The Q&A Archives: Grapes,strwberries,rasp.

Question: I want to start some grape vines, strawberries, raspberries, that you guys have at the store I was wondering how to start them, and sensitivity towards cold better to start them in the house then outside, what is recommended for soil if I where to put them in pots?

Answer: Your plants will be better off in the garden rather than in containers. Raspberries grow well if they get a half-to-full-day's worth of sun. Currants and gooseberries prefer full sun, but they will tolerate part shade.

These small fruits grow best in loamy, well-drained soils, but they also will grow in a wide range of soils from coarse sand to clay loams. Good soil drainage and a continuous supply of moisture ensure the highest yields. Raspberries need one-half to one-inch of water per week early in the season. Increase irrigation to one-and-one-half to two-and-one-half inches of water from the time of flowering through the end of fruiting. After fruit harvest, reduce irrigation for raspberries, currants and gooseberries. This will promote hardening off for winter. The plants will benefit from a final watering in November.

Strawberry varieties are classified as June bearing, everbearing or day neutral. Recommended varieties of June bearers (one crop a year) for this area are Guardian, Rechief, Marlate, Robinson, Fairfax, Catskill, Redstar and Empire. Everbearing strawberries typically have two crops each year with small amounts of fruit produced between the main crop in June and a lighter crop in late summer or early fall. For Colorado, and especially the Front Range, everbearing are recommended for the home gardener. They tend to be hardier and, if a late spring frost kills the first flowers, you'll still get a crop in late summer or early fall. Some of the more common everbearing varieties are Ogallala, Fort Laramie, Ozark Beauty, Superfection, Quinault, Geneva, Gen and Red Rich. Tribute is a variety of day-neutral strawberry designed to produce over a longer period of time than June bearers or everbearing.

When planting, don't place the plant in the ground so shallow that roots are exposed or so deep that the base of leaves is buried. Either situation can kill new plants. A mulch of straw or similar material on the soil surface will keep the fruit from touching the soil and developing rot or getting muddy. In the winter, cover the plants with a thin layer of light mulch such as straw to protect them from desiccation by winter winds.

Grapes require all day sunshine. For best performance, plant grape varieties hardy to at least minus 20 degrees F.

Concord and Niagara are grape varieties that are very cold hardy. Concord is an excellent grape for making jelly and juicing. Niagara produces great fruit for juicing and the grapes provide a flavorful white grape juice. Seedless table grape varieties that are winter hardy include Canadice, Reliance and Vanessa. Popular varieties for wine include Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, although these are not as cold hardy in the Front Range.

Best wishes with your edible garden!

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