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Be a Berry Grower

We're crazy for backyard berries and growing them couldn't be easier. Just give them a sunny spot with well drained soil, a little water and you'll be enjoying a homegrown harvest in no time.

Berry selections available today offer gardeners a multitude of colors and flavors. Most need full sun and, with the exception of blueberries, need neutral soil. Nearly all small fruit plants will grow successfully with moderate care - an application of fertilizer or compost, mulch for weed control, and regular pruning to aid in disease prevention and encourage large fruit. With proper care, these sweet treasures will reward you for years to come. Shoot for a mix of different types and varieties that ripen at different times to extend the harvest season.

GROWING STRAWBERRIES - plant in early spring. Plant roots shallowly in soil rich in organic matter. Water deeply but allow plants to dry slightly between watering. Mulch lightly during spring, summer and fall to help keep soil cool and to help control weeds. Mulch heavily during the cooler months to avoid damage to crowns. Fertilize with a high quality fruit fertilizer, but avoid fertilizing late in the season as this can encourage new growth that can be damaged by early frosts.

We recommend Berries Galore Strawberries, the world’s first strawberry with HOT PINK flowers! Taste the sunshine in the juicy and delicious mid-sized fruit that can be picked every 3-4 days in season. We also love Chandler Strawberries, a vigorous, high-yielding plant that produces large, firm fruit. This red ruby gem has an exceptionally sweet flavor.

GROWING BLUEBERRIES - plant in late winter or spring. Blueberries like an acidic, richly composted soil and prefer a full sun to part shade location. Blueberries have shallow root systems so fluctuations in water should be avoided. A 3 to 4-inch layer of mulch will help keep soil moist. Water regularly to maintain plant health and avoid leaf and flower drop. Prune lightly during the first 2-3 years to maintain shape. Mature blueberries should have older canes removed to encourage new growth. Fertilize using a high quality fruit fertilizer.

We recommend: Rabbiteye Blueberries, a reliable and dependable blueberry will produce berry-licious fruit all summer long. Remember, you need two shrubs for the “berry” best production. With sweet berries, these dark blue beauties are easy to grow.

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We’re Dreaming of… Tomatoes

OLD VIRGINIA TOMATOES

Yes, will admit we’re tomato obsessed. And, even though it’s freezing cold outside and it’s still a few months before you’ll start your seed, you’re probably already dreaming about those red, juicy tomatoes and wondering which ones you’ll grow this season. No matter what the variety — plum, beefsteak, heirloom or grape — tomatoes are perfect for sprucing up a main dish, tossed in salads or simply eaten fresh off the vine! Here’s one tomato you’ll want to add to your garden this season:

Tomato Old Virginia Red – This heirloom from the Giltner family is old time sweet/ tart tomato. With dark red, smooth fruits this tomato has very few seeds. The 5-6 ft tall plants produce even in a long hot summer. This tomato has good yields and flavor.

To-Dos in the August Garden

August brings hot and sticky weather to Hampton Roads. With it, too, comes the full enjoyment and bounty of the edibles and flowers you've tended during the spring and early summer. The most important thing to do in your garden right now is... enjoy all the beauty you've accomplished!

Sit back, relax and enjoy that gorgeous view. Here's a few easy tricks to keep your garden in tip-top shape through the rest of the summer:

Pick Faded Blooms
Keep your annuals blooming by consistently removing faded blooms. If allowed to remain, blooming will likely decrease, as the strength goes into making seed. Also, pick flowers for bouquets in your home. This will not only help keep the garden neat, but will increase flower productivity. Gather blooms in the evening and plunge in water overnight before using.

Mulch
A lot of gardens this time of year need a fresh application of mulch. Check that your mulch hasn't decomposed and add more as needed. Mulch conserves moisture. So, to properly conserve moisture and protect your plants, it is important to top off beds with bark, wood chips or pine needles at a depth between 3 to 4 inches.

Pick Herbs
Pick herbs for fresh use and for drying. Remember, harvesting will keep them growing longer!

Water
Watering chores will eat up your garden time this month. Remember the basics:
• we recommend watering plants in the early morning
• water the soil, not the leaves in order to prevent spreading disease or fungus
• water deeply and occasionally, rather than shallow and often
• remember to water your containers, as they tend to dry out before plants in the ground

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