Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Miracle Fruit!

Imagine, popping a single small fruit in your mouth, swish its pulp around for a minute, and anything you eat for the next 30 minutes will be sweet. YES, sweet.

That is the magic of Miracle Fruit. Native to West Africa, this small bright red oval fruit, though not sweet itself, seems to reprogram the taste buds to sense sour as sweet.

Lemons, vinegar, sardines, Tabasco, things most of us take in small doses become delightful flavors. Some folks are so enamored with the effects, they host “Flavor-Tripping” parties. Guest are encouraged to partake of a single berry and sample a smorgasbord of odd delicacies, reporting what the taste reminds them of.

The plant, not winter hardy, can be grown indoors in a container. The plant is evergreen, with long deep green leaves. In its native habitat it can reach 18ft. but rarely over 5 ft. otherwise.

It loves high humidity and acid soil. Potting soils high in peat moss and acidifying fertilizers offer the conditions it loves. Use a pot that drains well as Miracle Fruit does not like wet feet. It can be grown outdoors during climate weather in partial shade.

Try this, and other exotic tropical fruits such as Star fruit, White Sapote, and Abiu, available now at Johnson Garden Centers.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Water, Water, Water

This week's timely tip was written by Sallie Strole, Assistant Manager at our East location. Sallie has worked at Johnson's for almost three decades and is extremely knowledgeable in anything and everything related to gardening.

The calender may say June, but the temperatures are screaming August. The multiple 100 degree days we've had are signaling that it is time to kick into the summer care routine for your lawns.

Lawns need to be watered well enough to soak the soil so grass roots will extend deep into the ground. Deeper rooting will enable the lawns to withstand stress better. There is no magic number for the amount of time you need to run the sprinklers, it will depend on the heat and your soil type. Ideally, fescue should have at least one inch of water a week divided among three or four days; a little more in times of extreme heat and less from the sprinklers if we get rain. In sandy soil that may mean longer running time since those soils drain quickly. Clay soils may need two shorter runs in the same day to ensure deep enough penetration without water running off. Watch your lawn for dry areas to see if the sprinklers are hitting all areas. A good way to get an accurate measurement is to set out multiple straight sided cans, run the sprinklers for 15 minutes then measure the amount of water in each can.

Another tip for making the most efficient use of the water you put on is to water in the early morning when it's cooler and less windy. You'll lose less water to evaporation and blowing that way. Also, adjust your mowing height up to 3.5 inches for fescue and let the grass clippings drop. What that does is shade and mulch the crown of the grass plant keeping it cooler and less stressed. With any luck we'll get some rain and cooler temperatures, but be prepared just in case summer is here to stay!