Monthly Archives: July 2015

  1. Planting & Pruning Peach Trees For Larger Fruit

    Peaches

    Do you grow your own peaches or nectarines at home? If not you should give them a try. They are an easy and (pardon the pun) fruitful tree to grow. Peach trees are native of China and belong to the Prunus species. The peach trees that are being grown in orchards today have a long history. Today orchard grown peaches are divided into two groups, clingstones and freestones. If the peach flesh sticks to the pit, it is a clingstone. Conversely, if the flesh falls away from the pit easily, it is freestone. Peach fruit has varying levels of acidity, and generally, the white fleshed peach is the least acidic. Yellow fleshed peaches tend to be more tangy and acidic. Fertilization or soil types do not affect skin colors of either the peach or the nectarine. Peach fruit and nectarine fruit are often thought of as totally unique fruits. In fact, the nectarine is closely related to the peach. The main difference is the lack of fuzz on the nectarine skin. The nectarine can be used in the same way as a peach. The nectarine tends to be a little smaller fruit than a peach, and it displays more red color on the skin.

    Raising peach trees in the backyard is not much different than raising them in an orchard setting. Selecting a location for planting is important. There are at least two reasons, soil and sunlight requirements. The peach tree bloom is susceptible to early frosts, so planting a peach tree in the lowest part of the yard would be counter productive. It is best to select a high spot in the yard so the cold air can drain away from the trees when they are in bloom. The peach tree blooms are very susceptible to frost, so a season's fruit production may be lost because of a few lower degrees of temperature.

    Peach Trees – Planting And Pruning For Larger Fruit

    Before planting the peach tree, prepare the soil one or two years prior to planting. Modify the soil with organic matter, and check the nutrient status. The soil pH for peach and nectarine trees should be around 6.5, so it is important to get the soil tested. Then lime and fertility levels should be modified based on the soil test results. Add manure, peat moss, or compost to modify the soil texture.

    Peach or nectarine trees will not tolerate water logged soils. If water sets in an area for more than one hour after a rain, find another location for the nectarine or peach tree.

    Pruning peach or nectarine trees should begin at an early age. Most fruit trees produce better quality fruit, and live longer and healthier if properly maintained and pruned. Fruit tree pruning does not need to be complicated or confusing. Many times the nursery will do the initial pruning on the dormant fruit tree. If the fruit tree arrives already pruned from the nursery, plant it without further pruning.

    If the dormant bareroot tree arrives with long branches and over 3 foot tall, prune the tree to knee high and cut the side branches back by at last 2/3 to promote vigorous new growth. Top pruning induces lateral branch growth in fruit trees , and this produces a more easily accessible tree branch and shapely form. Pruning also diverts the expenditure of nourishment to form woody growth to that of buds and fruit.

    Fruit trees are fast growing. After the spring flush of growth cut the new growth back by half. In late summer prune the new growth on the branches back again by half.  The 2nd year pruning of the fruit tree is the same as the first. Cut back new growth by half in the spring and again in late summer. In the 3rd year, choose a height and do not let the tree get any taller.

    Tree height is a decision for the pruner. When there are vigorous branches above the chosen height, cut back or remove them. In late spring or early summer, pinch back all new growth. Size development and low fruiting wood is determined in the 3rd year.

    Each branch should have at least 6 inches of free space around them. Remove all crossing branches that are too close together. Keeping fruit tree branches open to allow more light and freedom for bee movement is important. Sunlight and bees carrying pollen should increase productivity and create larger fruit.

    All varieties of fruit trees can be maintained at a predetermined height, if pruned consistently.

    If you even have an inkling to grow one of these trees, give it a try. You won't be disappointed!

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  2. $500 In Gift Certificates Giveaway

    How to Win

    1. Enter your email address below to enter our contest.

    2. Earn additional entries through social shares, sharing on your blog, and inviting friends. 3.  5 lucky winners will receive a $100 gift certificate to NatureHills.com. All entries must be received by August 31st, 2015, 11:59 PM CST. a Rafflecopter giveaway

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  3. Maple Tree Root System

    Maple Trees in the Garden

    The maple tree root system is one of the most important factors to consider before planting a maple tree in a home garden. Different types of maple trees have different types of root systems. Some are small and compact; others can be large and sparse. Some maple tree root systems are deep, while others are just below the surface.

    The silver maple tree root system is one of the most intrusive of all the maple tree root systems. The silver maple tree root system is large and has very strong roots. They will easily grow up and raise cement sidewalks and porches. Planted near a house, the silver maple tree root system has even been known to break through a basement wall and cause significant structural damage. In order to prevent this, pruning of the silver maple leaf root system must be done, and not taken lightly.

    The Norway maple leaf root system is just below the surface of the soil. This means that it will also cause damage to sidewalks and other thin layers of cement. The Norway maple tree root system is not as powerful as that of the silver maple tree, so structural damage to a house or building is not nearly as likely. Another drawback to the high Norway maple tree root system is that other plants growing near the base will have to struggle to obtain enough nutrients to survive.

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  4. Planting Maple Trees

    Planting Sugar Maple Trees

    Planting maple trees can be a very straightforward process. It is similar to the act of planting most other trees. There are some considerations, however, to understand before planting maple trees. First of all is the root system of maple trees. Some maple trees, like the Silver maple, have very intrusive root systems. They can grow large and often break or destroy sidewalks, or basement walls. They should be planted away from such areas. Gardeners or landscapers interested in planting maple trees should also consider the location in relation to other plants.

    Some maple trees, such as the Norway maple, have a root system that is just below the surface of the soil. These maple trees would compete with any plants nearby for the nutrients and water in the soil. When planting maple trees near existing plants, it is important to know that the existing plants may die from lack of nutrients, or they may kill the maple tree.

    Planting maple trees should be done in the spring months, when the soil is moist and not very cold. The hole should be dug large enough to house the entire root system, and not be too crowded. The roots should be planted firmly, with the soil pressed down, to support the weight of the growing tree. When planting maple trees that are younger, a stake may be required to protect the plant from wind or other natural circumstances.

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  5. Fernleaf Peony

    Fernleaf Peony Flowers

    A fernleaf peony is a flower that must be displayed front and center. The flower is a deep red double bloom that emerges early and lasts long. The foliage of a fernleaf peony is very frilly and looks like a fern. The blooms are large, but unlike taller growing peonies, the fern peony grows only about a foot high and has no problem of falling over under the weight of the bloom. The fernleaf peony is very interesting to look at indeed. With foliage of a light green, the bright red blooms stand out strikingly. The green foliage shoots off of the sturdy stem in a way similar to the needles of a conifer tree. The new spring foliage has a reddish tint to it before turning a lovely green in the spring, followed by bronze and purple tints in the autumn.

    The fernleaf peony is most hardy to twenty-five degrees below zero. Like all other peonies, fernleaf peonies require a winter chill in order to bloom. A fernleaf peony requires full sun to partial sun to grow, and will bloom in late spring. As with other peonies, fernleaf peonies need good drainage to prevent root rot. A fernleaf peony is as wonderful to look at as a rose, but requires much less care. In many cases, the fernleaf peony actually requires no care at all. All peonies, including the fernleaf, are known for their ability to adapt to a new environment and survive under their own power. Fernleaf peonies are able to survive for several generations.

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  6. Growing Clematis And Roses Together

    Clematis And Rose Flowers

    From Rhonda Fleming Hayes, a Master Gardener and contributing writer for Nature Hills Nursery.

    The rose is probably the most well-known, well-loved flower in the garden. Clematis is called "queen of the vines". Such is the beauty of these two flowers; they can hold their own in any landscape. Combine them, and the effect is magical. I first saw this done while living in England. The British are masters when it comes to roses. Rose plants aren't left to stand alone with their bare legs exposed. They are integrated in the herbaceous border or underplanted with perennials like lavender or lady's mantle in formal beds. Their climbing roses often intermingle with twining clematis.

    Weaving climbing roses and clematis together can be done in several ways. They can be chosen to bloom one after the other to extend the flowering season, one picking up where the other leaves off. Even better they can be coordinated to bloom simultaneously.

    The arbor that marks the entrance to my kitchen garden is a perfect example of rose-clematis compatibility. The deep pink rose "Zepherine Drouhin" climbs up to join hands with the glistening white clematis "Henryii", then cascades back to earth. "Zepherine Drouhin", an old Bourbon rose literally perfumes the air at the height of bloom. Nearly thornless, I don't mind ducking through the branches to enter my garden. After its late spring show I prune back the few unruly canes for a tidier look through summer. Both plants then bloom sporadically through the season with a smaller encore in the fall. Some other combinations worth trying; honey-scented "Climbing Iceberg" with deep red clematis "Niobe" for dramatic contrast, or the pale pink climber "New Dawn" with deeper pink "Carnaby" in a monochromatic blend. Both "Climbing Iceberg" and "New Dawn" are hardy, vigorous climbers known for their disease resistance. Winners of merit by the Royal Horticultural Society; "Niobe" and "Henryii" quickly fill out with dark green foliage that requires little pruning.

    Every year after it seems to explode with blooms, my husband remarks that my rose-clematis arbor is out of control. I just think it's out of this world. The brown thrasher's nest on top is icing on the cake

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  7. Planting Fruit Trees

    Fruit Tree Farm

    Many gardeners decide to plant a fruit tree in their home landscape. Before planting fruit bushes & trees, there are several things to consider. The first is what type of fruit tree to plant. It is best to plant a fruit tree that is local to the region, and matches the soil conditions. It is also important to understand that many fruit trees do not self-pollinate. For this reason, more than one fruit tree must often be grown. Once the type of fruit tree is decided, the actual tree must be chosen. Most fruit trees are sold bare root, meaning their roots are exposed. It is best to plant a fruit tree with a strong straight stem, which will provide the best support. Planting fruit trees with low branches will hinder the growing abilities and can encourage pests.

    Fruit Tree

    Planting fruit trees should always be done in soil that drains properly. Dig the hole, which should be nearly two feet deep and wide enough to support the entire root system. The next step to planting fruit trees is to make a mound of soil in the center of the hole. The roots should be spread out evenly over this mound, with the location of the graft a few inches above the soil. Planting fruit trees with the graft underground can cause the tree to grow roots from the scion, and this will be very detrimental to the health of the tree. Once the roots have been spread out evenly, the soil should be replaced and pressed down firmly. Leaving air in the soil after planting fruit trees will cause problems as the tree matures. Water should be applied thoroughly, and the tree should be staked, to support it while the roots take hold.

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  8. Pruning Fruit Trees

    PENTAX Image

    There are many reasons for pruning fruit trees in the garden. Pruning fruit trees stimulates growth by limiting the amount of buds that the tree has to grow. Pruning fruit trees can improve the tree structure. Thinning of the fruit will result in better quality and larger fruit. Fruit tree pruning can also be dwarfing, and may be used to control the size of the tree. Pruning fruit trees should almost always be done during the winter, or dormant season. This is when the leaves have all fallen and the structure is more easily identifiable.

    Fruit tree pruning should take place annually, beginning in the first year. There are three stages of pruning that take place during the life of a fruit tree.

    Fruit Tree Forms

    The three stages are transplant, training, and mature.

    Immediately after transplant, fruit tree pruning consists of cutting back nearly all branches, leaving only the trunk a few feet high. This will allow a gardener to train the tree to grow a certain way. The two most common fruit tree pruning orientations are the central leader and the open center. The shape that will work the best depends on the type of fruit tree being grown.

    The training stage of pruning fruit trees consists of cutting back certain branches in order to maintain the desired shape. The fruit of the tree should also be thinned out, as this will provide room for larger, healthier fruit.

    Once mature, the only fruit tree pruning necessary is thinning out of the fruit, and ensuring that all branches and leaves have direct access to sunlight for most of the day.  

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  9. Spraying Fruit Trees

    Spraying Orange Trees

    One of the leading problems facing fruit trees is insects and other pests. They will infect the fruit with various diseases and often lay eggs inside. The best way to keep fruit plants free from pests is by spraying them. Spraying fruit trees not only rids them of pests, it may even help protect the fruit trees from diseases and fungus. The first step to spraying fruit trees is to get the proper equipment. Spraying fruit trees requires a sprayer, a garden hose, a mixing tub and the spray itself.

    Most fruit tree sprays come in concentrated form, meaning that they will have to be diluted. The amount of dilution necessary will vary from spray to spray. Always read the provided instructions before mixing with water. Once the solution has been mixed with water, spraying fruit trees can begin. Attach the hose to the sprayer, and squeeze the trigger for a second or two. This will allow the mixture to reach the end of the hose. Spraying fruit trees should always be done according to the instructions provided with the spray. Some sprays require a heavier application than others, and this should be understood before spraying fruit trees. Spraying fruit trees is an important step in ensuring a full, healthy crop of fruit. Without a spray, the tree may become diseased, or the fruit can get infested.

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  10. Planting Perennials

    Assorted Perennials

    Planting perennials requires extra care than planting annuals does. This is due to the nature of the plants themselves. Most flowering perennials will generally not bloom their first season, due to the necessity of strengthening the root system for the coming winter. When planting, many factors must be taking into consideration to ensure long plant life. The first factor to take into consideration is the location. Some perennials can withstand colder winters than others.

    To check which plants can survive in each region, you can look at the plant hardiness zone map. Sunlight and soil conditions must also be taken into consideration. Obtain this information before planting perennials in any location of the garden.

    Perennial Garden

    When planting perennials that are not yet mature, i.e. still in seed form, there are several options. Most nurseries will sell only plants that are already mature, but some gardeners prefer to mature the plants themselves. This can be done by initially growing the plant indoors in a pot or flat. When the plant has grown strong enough, usually six to eight weeks later, it should be transplanted to the final growing site in the garden. Another way is to plant the seed in late June in a shady nursery bed. Mulch should be applied to the plant in the fall to protect it through the long winter. In early spring, it should be transplanted to its final location.

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