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Tree Grafting

by on Wednesday, March 25, 2015 21:52 under Home & Garden.

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This is a method of plant propagation in which a twig of one plant, called the scion, is made to grow on the roots of another plant, called the stock or the under stock. The scion is taken from the plant which is to be reproduced, and because this is an asexual means of reproduction, the resulting plant will be identical with the plant from which the scion was taken if no shoots are allowed to grow on the understock, or below the union of scion and understock.

In the first place, a scion and stock must be “compatible,” that is, they must be of a type that will grow together, make a firm union and continue to grow afterwards. This is found out by experience, and the art of grafting is centuries old. One should not expect a scion of Magnolia soulangiana to grow on apple or elm understock. In fact, it may not grow on all kinds of magnolia seedlings, but experience has shown that it may be expected to grow best on understock of M. kohus or M. tripetala. Sometimes several species in the same genus are equally good as understock, sometimes it has been found that under certain conditions one is better than another. English growers find that Prunus serrula is easily compatible with P. avium understock, while some American growers have better success with P. saigentii understock.

In the grafting operation the theory is to place the living cambium tissue of scion and under-stock in contact with each other. This is simply done by making the proper kind of cut into understock and gently slipping the whittle scion into it. This operation must be done both scion and understock is about ready for active growth. Actually, it is a greenhouse operation where the understock, in a pot, has already been forced into active growth and the scion is yet dormant. Usually Feb. or March is grafting time indoors.

As soon as the scion and stock are slipped together, they are bound tightly in place to prevent movement between them. Flat rubber bands are specially made for this and arc ideal since they can be bound just tight enough to hold the a together, but loose enough so that the rubber will give a little as the new graft increases in circumference. This “tie” remains on for a few months until stock and scion have closely knit, when it is simply cut and left on the union to eventually fall off.

Grafting is also done out of doors at a time just before vigorous growth commences on the understock. This is usually confined to trees that are being “made over” as will be explained below. Grafting small plants out of doors does not result in as much success as doing it inside under controlled temperature and moisture conditions.

Factors other than timing must be right. Air temperature must be in the 70’s or conducive to continued plant growth. Moisture must be present— the graft union must not be allowed to dry out in any way. Disease spores must not get into the union. These are the reasons why grafting is usually carried out in the greenhouse in “grafting cases,” places enclosed by glass or polyethylene with high humidity. This is also the reason why the graft union is covered with wax or polyethylene film as soon as it is made to keep the tender new-forming cells from exposure and possible drying out.

The most difficult time for the new graft is when it is noted that the scion has started into active growth. It must be kept in active growth, yet too high a temperature and too much moisture in the grafting case may cause it to grow too rapidly and fail to make a proper union. Here experience certainly aids the individual in properly regulating moisture and temperature.

The most important decision to make in grafting is to select the right kind of graft cut to make. Actually, if properly done, any one of the methods should result in a successful graft, but experience has shown that certain types of grafting cuts seem to result in better end results on certain species than others. This is not the place to go into this detailed discussion, but one should be familiar with the different types.

Whip Graft

A double matching cut is made in both stock and scion. If this is to be used, the understock and the scion should be about the same dia. (lead-pencil size or slightly larger) and the top of the stock should be completely cut of an inch or so above the place of the proposed union. The whip graft is also ideal to use in root grafting, that is, in grafting a scion on to a piece of root (of the same dia.). If done properly, and it takes experience to make just the right cuts, it can be highly successful because there is so much of the cambium that can be fitted together in this double cut.

Side Graft

Merely making a slanting cut into the stock and inserting a wedge-shaped scion into it. This is often the method chosen when the stock is larger in dia. than the scion. Sometimes the top of the stock is severed just above the graft as soon as it is made. Other times it is left to grow for a week or two and then cut off. It is this method which is frequently used in bonsai culture to supply a new branch at exactly the right place it is needed.

Cleft Graft

This is the type of graft employed in grafting trees in the open. It is frequently employed in grafting apples, where a tree of an old outmoded variety is to be “changed over” to a new and better variety. In this case, all the main limbs are sawed off carefully and “clefts” or splits are made in them with a large grafting tool similar to a butcher’s knife. Two or 3 such openings can be made in a 4-6 in. branch. Then, 3 or more wedge-shaped scions are inserted carefully, so the cambium tissue of stock and scion meet exactly, the entire union is painted with wax and one then awaits developments. Only 1 of the 3 or 4 scions will be allowed to grow eventually, but it is a quick method of making over a tree of bearing size. In fact, the newly made-over tree may grow so well that it may begin producing the new variety of apple in 3 or 4 years. Because the stock is so large, it is not necessary to stick stock and scion together in such a graft, for the properties inherent in the wood of the large branches are enough to hold the scions tightly for all practical purposes.

Bark Graft

This is done on the cut limbs of trees, merely by slitting the bark a few inches in a straight line from the cut surface, and then inserting the wedge-shaped scion just between the bark and wood of the stock. Three or 4 of these can be inserted, but the whole should be tied tightly to prevent the bark of the branch from curling away or splitting farther and thus exposing the scion to drying out.

Approach Grafting

Consider 5 small plants in pots, one of a very rare type, the other a worthless seedling. The seedling would act as the understock for the rare plant, the whole idea being that one does not risk loss of the rare plant in this method. A cut is made in the side of the understock or some of the bark is very carefully removed just to the cambium. A matching cut is made in the rare plant or a matching part of its bark is carefully removed. Then they are joined together, tied and painted, while the tops of both are allowed to grow. If it is obvious that the union is growing together, the part of the understock above the graft can be removed. When the union is solidly made, the scion material can be partially cut away from the scion plant, and later another deeper cut made so that the severance of the scion from the parent plant takes place over a period of weeks. This is a method used by the experts to graft two plants together that are otherwise difficult.


Sometimes a plant is growing with the wrong kind of understock and the tree needs a better root system. Young plants are established at the base, a narrow strip of bark removed on the tree to correspond with a similar width of bark removed on the new plants. Several such plants can be stabilized and grafted to one trunk.

Bridge grafting over a jagged cut breaking the bark completely around a tree. The scions are taken from the living branches of the same tree and covered with wax to finish the operation.

The bridge grafts can be nailed or tied in place and the whole exposed wound painted with wax. The idea here is to cut the top and bottom of the scions in such a way that they can be inserted underneath the bark above and below the wound, with the cambium tissues of stock and scion in contact with each other. Hence these shoots will, if they grow, act as bridges over the injured trunk for the upward and downward flow of nutrients and foods. Many a damaged tree has been saved in this way. However, such an operation is best done when the tree is dormant, certainly not when the scions are in leaf. If properly done, these scions will gradually increase in size and may completely heal over the injured trunk by growing solidly together.

Double Grafting

Sometimes this method is used, especially to produce a dwarf plant or when one kind of plant material is not compatible with the under-stock. Grafting is done in the normal way using an “intermediate” scion, that is, a scion from a plant that will be compatible with the understock and the plant to be grafted as well. An example is the grafting of Bartlett Pear on quince roots for dwarfing. These a are not compatible but if a seedling pear is grafted on the quince roots, then the Bartlett Pear grafted on the seedling pear, this results in a good tree. This can be done in different ways. The Bartlett Pear can be grafted on pieces of the seedling pear and the grafted pieces put in moistened peat moss in a cool place for a few weeks until callused, when this piece (with scion and intermediate graft) is grafted onto a dormant quince root. Or, the seedling pear can be budded onto rooted cuttings of the quince one summer, and then the Bartlett Pear can be budded on the seedling pear the next.

So, grafting can be a complicated process but, if done properly, results in fairly good trees. Sometimes, years after the grafting, one notices a large hump at the graft union, showing clearly that the stock has grown much faster than the scion. Sometimes just the reverse is true. Frequently this is not serious but, whenever possible, it is always best to select an understock that grows at the same rate as the plant from which the scion was taken.

Planting a Lime Tree

by on Tuesday, March 24, 2015 21:40 under Home & Garden.

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Mexican or true Lime trees (Citrusaurantifolia) are small, slender, often willowy, with numerous thorns, and small leaves. A second group serving the same purpose is the Tahiti Group, which is characterized by larger, less thorny trees, and larger fruit. The ‘Rangpur’ Lime, probably an acid Mandarin Orange, which it resembles in tree and fruit, also serves the same purpose, and is treated here. These very acid citrus are prized primarily for the unique, refreshing flavor of their fruit as used in cooling drinks and cookery.

The true limes will tolerate but a degree or two of frost. Growth is therefore limited to southern Florida, the Keys, warmer areas of the southeast Gulf coast, and to protected sites in the most frost-free areas of southern Calif. Varieties of the Tahitian (Persian) group are only slightly more cold-resistant and can with-stand temperatures of about 26 to 27° F. without serious injury. The ‘Rangpur’ Lime on the other hand is nearly as hardy as the Sweet Orange, and can withstand low temperatures without serious tree damage. All, however, have tender fruit which can withstand but 3-4 degrees below freezing, ‘Rangpur’ fruit being slightly tenderer.

As true limes are propagated mostly by seed, the variety designation has less significance than for many other plant varieties. Accepted fruit type is small, oval to round. The fruit becomes lemon-yellow when fully ripe, but is usually harvested when still green, or showing but a slight yellow blush. The flesh is greenish yellow, tender, and yields abundant, very acid juice with the typical lime flavor. Mexican, West Indian, Key and thornless variants of the above names may be offered by nurserymen in areas where limes are grown.

‘Bearss’ is the best of the Tahiti or Persian group, and may bear the name Tahiti or Persian, but the former is a distinct variety. The fruit is larger than that of the true Lime, being from 1 to over 2 inches in diameter. The skin and flesh color is about the same as for the Mexican group, and the juice has the flavor of the true lime. ‘Bearss’ is seedless.

‘Rangpur’ can be used to extend the range of very acid citrus. The fruit is a deep orange color, the skin loose, and the flesh orange colored, juicy, and with only a slight suggestion of the true lime flavor. In fruit and tree it closely resembles the mandarin oranges, especially the tangerines; the fruit is slightly seedy. A few sweet limes, most nearly resembling the Tahiti Group, are known; varieties are ‘Palestine’, ‘Sweet’, and ‘Otaheite’. The latter, propagated from cuttings, is sold in quantity as a Christmas potted ornamental plant bearing bloom and fruit. All of the sweet limes are suspected hybrids.

Propagation of Limes

Mexican limes are readily propagated by seed, most coming true to type, as they are highly polyembryonic. The ‘Bearss’ must be propagated vegetatively, as it is seedless, and is a triploid citrus. ‘Rangpur’, unlike the Mexican, will not come true from seed in most cases, so to assure getting the desired type, budded trees are best used.

Lime trees may be top worked, but their use as rootstocks has not been generally tested, except that the ‘Rangpur’ is apparently a satisfactory stock for other citrus. The cold-tenderness of the Mexican and Tahitian groups would not suggest their use in areas where these kinds cannot be grown.


Mexican limes can be grown on any of the common citrus rootstocks, but appear to over-grow Sour Orange rootstock badly, suggesting degree of incompatibility. In southern Florida, Rough Lemon has proved to be good; Sweet Orange and Grapefruit rootstocks have been used successfully. Of course most are grown on their own roots, as seedlings. The same root-stocks will serve for varieties of the Tahitian Group or ‘Rangpur.’

Planting a Lime Tree

Mexican limes make small trees, and planting distance need not be in excess of 15 ft.; the Tahitian Group grow considerably larger, and distances of about 22 ft. should be allowed; the same or slightly longer planting distances apply to ‘Rangpur’. Little is known concerning the value of dwarfing rootstocks for the limes; the ‘Otaheite’, as mentioned, is adapted to pot culture, and all could be kept small by growing in small tubs if given good attention.

The Mexican and Tahitian group of limes tend to bloom and mature fruit throughout the year, although there is a normal peak season of maturation. In Calif., Mexican limes ripen most of their crop in the late fall or winter; the ‘Bearss’ somewhat later. In Florida, the main crop ripens from June to Aug. ‘Rangpur’ has but a single bloom and ripening period in the South-west and Pacific regions, but may bear a small number of fruit throughout the year in the Southeast; its normal peak production is in winter and early spring.

Limes may be kept for some time in cool, dry storage if properly cured when harvested. ‘Rangpur’ is not so well adapted to prolonged storage.

Besides the normal diseases of citrus, the Mexican lime is particularly subject to anthracnose fungus, particularly in the humid Southeast—a disease which attacks both fruit and foliage. On the other hand, the Tahitian Group is susceptible to citrus scab, to which the Mexican group is highly resistant, if not immune.

Lime is not necessary for all plants on all soils. In fact, lime is not even necessary as an additive on all soils. Contrary to popular belief it is not a fertilizer but does have an active part to play in garden soils. Lime is calcium carbonate, and of course all plants need calcium in order to grow properly. In soils made from limestone rocks there is usually sufficient present in the soil, or if lime is being leached out by heavy rains, more calcium carbonate becomes available. In acid soils, lime is sometimes needed for certain plants, especially vegetables and farm crops, although most trees and shrubs seem to be unaffected with or with-out it.

A “sour” soil is one with most of the lime leached out. In areas where soils have been made from acid-bearing rocks what little calcium carbonate there is present in the soil is being continually leached out by rainfall. Farmers know that such a soil is unfit for growing clover or would not produce a good crop of vegetables. The gardener should understand the uses of lime in order to use it intelligently and also save him time and money in applying it un-necessarily.

Soil that has a green scum or small amounts of moss in it, is in poor condition, certainly in need of fertilizer and possibly is in need of lime also.

Lime, added to a heavy clay soil, makes it more workable by improving the physical condition. It causes the finer particles of clay and silt to combine (in a heavy clay soil), forming larger particles and thus allowing space for air and water drainage. On the other hand, applied to sandy soils it can prove harmful. It also reduces the amount of acidity in a soil and soils usually need it if the acidity is below 5.5 pH.

There are several types of lime on the market but by far the best for gardeners is ground lime-stone, or better still ground dolomitic limestone because this has, in addition, a small amount of magnesium, an essential element for plant growth and often deficient in many soils.

This material, as well as ground limestone, has the added advantage that it can not be too heavily applied, within reason. When the pH of the soil rises to neutral or slightly alkaline the remaining lime becomes less and less soluble, hence there is not the danger from burning foliage with too heavy an application. Some other forms of lime do not act this way but remain soluble even though the soil alkalinity is being raised, hence if too heavily applied, the alkalinity of the soil continues to rise and shortly phosphorous, magnesium and some of the other minor elements are made unavailable. This of course causes injury to the plants. Also, lime does aid in releasing certain chemicals in the soil.

Limestone. This is simply the ground lime-stone rock and it should be finely ground. It should pass a to-mesh (to the inch) screen and half of it should pass a too-mesh screen.

Oyster shells. These are available only near the seacoast where oyster fisheries are located. They have little value unless finely ground.

Marl. This is sometimes available locally and is a mixture of limestone and silt or clays, but they vary considerably in proportion and if price is not a factor these local marls might be overlooked as suppliers of limestone.

Chalk. A poor form of lime, not used as commonly in this country as it is in England. It has twice the bulk but only one half the value of limestone.

Hydrated lime or slaked lime is the hydroxide of time or burned lime to which water has been added. It is a white powder and is highly caustic and difficult to handle.

Burned lime or quicklime comes in large lumps unfit for the gardener’s purpose, and is the commercial oxide of lime. It is a white powder, caustic and difficult to handle.

Of these, the best for the gardener’s purpose is ground dolomitic limestone, ground limestone or hydrated lime, in that order.

How much to apply—the soil test will show this but the old saying is “a ton of lime per acre” which, broken down for small garden plots, is a lb. per sq. yard of soil. One satisfactory application needs not be repeated for 4-5 years. It should be spread evenly on the surface of prepared garden soil and either watered in or allowed to stand until rain washes it down into the soil. Lime does not move up or laterally very well in the soil, the reason why it should not be plowed in. Nor should it be applied to or with manure for this way it does more harm than good. It should not be mixed with commercial fertilizers.

It is best not to use burned or slaked lime in the garden. Certain woody plants, like lilacs and junipers, apparently grow better in acid soils if lime is added. Many plants are indifferent to it and certainly ericaceous plants need very little if any lime added to a good acid soil in which there is plenty of humus.

Applying lime to lawns has been much over-done. Lime corrects strongly acid soils, adds calcium as a nutrient, increases the availability of other plant nutrients and encourages bio-logical activity. Most grasses grow well on moderately acid soils. Lime encourages weeds and clover; hence if a pure grass lawn is desired lime should only be applied on extremely acid soils at least below a pH 5.5. If lime is to be applied to correct acidity, hydrated lime can be applied at a rate of 35 lbs. per sq. ft. or powdered limestone at a rate of 50 lbs. per sq. ft.

Kentucky bluegrass does not always need lime. It needs a fertile soil and if the soil is fertile it can grow well on limestone soils. The chances are that a complete fertilizer added to the lawn will do more good than an application of lime.

Planting Apple Trees

by on Wednesday, March 4, 2015 3:57 under Home & Garden.

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Cultivated in Europe for more than 2,000 years, the apple was introduced to this country soon after the Europeans first arrived. Today, Washington, New York, Michigan, California, Pennsylvania, and Virginia are the leading producers of apples. The number of trees has dropped since early in this century, but yields have remained about the same thanks to superior sites, soils and better orchard management. Per capita consumption of apples has suffered as better transportation has made citrus fruit more available. The most popular varieties are Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, McIntosh, Rome Beauty, Jonathan, and York. Such old standbys as Baldwin, Grimes, Northern Spy, and Wealthy are losing popularity.

Apples will grow in almost any soil, but do best in a clay loam. A general rule is that they thrive in soils suited to common cereals and potatoes. A sloped site promotes air drain-age, thus minimizing frost damage, but also encourages soil erosion. Such steep sites can be grown to alfalfa sod, and the growth cut two or three times a season.

Trees must be provided with plenty of organic matter, such as a heavy mulch of alfalfa or grass clippings. Sweet clover, seeded late in July, makes an excellent winter ground cover. Leave it standing through the following summer or turn it under in spring. If the surface soil is low in fertility, rye will do better than clover but must be turned under before it develops fully, as it tends to grow woody when mature and could threaten young trees.

Mulches should be deep enough to smother the weeds beneath the branches. Increase the depth of the mulches as the years pass: a five-year-old tree can use 100 pounds of straw; trees two to four years old will need proportionately less.

Natural forms of nitrogen can be applied in the fall after the foliage has dropped. Use 21/4 pounds of dried blood or 41/2 pounds of cottonseed meal per tree. If too much nitrogen reaches a tree late in the season, the resultant growth may be susceptible to winter injury.

Young trees have shallow root systems, and are therefore more vulnerable to shortages of water and nutrients than well-established trees. Larger trees also can rely on food re-serves in the bark and wood in hard times.

To protect trees from field mice and other small animals, place fine-mesh wire screens or wrap two thicknesses of aluminum foil around the base in the fall. Also, staking a new tree may be necessary where wind or heavy snow might cause it to grow crooked. Placing a four-inch barrier of one to two-inch crushed rock on the bottom, sides and top of the planting hole is also effective.

In late winter or early spring, while trees are dormant and before their buds begin to swell, a dormant oil spray should be applied. This mixture of 3 percent miscible oil and water smothers many insect eggs before hatching.

Planting Apples

Buy healthy one or two-year-old trees about three to five feet tall and plant them after the leaves have fallen, from late October into early November. Freshly dug trees can also be planted early in spring, but in spring land dries slowly and the growing season maybe well advanced by the time the orchard is planted. Young apple trees withstand the shock of transplanting best when they are dormant, another good reason for fall planting. By planting your trees before the ground freezes, some new growth of the roots will take place at once and the trees will have a good start on the sea-son when spring comes.

Set the trees 40 feet apart in and between the rows. Make the holes for them just large enough to accommodate the root development of each tree. Set the trees an inch lower in the ground than they stood in the nursery; a young apple tree will not root any deeper by deep planting, and may suffer for it.

Trees of at least two varieties should be planted within 50 feet of one another, because pollination of one variety by the pollen from another is usually required for the trees to bear.

Apple Nutrition

If your soil is very acid, broadcast one pound of lime and 1/2 pound of phosphate rock per tree over the entire orchard before planting. One-half this amount may well be sufficient for young trees grown in a cover crop that is mowed for mulch. If apple trees are grown in sod and mulched with non-legume hay, add dried blood or other nitrogenous fertilizer. Increase the amount with each recurring season, reaching a maximum application of two pounds of nitrogen for seven or eight-year-old trees. Apply nitrogenous material in a circle about three feet wide under the outer extremities of the branch spread.

A deficiency of nitrogen will show up as small, yellowish leaves. If the foliage rolls and scorches that indicates a lack of potassium in the soil. A liberal mulch of manure (or clover mulch to which lime has been added) mixed with the right amount of potash rock to the acre, will adjust the potassium deficiency.

Falling Apples

The fall of apples, if not in excess, is a natural phenomenon, nature’s way of removing improperly pollinated fruit. This also removes fruit that the tree could not normally bring to maturity without exhausting its nutrient supply. Two abscission periods generally occur. The “first drop” begins shortly after petal fall and lasts for two or three weeks. The so-called “June drop,” which begins a few days after the completion of the first drop, is somewhat of a misnomer since it normally spans two to four weeks anywhere from late May to early June. Excessive drop may be caused by a deficiency of boron or magnesium, or by too little moisture, and heavy applications of nitrogen may encourage drop.

Apple Scab

Apple scab spends the winter on dead fruit and dead leaves on or under the tree. It can be prevented largely by carefully removing all dead leaves and fruit to the compost heap and mulching under the tree. A dormant oil spray will also help.

Old Apple Trees

Apple trees may bear crops for 30 to 50 years. If the trunk or branches are badly rotted or about a quarter of the top is dead through disease or winter injury, it is not ordinarily worthwhile to attempt salvage. However, here’s some general advice when trying to bring new life into old neglected trees:

Cut out old wood and prune heavily to strong, new growth; remove all suckers not necessary to replace the top; prune out inter-lacing branches to open the trees to light and the circulation of air; break up the soil around the tree, working in a great deal of compost, manure and organic materials; apply organic nitrogen such as dried blood, cottonseed meal or nitrogen-rich sludge, about 25 to 35 pounds per tree; mulch heavily. Do this regularly for several seasons.

Vitamin C Content of Apples

Apples are an important source of vitamin C, although the varieties differ greatly in their level of this vitamin. While five Delicious apples provide a minimum amount of vitamin C, one could get the same amount from two Wine saps or one Baldwin. Yellow Newton and Northern Spy are other good sources. McIntosh, Jonathan and York Imperial rate low in vitamin C.

Baldwin is widely grown in the eastern United States. It is sensitive to the climatic extremes existing west of Lake Michigan, how-ever. Northern Spy, another high-C apple, is also adaptable to the midcontinent and eastern region. Northern Spy is an excellent dessert or eating apple, but is not too useful for cooking. Baldwin is just the reverse. It is good for making pies and applesauce, but not too good for eating fresh. So by planting both of those trees you will get good supplies of both cooking and eating apples that are rich in vitamin C.

Tests have shown that most of the vitamin C in apples is right in or under the skin, and the skin can contain five times as much of the vitamin as the flesh. It is interesting that small apples are richer in vitamin C than large apples; small apples have more area of skin per pound of fruit, and this greater percentage of skin is probably the cause of the higher vitamin C content. It is fortunate that apples lose very little of their vitamin C in storage. If stored at 36°F. (2.22°C.), Baldwin apples will lose no vitamin C over a period of five or six months. However, if the storage temperature gets up to 45° F (7.22° C), some of the vitamin content will be lost.

Selecting a Location for an Apple Tree

Each variety does best in certain regions of the country. In the Northeast, the Great Lakes keep the growing season cool and summer rainfall is usually dependable. Growers in the central Atlantic region worry more about rainfall. Warmer temperatures dictate that most orchards be placed at fairly high elevations in the Appalachians. Warm temperatures in the Ohio Basin region cause more importance to be placed on a sufficient rainfall; droughts tend to be quite serious. Soils that can hold water well to a depth of three to four feet will minimize the threat of damage. In the north central states, cold winters are the grower’s main concern. Cold-resistant varieties have been developed, and include Haralson, Honeygold, Red Baron, Joan, Secor, Anoka, and Regent. Sunny summers and relative freedom from spring frost damage make the West Coast an excellent apple-growing area, although large orchards often must be irrigated.

In general, the primary consideration determining what variety can be grown is temperature. Talk with growers in the immediate area and extension service agents about the dangers of spring frost, in particular, and the suitability of temperature the rest of the year.

A persistent heavy wind may render a site unsuitable, making spraying difficult and affecting fruit set. The best sites are elevated rolling or sloping fields; low-lying areas tend to collect cold air.

Although they cost a bit more initially, dwarf apple trees offer several advantages to the home orchardist. Most standard apple varieties take five to ten years to bear fruit; dwarf trees bear from one to three years after planting. A dwarf produces an average of one to three bushels (50 to 150 pounds) of fruit per season—plenty for the average family—and the fruit is as large as or larger than that of the standard tree. Because they grow only six to eight feet high – 15 feet in the case of semidwarfs – dwarfs are easy to spray and pick from. They also require much less space; you can plant six dwarfs in the amount of space required for one standard tree.

Gardeners interested in growing some of the colorful old apple varieties of yesteryear, either for their superior regional adaptability or exceptional taste, should consider grafting scions of old varieties like American Beauty, Rhode Island Greening and Cox Orange. Individuals and groups who raise these old favorites can often be traced through local nurseries, horticultural societies or county agricultural extension offices. Other old-time varieties that once flourished in backyards and small orchards include Ben Davis, Black Gilliflower, Blue Pearmain, Esopus Spitzenburg, Maiden’s Flush, Pound Sweet, Twenty Ounce, and Fameuse.

Planting Yams

by on Tuesday, March 3, 2015 3:48 under Home & Garden.

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Yams are vines cultivated for ornament or for their edible tubers. They are native to the South Pacific islands, but their culture has spread to other tropical areas. Japan, China, Australia, India, Africa, the West Indies, South America, and the southern tip of Florida all grow yams. In many of these places, yams provide an important part of the diet. The sweet potato is sometimes called a yam, but it is of an entirely different genus (Ipomoea).

Most yams do best in near-tropical climates. Their tubers may be planted any time of the year in warm, sandy soil. Place them two to three feet apart in rows about five feet apart. Some species produce their tubers above ground in leaf axils; others produce them so far underground that they are difficult to dig. For optimum yields, stake the vines.

The Chinese yam or cinnamon vine (D. Ba-tatas) bears cinnamon-scented flowers and aerial tubers which are used for propagation, as well as large edible, deep-growing under-ground tubers. It is grown for ornament as well as for food and is hardy as far north as New York although it will not always produce edible tubers. The air potato (D. bulbif era) has no big underground tubers, but is grown in the South and in greenhouses for the odd tubers borne in the axils of the leaves which are some-times eaten like potatoes. Yams contain more protein and less starch than potatoes.

The yampee (D. trifida) is another southern vine with small underground tubers, prized for their flavor, while the wild yam (D. villosa) grows along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts and has a woody rootstock. There are many other edible species, mostly tropical, some of which have tubers weighing up to 100 pounds.

Planting Lemon Trees

by on Thursday, February 26, 2015 2:47 under Home & Garden.

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Lemons (Citrus limonia) are the most popular acid citrus for cooling drinks and cookery. Although the tree is less attractive than most other citrus species, the value of the fruit goes far to alleviating this deficiency.

Lemon varieties are fewer in number than for most popular citrus fruits and among the tree a lemon there is little difference in fruit characteristics.

`Eureka’ is of typical “lemon” shape—elliptical, with a nipple at the blossom end and amore or less necked stem end. The tree is the smallest of the Lemon varieties, more open, spreading, and with nearly thornless shoots. In Calif. ‘Eureka’ is preferred in the cool coastal districts because more of its fruit ripen in the late spring and early summer.

‘Lisbon’ is the variety preferred in the Calif. lemon districts having higher summer temperatures, again because under these conditions a higher percentage of the fruit ripens at a favorable time. The tree is substantially larger, more upright, denser and more vigorous than other Lemon varieties, and with thorny shoots.

‘Villafrartea’ is a variety quite similar to ‘Eureka’ in fruit, but more like ‘Lisbon’ in tree characters. In Calif. this variety tends to produce a higher percentage of its fruit in the fall and winter, an undesirable characteristic which has limited its use. However, it is the best adapted of the true lemons to the warm, humid Southeast.

‘Meyer’ (Meyer Lemon) is an anomalous kind, possibly a hybrid bearing acid fruits of lemon character. The fruit is nearly round, with a short nipple. It has a light orange color rather than yellow, with very juicy light orange-yellow flesh rather than the pale greenish-yellow of the true lemons. The tree is dwarf, and much more cold-resistant than the true lemons, which makes it a garden favorite.

‘Ponderosa’ (American Wonder) is mentioned primarily for its very large fruit; both tree and fruit have ornamental value, but the fruit is of poor quality for food use.

In regions where lemons are not well adapted the Rough Lemon and the Calamondin (C. mitis) are sometimes used as substitutes, as both yield fruit with acid, plentiful juice. Rough Lemon, as its name implies, bears a roughish orange-yellow fruit of small orange size. Calamondin fruit is quite small, round and yellow; this species is sometimes used as an ornamental garden plant.

‘Millsweet’ and ‘Dorshapo’ are 2 sweet lemons (low acid); both are believed by some to be hybrid sorts, although their fruits are quite lemonish in appearance. ‘Millsweet’ is nearly round in shape, while ‘Dorshar’ resembles ‘Eureka’ in fruit. They are generally considered to be novelty fruits, but may have value for those who object to the highly acid citrus.

The true lemons are less cold-hardy oranges, but slightly hardier than limes. Some tree damage will occur when temperatures drop below 24° or 25° F., and defoliation at somewhat higher temperatures. They are also slightly tenderer than are orange fruits. The ‘Meyer’, on the other hand, is fully as hardy as is the Orange will be recognized that protection against will be more difficult for lemons.

Lemons are propagated by the same methods as given for Oranges. Rootstocks commonly used are the same as for Orange, except that Lemon tends to overgrow Sour Orange stocks, and to be relatively weak on them. Sweet Orange, Citrange and Trifoliate are possibly a little better.

Size differences among Lemon varieties and kinds result in a variety of recommended planting distances, which also can be varied byte training given. The vigorous true lemons, as ‘Lisbon’ and ‘Villafranca’, make large trees on good rootstocks if allowed to grow freely.

Trela require 24 to 30 ft. spacing; with heavy pruning they may be kept somewhat smaller. ‘Eureka’ is often kept low by heavy pruning, and can be maintained easily at 18 to 20 ft. spacing. ‘Meyer’, being semi-dwarf naturally, needs about 8 to 12 ft. spacing. Rough Lemon and the sweet lemons would need the same spacing as for ‘Lisbon'; the Calamondin is often kept small by treating it as a small ornamental shrub; its natural tendency is to make a rather tall but narrow, cylindrical tree. The effects of closer planting and shaping are the same as described for Orange; also by using dwarfing trifoliate stock, space requirements may be materially reduced.

Lemons are pruned more heavily than any other citrus species; rather than a requirement this is probably dictated by the need to keep trees small for the continual harvest. Nevertheless, it is true that lemons fruit much better than other citrus under such heavy pruning, which may therefore be used to control tree size. Lemons tend to throw strong, upright water-sprouts which, if not removed, soon make an impenetrable thicket of the center of the tree, and tend to shade out the productive portions of the tree. Some of these water sprouts may be converted to fruiting wood by pulling them to the outside of the tree, in a nearly horizontal attitude, but generally they are removed. ‘Eureka’ can be kept quite low and spreading; ‘Lisbon’ and ‘Villafranca’ somewhat more upright. ‘Meyer’ needs practically no pruning except the removal of interfering branches. Cultural needs and practices are otherwise very similar to those for the Orange.

Commercial lemons arc harvested according to size, without regard to color development. Green fruit may be ripened artificially with ethylene or be stored, where it develops its full color. The gardener can profit by this experience, for it is not necessary to await color development to use the fruit; when it is of typical size and is juicy it is ready for use. However, for appearance most fruit will probably be picked as it reaches full yellow color; large fruits on vigorous trees may actually be past their prime by that time. Lemons should be clipped from the tree, and when properly handled they have a very long storage life, although this is less important to the gardener considering the overbearing habit of the species. For storage the fruit should be washed, well cured, and held at refrigerator temperatures. Under close commercial control lemons are sometimes stored for 6 months or more. The skin becomes thinner and may even appear and feel dry but the fruit retains its juicy condition.

The ‘Meyer’ does not have as long a storage life, but holds its fruit on the tree over a rather extended period. Like the true lemons they may be used from the time they are juicy to the end of their on-tree life. Rough Lemon and Calamondin will be used from the tree.

The pests and diseases of the lemons are the same as for Orange. Lemons are more susceptible to scab and other fungus diseases than most citrus in the warm, humid Southeast. Under adverse conditions lemons also tend to defoliate rather readily; the tree is, therefore, often less attractive than are other citrus.

Duck Raising

by on Monday, February 23, 2015 13:56 under Home & Garden.

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Ducks are very easy to handle, taking less time and work than other fowl. Also, their housing needs no insulation and requires less heat than chicken housing.

One of the big dividends of duck raising is the manure. It is twice as rich in nitrogen, and contains approximately six times the phosphorus and the same amount of potash as average farm manure.


There are egg breeds, meat breeds and ornamental breeds of ducks, and the breed you grow depends on what you expect from your birds. For eggs, the Khaki Campbells and Indian Runners are both good though neither breed produces a good bird, Khaki Campbells have averaged 365 eggs per year, per bird as opposed 260, per year for many chickens.

There are three primary meat breeds. Pekin is the bird raised commercially in the United States for meat production. This is a good quality bird. The birds reach market within eight weeks, and they are white feathered, a big advantage in the marketplace. However ducks are poor sitters and very nervous. Flocks have to be handled with care.

Aburys are popular in England for meat portions and, like the Pekins, mature in eight weeks. Although they are not as nervous, the Abury is less popular because it has feathers.

Muscovies, another meat breed, takes longer to mature, approximately ten weeks, but is larger than the Pekin and tends to be fatter. In addition, Muscovies, though only layers, are good sitters.

Ornamental breeds include Cayugas, tall Mandarins and Blue Swedish.


It is best to start with day-old ducklings rather than try to incubate fertile eggs. Put the day-old ducklings immediately under the brooder set at 90°F (2.22°C). Reduce the temperature five degrees (F.) a week until they are let out. After a few days, ventilation is vital. Ventilate enough to keep dampness down, but avoid drafts.

A 10-by-12-foot brooder house will accommodate 200 to 300 ducklings, or a temporary pen may be built in a laying house.

During their first two weeks, the ducks should get starter pellets or a starter mash thoroughly wetted; only mix as much mash as the birds will eat, extra mash will sour and the ducklings will not eat it. After two weeks, switch to growing pellets or growing mash with about a 15 percent protein content. You can use the same mixture you’re feeding your chickens. At eight weeks, switch to fattening pellets.

Ample fresh, clean water is a necessity. Running water in shallow, narrow troughs will allow the baby ducks to submerge their bills and eyes without getting their bodies wet.

Ducklings need a constant supply of fine grit. Feed separately from the mash.

If ducks are to be raised entirely in confinement, they will need three square feet per bird by the time they are six weeks old. They will also require deep litter. Straw makes good bedding material. If ranged in warm weather they can be let out after the first three weeks. Ducklings are much hardier than baby chicks. Cool temperatures make them feather out faster and eat better for smooth, plump flesh, but it’s a good idea to harden off the ducklings by admitting increasing amounts of cool air for a week prior to ranging.

On range, tall weeds or trees, or frames covered with boards and building paper, are sufficient protection from the sun and rain.

Move mash hoppers and water fountains frequently to avoid bare spots.

On small farms try to locate duck yards on gently sloping land with light sandy soil. Manure should be scraped up regularly, or a couple of inches of gravel laid down to make the yards self-cleaning when it rains. A yard 50 by 75 feet will hold 100 ducklings.

A pond or brook will reduce the amount of water hauled to your flock. The ducks don’t need a particularly large or deep pond, just one big enough to clean themselves. It should be shallow and flowing. Some farmers dam a stream and periodically flush out the resulting pond to remove manure. A settling basin is an excellent way to catch the sludge after flushing, which can then be used on your garden. Some farmers provide shallow splash pans of water which they clean frequently. This is particularly necessary during breeding season, when moisture is essential for proper hatching of the eggs.

Breeding Ducks

For a steady supply of ducks throughout the year, a breeding flock is a necessity. Select ducks for breeding carefully. Ducks should come from early hatches, have good weight, conformation and feathering. Allow approximately one drake to six ducks.

Separate your breeders from the rest of the flock, and check for general health and vitality. Ducks need about five square feet of housing space per bird, outdoor exercise in all but the worst winter weather, and swimming water to keep in top condition.

Duck eggs are incubated four weeks before they hatch (Muscovy eggs take five weeks). They require a lot more moisture than hens’ eggs and must be turned three or four times a day. Since ducks lay at night, gather eggs in the morning for best results in the mechanical breeder. Wash carefully. Have eggs at room temperature before incubating. Candle eggs at seven or eight days, and discard those with dead embryos or infertile eggs. Living embryos have the appearance of a spider floating inside the eggs.

When hatched, put the baby ducklings in the brooder as soon as they are dry and fluffy. See that ample food and water are available.


Ducks raised in relative and in small numbers suffer little diseases. Muscovies appear to be more resilient than Pekins or Runners. If you have a flock has been suspected to have disease, don’t wait to call a vet.


Properly grown Pekins weigh between five and six pounds at nine to eleven weeks. After twelve weeks or so, they won’t grow larger without out considerable extra feeding, and the meat is tough and stringy. Muscovies should not be slaughtered after 17 weeks of age for the same reason.

Dry-picking birds is best, although many commercial concerns dip the ducks in boiling water or in wax which, when cooled, peels off quite easily bringing feathers with it. If dry-picked, the birds hold their flavor better. Duck down can also be a valuable by-product for homestead. It should be treated in the same way as goose down.

Duck eggs sometimes find a good market, and duck is a popular entree in many restaurants.

Planting Cabbage

by on Thursday, February 19, 2015 0:44 under Home & Garden.

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Cabbage is by far the most important member of the genus Brassica that is grown as a vegetable. It has been known from earliest antiquity and was probably in general use as early as 2000 to 2500 B.C. Several types were cultivated at the time of Pliny. At the present time Cabbage is found wild on the sea coasts of western and southern Europe.

Cabbage thrives best in a relatively cool, moist climate. In the southern region it is grown largely during the winter and early spring, while in the northern states it is grown as either a late spring or fall crop.

Cabbage Varieties

There are literally hundreds of varieties of Cabbage which vary in size, shape, maturity, color and resistance to various diseases. Some are used for boiling, coleslaw and salads while others, the larger-headed sorts, are grown basically for sauerkraut and pickling. It is suggested that the home gardener check several good seed catalogues and then select the variety that best meets his needs.

Good (yellows resistant) green and early varieties are: ‘Jersey Wakefield’ (a conical head), ‘Golden Acre’, ‘Stonehead’, and ‘Copenhagen’. Green and late: Danish Ballhead types such as ‘Penn State Ballhead’, or ‘Wisconsin Hollander’. Red types are ‘Red Acre’, or ‘Red Danish’ and Savoy types, and ‘Chieftain’.

Cabbage Soils and Fertilizers

Most garden soils will produce a good crop of Cabbage if the soil is properly prepared and fertilized. Generally early Cabbage is grown on the lighter sandy-loam soils, while late Cabbage is grown on heavier soils that are more retentive of moisture. Perhaps more important than soil texture, is its supply of moisture and its fertility.

Cabbage is a heavy feeder, especially of nitrogen and potash. If animal manure is available, liberal applications prior to plowing or spading will be beneficial. In addition to manure, 30-40 lbs. of a 5-8-7 or similar ratio of a commercial fertilizer should be applied prior to planting, followed by several side dressings of nitrate of soda, it lbs. per too ft. of row, during the first 5 weeks after the plants have been set into the garden.

Growing Cabbage Plants

For early Cabbage sow the seed in good potting soil in flats or other suitable containers a month or 6 weeks earlier than the plants are to be set out. Sow the seed in drills in. deep and 2 in. apart. When the seedlings reach a size of 2-3 in. in height, transplant into boxes with spacing of 1-11 in. Maintain uniform soil moisture and a temperature of 60 to 70° F. until a week or two before field planting when the temperature should be reduced to 50-55°F. The method of raising plants for the late crop is exactly the same except that the flats or boxes are kept out-of-doors rather than under glass in the home or in hotbeds.

Cabbage Planting

Cabbage plants that are well hardened can beset out in the garden even though the temperature may drop down below freezing for several days. Spacing will depend largely on the variety. ‘Jersey Wakefield’, ‘Golden Acre’, and ‘Copenhagen’ may be set 15 in. in the row, while the larger-headed Ballhead types should be given a hit more space, say 15-18 in. apart.

Cabbage Cultivation

Cabbage roots are wide spread and relatively shallow. Sufficient cultivation should be given to keep down the weeds and to maintain shallow soil mulch when the plants are small. Hand hoeing or hand weeding may be necessary after the plants reach full size if weeds are a problem.

Cabbage Harvesting

The heads are usable anytime after they have properly formed. If left too long after maturity the heads will split. In cutting use a large knife and cut just above the large outer leaves.

Cabbage Storage

Late Cabbage may be stored in outdoor pits for periods of 4-8 weeks. The plants are pulled, roots and all, and placed in the pit, heads down, and then covered with hay or straw and a layer of soil.

Cabbage Insect Pests

Several greenish leaf-eating caterpillars attack Cabbage and related plants. They include the cabbage worm and cabbage looper. To control, use Bacillus thuringensis regularly at 7-10 day intervals. Begin in May when first butterflies are seen after planting in the South, or use Sevin for good results. After the edible part of plant appears (heads) use Sevin, a 4% malathiondust 1 oz. per 50 ft. of row.

Cabbage aphid may be a serious pest. These soft-bodied, green or black insects may be controlled with a malathion dust or anicotine dust.

Root maggots can be serious for all crops in the Mustard Family. Control of the maggot is in applying each cupful to each plant when set out in the garden of a diazinon suspension in the transplant water, using 5 oz. 50% wettable powder in suspension.

Black and red Harlequin bugs occur in the southern states. Adults and nymphs suck the plant sap and are very hard to kill. Hand pick or, if serious, use Carbaryl (Sevin) dust.

Cabbage Diseases

Black rot caused by a bacterium that lives over in the seed produces a black ring in the stem and veins of the leaves. Blackleg is a disease caused by a fungus parasite that invades the seed and lives over in the soil. Its worst damage is to young plants in the seed bed. Both of these diseases may be kept under control by treating the seed with hot water (Cabbage for 25 min. other crucifers for 18 min. at 1220 F.), by using sterilized soil in the seed bed and by crop rotation in the garden.

Cabbage yellows caused by a fungus which shows up by the lifeless yellowish-green color of the plants, 2-4 weeks after transplanting, followed by a stunted, malformed growth. This disease is soil-borne and the only control lies in crop rotation and in using yellow-resistant varieties.

Club root is produced by an invasion of a slime mold on the roots. The roots of affected plants show a thickened, malformed appearance. This is a soil parasite which thrives in an acid soil. Soil pH should test 6.8-7 and transplants should come from soil that has been treated with Vapam, 1 pint per 50 sq. ft., or apply Terrachlor 75% wettable powder, 5 lbs. per 100 gal. of water, using pint of this per plant.

Cabbage and the other crucifers are subject to other insects and diseases which generally are of minor importance. In addition certain physiological disorders are common, whiptail in Cauliflower and tip burns of Cabbage, in both cases indicated by poor and malformed leaf blades. They are caused by an acid soil and an unbalanced ratio of potash to phosphorus. Browning or brown rot is caused by a deficiency of boron. This is most prominent in Cauliflower. The symptoms are a change in color of the foliage, thickening and brittleness of the leaves and a browning of the “curd” in the case of Cauliflower. Control is in applying 8 oz. per 1000 sq. ft. of borax mixed in the commercial fertilizer or as a foliar spray.

Two more or less distinct species are grown, Pe-tsai (Brassica pekinensis)and Pak-Choi (B. chinensis). The Pe-tsairesembles Cos Lettuce but produces a much larger head which is elongated and compact. The Pak-Choi type resembles Swiss Chard with long, dark green leaves. This kind does not form a solid head.

Planting Dates

by on Wednesday, February 18, 2015 12:37 under Home & Garden.

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Cultivation of the Date Palm (Phoenixdactylifera) has been practiced since prehistoric times and seems to carry an aura of mystery and romance, probably abetted by the unfamiliar desert locale of all major date-producing areas. Where it is grown extensively, the Date is often a primary food. In the United States it is an exotic plant whose requirements restrict its growth for fruit production to very limited areas of the low deserts of southeastern Calif. and parts of Ariz.

The Date is a true subtropical plant, grown nowhere in the tropics. Dates have a requirement for heat and freedom from rain and high humidity during most of the fruit development period. The trees will withstand temperature down to 20° F. without injury. Below 20° F. the fronds may be badly injured or killed, but the terminal growing point is seldom killed at temperatures as low as 8° to 10° F. However, where normally grown, such low temperatures are due to intense radiation frosts and are of very short duration; the bud is protected by the insulation of the enveloping leaf-bases. Continuous cold below 20° F. would be expected to be fatal. Rain and even high humidity could result in cracking and checking of the fruit at almost all stages of development and is the prime reason that dates are not adapted to the South and southeastern states. If fruit is not wanted, male or female palms may be grown far outside the range for fruit production – in the southeastern states wherever oranges are grown, and at latitudes to nearly 40° N. in inland valleys of the Pacific Coast.

To mature fruit, average growing temperatures for the period a month before bloom to fruit ripening must be at least 70° F. for the very earliest maturing varieties to 90° F. for late varieties. Extremely high daytime temperatures are not essential, but do prevail in the desert regions where such average temperatures are attained.

Palms are easily grown from seed, which should be planted an inch deep in a good seedbed. Fruit of seedlings will be much poorer than from varieties, and as Date Palms are dioecious, about half of such seedlings will be male.

Propagation of palm varieties is by 4-5 year-old offshoots—lateral growth that develop on the base of young palms. Those near the ground will be with roots, those above ground without. Rooted offshoots are cut from the mother palm and planted immediately in the location desired, in a site prepared well in advance by digging a hole about 3 ft. across and 1 ft. to 18 in. deep, filled with well firmed topsoil, which should be fertile and settled at planting. Unrooted off-shoots may be planted under shade; many will fail to root. Offshoots have their leaves cut back to 3-4 ft. long and tied together. They are usually protected by wrapping with paper or old palm fronds, especially during the first winter, when they are tenderer to low temperatures. Newly planted offshoots should be watered frequently, or mulched, so that the soil near the surface does not dry out.

Natural pollination of dates is seldom sufficient to yield good crops, even when a high proportion of male palms are present. Pollination is by hand. Male inflorescences are taken when they are just emerging from the spathe. Two or three strands of male flowers are inserted in an inverted position into the emerging female inflorescence, which has just been cutback about one-third, and sometimes has had the inner whorl or two of female flowering strands removed (thinning). The bunch is tied at the distal end to retain the male strands, but the tie will need to be loosened periodically as the fruit grows. Alternatively, the male flowers may be allowed to shed their pollen on paper; it is collected and small balls of cotton dipped into it. Two of these balls are inserted into the female inflorescence, as described above.

At flowering the female inflorescence is relatively short and upright. It soon grows in length rather remarkably, and the weight of the developing fruit bends it over. For best results the inflorescence is brought through the leaf bases as it grows, until it hangs in an inverted position below the leaves; often the bunch stem is tied to a leaf base to prevent the weight of the fruit from breaking it. The distal bunch tie is then removed.

About midseason or a little later an inverted cone of kraft or similar paper is often tied around the bunch, with the wide end open to assist air circulation. This tends to protect the ripening dates from birds and rain.

Palms are planted at distances of 25-30 ft., the former being used for a few of the smaller kinds such as ‘Khadrawy’. They are not sensitive to soil conditions, and do well in heavy-to-sandy soils of moderate depth. They are tolerant of brackish water and soils with relatively high salt content, but do better in fertile soils and good water. They require little nitrogen fertilization; observations on their requirement for other fertilizer elements and micro-nutrients are lacking.

Date palms use large amounts of water, especially in the areas where they are commonly grown. The high transpiration rate may be an adaptive feature to hold plant tissue temperatures down, for the temperature of the body of the palm is usually about the same as that of the soil below the depth heated in the daytime.

Drought conditions will stop growth and are detrimental to fruit development.

Pruning of date palms consists of cutting off old fronds which are beginning to die, as indicated by browning of the leaf pinna toward the tip of the frond. It is usually done in late summer. Normally 80 to 100 mature leaves are maintained in the crown, which are enough to mature 8 to 12 bunches of dates and still ensure return bloom the following year. The sharp thorns at the base of the leaves are usually removed, primarily to assist in the pollination and harvesting procedures. Besides the thinning of the fruit clusters described, bunches in excess of 8-12 are removed when or soon after they appear, as the palm can set more fruit than it can mature properly, and excess fruit production in 1 year will drastically reduce that in the next.

Dates of commerce are all fully mature; a few varieties, such as ‘Barbee’ which lose astringency early, can be used at earlier stages. Such use effectively reduces the heat requirement and extends the area where they can be grown for garden use. When they reach the full khalal (pre-ripe) stage, as indicated by the fruit turning pink, yellow, or red, they may be harvested, allowed to soften naturally and then used. When full ripe, the tamar stage, the fruits are light to dark brown and begin to wrinkle. Not all fruit on a bunch ripens at the same time; for best quality multiple pickings are therefore necessary. If some fruit is in the late khalal or rutab (soft-tip) stage it may be ripened off the tree by holding the fruit, well spread out, at temperatures from 80° to 95° F., the higher temperatures being used for the less mature fruit. Ripe or ripened fruit may be held for long periods in cold storage; for several months at 30° to 32° F., and up to a year at 0° F. Curing temperatures for immature fruit should not be extended beyond the time necessary, for high temperatures accelerate the inversion of sucrose, so that the dates may be-come syrupy, and sugar crystallization takes place later, but not if held at 0° F.

Each producing area of the world has varieties particularly suited to it. Those found best in the United States are listed below. Date varieties are divided into three classes: dry dates, semidry, and soft. The latter are usually considered to be the best quality; semidry varieties are commonest in commerce because they are best adapted to handling and packaging.

‘Deglet Noor’, a semidry type is the leading variety in the United States, and is the one most often found in the market. It is relatively late maturing (for the warmest areas) and the palm is vigorous and large. ‘Zahidi’ is another semidry variety of good quality.

‘Thoory’, a dry date, is seldom found in this country; although favorites in the Near East, the dry dates have not become popular in the United States.

‘Halawy’, ‘Barhee’, ‘Khadrawy’, ‘Medjhooll’ and ‘Saidy’ are soft dates, which differ in size, shape and mature color, but all are of excellent quality. ‘Barhee’ is an early-maturing variety. The soft dates tend to pack and stick together in commercial handling, and are more subject to fruit rots, so although of higher quality than the semidry types are generally limited to specialty and local markets. These kinds have their sugar primarily as glucose and fructose, whereas the sugar of the dry types is mostly sucrose. The semidry types are intermediate and the proportion of the 2 types of sugars is affected materially by the time of harvest and the handling given after harvest. For the highest percentage sucrose they should be harvested as soon as ripe and stored as soon as possible.

Growing date palms for their fruits is an exacting art; as the palms become older the many manipulations become more difficult because of the height of the crown. Khadrawy is a variety which grows somewhat more slowly. There is, of course, no way to hold palms low.

Mealy bugs and scale insects infest the leaves and suckers and are controlled by the usual sprays of insecticide in the cooler weather and in the growing season.

Heart rot turns the heart of the palm black and the buds and new growth are curled and stunted. Avoid planting suckers from infected plants. Use of fungicides is impractical.

Stenciling Equipment

by on Sunday, February 8, 2015 9:25 under Home & Garden.

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A variety of materials can he used for stencilling, from special stencilling paints and sticks to acrylics and latex. Each has its own properties and will create different effects.

Acrylic stencil paint: acrylic stencil paint is quick-drying, reducing the possibility of the paint running and seeping behind the stencil. Acrylic stencil paints are available in a wide range of colours, and can be mixed for more subtle shades.

Acrylic varnish: this is useful for sealing finished projects.

Emulsion (latex) paint: ordinary household vinyl emulsion can also be used for stencilling. It is best to avoid the cheaper varieties, as these contain a lot of water and will seep through the stencil.

Fabric paint: this is used in the same way as acrylic stencil paint, and comes in an equally wide range of colours. Set with an iron according to the manufacturer’s instructions, it will withstand washing and everyday use. As with ordinary stencil paint, do not overload the brush with colour, as it will seep into the fabric. Always back the fabric you are stencilling with scrap paper or newspaper to prevent the paint from marking the work surface. Gold leaf and gold size: these can be used to great effect. The actual design is stencilled with gold size. The size is then left to become tacky, and the gold leaf is rubbed over the design.

Metallic creams: these are available in many different metallic finishes, from gold to copper, bronze and silver. Apply as highlights on a painted base, or use for the entire design. Creams can be applied with cloths or your fingertip.

Oil-based stencil sticks and creams: the sticks can be used in the same ways a wax crayon, while the creams can be applied with a brush or your fingertip. With either one, there is no danger of overloading the colour, and they won’t run. The disadvantage is their long drying time (overnight in some cases); also, the colours can become muddy when mixed. Sticks and creams are also available for fabrics.


Stencilling does not require a great deal of special equipment; many of the items used are commonly found in most households. A few tools, however, will make the job easier.

Brushes: it is worth investing in a set of good stencil brushes. The ends of the brushes should be flat and the bristles firm, to let you control the application of paint. A medium-size brush (4 cm/11/2 in diameter) is a useful, all-purpose size, but you may want to buy one size smaller and one size larger as well. You will need a selection of household paintbrushes for applying large areas of background colour, and small artist’s paintbrushes for adding fine details. Craft knife: use for cutting out stencils from cardboard.

Cutting mat: this provides a firm surface to cut into and will help prevent the craft knife from slipping. Masking tape: as the stencil may need to be repositioned, it is advisable to hold it in place with masking tape, which can be removed fairly easily from most surfaces.

Paint-mixing container: this may be necessary for mixing paints and washes. Pencils: keep a selection of soft and hard artist’s pencils to transfer the stencil design on to cardboard. Use an ordinary pencil to mark on your object the positions of the stencils before applying.

Stencil card (cardboard): the material used to make the stencil is a matter of preference. Speciality stencil card is available waxed from specialist art stores, which means that it will last longer, but ordinary cardboard or heavy paper can also be used. It is worth purchasing a sheet of clear acetate if you wish to keep your stencil design, to reuse time and again.

Tape measure and rulers: some patterns may require accuracy. Measuring and planning the positions of your stencils before you begin will aid the result.

Tracing paper: use to trace and transfer your stencil design on to stencil card

Planting Ginseng

by on Saturday, January 31, 2015 19:05 under Home & Garden.

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A fleshy-rooted herbaceous plant native to this country, ginseng was at one time of frequent occurrence in shady, well-drained sites in hardwood forests from Maine to Minnesota and southward to the Carolinas and Georgia.

Mature ginseng plants are between ten and 20 inches high, with five-fingered leaves and small yellow green flowers that develop over a three-year maturation cycle.

Although most claims of the medicinal properties of ginseng roots are not widely accepted in this country, the herb has become a popular item in health food stores today, and is commonly consumed in teas and as a food flavoring.

Ginseng takes its name from the Chinese word, sclzinseng, meaning man shaped. This refers to the form ginseng roots often assume. Ancient Chinese medicine regarded ginseng as tonic, stimulant and carminative.

First cultivated in America in the eighteenth century, the herb was valued as a commodity sought by Indians and Americans like. Today, the wild ginseng trade has inclined, but domestic cultivation has inert and many by-products are commonly fox gourmet shops and health food stores thin out the country.

One serious problem in cultivating ginseng is the length of time it takes to grow a marketable root. The seed may take from 18 to 24 months to germinate, even longer for the plant to mature. Gardeners who start with immature plants must often wait four to six years.

Another consideration is the quality soil required to successfully cultivate ginseng. The soil must be fairly light and well fertilized with woods earth, rotted leaves or fine bone meal, with the bone meal applied at a rate of one pound to each square yard. It is planted in spring as early as the soil can be worked to advantage. It is placed six in. apart each way in the permanent beds or by six inches in seedbeds, and the seeds are transplanted to stand six to eight in. apart when two years old. The roots of ginseng plants, especially in woodland, are some damaged by mice. Protection from rodents may be necessary. The beds should all times be kept free from weeds and the surface of the soil slightly stirred whenever it shows signs of caking. In winter it should be applied when freezing weather begins and removed early in spring.

The root should be collected only when it will be plumpest after drying. The roots are plunged into hot water, and steamed. This makes them appear semitransparent, enhancing their value for exportation.

Most people consider the Chinese claim of ginseng’s medicinal value to be mythology. In the United States, the herb is still cultivated mainly for export to China. Russians, however, are trying to verify Chinese through research and promotion of their herb, which they possesses medicinal qualities similar to ginseng, particularly as a relaxant.