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What do honeyberries, Chickasaw plums, Goumi berries and mulberries have in common?

Friday, 22 April 2016

What do honeyberries, Chickasaw plums, Goumi berries and mulberries have in common?

They're Chuck's favorite berries!

Honeyberry

My new favorite fruit is honeyberry, I love just about everything about the plant. Called ‘haskap’ around the world, the name ‘honeyberry’ was given to this northern Asian native to popularize them in the US. A shrub honeysuckle, they’re an extremely cold hardy and somewhat drought tolerant plant, although they do better with adequate soil moisture and mulch to keep the soil cooler. This small 3-6 foot shrub is easy to harvest from and in my experience is a trouble free plant that just needs a some light pruning, mulch, and fertilization.

Ask the Chuckster: Spring fertilization

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Ask the Chuckster: Spring fertilization

It’s great being in the garden, and being outdoors in general, this time of year. I love engaging the pulse of plant and animal and soil life. We are fully in the time of unfurling as plants leaf out and bloom and grow. The insects have awakened, and our sweet birds are returning from their winter quarters to feast on them. I especially enjoy watching the cycle of life in my pond, where woods frog eggs laid in late winter has yielded a multitude of new tadpoles.

This is a great time of year to give newly growing plants some extra love and attention so they are strong and ready to optimize their seasonal growth in 2016. A little extra attention now can really pay off later. 

Ask the Chuckster: Early spring plant care

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Ask the Chuckster: Early spring plant care

What’s up with this weather? Do my plants need any special attention?

This is a challenging time for plants. They may be starting to bud out early, and the tender new growth and buds are more vulnerable to freezing temperatures than the dormant wood. I keep hearing from old timers about the great snow of 1993 and other memorable late winter events. My advice is to keep an eye on the weather and be ready to cover your plants, where size allows, with a blanket if damaging cold temperatures are expected after they leaf out or while they are in flower. Seaweed sprays or drenches, such as Nature’s NOG, may afford some level of frost protection if applied 24 hours before a major cold event occurs.

Chuck's all-time favorite plants

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Chuck's all-time favorite plants

Here is a list of some of my all-time favorite plants:

Muscadine Grape – Everyone living below 2500 ft. elevation should have a muscadine in their yard. Muscadines are full of antioxidants, like resveritol – they’ll keep you young! And they’re a smart plant for our climate – they wait until ALL danger of frost is over before budding out. A native plant, they have few pests or disease problems, making them easy to grow organically, and can produce prodigious amounts of fruit if pruned annually. Commercial growers support them with a single wire trellis, but in the home landscape you can also put them on a fence, patio, or pergola.

Elegant living architecture: An interview with Zev Friedman

Friday, 05 February 2016

Elegant living architecture: An interview with Zev Friedman

So Zev, what kinds of plant use strategies are you most excited about lately?

I'm working on a couple things right now, a kudzu-based polyculture system and a living mulberry and black locust fence around the "milpa" at Earthaven. These are two examples of living architecture – one of the best techniques for utilizing useful plants to address climate change (using fast growing woody plants that draw a lot of carbon out of the atmosphere and then turning that wood into charcoal that’s used in biochar buried in the soil is a long term form of carbon sequestration) and integrating woody plant polyculture with crop production.

Ask the Chuckster: Late winter pruning

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Ask the Chuckster: Late winter pruning

Has this been an unusual winter or what! An early cold and wet October followed by a warm November and December tricked a lot of the non-native plants into breaking dormancy in some cases. Then in January we finally got some cold weather and snow, just in time to hold some of our plants back a bit.  I suspect that we’ll have an early spring so it’s time to think about late-winter dormant pruning.

When can I start pruning?

In our area we expect to see some low 20 for nighttime lows, so early in February,we can start pruning the cold-hardy plants, such as apples, pears, Northern blueberries, elderberries, and grapes. Later in the month when we can see that sub-freezing temperatures are through for the season we can work with the more cold-sensitive plants. In the Piedmont the timing will be a little earlier. I’d jump on your winter pruning now in the Piedmont. Have your muscadines finished in the piedmont by mid February and in colder climes by the end of February.

Invest in mutual fun! An interview with Professor T. Bud Barkslip

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Invest in mutual fun! An interview with Professor T. Bud Barkslip

Professor T. Bud Barkslip has recently anointed himself as an "agronomystic," foretelling the economic future of America's Heartland. This is from an interview with the magazine "The Economystic."

Interviewer: Today our guest is Professor T. Bud Barkslip. Professor Barkslip, I hear you are to give a tour and pruning demonstration at the Montford Rally for Commonwealth edibles next weekend.

Professor Barkslip: Yes, that is true, but you can call me Professor BS. Most people do. I strongly believe that any forum to teach and inspire people to grow their own food will be essential to a world of burgeoning population with diminishing resources, and so I am supporting that cause by contributing some of what I know.

Ask the Chuckster: Winter mulching

Friday, 18 December 2015

Ask the Chuckster: Winter mulching

This month I address questions about preparing our plant allies for winter. At home I'm putting away the final autumn fruit harvest by making fruit vinegar from my overripe fruit.

How can I help my trees make it through these hard winters?

Mulching plants in for the winter prevents winter injury and promotes a healthy soil ecology, which encourages healthy root development and improves soil nutrient availability. Proper sanitation can reduce disease cycles by breaking insect and fungal lifecycles. And a little winter protection can help cold-sensitive plants get through a colder winter.

Ask the Chuckster: Make your own fruit vinegars

Wednesday, 02 December 2015

Ask the Chuckster: Make your own fruit vinegars

What can I make with all my extra fruit?

I’ve got more fruit than I know what to do with. Help!

Well, we’ve got some black muscadine grape vines here in our neighborhood and last year in spite of the drought we had a heavy harvest. I had more than I could eat in a bowl in the kitchen and the fruit flies got to them. Fruit flies carry with them them wild yeasts that eat the sugars in the fruit and start to turn the fruit into vinegar. Since my muscadines had started to turn and were inoculated by the fruit flies I thought I would experiment with vinegar making.

Plant profile: Cornelian Cherries

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Plant profile: Cornelian Cherries

by Debbie Lienhart

At a recent nursery team meeting we sampled jams from several uncommon plants we grow. One of our favorites was Cornelian cherry. The jam was smooth and red, with a slightly tart fruity taste similar to strawberries. The juice of Cornelian cherry, recently discovered by Chuck at a European market in West Asheville, the Euro Market, is also quite excellent. Chuck told us how he saw Cornelian cherry trees when he was visiting the Ukraine last year. They were a dominant small tree in Ukrainian forest gardens, along with their companion Carpathian walnuts, elderberries, and hazelnuts. Cornelian cherry is one of the favorite fruits in Eastern Europe, and it grows great in our area too!

Persimmon Pudding with Yuzu Sauce

Wednesday, 04 November 2015

Persimmon Pudding with Yuzu Sauce

Debbie's mom's recipe for Persimmon pudding with lemon sauce adapted to use Asian persimmons and Yuzus!

Ask the Chuckster: Planting and preparing for winter

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Ask the Chuckster: Planting and preparing for winter

In this "Ask the Chuckster" UPN founder, Chuck Marsh shares tips and how-tos for preparing plants for winter. 

I get a lot of questions in the fall about whether there is still time to plant. In my opinion, fall is the very best time of year to plant all but the most marginally hardy plants. The most challenging season for plants in our area is getting through the long, hot summer. By planting in the autumn, the plants have a long time to get established and acclimated before the stresses of summer. Fall planting allows plants to develop their roots during the dormant season, absorbing nutrients so that they are ready to take full advantage of the spring growing season.

Ask the Chuckster: Preparing plants for early fall

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Ask the Chuckster: Preparing plants for early fall

In this "Ask the Chuckster," UPN Founder Chuck Marsh covers the early-fall asks of fall planting and sanitation.

Here we are between the summer and fall. The locust and cherry trees are already losing leaves and the long-range weather forecasts for our area show that the summer heat has broken for the year.

When can I start fall planting?

With the heat breaking early and finally getting some nourishing rain, we can start fall planting now. You will need to be able to water newly planted trees and shrubs regularly, especially as the drier fall days appear.

Plant profile: Asian persimmons

Wednesday, 06 May 2015

Plant profile: Asian persimmons

What's orange, sweet, crunchy, and grows on trees? Asian persimmons!

Asian persimmons grow on 15-20 foot tall attractive trees that form an umbrella canopy without pruning. They can handle a wide range of soils provided they have good drainage. The trees are less bothered by pests than most fruit trees, though persimmon borers can kill the tree.

Ask the Chuckster: Early springtime pruning

Wednesday, 08 April 2015

Ask the Chuckster: Early springtime pruning

In this "Ask the Chuckster," UPN Founder Chuck Marsh covers the early springtime pruning dos and don'ts.

Well, spring has arrived after our coldest winter in a while. We all want to go outside and get active in the garden after being cooped up in a frozen world for way too long. The ground may be a bit wet and sticky to dig too much till it dries a bit, so we turn to pruning as a good outdoor activity. You know, clean up some after a long winter. You can do either good or harm unless you have a horticultural strategy driving your efforts.

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