HOW TO OVERWINTER GRAPEVINES

How to overwinter grapevines

If you are growing grapevines in the warm commercial regions of southern Europe, then issues with overwintering grapevines are not something you would usually need to worry about. However, northern European growers with have more work to do, depending on how far north they are and the specific cultivars grown. Of course if your grapevines are grown within the protected environment of a greenhouse, you will have no choice other than to make preparation for the oncoming freezing weather - usually shutting the windows and doors and adding heat depending on the varieties grown.

How to overwinter grapevines
In areas with expected colder conditions, it makes sense to plant hardier vine cultivars as well as make the most of the natural topography. Consider growing the more cold tolerant varieties such as Vitis vinifera ‘Phoenix’,‘Pinot Noir’, ‘Siegerrebe’, 'Spetchley Red' and 'Vroege V. D. Laan', and avoid planting in frost pockets unless temporary protection can be provided.

To protect the roots of grapevines in cold conditions, cover the base of the plant with approximately 8 inches of mounded soil. If you are only growing a few plants then consider covering the vines with horticultural fleece. Regions that experience freezing temperatures will require a taller mounding of soil of at least a foot or so or a further insulation of a dry mulch such as straw or shredded cornstalks. Areas that are prone to snowfall will require less work as the snow itself can insulate the vines, particularly from lower, overnight temperatures and freezing winds.

Under cold, wet conditions, mounded soil can still freeze as it is exposed to the weather. However deep ditch cultivation can prove to be a more successful in this instance. Prior to planting out the vines, dig ditches approximately 4 ft deep and 3 to 4 ft wide. The vines are planted at the bottom of the ditch and soil is added progressively as they grow until the original soil level is reached.

How to overwinter grapevines
In regions that experience extreme cold then a more robust method of protection can be employed. The grapevines are planted into shallow, gently sloping trenches approximately 1 ft deep and 2-3 ft wide. After leaf-drop, cover the trench with a layer of dry mulch (such as straw) and remove the grapevines from their support structures. Allow the vines to gently fall to the floor of the trench and cover with yet more dry mulch. Secure the mulch in place by covering with old blankets, burlap or sack cloth anchored into place with soil or rocks. You may also need to consider adding fine wire mesh to prevent mice from eating the vine's buds.

Come the spring, and once the new buds begin to emerge, the grapevines can be uncovered and re-attached to their support structure. Be aware that light protection (horticultural fleece or suitable geotextile fabric) may need to be put in place to prevent damage from late frosts.

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HOW TO GROW GRAPEVINES IN A GREENHOUSE


Grapes are one of the most popular of all edible fruits, and there has been evidence of their cultivation as far back as 6,000–8,000 years ago in the Near East. Be that as it may, they were not introduced to the Britain until the Roman conquest in AD 43 under Emperor Claudius.

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Despite the creep of global warming, many of the popular dessert grape cultivars perform poorly in the cooler northern European climates. So to encourage a more flavoursome crop they will need to be grown in a protected environment - such as a greenhouse or polytunnel.

When growing in greenhouse borders, make up a bed from a mixture of 3 parts loam to 1 part well-rotted farm manure by volume. Plant out pot-grown grapevines in late autumn or winter (preferably around late October) at intervals of 3-4 ft. Train the plants against wires, which will need to run the entire length of the greenhouse, attached to the frame every 10 ft or so, 6 inches away from the glass. The wires will require a vertical spacing of approximately 12 inches. water the young plants liberally over the first season to encourage as much growth as possible, but only allow one stem (known as a cordon or rod) to develop.

In their first autumn (when the leaves have changed colour, but before they fall), remove half to two-thirds of the growth of the first year rods, cutting back to a bud on well-ripened wood. The following spring, train the leading shot up, and the laterals along the wires on alternate sides. After flowering, stop the laterals at two leaves beyond the fruit clusters and remove an further subsequent shoots (known as sub-lateral shoots) at one leaf. Remove all other shots by rubbing them off the stems, and allow only 2-3 bunches of grapes to set in the first cropping year.

In the autumn, remove one-third to a half of the new growth for that year, back to well ripened wood on the leading rod. Cut these selected laterals back to 2 buds. These lateral shoots will form the basis for next year's fruiting spurs. Cut back the main rod and lateral shoots each autumn, for one or two more years to fill the available space and to build up a strong rod and fruit spurs.

Rest the vines over the winter by providing full ventilation and allowing some frost into the greenhouse. Apply a 5% tar-oil winter wash to the rods while they are dormant and renew the top inch of border soil. Untie the rods in late January and let their tops arch over unimpeded to encourage even breaking of new shoots along their length.

Come February, and it is time to warm up the plants in readiness for spring growth, so close the windows and door to help retain the available warmth. Tie the rods back into the supporting wires and wait for the buds begin to break, Most grapevine cultivars will not require additional heat, however varieties such as 'Madresfield Court' and 'Muscat of Alexandria' need a longer growing season and will produce a better flavoured crop if kept at a temperature of 10-13 degrees Celsius. Syringe the rods freely with tepid water in the mornings to encourage bud break and maintain humidity until the buds indeed finally emerge. Once the buds show on the stems stop syringing and begin to improve ventilation, especially on warm days.

When the young shoots are about an inch long they can be thinned out to just two per spur, and when these are 3-4 inches long remove the weaker of the two.

Maintain a humid atmosphere, especially on hot, sunny days, until flowering begins, Once blooming commences, Ventilate freely,the flowers are unlikely to be naturally pollinated in the greenhouse and so pollinate by hand using a soft brush.

Thin the resulting bunches of fruit to one bunch of grapes for every 12 inches of lateral stem. As each berry begins to swell, cut out any small or overcrowded fruits in the centre of each bunch to improve its shape. Maintain a minimum temperature 18 degrees over the growing period and dampen down the floor regularly to maintain humidity.

Feed the grapevines with a water soluble liquid fertiliser or water in proprietary dried blood at 1/2 ounce per sq. yard every 10 days until the fruits have ripened.

When about half grown, the fruits will cease swelling temporarily while the seeds develop. During this period try to avoid fluctuations in temperature and humidity. As the fruits begin to ripen, increase ventilation and reduce humidity Once you have harvested your grapes, reduce watering and provide maximum ventilation. Remove all sub-laterals to help ripen the laterals.

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HOW TO GROW CHINESE RADISH FROM SEED

How to grow Chinese Radish from Seed





Chinese radish, also known as winter radish, are an excellent and flavoursome salad crop which can be harvested right up until Christmas time. Typically the roots are eaten raw, but they can also be cooked in soups. cakes pickles and sauces. The fast-growing sprouts can also be washed and used in salads and stirfries.

Chinese radish seedlings
Chinese radish prefer cool temperatures and unlike most varieties of radish (which can grow very quickly), they need 60-70 days to fully mature.

This means direct sowing winter radish seeds outside from April to July. For successive cropping, re-sow every two weeks.

You will require loose, free-draining soil that has been enriched with humus-rich, garden compost. Avoid any fertilizers or compost that are high in nitrogen. Full sun will be preferable but you can still produce a crop in semi-shade.

To reduce the incidence of clubroot ensure that the soil pH is between 5.8 and 6.8.

Sow winter radish seeds thinly at a depth of ½" in drills 6" apart. When the seedlings emerge, and large enough to handle, they can be thinned out to 2" apart. Hand weed regularly to prevent competition from weeds. Do not use metal implements for weeding as these can easily damage the swelling roots.

Avoid your winter radishes from running to seed by keeping them cool and well watered, particularly during hot, dry weather. Do not water excessively as this will encourage leaf growth at the expense of root development. As the cold weather arrives, protect your crop from frost damage by covering them with cloches.

Companion planting

All radish cultivars are at risk of damage from flea beetles. Consider growing them alongside culinary mint to deter the flea beetles,

Harvesting

Winter radishes can stay in the ground being lifted as they are need. This can continue up until Christmas time when to prevent them from being damaged by freezing temperature they can all be lifted and stored. Loosen the soil around each radish before pulling them out of the ground by their leaves.

Be aware that even when stored in a cool, dry environment they will only last for a few weeks, and if left in the ground, the roots become woody and unpalatable.

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CHINESE RADISH 'CHINA ROSE' 500 SEEDS - 'Seeds of Eaden' seed shop


If you are looking to grow your own Chinese radish then you are in luck. Not only are they available as part of the standard range of 'Salads and Herbs' section at the 'Seeds of Eaden' seed shop, they are surprisingly easy to grow.

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Chinese Radish 'China Rose' is a traditional winter hardy variety, popular for producing long, edible tapering roots. While many of the traditional chinese radish varieties are white in colour, Chinese Radish 'China Rose' differs by displaying attractive rosy pink skins, although the flesh beneath remains crisp, and pure white. It has the same distinctive, slightly pungent taste as other varieties, making it an excellent choice for adding a little bite to winter salads. Furthermore, the fast-growing leaves are also edible, the most tender of which can also added to salads and stir fries.

Sow Chinese Radish 'China Rose' outdoors into a prepared seedbed from April to July. They can be harvested as required up until Christmas, after which they can be lifted and stored when the roots are approximately about 4" long.

Not only are they good to eat, Chinese radish are also valued in Chinese medicine for controlling indigestion and food stagnation.

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HOW TO GROW A GRAPEVINE FROM SEED

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Grapes are one of the most popular of all fresh fruits and have been under cultivation by mankind for approximately 6,000–8,000 years. They are even mentioned in the bible when Noah grows them on his farm (Genesis 9:20–21). While it is a simple process to purchase bunches of supermarket grapes, why not take up the challenge of growing your own grape vines from seed. Be aware they they are unlikely to grow true from the parent plants so (as long as you have the space) grow a selection of seedlings to fruition, retaining only those plants which produce the most flavoursome fruits.

If you want to grow your own grape vine from seed then it is a fairly straightforward processes. However you will need to make sure that your seeds are viable and then you will need to break the seeds natural dormancy before sowing.

Seed viability

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Wherever you get your seeds from, be it either from a friend or collected yourself, you should check the seeds viability first.

1. Firstly check that each seed is firm to the touch. Discard any soft seeds

2. Look at each seeds coloratio. A healthy grape seed will have a pale gray or white endosperm under the seed coat.

3. Place your seeds into a container of water. The viable seeds will sink, so discard any that float.

Breaking dormancy

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Remove any fruit pulp stuck to the seeds as this will contain chemicals which inhibit germination. Next, soak the seeds in warm water overnight. Now depending on the time of year you can sow the seeds directly into individual pots and place outside allowing nature to work its magic or you can stratify the seeds artificially. Be that as it may, vine seeds have a low rate of germination and so aim to sow 3 seeds for every one you expect to germinate.

If you are in the northern hemisphere then the best time for sowing will be December, just before the freezing winter weather arrives. Using 3 inch pots containing a good quality, well drained soil-based compost such as John Innes 'seed and potting', sowing each seed 1/2" deep. Water in then place outside in a cold frame until the spring, protecting them from mice and or squirrels. Water periodically but just to keep the compost moist. Do not allow the compost to become waterlogged. You can expect the seeds to begin germinating from late May onwards. Once the risk of late frosts have passed the cold frame cover can be left open. Pot the seedlings on as required using a soil-based general purpose compost and provide the support of a cane. Once they are approximately 1-1.5 metres tall and with an established root system they can be planted out into their final position outside.

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At other times of year you can break the seeds natural dormancy the following way. Place a good handful of damp sphagnum moss or a damp paper towel inside a sealable polythene bag and then add the seeds. Seal the bag and put inside the salad compartment of a refrigerator. The temperature will need to be at approximately 1-3º Celsius.

The seeds can remain in the fridge for 2-3 months, after which they can sown into 3 inch pots containing a good quality, well drained soil-based compost. Gently water in and provide a germinating temperature of 20-25º Celsius. You can expect the seedlings to emerge between 2-8 weeks depending on conditions. Once the roots have established in their pots and have produce at least 6 true leaves they can be potted on into 1 liter pots and then hardened off over a period of 7-10 days before being kept outside in a warm sheltered position. Do not put the plants out if there is a threat of frost or if freezing temperatures prevail. Provide a supporting cane and once they established in their new pots can be planted out into their final position outside.

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HOW TO CARE FOR CARDINAL TETRA

How to care for cardinal tetra - http://fishlaboratory.com/fish/cardinal-tetra

Looking like a beefed-up neon tetra, cardinal tetras (Paracheirodon axelrodiare) are often the shoaling fish of choice in any amazon effect or community aquarium. Native to the upper Orinoco and Negro Rivers in South America, it is a freshwater species most usually found in blackwater environments. Blackwater streams and rivers are characterised by a low mineral content and humic acids.

Blackwater stream - http://www.seriouslyfish.com/
They grow to a considerably larger size than the similar marked neon tetra with an approximate adult length of 5 cm. There are differences with the iridescent colouration also. Where the red lateral stripe of the neon tetra is limited to only half its length, the cardinal tetras red stripe extends along its whole body length. There is even a selectively bred gold strain that sometimes becomes available.

Like most tetra species, cardinal tetras are a shoaling species in the wild, so when introduced to an aquarium environment they will need to be kept in groups of at least six but preferably far more. Low shoal numbers, combined with a lack of suitable places to flee to, will result in nervous behavior which can subdue its immune system leading to stress-related illnesses. That being said they will shoal with other tetra species but most successfully, and rather unsurprisingly, with neon tetras. It should go without saying that you should not keep cardinal tetras in the same aquarium as boisterous or aggressive companions.

Cardinal tetra - http://justpetsappleton.com/
They prefer their water warmer compared to many other tropical fish, so provide a temperature of between 75-82 °F. While captive bred cardinal tetras are fairly tolerant to hard water conditions they will be at their best with a KH 2-6, a pH 5.5-7.5 and overfiltered conditions to keep the water in a relatively stable and clean condition.

Like their native environment, provide a well-planted conditions with subdued lighting and plenty of places to hide. Bogwood, and live plants such as cabomba, amazon sword and vallisneria are some of the more popular choices. Cardinal tetras are a nervous fish species and can become easily stressed, so anything that can be done to reduce their stress will improve their condition, their temperament, and their longevity within the aquarium.

Once settled in their aquarum, cardinal tetras will readily accept most forms of dry food. However to maintain the condition of your fish feed live foods such as daphnia, bloodworms and brine shrimp.

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