Every year at the Tinytrees garden I try something new to grow, mainly anything healthy and that can be eaten. Last year I planted some bareroot Choke Berries (Aronia) and this year it produced its first crop. Their are two varieties available Black (Aronia melanocarpa) and Red (Aronia arbutifoilia). The variety I grow is Aronia melanocarpa.
The Chokeberry or Aronia is a member of the Rosaceae family and is most commonly grown as a garden shrub. It is claimed to have great health benefits and have the highest level of antioxidants. See references below.
How to Grow.
If you want to grow the Choke Berry, don’t worry they are not that difficult. They are very tolerant plants and don’t have many pests or diseases to deal with. They are suitable for beginners.
- Plant in well drained moist soil.
- After choosing your location, dig a whole about a meter deep (three foot three in old type) and about two times the width of the root-ball.
- Before planting put some stones in the base of the hole to help with drainage. Fill the hole with plenty of water and let it drain off.
- When planting fill up with good rich soil. I normally place the old grass sods upside down on top of the soil. Then water again once planted.
- Water well in first couple of months.
The plant over time does throw out some suckers, so make sure it has room to grow.
The Fun Part, Eating…
Raw berries are extremely tart (hence the name “chokeberry”), so they’re best when cooked and made into a health juice, jam or wine. Myself I prefer warming them slightly in the oven and adding some natural sugar. See list below for more details.
Can you Bonsai them? I have never tried. Let me know if you have…
Where to buy in Europe:
If you want to grow your own see Future Forests.
See the following links for more health information:
Article I wrote on antioxidant-fruits.com on Chokeberries, the poor mans Gogi berry
Caring for delicately scented Japanese orchids is a bit different than for most other garden flowers. They are epiphytes, which mean that rather than growing in soil, their roots are exposed to the air. In the wild orchids grow on other plants, using them for mechanical support. Orchids are not parasitic. They get their nutrients from the air and are sometimes called aerophytes, or air plants. Most Japanese orchids have white blossoms, but they can be found in subtle shades of pink and yellow.
The easiest way to grow them at home is to use a small flower pot filled halfway with coconut fibre. Bonsai planters will work as well, but since most of these are shallower, you must take more care with watering.
After wrapping the roots of the orchid in sphagnum moss, place the orchid in the flower pot, making sure that the crown, or top, of the orchid sits above the rim of the pot. Water just enough to dampen both the coconut fiber and the moss. Let it sit for 15 minutes, then pour the excess water out of the drain tray. It is important for the moss to be kept moist. (Do not leave your Orchid standing in water as it will drown)
If you have decided to go with a bonsai planter, you may have to adjust your watering schedule to make sure the moss in the bottom of the tray does not dry out. Using a deeper bonsai planter dish tends to hold moisture longer than a shallower tray.
Orchids like plenty of light (but not direct light) and prefer temperatures between 24 to 30 Celsius during the day. Night temperatures should not get much below 18 degrees Celsius. Japanese orchids are more robust than most other varieties and will tolerate slightly cooler temperatures.
Use lukewarm distilled water to mist your orchids once every other day during the spring and summer seasons. Avoid tap water since it may have chemicals that might harm the plant.
Fertilize your orchid once a month from early spring until the autumn. Fertilizing is not necessary in winter since the plant won’t be actively growing. Liquid or water soluble types of orchid fertilizer are advised. Fertilizers may cause salt and mineral build up in the bottom of the flower pot. Changing the coconut fiber once a year prevents this build up from harming the orchid.
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I had an early morning walk this morning (9am is early to me) and noticed that this year must be the year of the Buttercup. Every year I watch the cycle of the weed invasion on the percolation area. Last year it was the Thistle and the nitrogen fixing Gorse the year before that.
It’s great that ‘Natures Watering Can’ helps to make life much easier, especially when the number of tree’s and plant’s outnumber’s the amount of trips you really need to take after a tiring weekend.