Category Archives: Tinytrees Garden

A Winter Eden

A winter garden in an alder swamp,
Where conies now come out to sun and romp,
As near a paradise as it can be
And not melt snow or start a dormant tree.
It lifts existence on a plane of snow
One level higher than the earth below,
One level nearer heaven overhead,
And last year’s berries shining scarlet red.
It lifts a gaunt luxuriating beast
Where he can stretch and hold his highest feat
On some wild apple tree’s young tender bark,
What well may prove the year’s high girdle mark.
So near to paradise all pairing ends:
Here loveless birds now flock as winter friends,
Content with bud-inspecting. They presume
To say which buds are leaf and which are bloom.
A feather-hammer gives a double knock.
This Eden day is done at two o’clock.
An hour of winter day might seem too short
To make it worth life’s while to wake and sport.
by Robert Frost

Aronia, Great Super Food

Chokeberries at Tinytrees Wicklow
Chokeberries at tinytrees wicklow

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…

4 c. chokecherry juice
3/4 to 1 c. sugar
Pinch of salt
1/2 c. farina or cream of wheat
Heat the juice to boiling and slowly add farina, sugar and salt.
Stirring constantly, cook for 25 to 30 minutes or until; farina is
done.  Transfer to a large bowl and cool to lukewarm.
Beat with mixer at high speed for about 20 minutes until mixture is
light and fluffy. Serve chilled with cream.
Chokecherry Cordial Pie
1/2 cup shortening
2 cups flour
2 tbsp. sugar
Press into 9″x 13″ pan. Bake 10 minutes @ 350°F
Chokecherry pudding sauce
2 cups chokecherry juice (process described later)
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Add cornstarch to 1/2 cup cold juice. To the remainder of the juice
add sugar and bring to boil; add cornstarch/juice mixture. Cook to
thicken. Add salt and almond extract. Cool.
Chokecherry Juice
Cover chokecherry fruit with water, mash and boil at the same time.
After boil, simmer for a half hour mashing occasionally. Squeeze
through a cheese cloth or push through a jelly press taking care not
to crush pits. Crush to extract as much flavor as possible! Pits are
very sturdy and will be very hard to break open
Chokecherry Pie
1 9″ baked pie shell
2 cups chokecherry juice
3 level tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup sugar
small pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Cook ingredients until thick, stirring constantly. Cool.
Pour into pie shell and chill.
Serve with whipped cream or cream topping.
Chokecherry Crown Rolls
ingredients for the recipe
4 1/4 cup flour unsifted
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoon salt
2 package yeast
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup margarine
1  Egg — room temperature
Chokecherry filling:
2 cup Chokecherries — pitted
1 cup Chokecherry juice
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
recipe preparation
Blend chokecherry juice with sugar and cornstarch. Cook, stirring
constantly until thickened and clear. Add pitted chokecherries. Cool.
In large bowl mix 1 cup flour, sugar, salt and undissolved yeast.
Combine milk, water and margarine in sauce pan and heat over low heat
until liquid is very warm (120 to 130 degrees). Margarine doesn’t need
to have melted.
Gradually add to dry ingredients and beat 2 minutes at medium speed of
electric mixer, scraping bowl occasionally. Add egg and 1/2 cup flour.
Beat at high speed 2 minutes. Add enough additional flour to make a stiff
batter. Cover bowl tightly with foil. Chili 2 hours or overnight.
Remove dough from refrigerator and let warm up and raise slightly, about
1/2 hour. Turn dough out onto lightly floured board, divide into 18 pieces.
Roll each piece into a rope, 15 inches long.
Hold one end of each rope in place and wind dough around loosely to form
coil. Tuck end firmly underneath. Place on greased baking sheets about
2 inches apart. Cover. Let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
Make indentations about 1 inch wide in center of each coil. Pressing to
bottom. Fill with chokecherry filling,
Bake at 400 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes or until done. Remove from pans
and cool on wire racks. When cool. Drizzle with thin icing.

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 on Chokeberries, the poor mans Gogi berry


Caring for Your Orchid

Lyndas_OrchidCaring 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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