Thursday, July 21, 2016

How to Grow a Pineapple from a Top Cutting

I've tried to "start" pineapple tops several different ways over the years, as indicated by so called experts on YouTube and never had any success. But, like Einstein, I never gave up. I decided to try it "MY WAY" and have been successful with 8 plants so far and I just started 10 more plants today.

Here's my "step by step" process. I ended up with 100% success rate with this process and if you follow it, you should have the same success, so give it a try! 

Here goes:
Cut the top off of the pineapple. Make sure you have NO FRUIT left on the cut end. If you leave fruit, you will likely end up with molds and then ROT!

Peel back at least 1-2 inches of the bottom leaves carefully to expose the tiny roots growing under these leaves. These are adventitious root and grow tightly under the base of the leaves.
Soak the cut end in lukewarm water for 2 hours so that the top can suck up a little water into the leaves.
Pull the tops out of the water and set them on their sides to dry out for at least three days. The cut end of the top will get dried out looking, and the rest of the top may look like it is dying, but don’t worry.
Plant in a container in good potting soil just up to the bottom of the leaves. You only need to plant it deep enough so that those roots that you exposed earlier are now covered with soil and the top stands up on its own and is stable.
Keep evenly moist prior to and as you start to see new leaf growth. I keep my pots in a “morning sun” area so that the new plants are not exposed yet to our hard Texas sun. Since the pineapple plant is a member of the Bromeliaceae genus, you can water into the center of the plant. There may be a little “cup” forming that may hold water, or at least direct rain or overhead watering to the base of the plant.
Once you have at least 3-5 new leaves, depending on what season you are currently in, you can plant up into a bigger container, or in its permanent place in the garden. However, planting and tending will be found in an upcoming blog article. Good Luck with your new plant starts.

Top plant in above photo is 4 months old. Plant on bottom was just planted.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Canning Refrigerator Pickles

Canning refrigerator pickles from your garden grown cucumbers is very easy and gives you edible sweet pickles that you can eat within four or five days, instead of having to wait five or six weeks for regular sweet pickles to cure.

Growing the cucumbers is also extremely easy and one plant can provide an abundance of cucumbers to use for pickling. I planted 8 plants and was overwhelmed by produce. I have pickles in brine, for whole dilled pickles. I also have a pantry full of  bread and butter pickles, dill chips, sweet pickle spears and dilled pickle halves.

The following recipe for the refrigerator pickles should be followed without making any changes. This is a sweet pickle that will last in the refrigerator for about 60 days.

8 cups of thinly sliced cucumbers (3 large cucumbers).

1 ½ cups of thinly sliced sweet yellow onion (use red onion for added color).

¼ cup of sliced red bell pepper

¼ cup of sliced green bell pepper.

Making the brine.
Bring the following ingredients to a boil in a medium saucepan. Stir this combination often. Boil for 3–5 minutes. Pour this mixture over the cucumber, bell pepper and onions. Mix well and let stand to cool. Fill your jars and chill for 3-5 days before eating to let flavors migrate into the cucumbers.

2 cups of White Granulated sugar.

2 cups of White Vinegar (5%).

1 tablespoon of pickling salt.

1 tablespoon of Celery Seed.

1 ½ teaspoon of Mustard Seed.

This recipe makes 2 quarts.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Growing "Kiowa" Blackberries

It's that time of year...that is to start picking some varieties of Blackberries. My friend from TAP Rabbitry, Todd Gamel, who raises meat rabbits, as I do, has prepared an exceptional, short video of his blackberry patches.

He gave me over 30 plants that he mentions on the video, but he gives some easy to understand information on when the berries actually show up...when and where. It's a great video and I hope you'll share it with all of your friends and family. This is a good one!

Click here to watch the video.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

How to Grow Cucumbers

What’s the secret to avoiding bitter Cucumbers?

Cucumbers planted in the garden are very prolific producers and can be great for pickling or eating fresh in salads or just freshly peeled. Cucumber, Tomato and Onion salad in an Italian dressing has always been one of my favorites.
Since it is a warmer season vegetable, cucumbers should be planted, as with most other vegetables, after the last chance of frost.  Check the date on the seed packet for the expected last frost, as it is different across the United States. I keep the USDA’s website as a favorite on my computer for a variety of information.

Planting by seed has always worked best for me. I plant multiple seeds in groups four feet apart and then thin all but the strongest one plant.
Spacing between rows should be at least six feet as the plants can easily grow together. If you are planting so the cucumbers can climb a sturdy fence, I would plant seeds about 4 inches apart and thin to the best plants about one foot apart.

In my home state of Texas, if I am going to plant a second crop I make sure I have plenty of time for the cucumbers to reach maturity prior to the first frost late in the growing season. Cucumbers usually need about 2 months to reach harvesting size.
If you’d like to produce great looking and tasting cucumbers, you’ll need to mulch heavily; approximately four inches of straw,  water regularly; about an inch per week spread throughout the week and harvest before they get about 8 inches long. If you let them grow bigger, they tend to get pithy and dry on the interior.

I fertilize more often at half of the normal rate each time. I fertilize with about one pound per 100 square feet of row and apply it as often as every 2 to 3 weeks. I then water the fertilizer in very well each time. 
A salad cucumber on top and a pickling cucumber on bottom.

You can also scatter finely ground finished compost underneath the plants if you desire, however, this can get cumbersome, as you’ll need to lift the plants to place the compost. You risk plant breakage applying compost this way.

Insect problems consist of cucumber beetles (spotted or striped), spider mites and squash bugs (true bugs). You can identify a problem if you see evidence of chewed leaves, tan colored mottling. The leaves typically turn very crisp, indicating spider mite damage. Control spider mites with a miticide. Mildews can be controlled with fungicides.