better than to plant tomatoes at the beginning of February, but H & H Nursery already had tomatoes in, including my favorite cold weather variety, Stupice.  For $1.99, I decided I could take … Continue reading

Gardening Just Got More Difficult…Discovering Root Knot Nematodes

I had wondered why my daughter’s carrot crop was so pitiful this year.  While I was outside this morning, I pulled a few carrots out and discovered the reason, Root Knot Nematodes. I have managed to avoid any infestations of Root … Continue reading