r Florida Organic Farming

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

3 Barbados Cherry Trees, Packed With Vitamin C

Barbados cherry tree
Barbados cherry tree

Barbados cherry have are sought after primarily because of the unusually high vitamin C content. Though not popular commercially, it is popular for home gardeners. Unlike other cherry tree varieties it will fruit in warm climates, most cherry trees need 100’s if not 1000 hours of cold to properly ripen. It will start to produce beautiful pinkish red flowers through to fall in the south. You can expect to be picking quarter sized cherries right until November. But can produce up to 5 crops in any given year given it is well cared for and has the right water and soil conditions.

There are only a couple of used types of Barbados cherry trees, the Florida Sweet and B-17 varieties. They are difficult to grow from seed to a tasty fruit, so it is better to look for a clone or graft from existing trees to ensure you get cherries you will actually want to eat. Another method to grow new plants is by air layering, a very simple technique uses a branch from an existing tree to grow a new one.  The Florida Sweet, as its name implies is sweet while the B-17 is more acidic, giving it more vitamin C and have bigger fruit.

Since the Barbados cherry tree is a tropical tree, is doesn't take cold very well. Grow in central Florida and south. They will grow well in various soil type but make sure the soil drains well to prevent against disease. The best time to plant or attempt to grow a new one from an existing tree is in the spring just before the heavy rainy season in Florida. If you are planting a number of them, allow fifteen feet of space between each as they do spread out quite wide.

As with most trees the use of mulch will help in weed control, preserving moisture, and reducing damage from pests. Fertilize at least 4 times per year starting using one quarter to a half pound of 6-6-6-3 for a year old tree. If you have planted before the raining season the water provided naturally with be enough. During the drier fall and winter months you will need to provide water to properly allow it to grow.

Pruning should be done in the fall. Be sure to cut any dead or diseased areas. Of course pruning is as much an art as it is for tree health, so trimming it to fit the look you like or landscape format. You should avoid pruning during the spring as this could hurt the production output. If you have other fruit trees than you probably are familiar with the various types of pests that attack your trees, keep an eye of the tree and spray accordingly with an organic pesticide or herbicide.

You will need to wait for year two to produce a decent amount of cherries with every year the yield increasing. For the home gardener, picking frequently is not unusual but necessary as you never know when fruit will drop. The time between almost done and done is very short, cherries don’t keep well once rip on the cluster. So be sure to pick as they are ready to avoid waste.

Barbados cherry trees have a great number of uses. The tree itself is beautiful enough to be used in landscape plans. Many are familiar with eating ripe cherries but cherries also make for good pie, jams, preserves, jams, and even wine. With an extra high dose of vitamin C, Barbados cherries make for a great addition for any home gardener.

Friday, November 8, 2013

0 Growing Loquat

growing loquat
Loquat Tree

Loquat is a fruit that grows on a tree, it has been known to be grown in Japan dating back to 1000 AD. In the US it has been primarily been used as a landscape plant. Loquat grows well in many soils and in adaptable to a variety of climates. Internationally, China and Spain have the biggest market for the fruit. Many believe that it originates from China and not Japan. The fruit is small, yellowish orange, and taste much like a mango with a citrus twist.

They are grown more like a bush than a tree, though left to their own devices they can grow up to 30 feet tall and produce an equal umbrella.  Loquats are normally bushy, rather dense trees. They have long dark green broad leaves that are suitable to be used in floral arrangements. The tree fruits during late winters when in the appropriate climates, but in cooler climates you will only see the beautiful white blossoms but no fruiting will occur.

Much of the same conditions conducive to growing citrus also work well for loquats. So areas with slightly more acidic soils, subtropical climates where temperatures that do not fall below 30 degrees are prime places for them to grow. Also as with citrus they need to be kept moist almost all the time  for them to grow and fruit properly, if these conditions are not, the fruit will not be sweet and will end up have larger seeds and a thin layer of flesh.

While there are hundreds of cultivars, only a couple dozen are good to grow for fruit. Most other serve well for ornamental use. A common practice in growing loquats is to graft from existing fruit producing trees onto a one year old trimmed trunk. The long leaves will require routine trimming to keep them looking like a landscape plant. If you are not as worried about its ornamental appeal, be sure to leave enough space for them to grow since they grown length to width ration of about one to one ratio. But be sure to trim the interior so the wind can get into the tree, this will help reduce many fungal or other problems you may have.
Although I mentioned they need to have almost constant moisture, once established they are somewhat drought resistant and have a good defense against insects and most disease. However birds can cause large damage to the tree during the fruit ripening period. Fertilize at a rate of one pound per inch of caliper of the trunk, best time to is during the early spring though a small application should be done at every turn of season. Loquat like many trees are pollinated by  bees and other insects.

If all goes well you should see fruit in the 3rd year you should get around 35 pounds of fruit. The fruit can be eaten by hand, used in cooking, or made into jams.  From a nutritional standpoint, loquat has a large number of vitamins and minerals with vitamin A being the highest contributor. It hassis low glycemic indicator and mildly inflammatory.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

1 Growing Blackberries


It is said; the darker the berry, the sweeter the juice. I believe that is the case with the blackberry. They are a perennial and tend to grow very rapidly in season and lie mostly dormant outside of it’s growing season.  There are many great things about growing blackberries aside from the tasty fruit itself. As long as they are in good soil and have something to climb they do very well on their own. There are over 300 different species, with dozens of them having been improved for growing. It shouldn’t be difficult to find a well suited variety no matter where you live.
Mexico is the largest grower of blackberries in the world, Orgegon being the largest producing state in the US. World production of blackberries exceeds 170,000 tons, with about 15K of that being picked from wide blackberry plants. Production has grown by 60% over the last 15 years. Showing how deep the market and demand is for these tasty berries.
Whether you are looking to grow them for home use or thinking of some level of commercial production these are easy to grow. The following recommendations should be followed for success.
1. Planting should be done in the fall for most areas, or in the spring if you live in an area where a freeze may come early.
2. Proper placement should be a key consideration. You want to find a place away from other wild blackberries, as they may have viruses that could kill your new planting. If planting for home use, a fence provides a  wonderful place for them to climb. If you don’t have a fence constructing a trellis will be necessary.
3.  Fertile soil. As with just about anything you might plant soil fertility is important.  Prepare the area ahead of time by clearing out any other growth and adding some fertilizer to it before planting. I would recommend an organic fertilizer mixture as an additive to the soil. Remove the soil where you would plant into a wheelbarrow, add the fertilizer, then put back. I would let it sit for a week or so before actually planting.
4. Keep the area around it clean. Maintenance will be more of a chore if weeds and grass keep growing up around it. Mulch around the based will work well, but small rocks would work better. They never need to be replaced and don’t hold moisture, which can be an enemy.
5. Make sure it is watered regularly, at least in the first few years for home use and forever if you are plan to grow enough to sell the berries or a product derived from the berries. I think most understand this, there are many easy ways to accomplish this today. Many simple and cost effective attachment to a  water spigot will provide timing and water flow controls that make this task easy.

You should expect a decent crop by year 2 and a growing yield over time. Blackberry plants can grow almost indefinitely in length but the yield and quality will suffer. Each fall you should cut back on the stems that look like they are weak. As the plant gets to full maturity, you should keep it 8ft or less to either side to ensure it grows to the best of its ability in yield and quality. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

2 Growing Pomegranate

pomegranate
Pomegranate Fruit

The origins of the Pomegranate can be traced to the middle east, most believe in modern day Iran.  They were grown widely in most of the middle east, which makes sense since they tend to do better in drier climates. Both ancient romans & greeks grew and ate pomegranate. Greek knew it as the fruit of the dead. Ancient Egyptians ascribed prosperity and ambition to the humble pomegranate. They are mentioned in Greek, Hebrew, and Until recently they were were only available seasonally in the US. Some farmers have been growing them in California with good success. Making them available in more stores for longer than in the past.

Pomegranate has in history also been known as beneficial for a healthy life. This fruit according to many nutritional charts contains more than 5% of your daily needs for 9 different vitamins for each 3.5 ounces. With vitamin K registering the highest at 16%. Their fruits are also full of antioxidants. These nutritional benefits have many companies figuring out ways to add them to different types of foods and juices. The medical field has even chimed in by testing the effects of pomegranate juice on cancer, diabetes,  lymphoma, heart disease and many others.

While these may or may not actually prove to be attributable to drinking or eating pomegranate,  you should eat it because it is delicious. It is one of the more unique fruits I have ever eaten. It is both sweet and bitter at the same time, but the most notable aspect of eating a pomegranate is the texture. It is a crunchy jelly mass when you bite into in. Just getting to it is a bit different, you have to scoop it out with a spoon.

I decided one day while at a nursery to buy a pomegranate tree and grow it. The tree is young, maybe a year and a half old. They don’t start to produce till about 3 years old and even then won’t really produce a decent harvest till about 5 years old. They don’t usually grow taller than 10 feet so they are easily maintain, though trimming is required or they look more like a shrub than a tree. Pomegranates are drought resistant and don’t have many diseases that you need to be concerned with. Though of course providing water and fertilizer will of course make for a healthy tree that will produce more quickly. Mine recently got to a size where I could start trimming it to provide a tree like shape. You should only try growing on in zones 7-10 as that is their natural temperature zone. They also do better is loose soil. Both acidic loam soil and alkaline soils work well with this hardy plant. Since they are not that large you can grow them in pots and their flowers are beautiful. I am excited to see how my pomegranate tree turns out and plan to grow new trees from its clipped trimming when it gets larger.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

0 My Version Of Danish Stone Age Bread

Gluten Free Bread
I had never heard of an all nut bread before so when it was first on to me I was intrigued. The recipe seemed very easy and tasty. I had to modify it a bit since a couple of the nuts were not available at my local supermarket. I instead substituted pumpkin seeds and hemp seeds for pecans and macadamia which were readily available. The original recipe also had fruit as an extra but I would say it is a must. The bread will be good without but much better with. The first one i made I brushed butter and sugar on it after it came out, but adding some type of fruit to it before is better and in keeping with the natural raw ingredients recipe.

1 cup raw sunflower seeds
1 cup raw macadamia nuts
1 cup raw walnuts
1 cup raw almonds
1 cup raw pecans
1 cup flax seeds
1/3 cup olive oil
6 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup of prunes
TO MAKE ONE LOAF:
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.
Lightly beat the eggs, oil and salt in a big bowl, add the remaining ingredients, and stir well. I just used a regular loaf pan coated in olive oil. Bake for about one hour and you are done. Wait about 20 minutes before cutting the bread, it will be easier to cut. I ended up eating it for breakfast with my coffee and gave one to a friend. Enjoy!
 

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