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That’s a real time saver for you!

Flowering annuals require much more care and are not ‘time friendly’. But there are some that bloom with little care, nonstop, and others will self-sow and become a

permanent addition to your garden– sometimes, whether you want them to or not— so careful selection of these annuals is important to a beautiful garden as well.

Three Cheers For Annuals!

Gardeners love annuals because they bloom so fully, and the color

is what makes everyone you know stop and wonder, then break

into open applause. A nice feeling for all gardeners - weekend and

otherwise. The essence of an annual is that it germinates from a

seed, growing into a mature plant that flowers, then sets its seed

and finally dies. All this happens in a single growing season.

By removing the fading flowers once they have faded - a chore called deadheading - you can prevent seed formation and the bulbs will just keep flowering. But deadheading is a time consuming task and require six or eight sets of hands scurrying through a large flowering annual bed just to keep up.

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"The Weekend Gardener" by Victor K. Pryles

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Annuals are native to all kinds of climates, from alpine meadows, to low deserts, and some species have preferred weather conditions within these climates, as well. Some are cool-season annuals, favoring spring and fall conditions. Others are warm weather annuals, most hearty in summer heat

For this reason horticulturists have divided annuals into three distinct categories: Tender annuals

Hardy annuals

Half-Hardy annuals

Many seed catalogs code their annuals with these distinctions which can guide you in selection.

Most tender annuals like marigolds and zinnias, hail form regions where summers are hot and winters are mild, even frost free. Cool season tender annuals may need some shade in the South and Southwest, but may still die out when temperatures soar. Usually, tender annuals need a long growing period before they flower. Place them in soil that has fully warmed up, but don’t expect instant flowers; it may be August before you see them.

The best way to go, if you’re intent on seeding with tender annuals is to begin inside your home in late winter and wait until they are large enough to transplant outdoors in the spring after all frost dangers have passed. The easiest (though a bit more expensive) solution is to simply buy the bedding plants at your garden center in late spring. I do this and find the plants are much

healthier and usually already have

Easy Care Annuals

achieved some blooms.

You don’t need time consuming dead-heading for

Cool tolerant hardy annuals can

these annuals to prosper.

withstand some light frost in the

Each of these requires little attention, too!

spring and fall. In many climates,

Begonia (wax begonia)

their seeds will remain through the

winter if you plant in the fall, or if

Browallia speciosa (browallia)

they self sow in your garden, they’ll

geminate early enough to provide

Catharanthus roseus (Madagascar periwinkle)

good floral decoration beginning in

spring or early summer. Here you

Celosia cristata (cockscomb)

can purchase young transplants too.

Cleome hassleriana (cleome, spider flower)

In this category I love Bachelors

button, a lovely blue flower that is a

Impatiens wallerana (inpatients, busy Lizzie)

hardy annual because it defies frost

Lobelia erinus (edging lobelia)

into the fall each year. Another

favorite is love-in-a mist, this

Lobularia maritima ( sweet alyssum)

needle like foliage has circular

Myosotis sylvatica (forget-me-not)

Sanvitalia procumbens (creeping zinnia)

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lavender blue, pink or white flowers and it easily re-seeds.

Neither tender nor hardy, half-hardy annuals tolerate periods of cold in spring and fall, but any frost will cut their lovely lives short. If you sow seed rather than purchase bedding plants, it’s usually best to sow them outdoors after all threat of frost has passed.

Here warm soil is not necessary.

Two of my favorites in this class of half hardy annuals are cosmos, with its satiny pink, wine red, or white daisy like flowers, and the lacy spiderflower, which produces large, wispy heads of pale pink, rose, purple or white blossoms.

Now that we’ve decided on some lovely annuals for our weekend excursions into the backyard of our dreams we’ll take a quick look at those favorite garden flowers: the Biennials.

Those Bang-Up Biennials!

Biennials, like fox-glove, sweet William and forget-me-nots, live

only two years. With this two season life span, biennials get

themselves growing during the first season, but don’t flower or

set seed until the second. Instead of dying back in the fall, they

form a rosette of leaves that hug the ground all winter. Once they

do set seed they usually die (some modern hybrids may live on,

however) and you can help them along by scattering the ripe seed where you’d like them to grow.

Just wait until the flower stalks dry on the stem, and in mid to late summer, shake the seeds onto the ground.

Some seeds may not germinate until the spring after the seed is set; these won’t flower either, until the following year. Some other nice varieties of this type are: Canterbury bells, honesty, Iceland poppy and garden mulleins.

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"The Weekend Gardener" by Victor K. Pryles

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Keep ‘Em Comin’ Perennials

Here’s the mother lode for weekend

gardeners like you and me.

Perennials offer us an easy and

These deep rooted perennials will stay where you

reliable source of flowers year after

put them and grow larger and studier every year.

year, and demand very little effort

Time savers because they don’t require dividing

from the ‘time-strapped’ lover of

and rarely invade their neighbors.

nature. They are hardy, their tops

die down to the ground during

Achillea filipendulina (fernleaf yarrow) Zone 3

winter, but their roots remain alive

Aconitum napellus (common monkshood) Zone 3

and send up new beauty in the

Amsonia tabernaemontana (blue star) Zone 3


Anemone sylvestris (snowdrop anemone) Zone 4

Dicentra spectabilis (bleeding heart) Zone 2

I still love the time when their

Paeonia lactiflora (peony) Zone 2

foliage first peeks out of the ground

Rudbeckia fulgida “Goldstrum’ (Goldstrum

in early spring - all is well with the

Black-eyed Susan) Zone 3

world again and I haven’t had to do

a thing. It’s like Mother Nature

reminding me she can make such wonderful little miracles without my

sweaty brow and strained effort. In fact, two types of perennial I particularly

enjoy are bleeding heart and lung wort which undergo such remarkable

growth spurts you can almost watch them grow every warm spring day.

Another nice feature is that perennials spread their clumps increasing in size

each year. So every few years you will have to dig them up and divide them again but this is a wonderful source of ‘free’ plants for the rest of your garden should you decide to use them. Many grow for over 10 years without you needing to divide them– ideal for weekend dirt throwers–and peonies and poppies can go 50 years! My, that is a lifetime of pleasure and low-maintenance.

Woody perennials do not die to the ground in winter, though some do become dormant.

Their stems and branches are permanent so these are large growing plants - shrubs trees and vines. Some, like heaths, heathers and roses find the flower garden a suitable place to hang out.

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"The Weekend Gardener" by Victor K. Pryles

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Bang Up Bulbs!

Right up there with perennials are

Here are some vigorous bulbs that will increase

those magnificent bulbs! They also

each year but never become weedy:

are ideal for the ‘time squeezed’

Agapanthus spp. (Lily-of-the-Nile) Zone 9

weekend gardener. They are low-

Anemone blanda (windflower) Zone 5

maintenance and will return year

Chionodoxa spp. (Glory-of-the-snow) Zone 4

after year, blooming beautifully

Colchicum autumnale (autumn crocus) Zone 5

with very little care.

Crocus spp. And hybrids (crocuses) Zone 5

Fritillaria melagris (checkered lily) Zone 4

Early bulbs like crocuses,

Galanthus elwesii (giant snowdrop) Zone 4

snowdrops and glory-of-the-snow

G. nivalis (common snowdrop) Zone 4

make you happy in late winter and

Hyacinthoides hispanicus (Spanish bluebell)

very early spring. Bulbs come up,

Zone 4

usually, well before perennials even

Iris danfordieae Zone 5

start to wake up and one of the joys

Muscari spp. (Grape hyacinths) Zone 2-4

of each spring, for me, is seeing

Narcissus spp and hybrids (daffodils, jonquils and

these come to life as if Mother

narcissi) Zones 4-6

Nature were reminding me she is

Sternbergia lutea (winter daffodil, lily-of-the-

quite capable of delivering joy to

field) Zone 7

the world without any effort on my


The bulb remains dormant much of the year, usually presenting foliage and flowers for only a few months. Dying bulbs can be somewhat unattractive, but don’t remove them until they are turned yellow or the bulb won’t be able to store enough nourishment for the next growth cycle. If you carefully design your flower beds you can disguise, and draw attention away from these dying bulbs.

Bulbs, like annuals and perennials, can be tender or hardy. You will only

make for extra work if you plant tender bulbs in a colder climate. Instead,

make sure you make choices that match the best climate zone for your bulbs.

Where bulbs find the climate to their liking, many, including daffodils, grape

hyacinths, and crocuses will spread over the years into great clumps and

drifts. You can leave them alone or divide and separate them to plant

elsewhere. This offers you a great source of ‘free’ plants each year, too!

Roses, Oh! Roses

I’ve got to tell you, fellow weekender, this is the most thorny issue of

all! No pun intended, but if you have to have roses in your weekend

garden, then God bless you. Of the hundreds of flowers that you could

plant in your flower garden, none are more beloved or demanding

than roses. They inspire poets and lovers, but these woody plants

require so much care that I’d like to tell you—“forget it!”

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But you are probably the kind of gardener that just can’t imagine a flower garden without this magnificent, specialized delight. Let me just say this: avoid the temperamental modern roses—though their blossoms are heavenly, they will continually disappoint you.

Let’s look at one kind of rose you can work with if you must— shrub roses. These are a species or old time hybrids that you can work with on weekends, — if you insist. There is

‘Bonica’, ‘Ferdy’ ‘White Meidiland’, and ‘Scarlet Meidiland’ which spread along the ground to make flowering groundcover and effective specimens in a flowering bed or can be grown as a flowering hedge.

Before I tell you more about these wonderful roses, how difficult they are in terms of climactic and locale, I’ll tell you a story:

My mother, from whom I’ve learned all my gardening techniques, had worked long and hard with roses here in New England (a northern climate) and once had her mother, my grandmother visit. Grandma Bonnie was from Georgia— a great southern locale that could grow roses in a completely different climate than up north.

She felt it was customary to cut these rose bushes back, deeply back - to make them grow fully. This is one of the great memories I have as a child as my mother came home one day to see her delicate, highly difficult rose bushes desiccated by this action. How my mother ever forgave my dear ‘Granny Bonnie’ I’ll never know! It must have been love.

Roses in particular climates react so very differently than any other plant I can think of.

They are so delicate by nature that what works in one locale, will absolutely not work in another.

Now I must say a couple of things here. These shrub roses I mentioned are really the only alternative for northern climates. They bloom repeatedly, forming new branches and producing more blossoms— even if you don’t cut off the faded blossoms (deadhead), as is necessary with “modern” roses.

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"The Weekend Gardener" by Victor K. Pryles

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The second is that roses are so

marvelously intricate that, as a

weekender, I suggest you leave

them for the end of your flowering

Weekend gardeners who would rather spend their

garden planning— as a last

precious weekends with their hands in the dirt

experiment at adding beauty and

instead of shopping will find mail order

joy to your garden. Believe me,

perennials a God Send!

they are like dating a debutante or a

Pick a color scheme, choose a catalog and

rich prince— entirely too much

compare prices. Order the exact plants needed

attention is required to make your

and do it on a bleak January day when you don’t

beginning romance with a flower

have a single demand from your garden outside.

garden worthwhile.

You’ll save money (compared to your local

nursery) - but just remember they may be smaller

and perhaps won’t blossom the first year. But the

The Season Long Bloom

easy part of perennials is that once they do get

going - they stay going.

In general, perennials, those every

day plants you must use as a weekender, create less of a show than the more demanding annuals, and so much less than the prima donna roses. Most blooms are about two weeks a year during a specified season, yet some perennials may bloom as long as 4-6 weeks.

That’s flowering you can enjoy!

If you mix annuals with your flowering perennials, the scenario is excellent. Come early spring, all you have to do is pull the protective mulch back from the perennial, clean leftover litter and leaves - and you’re set!

Use annuals to perk up your flower garden but depend on perennials to be your mainstay.

This gives you a season long blooming with little effort. The annuals provide much color and the perennials fill in the foliage to make your garden a true delight with low-maintenance.

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"The Weekend Gardener" by Victor K. Pryles

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Color In The Flower

Grow these in an orderly cutting garden and


you’ll harvest arm loads of beauty to transport

into your home.

Being creative with color is what

making a flower garden is all about.


Making a stunning color theme is a

Antirrhinum majus (snapdragon)

challenge. Try to select neighboring

Calendula officinalis (calendula, pot marigold)

plants whose flower colors

Callistephus chinensis (China aster)

complement each other if they

Celosia cristata (cockscomb)

bloom at the same times and

Centaurea cineraria (dusty miller)

overlap. For instance, try to overlap

Cleome hassleriana (spiderflower)

white flowers, such as meadow

Papaver spp. (Poppies)

phlox or Shasta daisy with silvery

gray foliage plants like “Silver


Mound’ artemisia and Silver

Convallaria majolis (lily-of-the-valley)

Mound. Always separate and soften

Lilium spp. And hybrids (lilies)

bright color combinations so they

Narcissus spp. And hybrids (daffodils, jonquils

don’t clash. Remember, you can

and narcissi)

move plants around to make them

Tulipa spp. And hybrids (tulips)

fit your color idea. Just wait until

spring or fall to do the



Achillea filipendulina (yarrow)

Aster hybrids (aster)

Chrysanthemum (garden chrysanthemum)

Coreopsis lanceolata (lance leaf coreopsis)

Taking The Outside Inside

Dicentra spectabilis (common bleeding heart)

It’s a real joy to grow flowers that

you can cut and enjoy indoors. Regrettably, this all too often leaves the flower garden bare. The simple answer is a cutting garden whose only purpose is to provide you with a supply of cut flowers that you can use to bring beauty into your home.

The majority of flowers in a cutting garden should be annuals, because these bloom profusely and keep on producing flowers as you cut off the fresh ones. Of course, annuals are heavy feeders and need to be replanted every year, so a cutting garden can easily turn into a high-maintenance garden if you aren’t careful. Keep your cutting garden small and design it with ease of care in mind.

Locate it out of site, since a harvested cutting garden can many times look rather thread bare. However, don’t hide it from the sun! It will need an average of at least 6 hours of sunlight to prosper. If you don’t have any ‘hideaways’ and must place it in plain view, try enclosing it with a low picket fence, or a garden wall.

It’s best to plant your flowers in a row, just as you would in a vegetable garden, leaving enough space in between so you can harvest them easily. In the next chapter we’ll be The Weekend Gardener by Victor K. Pryles

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looking closely at vegetable gardens, but for now, remember that many of the techniques and ideas in that chapter will stand in good stead with a cutting flower garden, as well. In fact, you may wish to “double up” your vegetable garden and cutting garden into one piece of landscape.

Enjoy the Loveliness Of Your Care Free Flower Garden

We’ve all seen the miraculous, highly sophisticated flower gardens in parks and botanical gardens— and wonder at them with a tinge of envy. However, the smaller, homeier

backyard flower garden on your little plot of earth should fill you with special wonder too!

You’ll have created, with your own hands, a flower garden that will allow the same bright sunlight to shine through translucent flower petals, allowing the same sense of peace and joy that those magnificent public gardens allow. Just because it’s on a smaller scale and can’t compete with the many professional landscapers that attack en masse, spending many thousands of dollars and man hours, shouldn’t cause any envy at all.

You see, you now have a care free flower garden — and your weekends too!

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"The Weekend Gardener" by Victor K. Pryles

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Chapter 4: Delicious Weekend Vegetable Gardens

There is nothing, absolutely nothing to compare with garden fresh

vegetables and produce. You simply can’t beat the fresh taste which

literally explodes onto your taste buds. Even the vegetables you get at

the local farmers’ market, though delightful, still take longer to get from

full production and picking to your table. And supermarket vegetables,

well let’s be kind and just say they just don’t compare. Not so with your

own veggie garden. You snap a pea, pull an ear of corn, uproot some

beets and - bang! - they are at your table full of vitamins and minerals and bursting with delirious, succulent flavor.

My only word of caution as we enter this enticing world is to make sure you plan to produce only what you really can consume. Making a large garden that’s 1,000 square feet for a family of four (or even five and six) is just going to be a time consuming event.

Think of gardening as recreation, and grow what you really enjoy - not every vegetable in the catalog.

I don’t want you bending down on hands and knees tending a garden that will force you to harvest with an army of workers, sending you on neighborhood jaunts begging folks to take some vegetables from your garden. Don’t get me wrong, you can be just as

generous, hand out plenty of ‘freebies’ to friends and neighbors and still plan a garden that makes sense.

Besides growing a carefully chosen selection of favorites, you should plan on the perfect weekend crops - perennial vegetables. Once you’ve prepared your soil and planted, you’ll have asparagus, rhubarb, and other perennial vegetables coming up year after year. That’s smart!

In this chapter I’ll give you ways to produce large yields in small spaces. We’ll look at what’s called intensive gardening, renewing every year, making the bed, making an efficient bed garden, some crop tactics, selecting the best vegetables and bringing plants to harvest. Getting hungry, already? Then let’s get started.

Intensive Gardening

The best way to get going with your backyard vegetable garden is to cultivate using intensive gardening techniques, which can produce large yields in small places. The process can be boiled down to two practices: creating a rich, abundant soil, and spacing plants in beds instead of rows.

Much of the back breaking chores involved in food gardening can be greatly reduced through intensive gardening simply because you’ve got a smaller piece of land to work on. Less ground to tend - a smaller garden - means less weeding, water, fertilizing, mulch and even the time it takes to walk through and harvest your garden properly.

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Growing plants close to each other allows them to shade the ground, reducing

evaporation from the soil and discouraging weeds. Let’s begin with the soil.

Step One- The Soil

Intensive gardening requires fluffy, nutrient rich soil. Without great soil vegetables, planted closely together, compete with each other for meager provisions, and everybody loses. Especially you, the weekend gardener.

If you’re beginning a new food garden please realize that the effort put into preparing the soil first off, will pay big dividends for years to come. Dig and loosen the garden soil as deeply as possible, and turn in organic matter.

Intensive gardening requires what is called ‘double digging’ - and it’s none too easy. But the result is a loose, deep, fertile soil that water and roots penetrate easily. So put the time and effort into double digging that soil fully first, especially if you have soil that isn’t too good to begin with, like that which is light and sandy, heavy and high in clay, or compacted from being walked or driven on.

Regardless of the kind of soil you are faced with always incorporate nutrients and organic matter each year before planting.

Yearly Chores

I know you’re probably out of breath from the double digging right now, but here’s some good news. You don’t have to do this every year. Some gardeners double dig each year before planting and it’s just not necessary - especially with raised bed gardening, where the soil won’t be compacted from walking or machinery. If the soil is sandy or high in clay content, you might want to double dig, adding some organic matter for the first several years only, until you get the texture you want. Thereafter, all you need to do is work nutrients into the topsoil and take a soil analysis to check it out before planting.

Making The Bed

Now that you’ve done some double digging and have fluffy bed and incorporated what feels like huge amounts of organic matter into it you’ll discover that the bed has increased significantly in volume. The soil you’ve dugout up will rise above ground level to form a noticeable mound, which is why it is called a raised bed, whether it has sides constructed to hold the soil in place or not. By creating raised beds, separated by permanent walks, none of the precious soil that you’ve created from the sweat of your brow will be walked on carelessly or lost in rows between your crops.

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The easiest way to begin a bed garden is with sloping earth on the sides. However, beds which are boxed in with boards, railroad ties or other construction material have many advantages over mounded beds. One is erosion proofing, ensuring the soil will not wash away. Raised beds with constructed sides are often higher than just mounded beds, so they warm up even sooner and drain much better.

If you currently have a row garden, you can transform it fairly easily into a raised garden bed. Lay out a pattern of beds and walks within the existing plot. Mark the corners of the new beds with stakes, then string a cord along the outlines of the beds. Shovel out some of the soil from the paths and toss it into the beds. Double dig if you wish. Next, work out with rotted manure, compost, grass clippings or peat into the soil in the beds. Cover the paths with wood chips, shredded leaves, gravel, or some paving of your choice to keep out weeks and mud.

Designing Your Bed

I’m going to make you an efficiency expert with the ideas in this section. Saving time on your weekend vegetable garden, like all the rest of your plans to beautify your yard should be accomplished with ‘time saving’ in mind. That can happen here if you design your layout with some forethought.

Large beds may use every inch of the soil to the max, but tending and harvesting large beds wastes time with many unneeded steps— you’ll find yourself constantly traipsing down one side, then another and around again to simply grab a hoe, or pick a pepper, or yank out a weed. All that walking uses up time and energy.

Most seasoned raised bed gardeners recommend beds no wider than 3 ½ to 4 feet, but if you have nice long arms you can push it out to 5 feet away and wide. Reaching into the middle of these beds from either side becomes more manageable. The best length for the beds is usually between 20 and 30 feet, though shorter lengths will do just fine. Just keep in mind my earlier advice to make the garden no bigger than what you intend to consume.

Vegetables require full sun— ideally 6 hours of direct light a day— and they will produce very nicely at this level. So plan on a sunny spot, and be sure to arrange the plants so that don’t shade each other. Take the tallest crops, like corn, on the north side of the garden, where the shadows will fall outside the garden beds.

The width of the paths between the beds can vary, but be generous so you’ll have plenty of room to maneuver. Paved paths with bricks, concrete pavers, or porous concrete give the garden a year round structure and loveliness which need little care once set.

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How To Select Vegetables

All tomatoes are not created equal -

With lack of sunny days, weeds and bugs no one

and neither are many other

said vegetable gardening was going to be easy.

vegetables like peppers, cabbages,

But you can play it smart and make it work by

onions etc. Cultivars of each

following these tactics:

vegetable can be so different that




it’s sometimes hard to believe that

Select short-season crops and cultivars,

they are related at all.

especially in northern climates

If you sit in your arm chair to do

Rotate crops from year to year to avoid

your shopping with a number of

perpetuating disease and insect problems

seed catalogs in your lap, the

Maximize garden space and increase

choices can seem overwhelming. Of

productivity by growing crops on vertical

course, you can simply choose to


plant whatever your local garden

Grow no more than your family can eat

center happens to be offering in any

fresh and for which you have time to cultivate.

particular spring season and be


short-season with long season

done with it. But shopping for the


perfect combination of cultivars is a

Stagger plantings of the same vegetable so

very pleasant winter activity that

the crop doesn’t ripen all at once.

you can enjoy indoors during your

Install appropriate bird, insect, and animal

leisure hours out of the garden.

deterrents and repellents.

Use a mulch to retain soil moisture and

Here’s a helpful tip. If your

deter weeds

vegetables have been hard hit by

Apply 1 inch of water a week if rainfall

certain insects or diseases most seed

isn’t sufficient.

catalogs, plant tags and seed

When you harvest a crop, fill the bare spot

packets indicate disease resistance,

with a quick maturing transplant, an annual

often by code. Examples include:

flower, or mulch - don’t let weeds colonize

expose soil.

A (anthracnose-resistant)

B (blight-resistant)

BM (blue-mold resistant)

BW (bacterial wilt-resistant) DW (downy mildew resistant)

F (fusarium-resistant) HB (halo-blight resistant)

M (mosaic virus-resistant)

N (nematode-resistant)

RR (root-rot resistant) S (scab resistant)

V (verticillium-resistant)

Y (yellow virus-resistant)

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Grow crops that are known to do well where you live and you’ll avoid disappointment.

Magazines are full of stories of people bragging about how they were able to succeed with a vegetable garden that may never grow in your area of Missouri. Remember, you’re a weekender— so choose fuss free vegetables.

Harvesting Vegetable Plants

I’m sure you’d like to have your produce ready - when you are! Not whenever IT decides to come to fruition and be picked. To accomplish this there are two things you must know: the average last frost date in spring and the average first frost date in fall for the part of the world you live in. The number of days directly between these two dates remain the length of your growing season. It also determines which crops you can and cannot grow.

Seed catalogs and plant tags list the number of days until a plant reaches maturity. These numbers are used as averages; in reality, it varies, depending on local weather and climate.

Where the growing season is short, go for quick-to-mature cultivars of vegetables that normally take a longer time to ripen; avoid those that need long, hot growing seasons.

Melons, for instance, can produce in northern climates but their production is limited by a shorter growing season and their sweetness is reduced by cool or cloudy weather.

Selecting seeds from a catalog that specializes in vegetables from your part of the country is the best idea. If you live in the far north, a catalog aimed at northern gardeners will offer cultivars that mature early and produce reliable harvests for that climate. Southern gardeners on the other hand, can find catalogs featuring the best heat-resistant and slow to mature cultivars. These also help in finding cultivars that are insect and disease resistant on a local level.

Weekend Vertical Gardening

There a lots of reasons to try vertical gardening instead of flat horizontal beds in your vegetable cornucopia out in the back yard! For one thing you save space; for instance, a standard watermelon can take up about 100 square feet of garden space - but, by

encouraging vining crops like cucumbers, beans, squash, and melons to grow on trellises, fences or poles, they will take up minimal ground space and they even tend to yield better crops this way.

Vertically grown plants tend to bask in the sun all day, high above other plants in your garden and they have plenty of energy for producing the best crops possible.

A strong trellis will always do for lightweight crops like peas, but you’ll need something sturdier for heavy plants like melons. You’ll find about as many types of trellises and The Weekend Gardener by Victor K. Pryles

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vertical structures used to hold up crops as you will different tastes at any given dinner table for the wonderful vegetables you harvest. A tepee of bamboo stakes that are 2X2, or wire mesh, folding A-frames, and dozens more - strings from an overhead structure are ideal for pea growing - once the peas are harvested, the withering vines can be cut down, strings and all and chucked into the compost heap. How convenient!

If your garden is fenced in, the fence can double as a vertical growing place. A chain link or split rail fence faced with hardware cloth or chicken wire keeps out small animals and serves as a bang up trellis for twining crops to climb. A fence offers good support for crops of heavy melons too.

Tomatoes may be easier to grow if they’re simply left to sprawl on the ground, but the harvest isn’t ever as good. Fruits are too susceptible to rotting and attack by slugs and other pests when grown on the ground, as well. By tying tomatoes to strong wooden stakes or by placing them in cages, (which I highly recommend because cages require so little work) no new growth has to be weaned from the plant and it stays in-bound during the season. Just get the largest cages possible and remember they are easily placed, stacked up and stored after the growing season has ended in winter.

Finally, keep in mind that plants moving UP in the world will always cast a shadow, so don’t put them on the south side of the garden— the north side is better. However, in hot climates, the shade cast by a trellis can be a big helper to heat sensitive crops like lettuce and spinach.

You know, the trellises, poles, and vertical growth patterns add a nice visual appeal to your vegetable garden too. That’s a nice bonus to these sturdy garden helpers.

Spacing Crops For Weekenders

A good rule in spacing your plants in a garden bed is to move them closer than in a conventional garden. You aren’t growing them in rows, but in a mass planting within the bed. A good rule of thumb is to check the instructions on the seed packet, or plant tag. It will recommend let’s say, “space plant 6 inches apart in rows 18 inches apart” - ignore the row part of the instructions and note only the spacing within the row. In this case, 6

inches away from each neighboring plant.

Not only does this spacing maximize your gardening area, it minimizes your hoeing chores. You just hoe up and down between young plants and you’re done. The entire bed is usually within the hoe’s reach this way. A couple of steps, a swipe or two with the hoe to chop off weeds and voila’— a nice easy rake up for the time starved weekender. Of course, later the closely spaced plants get larger and shade out most sprouting weeds for you, as the season progresses!

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Vegetable Roommates

Some plants just get along famously. They make good neighbors to each

other, not just because they are alike, but because they are so different. They

cohabit successfully because each has different needs. You can plant

vegetables that are quick to germinate and early to mature alongside slower

ones. Root vegetables share space well with leafy vegetables - one takes up

the soil space while the other occupies the air space - rather like you do

when you place bunk beds in a room. Other examples are lettuce with

carrots and spinach with onions.

Leafy greens, which can tolerate and sometimes even need a bit of shade, may be nudged under taller crops like tomatoes or peppers. Any vegetable with tall, skinny tops, like onions, can be coupled with vegetables that are low with spreading foliage like

cucumbers. It all adds up to efficient use of space. For ages gardeners have inter-planted radish with carrots. Sown together in the same row the radishes break the ground, allowing the slower, more fragile carrot seedlings to follow.

Keep ‘Em Moving Crop Rotation

By rotating crops within your bed you never grow the same crop in the same place year after year. This rotation helps prevent a buildup of insects and disease organisms in a permanent raised bed. Crops like cabbage and its relatives, as well as plants in the nightshade family, such as tomato, eggplant, pepper, and potato, are especially vulnerable to these bad buildups and should always occupy new space next growing season.

This also helps you to prevent depleting the soil of nutrients. A general rotation rule says to begin with fruiting plants, replace with leafy plants and follow these with root crops.

You always should enrich the soil with legume. If you have heavy feeders ( cole crops, cucurbits, corn, and tomatoes) follow them with legumes (peas, beans, and peanuts) that fix nitrogen levels and can thus improve soil fertility.

Overwhelmed? OK. Just remember to simply alternate root crops with leafy or fruiting crops - it’s better than not rotating at all.

Small gardens (like the one I suggested in the beginning of this chapter for you to adopt) can be mighty testing with this issue of rotation. Juggling your crops around and still trying to do all the other things like placing stalked plants on one side of the garden for sunlight and shade - can have you pulling your hair out in no time. So I don’t want you to lose sleep over this issue.

Just enjoy the process, you’re a weekender and if you plant carrots where the beats were last year it’s not the end of the world. One thing that’s extra easy is to simply keep an eye on your plants. If the cabbage got struck by a disease this year just don’t plant it in the same location next season. One good resource for identifying diseases is Rodale’s Garden Insect, Disease, and Weed Identification Guide by Miranda Smith and Anna The Weekend Gardener by Victor K. Pryles

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Carr. They provide control recommendations. Just remember to remove stricken plants right away along with any debris around them - throw them away -don’t compost them and plan on replacing them with resistant cultivars.

Coming Back For Seconds And Thirds And..

Some plants just love to be harvested. The more you pick them clean the more they produce. Or look at it this way; if they are allowed to mature fully they will stop producing. Snap bean, lima bean, and pea plants produce more pods if picked regularly while young. Summer squash will keep a mighty plentiful bargain with you, right up until frost sets in as long as the young fruits are picked. Most surprising of all are the cole crops, like cabbage and broccoli. Don’t pull the cabbage from the ground at harvest time

- cut it just above ground level, leaving a stub and the roots right in the ground. Then cut an X in the stub head - you know what? It will produce several more heads for you. With broccoli, don’t uproot the plant either. Side shoots will spout, and each will produce a small head.

Those Everlasting Perennial Crops

Perennial vegetables were tailor made for weekend gardeners like you and me.

Just be patient because some may take several seasons to get well enough

established to produce high yields, but have no fear, once they start delivering

produce they do it in bucket loads and with very little care needed from you.

Try rhubarb and asparagus, but also perennial onions, Jerusalem artichoke, and

sorrel. Once established all of these will produce for years with little care, and all but the asparagus and rhubarb, will provide good harvests in the first year, too.

It’s best to give perennial vegetables their own area of the garden, because they might get injured by working the soil each time you plant or remove other annual crops. Try and combine them in a bed just for perennial vegetables— rhubarb and asparagus are

traditionally planted together; one lined up behind the other so the taller asparagus compliments the lower growing rhubarb plants. Jerusalem artichoke can spread pretty widely so place it where you can control its growth. Perennial onions will grow just about anywhere there is full sun. Other perennials that are used for greens grow joyfully together side by side, making salad picking easy as all get out!

Keep this area happy by replenishing the soil in fall and spring. Just work in a couple of inches of rotted manure or compost to the top layer of soil.

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One final word about vegetables

and Old Man Jack Frost. Savvy

weekend gardeners know that a

light frost needn’t spell disaster in

Problem: A large vegetable garden requires too

Fall if you know to be prepared.

much heavy lifting and hard work.

Cover your plants, especially the

Quick Fix: Scale down the size of the garden and

tender crops, with an overnight

plant it closely in beds, which will shade out

covering. You can use anything

weeds, rather than constructing it in rows. Mulch

light, even shower curtains! I’ve

heavily to prevent weeds from invading young

staked them over tomatoes plants in

vegetable plants.

a few short minutes and covered

sprawling vining plants too. Old

blankets work fine, too. Just make sure you place stakes down to keep the fabric off the plants. Remove in the morning.

This chapter doesn’t cover all the many vagaries of vegetable gardening. I’d have to write a whole other book to cover the many different ways that all the vegetables available could make their way to your dinner table. But I’m quite happy to know that the

adventure this kind of garden can provide you, will be one that will last a lifetime. Your dining will never be the same once your family tastes the succulent freshly picked vegetables from your very own backyard cornucopia. - Bon Apetit!

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Chapter 5: Fruits Made Easier

The whole thrust of this chapter is to show you, the inveterate

weekend gardener, how to grow more fruit with less work.

No one will argue with the fact that home-grown, tree ripened fruits (

like vegetables, sans the trees) taste better than anything you can buy,

anywhere at anytime. But let me start with a word of outright caution.

If you’re a beginner, or if you’re time starved (and that’s probably why you bought this book to begin with) then stick with small fruits and forget about accruing fruit trees that can really make for hard, intensive, time consuming labor.

Now, let’s get to the two top producing, easiest and most prolific of the small fruits. A great place to begin is with blueberries and Fall raspberries. Right behind these two low-maintenance staples are bush berries, currants, and gooseberries.

Next up the ladder, and considered moderate maintenance fruits are summer raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries.

At the top of the maintenance ladder, high-maintenance that is, are: citrus, grapes, cherries, pears, apples, peaches, plums and quince.

In this chapter I’ll tell you in detail how to best grow easy-care, and moderate-care fruits.

You’ll learn how to select the right cultivars for your climate and I’ll throw in a warning about the pitfalls in growing each type of fruit. We want a great harvest, and as little work as possible - a theme that stretches the length and breadth of this book.

Before we begin, let me remind you that your local Extension service is a great place for information about cultivars best adapted to your area and climate. Now, are you ready to get fruity with me?

Blueberries: The Friendliest Of All

They are foolproof and can’t be beat as a home-grown fruit. It’s a perfect

crop for weekend gardeners because the bushes need very little pruning,

and that pruning requires almost no skill. These little blue buttons of joy

are a weekender’s nicest friend. The Blueberry bush doesn’t need to be

trained or trellised, and it is no trouble warding off insects and diseases. The ripe fruits keep well on the bush, which helps us weekenders, who can only check things out

periodically— like on the weekends! Ripe strawberries and bramble fruits wouldn’t last from one weekend to another— but these Blueberries always do, unless the birds beat you to it!

There are three main types of Blueberries that can be cultivated— highbush, rabbiteye, and the often called half-high blueberries, which are hybrids. Each performs best in different climates. At least one type or another will flourish from USDA plant hardiness The Weekend Gardener by Victor K. Pryles

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Zones 3-10 in any garden where the soil requirements can be met. A fine bonus is that all three are attractive shrubs that can double as landscape plants in hedges, borders, and foundation plantings. Blueberry flowers are white, bell shaped, and resemble Lili-of-the-Valley; foliage gleams nicely and is dark in summer and dark red in fall. Even in barren winter these bushes put out a nice reddish cast.

You’ll love these new found friends even more when you realize they can be kept well in a refrigerator if stored unwashed, but they do freeze up easily so always pop them, unwashed, into jars or those commercial freezer bags (like Zip Lock) and then place them in the freezer. Use them in muffins, pancakes, cobblers, and pies - mmm, yummy!

How To Care For Blueberries- The Basics

Now that you realize that Blueberries are very trouble free fruits, as long as they are grown in the proper soil, sit back and enjoy them because they will greet you year after year.

Blueberries require soil that is quite acidic - between pH 4.5 and 5.5 - and highly organic.

Clay soil or alkaline soil spells death for these all purpose fruit plants. A pH higher than 5.8 may cause nutrient deficiencies, reducing growth and yellow foliage. Any higher and you may kill the plant itself. Rabbiteye blueberries can tolerate slightly less acid soil- up to pH 6.0 if the soil is improved with peat.

Perform a soil test first, before you plant blueberries to see if the pH range is within tolerance. If the soil is not acid

enough, you can lower the pH

sufficiently by working in a lot of

Most of us weekenders don’t pay much attention

acid peat. Dig a large, wide planting

to pH in our gardens. But blueberries are finicky

hole and refill with a mixture of

about this natural balancing of the soil. You

half native soil and half sphagnum

don’t need to waste money on expensive soil

peat moss, which is very acid. You

testing equipment , a simple roll of pH paper

can lower pH by adding elemental

from a scientific supply house can be used. Just

sulphur to the soil.

mix a soil sample with enough distilled water to

get a thick substance and dip in the paper. The

paper turns color according to the soils pH.

Planting And Feeding

If you don’t get a reading that matches the

tolerance level of your Blueberries (pH 4.5 to 4.8)


you can lower it by adding wettable ground

sulphur (from any garden center) to the soil, or by

If the soil is now up to snuff, plant

incorporating organic material such as acid peat

the blueberries where they will

moss or oak-leaf mold.

receive at least 6 hours of sunlight a

Pull the pH paper out every year and do a test

day. Space high bushes types 4-6

just to check to see if you soil needs some

feet apart in rows that must be 10


feet apart, rabbiteye 10 feet apart in

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rows 15 feet apart, and half-highs 2-3 feet apart in rows 5 feet apart. Cover the soil with a 6 inch layer of organic mulch or compost. Keep this moist and undisturbed.

When these plants are content they are highly productive and may take up to eight full years to reach their peak. You can look for a mature bush to produce 4-10 quarts of blueberries over its 4-week long season. So you don’t need a lot of these bushes to come away with loads of fine blueberries to eat up!

Another good tip is to remove all flowers for the first two years after planting to encourage strong vegetative growth. Simply slide your fingers along the branches and rub off the flowers buds when they begin to open. You can begin harvesting the third year.

The actual nutritional needs of blueberries are low. All they want is a yearly application of 3 ounces of usable nitrogen in the form of cottonseed meal, blood meal, or soybean meal each spring. An inch of water a week and renew the mulch every year. Pretty simple care— that’s why blueberries are a favorite friend of mine!

Pruning Blueberries

Just a little pruning goes a long way with blueberries. Actually, the high-bush and half-highs you won’t need to prune at all except for dead branches during the first six-to eight years. After that just saw off the oldest stems at ground level.

Rabbiteye blueberries need a bit more tending so the berries don’t ripen out of reach.

Prune lightly each year during the dormant season. All you need to do is remove the tops of tall canes, thin out older interior growth and remove low twigs that are shaded and unproductive.

Finally, don’t be too eager to pick your blueberries too soon. They turn blue a few days to a full week before they should be taken; the central berries of a cluster ripen first. Ripe blueberries fall right into your hand when brushed slightly. Unripe blueberries have a red ring around the bud scar. The slight waxy covering is an important reason blueberries are such tough little guys, so be glad for it. Just wash them clean when you are ready to consume them.

Scrumptious Strawberries

Did you know that Strawberries have a kind of internal biological

clock that ticks away the length of days as the seasons pass? They set

flowers and fruit in response to day length, and the three major types

of strawberries are divided accordingly.

June bearing strawberries, for instance begin flowering in late spring in the North, and fruits ripen about a month later— in June or July. These are single crop plants that give The Weekend Gardener by Victor K. Pryles

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us fruit for about three or four weeks, there are early-, mid-, and late-season cultivars from which to choose. The shortening days of fall trigger the plants to set flower buds, which remain dormant over the winter and provide the flowering season’s crop.

Ever bearing strawberries have been brought to us by science. These produce a large crop in June, scattered berries in summer, and a smaller crop in late August. Before you get any flowering or fruit, ever bearers must have days that are slightly longer than those that trigger June bearing strawberries. Although the early summer crop arises from flower buds formed the proceeding fall, as days shorten after the summer solstice more flowers buds form. These produce what we all like, fruit in late summer or early fall. Ever bearers are especially productive in northern climates where summer days are long. The total harvest is much less than for June bearers, but the harvest is spread out over a longer period of time.

Not too long ago, the University of California and the USDA designed a new cultivar that actually does bear fruit practically nonstop. These ‘day-neutral’ berries produce plowers and berries on continuous 6 week cycles, unaffected by day length, making them pretty close to really being ‘ever-bearing’. They are unusually productive and will produce fruit from June through October in northern areas; January through August in mild climes.

Day neutrals have become so popular and bear such fruit that the older ever bearing types are losing favor with both home gardeners and the commercial market growers.

Add one up for science joining mother nature!

But nothing is perfect. Be forewarned, - as good as these day-neutrals sound they require a lot of pampering. They are small and fragile so weeds can quickly destroy them and they are more sensitive to heat and drought. Moreover, you must harvest berries

throughout the season so older spoiled ones don’t spread any disease throughout the plant.

That’s why, even though these new miracle cultivars are fast outrunning ever bearers in popularity for weekenders like us, the good old ever bearers remain my recommendation.

You get two good sized harvests that, to me, are easier to deal with than one giant June bearing crop or the day neutral’s season long picking requirement.

Whoa! Strawberry Stampede!

Strawberries can really run rampant if not managed properly. Their growth pattern leads to most of the intensive work on this fruit. They can reproduce aggressively by sending out runners from the main crown. These runners root at the tips, forming smaller plants.

Each of these in turn sends out their own runners. So, it’s easy to see things can get out of hand quickly if you don’t manage growth with strawberries. Just as with plants, day length plays a large role in growth. Long days stimulate June bearers to produce runners.

Ever bearers produce fewer runners, because some of their energy goes into producing their late-season harvest rather than the runners. Day-neutral strawberries produce the fewest runners.

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There are three traditional ways to manage strawberries— the hill, matted row, and spaced row systems. All of them are predicated on how the runners are handled.

Additionally different kinds of strawberries respond differently to each method.

In the hill system, plants are spaced fairly close and all runners are removed. The matted row system is just the opposite with the plants spaced farther apart and runners are left to grow as they will; the smaller plants that result just fill in the spaces between the parent plant. The spaced row system is a compromise: A few runners are left on each plant and allowed to form smaller plants. These are then moved physically and pinned down so the plantlets are spaced evenly around the parent plant; any subsequent runners are pinched off.

All three systems require some work, there’s just no getting around it. With the hill system you’ve got to keep an eye open for runners several times a week so you can remove them, especially on long summer days. The matted row method is easy, and

produces berries for up to three years depending on the strength of the plant itself but there is a ‘crowding’ issue with this. They can bunch together so much that mold and mildew form. Half the bed in a matted row should always be removed every year to

promote productivity. The spaced row system might seem the least ‘work intensive’ of the group but, not really. Making the decisions on which plants to keep and which to discard and then deciding which to pin down, can frustrate any weekend gardener that’s short on time.

Here’s the breakdown on each cultivar and which management system works best for

them and you:

The best deal for June bearers is the matted row. Begin by spacing 25 plants about 18 to 24 inches apart in four or five 10 foot long rows. Each row should be 4 feet apart. The second summer after planting, immediately after the harvest is finished, set your lawn mower blade to about 2 ½ inches and mow the entire bed. Rake out any debris to show the unshorn crowns of the strawberry plants. Then narrow the width of rows to 12 inches by tilling under the plants on the edges. A small rotary tiller works best for this. This is a great time to add some more manure for nitrogen content, too. Now just water the bed and mulch the plants. For the rest of the summer the remaining plants will vigorously produce runners and a great crop the following year.

The best route to take with Ever bearing plants is the hill method, since mid-summer (as in the matted row method) would destroy the fall crop. Since ever-bearers produce fewer runners anyway, it isn’t hard to keep up. Ten minutes a weekend should do it for 25

plants. You’ll get luscious large berries, which are more resistant to disease because the crop gets good air circulation.

Set plants about 1 foot apart in rows 2 feet apart. Remove all the runners for the first two years. In the third year allow enough runners to root in a row to replace the mother plants, which by now, will have overgrown because they have formed multiple crowns. Now all you need to do is remove the original plants after they have born fruit in the fall. Apply fertilizer each year as soon as the spring harvest is done.

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For day-neutral strawberries use the modification of the hill method that promises greater yields. Start by planting double rows of strawberries spaced 3 ½ to 4 feet. Place the plants 7 inches apart about four inches from the center line, staggering them so they don’t line up side by side. Now remove all the flower buds for the first 6 weeks after planting and all the runners for the first season. Day-neutrals produce fewer runners anyway, so this lessens your work load considerably. It’s a good idea to side-dress these kinds of strawberries with rotted manure once a month during the growing season.

Now that you’ve decided which plants you want to grow, and chosen a method to grow them, the rest becomes easy. Now we simply select a spot for your strawberry patch, get the plants in the ground and started, and then wait for those delectable treats to come to harvest.

Strawberry Planting & Feeding

Remember, strawberries want a lot

of sunshine, sandy loam, and a pH

of about 6.2, although they are

Even though they are one of the easiest fruits to

surprisingly hardy and can take

grow; strawberries, here are still a few tips that

conditions less that perfect. Prepare

will make your experience foolproof:

the bed by tilling in 3 to 4 inches of

well-rotted manure before you

Perennial weeds, especially grass, can ruin your

actually plant. Plant the

strawberry plants. Keep them out by carefully

strawberries, which are almost

preparing the bed and mulching.

always going to be offered at your

local nursery as bare-roots, in

Overcrowded beds are susceptible to mildew and

spring as soon as the ground has

fungal diseases. Keep those runners manageable.


Strawberries need an inch of water a week

For most homesteads 25 plants is

through their growing cycle. Drip water is best.

quite enough, if you desire more

just remember that you can grow

Excessive overhead watering and heavy rain

more from the runners later. It’s

during fruit ripening results in flabby, tasteless

usually best to get them in the

fruit. Cover So don’t water them this way and

ground as soon as you buy them,

cover them with cheesecloth if you expect a real

although you can keep bare-root

thunderstorm with heavy downpours.

plants in the refrigerator for a few

Pick ripe berries every other day to keep mold

days if the weather is cooperating

from invading and covering the entire bed.

with you. Be sure the packing

Always remove the ripe berries and any infected

material is moist but not soggy.

or malformed ones too. This helps prevent

When planting time comes, place

disease invasion from spreading.

the plants in a bucket of water and

carry it right to the garden. This gives the plants an opportunity to soak up much needed moisture and protects them from drying out while you are planting them.

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Strawberries must be planted at the proper depth, with the crown just at the soil line.

Make a deep planting hole with a cone of soil in the center to support the crown and drape your roots into the hole around the cone. Now fill in the hole and surround with mulch. Just make sure the crown is not sticking out too high from the soil line or buried too deep.

Remember also, June bearers will not provide a harvest until a year after planting. For ever bearers and day-neutrals remove all the flower buds that form until the first of July.

First year ever bearers will produce a pretty large first year crop, and day-neutrals will produce from middle summer through the fall. If you live in the southern (warmer) climates you can expect a full harvest the next growing season without removing any buds.

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Big Show Brambles!

No doubt one of the most popular of fruits are red raspberries and

blackberries. In climates like California you can add boysenberries.

These are called bramble fruits, and even though they store poorly

and are labor intensive; they are expensive at market and they spoil so

quickly, growing them from your home garden makes some definite


As with all fruits and vegetables fresh brambles, taste so much better when you grow them and eat them close to harvest.

Which Brambles?

All brambles are more time intensive that our blueberries and strawberries and these prickly group of berries fall into two main groups. Raspberries and blackberries, which are further divided by characteristics. Both bear berries that consist of a cluster of small, jewel-like fruits with seeds in them, called drupelets. These drupelets are clustered on a tiny receptacle. When you pick raspberries, the receptacle remains on the plant. When you pick blackberries these remain attached to the berry itself.

There are red, yellow, black and purple raspberries. Blackberries are still, upright plants which include dewberries, boysenberries and loganberries.

Raspberries and blackberries have a lot in common, but grow differently enough to make sorting out their needs seem difficult, at first. One reason for this is that some raspberry types are grown like the blackberries and vice versa.

The common denominator with brambles is the biennial growth pattern of their canes, or shoots, and in the plant’s tendency to enlarge great thickets if left alone. The roots of each live indefinitely, however, each bramble cane lives for only two years. In the first year, a new cane sprouts from the crown and continues through the summer. It forms flower buds in the fall that will bring you the following year’s fruit. The exception to the rule are the ever bearing red and yellow raspberries which produce crops of berries, one in summer and another in the fall.

A Trellis and A Bramble

Would you like to tie your bramble canes? That may seem like a bit of a pain to a weekend gardener and when it seems like most folks like a casual approach to these berries; they can, of course be left to grow anyway you choose but they do much better when they are trellised. Wire trellises simplify pruning and harvesting, which will save you time down the road. It also exposes the plants to more sunlight and air, causing The Weekend Gardener by Victor K. Pryles

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vigorous growth, while lessening fungal disease. I like the idea of simply reaching over instead of bending down and stretching out to grab a handful of berries, myself.

Another benefit is that once you construct the wire trellis, it’s ready for every year after.

Then harvesting on a Saturday morning becomes very easy, and fits most time-squeezed gardeners with a bit more slack. You’ll find that the red and yellow raspberries are especially fond of trellising. They may seem to stand up on their canes just fine by themselves at first, but later when they are laden with fruit they tend to bend over toward the ground. This creates a tangle, dirties the fruit and makes them more susceptible to slugs and other pests.

The easiest way to trellis is to grow the berries in a hedgerow, anchored in place by four wires suspended from posts. First, plant the raspberries 2 ½ feet apart in a long row. Then build the trellis using pairs of 8-foot-long metal posts driven into the ground on either side of the row. Beginning at one end of the row, space pairs of posts about 20 to 25 feet.

The pairs should be spaced about 2 ½ feet apart. Drive them into the ground about 2 feet deep, suspend wires the length of each side of the row at about 2 ½ feet and 5 feet high.

The canes that grow up within the defined space will lean against the wires and be supported without needing to be tied. During the summer, once a week walk between the rows and tuck in any wayward canes and yank out any suckers growing beyond the limits of the hedgerow. Then in late winter or early spring, before any growth occurs, thin the brambles by removing weak or damaged canes. Your thickest canes will produce the

most fruit. So don’t be afraid to remove those that are too thin and spindly.

Brambles Basic Care

Good soil with plenty of moisture

Here’s the easiest way a weekender can grow

offer the best growth and produce,


even though blackberries, especially