How To Grow Cherry Trees

Cherries Hanging Off A Branch
Cherries Hanging Off A Branch

Cherry trees are an excellent choice for your forest garden. Not only will you be treated to a wonderful yield of delicious cherries, but you will also have a beautiful display of blossom in the spring. When you choose the right varieties, cherries can do well in a zone 8 Texan garden. Aside from providing delicious fruit, cherry tree flowers can also be of benefit to insects, especially bees, and help to increase the biodiversity of insect and animal life in your garden.

Flowering Cherry Tree In the Countryside
Flowering Cherry Tree In the Countryside

Choosing a Cherry Tree

It is essential to be aware when choosing a cherry tree that some varieties are sweet and others are sour. Sweet cherries can be eaten raw, and yet it is important to note that not all sweet cherries are self-fertile and many will need a companion tree to bear fruit. Sour cherries generally are self-fertile and will do fine as a single tree.

Planting a Cherry Tree

 Cherry trees prefer deep, fertile and well-drained soil. The soil pH level should be between 6.5-6.7 and full sun.

  • Sweet Cherry trees do not do well as undergrowth situations. Sweet Cherry trees do not like shallow, sandy or waterlogged soil. Bing and Lapins are sweet cherry varieties that can thrive in zone 8.
  • Tart Cherry trees, will tolerate a limited amount of partial shade. Montmorency and North Star are options for sour cherry trees for the region.

 Caring For a Cherry Tree

 Cherry trees will do best when planted between November and March, to the same depth as they were in the pot. Cherry trees should be mulched with organic compost in late February, and if you desire to use commercial fertilizer stakes, this is the time to place the fertilizer stakes just outside the drip line if the cherry tree.

The area around the tree (inside the drip line and a couple of feet outside the drip line) should be well mulched on top of the compost and kept clear of grass and other competing vegetation. It is essential to deep water your cherry trees frequently and keep it well mulched the first couple of years to ensure they thrive.

A guild of comfrey and beneficial herbs and flowers around the base will help cherry trees to become established and keep them healthy.

If you want to shape your cherry tree, then the pruning should be pruned once established during the summer, between late July and the end of August. If you choose to prune be conservative in your pruning and be aware of the type of cherry tree you are pruning:

  • Sweet cherries form on wood that is one year old and older.
  • Tart cherries form almost all their cherries on growth from the previous season. With the tart cherries, you will have to make sure that you get the balance when pruning between one-year-old fruiting wood and new replacement branches.

Harvesting Cherries

The sugar content in sweet cherries increasing dramatically in the final few days of ripening, so it is essential to wait until the fruits are entirely ripe before harvesting. Sour cherries will come off the stem when ripe and ready, while sweet cherries should be tasted to determine whether or not they are ready for harvest. Take care when harvesting not to damage the fruiting wood spur, which will produce more fruit next year. Leave stems intact if you plan to store cherries for any length of time.

Sweet cherries are best eaten straight from the tree, as soon after harvesting as possible, while sour cherries can be cooked into a range of preserves and desserts.

Related References

How To Grow Plum Trees

Blackthorn Plum
Blackthorn Plum

Even the small gardens usually have space for a small plum tree. Plums are a fantastic addition to your home garden and need not take up too much space. Plum trees will be beloved of pollinating insects, attracting them to your garden with their beautiful blossom. With the right care, a plum tree can provide a bounty of delicious fruit for eating fresh and for preserving for later use.

 Choosing a Plum Tree

 When choosing a plum tree, it is crucial to determine whether the variety that you are looking at is self-fertile. Also, the plum tree you select should be decease free and healthy.  If you select a self-fertile type, then you will not require a second tree, while self-infertile varieties much have a partner tree to bear fruit. One plum variety well suited to a zone 8 climate in Texas is Gulf Beauty. Your local AgriLife Extension office, master gardeners group, garden center, and plant nurseries will be able to advise you of further good options for where you live.

 Planting a Plum Tree

Plum Tree Being Planted
Plum Tree Being Planted

 Plum trees will love a sheltered spot and can do well up against a south-facing wall or fence. They will do best when planting in soil that is not too free-draining and which will retain moisture. Plum trees are best planted in the dormant season between late fall and early spring and should be watered regularly, at least once weekly during cool weather and daily during hot weather during the first year until the plum tree has had time to settle in.

Caring For a Plum Tree

 An application of some form of nitrogen-rich organic fertilizer in the middle of spring can help increase yield. Established trees will benefit from an organic mulch, which will keep down weeds and help with nutrient needs. Be sure to deep water during drier periods, especially while the plum tree is young.

Plum trees will also benefit from under-planting with a ‘guild’ of beneficial companion plants like comfrey, borage, alliums, and tansy, as well as, nitrogen-fixing legumes. Since plums have intense nitrogen needs, keeping grass at bay to well beyond the tree’s drip line is strongly recommended. So it is best to plant alternative companion plants or at least mulch heavily around the base of the tree to prevent grass from encroaching. Additionally, plum trees benefit from a thick helping of compost and a fresh covering of mulch. Also, fertilizer stakes, in moderation, can be helpful, as well.

When the tree fruits in summer, you may find that some boughs have to be supported to prevent them breaking with the weight of the fruit. Unlike with other fruit trees like apple trees, plum trees should be pruned in spring or summer when they can recover more easily without risk of infection.

Harvesting Plums

Harvested Plums in a Box
Harvested Plums in a Box

Plums are sweetest when left to ripen fully on the tree. You will be able to tell if the fruit is ripe because it will be soft when you squeeze it gently. Take care not to bruise the fruit during harvest. Otherwise, they may spoil rapidly.

Plums are best when eaten fresh. If you have a bumper crop, however, you can also create a cordial or an alcoholic beverage, de-stone and freeze excess plums for cooking later or make jelly or another preserve with the delicious fruits.

Related References

 

Garden Notes – Week of May 7 2018

Refreshed Garden Patch Mulch
Refreshed Garden Patch Mulch

New Layer of Mulch

Put a fresh layer of much on my paths between my raised beds, which helped the appearance of my vegetable garden. Also, will help to keep the weeds down.

Yellow Flags for Insect Control
Yellow Flags for Insect Control
Yellow Flag with Captured Insects and Bugs
Yellow Flag with Captured Insects and Bugs

 

Replaced Yellow Flags for Insect Control

This week I pulled down my old yellow flags and put up new ones for insect control as you can see from the picture they’ve already started filling up.

Yellow Zucchini Squash
Yellow Zucchini Squash
Spaghetti squash which has set fruit
Spaghetti squash which has set fruit

 

Zucchinis and Spaghetti Squash Are Setting Fruit

now the weather has warmed up this week my squashes have started setting fruit. Especially, the yellow zucchinis which I was even made able to harvest three of this week and throwing the oven.

Apricot starting to ripen on the tree
Apricot starting to ripen on the tree
Tangerine tree with young fruit
Tangerines are starting to grow

Fruit trees are setting fruit

I was pleasantly surprised this weekend to see that my apricots despite a cold snap have put on a few fruits and are starting to ripen in turn yellow. Also, my tangerine tree has got a few young immature fruits on it which hopefully will mature later in the season.

Loose leaf lettuce in the garden succession planted with moon and the stars watermelon
Loose leaf lettuce in the garden succession planted with moon and the stars watermelon

Fresh salad from the garden

we managed to get a nice salad out of our garden this week of loose leaf lettuce and beet greens. Although, it’s getting late in the season for the loose leaf lettuce.

How to Incorporate Perennial Cooking Herbs into Your Backyard Landscaping

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

Herbs can add flavor to recipes throughout the year, and are surprisingly easy to grow at home in your backyard. Perennial herbs are particularly easy to grow. Unlike annual herbs, these plants remain year after year, requiring little care and attention once your garden is established. If you are a keen cook or want to become one, then growing your own perennial herbs is a must. Herbs can easily be grown in a regular annual or perennial vegetable bed, or as part of a forest garden.

Why Plant Perennial Herbs? 

Rosemary (R.officinalis 'Prostratus')
Rosemary (R.officinalis ‘Prostratus’)

There are many different reasons to plant perennial herbs in your garden. These reasons include:

  • The taste. Perennial herbs enliven a range of recipes.
  • Ease and simplicity. Perennial herbs are easy to care for and take up less of a gardener’s time and effort.
  • Perennial herbs carry a range of health benefits when used in cooking and in herbal remedies for a range of common health ailments.
  • Perennial herbs can also be used to make a range of home-made cleaning and beauty products.
  • Perennial herbs can help to reduce pest problems – some aromatic herbs can repel or confuse many pest species, while others can attract predatory insects which help keep pest numbers down.
  • Some perennial herbs also attract bees and other pollinators to your garden. Pollination is essential to obtain an edible yield from many fruit trees and other plants.
  • Perennial herbs can often smell great and can add to the visual amenity of your backyard. 

Choosing Perennial Herbs for Your Forest Garden

 To grow perennial herbs in your forest garden, or elsewhere on your property, it is important to understand that this diverse group of plants has a range of very different growing requirements. Some perennial herbs are best grown in full sun, while others will benefit from the shade that fruit trees and perennial bushes can provide. Even many hot-climate, sun-loving herbs can benefit from a little-dappled shade in the hottest part of the summer so it could be a good idea to grow them on the fringes of a forest garden area.

Edible Perennial Herbs to Consider for Your Urban Garden 

Mexican Oregano (Poliomintha longiflora)
Mexican Oregano (Poliomintha longiflora)

Most cooks and gardeners will already no doubt be fully familiar with some perennial herbs that can be grown in a zone 8 Texan climate. These include sage, oregano, rosemary, and thyme, as well as lavender. All of these Mediterranean culinary herbs can grow very well in Texas when given the right growing conditions to thrive, though some will do best when given an open, sheltered, fairly sunny position, and a little protection from the hot sun in mid-summer. Pineapple sage (Salvia elegans) is better suited for Texan gardeners than other salvias. Marjoram can be grown in Texas, but often Mexican Mint Marigold (Tagetes Lucita) is grown as an alternative that is better suited to local growing conditions.

Chive and Sage
Chive and Sage

Bay, chives, garlic chives and a wide range of mints do need some moisture and will suit a more shady spot in a forest garden where conditions do not get as hot and dry. Be warned, however, mints can be extremely aggressive and can spread like wildfire. They can form an excellent ground cover in a forest garden setting, but if you would prefer not to have them take over, then you can choose to grow mint in containers.

In addition to the familiar culinary herbs mentioned above, Texan forest gardeners should also consider growing a range of more unusual herbs. Herbs which can thrive in Texas in the shade of trees and fruit bushes in a forest garden include:

  • Epazote (Chenopodium ambrosiodes),
  • Salad Burnet (Sanguisorba minor),
  • Winter Savory (Satureja montana),
  • Violets (Viola odorata),
  • yarrow (Achillea millefolium),
  • Lovage (Levisticum officinale),
  • Valerian (Valeriana officinalis),
  • and Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile).

All these herbs have culinary uses or can be used to make herbal teas.

Non-Edible Perennial Herbs for A Forest Garden

 In addition to growing a wide range of perennial culinary herbs, gardeners should also incorporate other herbaceous perennials in their edible forest gardens. Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) is one plant that is particularly useful in a forest garden setting. When placed in full sun, comfrey can go dormant during the hot summer in Texas, though when planted in the shade of fruiting trees or other trees in a forest garden setting, comfrey can be attractive and useful year round. It is important to be careful where you place comfrey, as the roots go extremely deep and new plants will spring up from root sections, making it almost impossible to remove once established. However, when well placed, comfrey can be a really valuable addition to your garden. Though not edible for humans, comfrey can aid in the growth of food-producing plants. 

Planting Herbs for Garden Health 

Comfrey Blooms
Comfrey Blooms

Comfrey’s deep roots are one of the reasons why this herbaceous plant is so useful to organic gardeners. As a dynamic accumulator, comfrey takes nutrients from deep below the soil and when chopped and dropped around other plants, returns those nutrients to the topsoil, where they can be taken up by other plants. Other good dynamic accumulators include the edible culinary herb, yarrow, as well as ‘weeds’ such as the dandelion. Incorporating perennial herbs that are good dynamic accumulators can be great for the overall health of your garden. 

Planting for Wildlife 

Woodpecker Feeding
Woodpecker Feeding

Many of the perennial herbs mentioned above are also fantastic for local wildlife. Attracting wildlife to your garden and increasing biodiversity can make organic gardening easier by keeping all the elements of a forest garden in natural balance. When they flower, many herbs will attract beneficial insects for predation of pests and for pollination.

Sowing or planting and growing a range of perennial cooking herbs in your backyard edible food forest can be a great way to eat well year round and to make sure you have a sustainable, productive and efficient garden ecosystem in the years to come.

 Related References

How to Use Landscape With Perennial Bushes For Food

Backyard Bushes
Backyard Bushes With Rosemary, Sage, Roses, And Other Plants

In a forest garden, perennial bushes and trees form the main structure of the ecosystem. Bushes create a mid-layer between the tree canopy and the herbaceous layer below, helping gardeners to make the most of their space and grow their own food in a beautiful, woodland-inspired setting.

The Benefits of Perennial Planting

Many people choose to grow at least some of their own food at home. But annual vegetable gardening can be a lot of hard work! Forest gardens made up of perennial plants which will endure year after year can be a much easier way to produce an edible yield. Here are some of the benefits of perennial planting:

  • Perennial planting, once established, requires less time and fewer resources to manage.
  • Perennial plants help to attract wildlife and maintain a vibrant, biodiverse ecosystem.
  • Perennial plants are often easy to propagate to increase plant stocks.

 Choosing Perennial Bushes for an Edible Forest Garden

 Before choosing any plants for your forest garden, it is important to understand not only the needs of any plants you are considering but also the details of climate and conditions where you live. Consider sunlight, wind, precipitation levels, soil conditions and other factors to choose the right plants for the right places.

It is also important to think about why each perennial bush deserves to earn a place in your urban food forest. These shrubs might be selected for their berries or edible leaves. They might be selected due to their ability to fix nitrogen from the air, or as a good source of biomass that can be composted or chopped and dropped to return fertility to the soil.

When selecting perennial bushes for placement in a forest garden setting, it is important to consider how much light is needed by each bush you are considering. Bear in mind the shade that will be cast by the tree layer above them, now, and in future years as trees grow.

Goumi Berry, by Tatters
Goumi Berry, by Tatters


Perennial Fruit Bushes to Consider for your Food Forest
 

In Texas, hardiness zone 8, there are many perennial fruit bushes that will thrive in a backyard food forest. Berry bushes that you might consider in this climate zone include Aronia melanocarpa, blue elderberry, Ceylon gooseberry, Goumi (Elaeagnus), Autumn Olive (Elaeagnus umbellata), Mulberry, Jostaberry, Serviceberry, Wolfberry, barberry, and certain blackberry and Ribes varieties.

Autumn Olive, by Henning Leweke
Autumn Olive, by Henning Leweke


It is a good idea, when selecting your perennial fruit bushes, to speak with experts at a local garden center or plant nursery, who will be able to advise you on the best types varieties of berry bush to grow in your particular area. You should observe which plants thrive in wilderness areas near where you live, as this can give you some clues about which plants may do well in your forest garden.

 Other Perennial Bushes to Consider for your Urban Forest Garden

 In addition to fruiting and berry-producing bushes, urban forest gardeners should also consider enhancing the environment with a range of other perennial bushes. Shade tolerant shrubs native to this climate zone in Texas that could be beneficial plants to include in your forest garden include various hollies, Indian Hawthorne, forsythia, photinia, abelia, and pittosporum. Some acacias could also be beneficial plants to include in your garden scheme.

 Indian Hawthorn
Indian Hawthorn

There is a benefit to introducing as wide a range of perennial plant species as possible. A more biodiverse ecosystem will be better able to adapt and resist the problems associated with climate change, and will likely be in better balance, reducing the risk of problems with pests and disease.

Planting for Soil Health

Certain perennial shrubs are particularly useful in a forest garden because of their ability to enhance fertility and to promote good soil health. The Elaeagnus bushes and acacia mentioned above, for example, along with a range of other perennial plants, are able to fix nitrogen from the air with the help of bacteria in their root rhizomes. This nitrogen, one of the key nutrients needed for plant growth, can then be taken up by other plants in the vicinity. Choosing some perennial shrubs which enhance soil health is a good way to ensure the long-term sustainability of your food forest.

Planting for Wildlife

Bird in Flowering Tree
Bird in Flowering Tree

Another way in which perennial shrubs can enhance the overall function and health of your food forest is by attracting a range of beneficial local wildlife. It is not only lovely to watch wildlife in your garden, but wildlife can also help you to grow food in your garden in a range of different ways. The success of any food growing scheme, including food forests, involves making sure that you keep a natural balance in your garden. Organic growers can keep pest numbers down by attracting predatory wildlife that will eat insects and other creatures that can damage your food producing plants. Perennial shrubs can also attract pollinators, which are required for many fruits to form. Many flowering shrubs, including many native varieties, are very good at attracting these creatures.

When planting your perennial bushes, make sure that you leave enough space for each one to grow. Consider the fertility, water and sunlight needs of each when placing them, thinking ahead to when trees surrounding the shrubs, and the shrubs themselves, will be fully grown. Consider bushes which provide an edible yield, but also plants which enhance the fertility of surrounding soil, and which can attract beneficial wildlife. Choosing perennial bushes wisely and placing them with consideration will help to ensure that you get the highest yield possible from your edible forest garden.

 Related References

 

Coriander, Cilantro, Chinese Parsley

Is it an herb or a spice?

The coriander plant is both an herb (cilantro leaves) and a spice (coriander seeds).

Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum) is a very fast-growing herb which can be grown just about anywhere. Cilantro is a relative of the carrot family, sometimes called Chinese parsley, or Coriander. Cilantro is the leaves, roots, and stems (eaten as herbs) of the Coriander plant, while the seeds (coriander) are used in cooking as a spice.

Cilantro has a very strong unique odor and is relied on heavily for Latin, Asian, and Caribbean cuisines. Cilantro, also, resembles Parsley in appearance which is not surprising since they are related. Cilantro has been in use a long time in Egypt, India, and China, and later it was introduced to Latin America where it is still used today.

Cilantro can and has been used to mask the scent of rotting meat. Cilantro has two identities since Cilantro is what the plant is referred to in its earliest stages, and when it is fully developed and sets seed, which is the Coriander spice. Cilantro is fast growing grows very quickly but will bolt in hot weather and die  fast also.

Cilantro can easily grow in a pot, or as microgreens. Cilantro is best harvested early and frequently before the onset of bolt or flowers.  Once the bolt or flowers begin, it is best to let it go to seed And harvest the seed for coriander or stock seed for the next planting.

Today, Cilantro can be found in most grocery stores in the United States both as fresh green or as dried herbs. Not everyone likes Cilantro. Generally, people either love Cilantro or hate Cilantro.

Life Span

  • Annual

Scientific Name

  • Coriandrum sativum

Height

  • 24 to 36 inches of inches leaves look

Spread

  • 6 inches

Description

  • The bright green, lacy leaves look very similar to flat-leaved Italian parsley on the lower part of the plant but become more finely fernlike further up. This large annual has a leaf and root flavor that is a cross between sage and a citrus. The seeds, however, are simply citrus like.

Ease of care:

  • Easy

How to grow:

  • Plant in rich, well-drained soil in full sun. Coriander plants are best located where they are protected from the wind since they blow over easily.
Flowering Coriander, Cilantro, Chinese Parsley
Flowering Coriander, Cilantro, Chinese Parsley

Propagation:

  • By seed, once the soil is warm in spring. This service a cool weather loving herb, when the weather turns warm it will Bolt and go to seed

Culinary Uses

Cilantro Herb
Cilantro Herb
  • Fresh or frozen leaves (Cilantro) can be used on potatoes, rice, clams and oysters or chicken. Fresh leaves are frequently used in salsas and on chicken soup.
spice (coriander seeds)
spice (coriander seeds)
  • Seeds (Coriander)  can be used in marinades, cheeses, pickles, mushrooms, stews, curries, chicken, quickbreads, potpourris
  • Fresh roots can be used in salads, relishes

Preservation

  • Harvest only fresh, young leaves and freeze them promptly.
  • Harvest seeds when they have turned brown but are not yet released.
  • Cutoff whole plant and hang-dry inside paper bags to catch seeds.

Related References

Ask The Cook – Which Carrots are the most nutritious?

Baby Purple Carrots from My Garden
Baby Purple Carrots from My Garden

Generally speaking, the richer and dark a fresh carrot is, the more nutritious the carrot will be.  So, not only have the purple carrots been grown longer than the traditional orange carrot, it is more nutritious, as well.  Something to consider, when choosing your garden seed or have a choice of colors in your local market.

Related References