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Blackberry Bush Pruning
Blackberry Bush Pruning
Just add parmasan cheese
When fall arrives, it's time to arrange and prune your blackberry plants. The method here is for plants that you have planted along a single, two-wire trellis, but the principle is the same if you have constructed a double trellis system.

General Considerations
Two words that you hear when talking about growing blackberry plants are "pruning" and "training". These terms are related, but absolutely two different aspects of care.
Pruning refers to cane cutting to promote new growth, to remove diseased or damaged plant segments and to control crop load and fruit quality.
Training refers to positioning canes to allow for good air flow, light exposure, harvesting and management.
A trellis has 3-5 sturdy poles with wire strung between them at heights of 1m (3 ft) and 1,5m (5 ft) from ground level.
The lower wire is for
primocanes (first year growth that has fruit buds) and the upper wire for floricanes (second year growth which blooms, fruits and then dies).
Contents of this page:
Pruning Blackberries
Growing Cardoon
Making An Onion String
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STEP 1 (...in the fall)
Use strong and sharp pruning shears or smaller, hand-sécateurs to remove the old floricanes from the past season. Cut them right back to the crown of the plant
(1 & 1a).Remove thin and weak-looking new growth as well. Remove segments or whole canes that have been damaged or are diseased in some way.
Leave the lower wire vacant for 3-5 primocanes which will develop during the coming summer. Secure these new canes to the lower wire fanning them left and right. These will become the fruit-bearing canes for the following season.
Transfer the long (new) canes that you had tied onto the lower trellis wire
(B) in the preceding season to the upper wire(s) (A), fanning them out left and right. Prune their side branches back to between 12 and 30cm or 3-12 bud sites (2).

Gather and bind removed canes for removal and destruction. Clean the ground at the base of your plants, removing all debris from pruning and clipping. Apply fertilizer of some sort (10-10-10 NPK, e.g.) at the base of the plants in long lines either side of the row(s) of plants-- scratch-in and mulch.

During the late spring mid-summer months your plants will produce new canes. These are to be tied-in on the lower of the two trellis wires
(B) (which have become vacant the previous autum) and allowed to grow until mid or late July. At this time you clip-off the ends to a length of ± 122cm (48 inches). Clipping-off the ends will cause growth hormones to be released and side branches will develop and grow.

This way, all fruitbaring canes are tied onto the top wire so that the berries are at a comfortable hight for picking.
All new canes are tied onto the bottom wire and get transferred to the top wire in the fall when all old canes have been removed from it.
The cardoon is a native of the Mediterranean countries. For instance, in Morocco it is considered a delicacy, reserved for holidays. The climatic conditions in the Med are typically hot and dry; however, they do better here when they are grown in shade to partial shade, with plenty of water and good, rich soil. They like to have lots of space around them and can grow to be very tall.
They are grown for their young, edible flower-head bracts (like their relative, the artichoke) and for their celery-like stems. Some folks simply use it as an impressive and somewhat exotic border plant which has beautiful flowers that attract bees and butterflies.
This article will deal with the development and harvesting of the stalks.

Sow seeds in March-April and germinate them at home on the windowsill or in a greenhouse (they can be sown in the soil in situ from mid-May). Plant them out in early June, after all chance of frost has gone. The plantlets should be at least 10-20cm tall.
We chose a partially shaded location with a well-drained soil/compost mixture and dug a trench about a spade-deep
(1); then planted them in the bottom of this. The reason for this will be shown later.

You just let Mother Nature take her course. Basically all you need to do is make sure they get enough water. Keep the base of the plants weed-free. Between June and October I gave the plants some "manure tea" on two occasions.

When the plants begin to approach maturity (±4-6 months and/or 1-1½m tall) you need to blanch the stalks to reduce bitterness.
The way you do this is to fold all the leaves upwards and bind them in two places (high and low)
Then around this you need to wrap burlap or cardboard to within about ±50cm of the leaf tips, tying it again in two places.
Next you use the earth that you dug out of the trench to "mound-up" at the base of the cardboard. This blocks light leaking at the base of the plant and stabilizes the cardboard or burlap.
You leave the wrapping in place for 3-6 weeks before removing it to harvest the stalks.

Remove the wrapping and bindings.
Cut the plants off below the crown.
Peel-away and discard the outermost leaf stalks to expose the "heart", or innermost leaves.
This bundle of tender stalks is then cut into a length of 50-75cm (removing the leafy tops).
Someone once remarked that when un-wrapping the plants, the stalks looked like celery that had been on steroids.
Tip: Cardoons should not be harvested during hot spells to avoid a very bad flavour. Do not wait until it begins to frost either.
When home, wash the stalks thoroughly and remove damaged areas
First trim-off the sides of the stalks (there will be serrations here).
Then remove the "strings" as you would do with celery. Cut into the top tip slightly and then pull downwards taking the strings as you go.
Once stringed, cut the stalks into ±5cm segments and immediately drop them into a bowl of milk, where they can soak for 15 minutes or so. This will prevent discolouration and minimize bitterness further.

There so many ways to cook this vegetable, just google it and you will see what I mean; however, just to round this article off, I shall mention the simple way that we did it
Sautee in a little butter until they are soft and golden (test with a fork).
Sprinkle with Parmasan cheese, salt and pepper.
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Making An Onion String
We used to keep our harvested onions in a drawer out on the side porch. The only problems with that were--no quick access and limited monitoring for sick or mouldy onions.

Well now, this is the simple way that we store our onions for use later...and, you don't have to have any special macramé skills either. Garlics can be done this way too.

--The whole process actually begins with harvesting your onions and letting them dry and 'cure' on a ventilated rack of some kind
(1) (about two weeks or so, depending upon the weather). Having ventilation on all sides is essential, and if lying flat they may have to be turned a couple of times.
--Hang-up a strong piece of twine on a nail, knot the end to prevent raveling and tie the first onion to the bottom of it securely (a square or granny knot, e.g.)(2).
--Then you hold the next onion's foliage against the twine with your forefinger and wind the foliage around the string 4-6 times.(3,4)
--Next you pull it downwards with your thumb and forefinger (5) so that it fits snuggly against the onion underneath it. You want to keep it snug so that the foliage does not become loose and unwind, causing the onion to fall off or be loose and floppy.
You will notice that as you make this there will be a sort of "open" place in the string, just fit the onion that you are working on into this little space.
--When all the onions have been strung then you can cut off the extra bits
(6) of the dead foliage. It's neater and one less place that mould could form.
Having said this, some folks do like to leave the loose ends of the foliage, it's just that I find it a bit messy.
You can then hang this onion/garlic string in your kitchen for use or whatever dry place you prefer to keep them in.
When you want to use an onion, just clip it free with the kitchen scissors.
Another thing that we do (that isn't necessary at all) is to make two strings: a string with the larger onions for main cooking and a string with smaller onions for when you don't need a whole big one.

Once you have the hang of this, you'll find that it's really quick and easy to do. Storing them this way will save you space and look nice as well.
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© sjoerd 2006-2015