April 4, 2016

A fruit tree is a great gift. But what about those of us that live somewhere where the climate isn’t conducive to growing fruit? Can fruit trees withstand the cold?

Surprisingly, many fruit trees can withstand temperatures well below freezing. Good news for those of us living up north! The first thing you need to determine is your climate. SinUSDA zonesce fruit trees will be around for years, you need to consider climate extremes, not just the average temperatures. To do this, find out what agricultural zone you’re living in. Check our graphic for your location. You can also visit the USDA interactive plant hardiness zone map for a more detailed look.

The temperature at which the tissue of a particular plant will freeze and the degree of the damage are determined by a number of different factors. Some of these include the actual temperature reached, the duration of time the tree was exposed to this temperature, how well the plant was conditioned before exposure, age of the plant, and the overall health of the tree. A more mature, healthier tree can withstand much more cold than a diseased or younger tree.

The temperature range given for a tree to survive refers to its leaves and wood, not the fruit itself. Therefore, the fruit crop may be damaged in the cold while the tree remains undamaged. If the fruit buds are still very tight, the fruit damage should be minimal, but if the fruit has already started to bloom it is likely about 90% of the fruit will be lost.

So how do you prepare and protect a tree from the cold? Plant the tree in a sunny location that is sheltered from wind. Plant it in bare, non-turf ground as turf near the base of the tree can lower the temperature. Also, keep the tree away from the bottom of a hill as this can also lower the temperature. Do not mulch around the tree as this will retain moisture and even encourage disease. Be sure not to fertilize citrus trees after August as this promotes new growth which is more sensitive to cold temperatures.

There are things you can do to protect a tree when you know temperatures are going to drop. First, you should cover the entire plant, but leave the foliage untouched. Bring the cover all the way to the base and use weights like bricks or rocks to hold it down. Remove this cover as soon as temperatures rise again. Another option is to install small lights, like Christmas lights on the tree to increase the nearby temperature. This works well because it is usually the holiday season when temperatures are dropping.

If you’re in a climate that is still not conducive to growing fruit, or you want a fruit that can’t withstand your local climate, you may consider growing it in a container. Then you can leave it on a patio or deck in the warmer months and bring it inside as temperatures get colder.

Be on the lookout for cold hardy plant recommendations coming later this week!

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April 4, 2016

eggfruitSo again, a mysterious fruit with a bizarre and potentially off-putting name. Eggs and fruit are generally kept quite separate in American cuisine. But an eggfruit is an entity all its own.

These fruits grow in a tropical and subtropical climate. They are roughly the size of an apple with a yellowish to orange color. The pulp is similar in both appearance and texture to a cooked egg yolk hence the fruit’s name. The fruits’ color does not change as it matures, but the skin texture does turn from glossy to dull. Eggfruits must be harvested in order to ripen completely. It takes approximately one week after harvesting for the fruit to ripen.

But how does it taste? It has been described in a number of ways. First, some say it tastes like mashed egg yolks sprinkled with sugar. Yams and cooked pumpkin have also been mentioned. Most commonly, eggfruits have been noted to taste of a unique flavor of maple and sweet potato. Eggfruits can be eaten fresh without removing the skin or can be peeled and sliced. The pulp is often used in preparation of milk shakes and provides a lovely color and flavor. Recently it has become popular as a dried powder flavoring. Health benefits of the eggfruit include the amount of vitamin A, vitamin C, and protein in the fruit.

One way to eat eggfruit is to try making eggfruit ice cream. Here’s the recipe below. It will serve 4 people.eggfruit-icecream-575x352

1/4 ltr of Milk
1 no of Eggfruit
3 tbsp of sugar
1 1/2 tbsp of Cornflour
2 tbsp. of cream
1 spn. of Milk powder(optional)

Step 1 - Add milk, cornflour, sugar and milk powder in a bowl. Mix well.

Step 2 - Boil the mixture for 2-3 minute in low flame. Stir continuously.

Step 3 - Allow to cool. Remove seeds of egg fruit. Put eggfruit and milk mixture in a blender and process to fine paste.

Step 4 - Transfer the paste to a freezer safe bowl. Freeze it for 5-6 hours.

Step 5 - Take the ice cream from refrigerator. Add cream and again blend for 2-3 minute. Repeat step 4.eggfruit cocunut bread

If you’re not looking for dessert, here’s a recipe for Eggfruit Coconut Bread. It will serve 10-12 people.

2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon clove

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup softened butter

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups mashed ripe eggfruit

1 cup grated coconut

Step 1 - Preheat oven to 350°F.

Step 2 - In a small bowl, combine flour, salt, baking soda and spices.

Step 3 - In a large bowl, blend butter and sugar, then blend in eggs. Slowly stir in milk, then vanilla and eggfruit.

Step 4 - Stir in flour mixture, and mix in coconut.

Step 5 - Spoon into a greased 8½ X 4½ x 2½ in loaf pan, making sure to leave ¾ inch at the top to allow the bread to rise.

Step 6 - Bake 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.


Images courtesy of:                                                                                    http://theindianvegan.blogspot.com/2013/03/all-about-egg-fruit-canistel.html                                Hygeena Shameer at http://www.spicykitchen.net/recipe/eggfruit-ice-cream/        CocinaCubana at http://www.food.com/recipe/egg-fruit-canistel-coconut-bread-347215/photo

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April 4, 2016

Most of us don’t live in a tropical area, so what types of fruit trees can we grow? First, find out what agricultural zone you’re living in. These zones are determined by your region’s temperatures. Visit the USDA interactive plant hardiness zone map to find your zone.

Here are some suggestions for fruit trees that can survive in colder temperatures.

Everbearing Strawberry: Zones 4-9

The everbearing strawberry is very popular because of its ability to produce strawberries well after spring ends. It grows to about one foot in height and can be 1-2 feet wide. It requires full to partial sunlight. It is adaptable to different types of soil and has a good chance of surviving a drought.

Granny Smith Apple: Zones 5-8

Granny Smith apples are fairly easy to grow and they produce fruit very quickly. They ripen in early November, and stay fresh through winter and spring. They grow to 10-15 feet high and 8-10 feet wide. They require full to partial sunlight and are adaptable to different soil conditions. Overall, most apple trees can survive in zones 4 or 5-8.

MacIntosh Apple: Zones 4-8

Ripening early in the season, Macintosh trees are popular because they produce a large amount of fruit. If planted near your Granny Smith trees, the two types of apple trees will help pollinate each other. These trees can grow 15-20 feet tall and 10-12 feet wide. They do well in full to partial sunlight and are very adaptable to different soil conditions. Overall, most apple trees can survive in zones 4 or 5-8.

Thornless Blackberry: Zones 5-9

Blackberries produce large amounts of berries. The berries grow in large clusters and can be eaten right off the bush or picked and used in jams or jellies. Blackberries are rich in anti-oxidants which have many health benefits. These plants will grow 3-6 feet tall. They grow 3-5 feet wide and are often planted in groups of three. They do well in full to partial sun.

Cleveland Flowering Pear Tree: Zones 5-8

These trees naturally grow in a tight, semi-perfect oval. In spring white flowers bloom over the surface area of the tree. This tree can resist damage from extreme ice, snow, and wind. It grows quickly up to 30-40 feet tall and 15-20 feet wide. They survive in full to partial sunlight.

Red Haven Peach Tree: Zones 5-9

These trees are normally planted in pairs to help with pollination. This allows your trees to produce more fruit. Red Haven Peaches ripen in June. They grow quickly to 15 feet tall and 10 feet wide. They survive in full to partial sun and are adaptable to different soil conditions.

Bing Cherries: Zones 4-8

Bing Cherries are a deep red and the most popular dark cherry. These trees grow quickly and fruit faster than most other cherry trees. Bing Cherry trees grow up to 20 feet tall and 10-15 feet wide. Full to partial sunlight is ideal and they are very adaptable to different soil conditions.

Image courtesy of dan at freedigitalphotos.net

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April 4, 2016

Here we are with another poisonous fruit! Well, this time the fruit is actually safe, but the rest of the plant is poisonous. But this fruit isn’t rare. It’s very popular in areas like Florida, Arizona, Texas, and California.

The Natal Plum tastes like a slightly sweet cranberry with the texture of a ripe strawberry. Some describe the taste as similar to a slightly unripe cherry. A ripe Natal Plum is plum red and slightly soft to the touch with a coating of latex. It does not need to be peeled before being eaten. Aside from being eaten fresh, it is often used in fruit salads, jams, jellies, and as toppings for cakes, puddings, and ice cream. The fruit is very rich in Vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorous.

The fruit appears in summer and fall or fall and winter depending on the climate. This plant fruits at the same time it blooms. Deep green leaves are offset by the white flowers that bloom for months at a time. These flowers have a smell similar to jasmine, and their aroma is stronger at night.

Natal Plums are suitable for zones 9-11. They are a good choice for coastal areas because they can stand up to salty winds. They grow in mounds two to seven feet high as well as wide. If these plants are being used as a shrub they should be planted 24-36 inches apart. They can be allowed to grow very large and become “invasive,” if that is what you are hoping for. If you are looking for a security hedge, this is ideal. But Natal Plums can also be pruned and kept at any size, perfect for any yard.

They are a popular landscaping plant because they can adapt to many types of soil and lighting conditions. They can also tolerate heat, all the heavy metals, exhaust, and other byproducts of transportation vehicles and are therefore a popular plant for highway landscaping.

When planting the Natal Plum, use caution because of its double spines. These make the plant a good security hedge, but can make planting a bit difficult. Be sure to wear thick gloves when handling them. After pruning, watch out for thorns on the ground that pets or young children could step on. These can be easily swept up. Also, since the plant itself is poisonous, be careful if you have pets near the plants.

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April 4, 2016

On holidays like Valentine’s Day, Easter, and Mother’s Day flowers are a go-to gift for many. And for good reason. They’re beautiful, easy to find, and you can’t go wrong. Nobody is going to return them.

But on the other hand, some of us women are getting a little tired of flowers. We’re not really allowed to say anything because it’s the thought that counts. We don’t want to be rude. But they come with an expiration date, and that’s both a waste of money and depressing. So here’s the top reasons women hate receiving flowers.

We know no thought was put into the gift.

Flowers are easy to find, choose, and send. You can even schedule them years in advance so you can never “forget” an important day. The most personal thing about them is the card which most of the time is filled out via an online order form. Anyone can pick up flowers at the last minute too. Any grocery store or gas station likely has a half decent bouquet that could pass for a gift. And any woman can spot these last minute bouquets, but we don’t say anything because we have to be polite. Because it’s the thought that counts.

They’re a waste of money.

We’re lucky if the flowers we get last for a week. So by the time February is over, your Valentine’s Day gift is long dead. This past Valentine’s Day my husband spent over $60 on a dozen red roses. I appreciate the thought. Really, I do! But now we have to get the dryer repaired and the car’s in the shop. And what do I have to show for those flowers? Just a charge on the credit card. But at least my husband felt better about himself for getting me something on Valentine’s Day.

They’re a lot of work.

Most flowers require some maintenance even if they’re going to die in just a few days. You have to cut the stems to make sure they can absorb the water. You have to fertilize the water also. But don’t fertilize it too much! And you have to constantly monitor the water level in the vase. So someone is giving you a gift that requires quite a bit of work, yet is going to inevitably die before next Sunday. But before that you have to find the right vase. Maybe the flowers came with one, although if they did it likely doesn’t go with the décor of your house. And any vase you do have will undoubtedly be the wrong size. It’s a never ending battle.

So what should you get us instead? Well, in the spring plants are a great idea. The weather’s warming up and it’s time for everyone to start heading outside. But this year, think about what your wife, mother, or loved one really likes. Apples, grapes, nuts? And choose a fruit tree instead. This way, you’ve made the gift personal. The plants are an investment. They won’t die in a few days and they’ll even produce fresh fruit for the gift recipient to eat!

Image courtesy of rakratchada torsap at freedigitalimages.net

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April 4, 2016

Fruit trees have always been very much valued in Irish culture. Apples and wild strawberries are some of the most commonly grown fruits in Ireland. Another very common fruit is the bilberry. In Ireland it is referred to as a fraughan. It is also called the blaeberry, whortleberry, winberry, and fraughan. While closely related to the blueberry, the bilberry is a different fruit. The blueberry is native to North America while the bilberry is native to Europe.

Bilberry fruits grow on low shrubs and are nearly black berries. Theybilberry produce single or paired berries on the bush rather than clusters like blueberries. The bilberry is smaller than a blueberry, has a fuller taste, and is softer and juicier. They appear nearly black with a hint of purple. The pulp is red or purple, often staining the hands, lips, and tongue of those eating the raw fruit. Bilberry extract is even used in edible ink for stamping meats.

These fruits can be eaten fresh or made into jams, desserts, juices, or pies. In some areas they are used to flavor crepes and liqueurs.

Another common fruit in Ireland is the sloe tree or blackthorn. The sloe tree is a large shrub or small tree that grows to about 16 feet in height. It has dark, often blackish bark and stiff spiny branches. The leaves are ovblackthornal with serrated edges. The flowers are about a half inch in diameter with five white petals. The fruit itself is just under a half inch in diameter and is black with an indigo waxy bloom. The flesh is thin with a strong astringent flavor.

The sloe is similar to a small plum. It is rather tart if eaten unless picked after the first few days of the autumn frost or frozen after harvest. However, they are suitable for preservatives and desserts. The juice is also used in liqueurs and wines.

Other uses of the sloe include providing a “cattle-proof” hedge. Because of its thorns, the shrubs stop cattle from crossing. Also, the juice of the berries can be used to dye linen a reddish color. When washed out it leaves the linen a pale blue. Blackthorn is also an excellent firewood. It burns slowly with good heat and little smoke. It can also be polished and used for tool handles and canes.

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April 4, 2016

Day 1 - Shamrock Smoothie

Makes 5 8oz. Smoothiesshamrock-smoothies-R160300-ss

  • kiwi fruit, peeled and quartered
  • 1 cup seedless green grapes
  • 1 banana, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 6 ounce carton key lime- or vanilla-flavored yogurt
  • 1 cup orange juice or white grape juice, well-chilled
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 - 4 tablespoons rum (optional)
  • 1 - 2 drops green food coloring (optional)
  • Fresh kiwifruit slices

1. Place kiwi fruit and banana in a 15x10x1 inch baking pan. Freeze uncovered for 2 hours or until frozen.

2. In a blender, combine grapes, yogurt, orange juice, honey, rum and 1/3 of the frozen fruit. Cover and blend until nearly smooth. Gradually add remaining fruit, blending after each addition until almost smooth. Add food coloring.

3. Pour into glasses and garnish with kiwifruit slices.

Come back tomorrow for another fruit filled St. Patrick's Day recipe.

Image courtesy of http://www.recipe.com/shamrock-smoothies/

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April 4, 2016

Fruit Kabobs - Day 2

To make 5 kabobs, follow the recipe below. fruit kabobs st pattys

  • 1 green apple
  • 3 kiwis
  • 2 bananas
  • green grapes
  • wooden skewers

Add fruits to the skewers in an alternating pattern. The kids can even choose their own unique pattern. For an added bit of fun, try dipping the kabobs in cool whip with green sugar sprinkles.

image courtesy of http://fitcraftystylishandhappy.blogspot.com/2012/02/fruit-kabobs-and-dip-for-st-pattys-day.html

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April 4, 2016

Avocado Deviled Eggs - Day 3

To make 12 avocado deviled eggs, follow the recipe below.

Ingredients
  • 6 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and cut lengthwise
  • 1 fully ripened avocado, peeled, pitted and diced
  • 1 tablespoon plain low or no-fat yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced jalapeño
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped onion
  • Chopped chives (optional)
Directions
  1. In a small bowl, place egg yolks; add the avocado and mash until smooth.
  2. Stir in yogurt, mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper, and mix thoroughly.
  3. Stir in jalapeño and onion, then spoon into egg white shells, dividing equally.
  4. Arrange on a serving plate. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 3 hours. (Don't serve long after 3 hours as the avocado will start to darken.)
  5. Garnish with chives, if desired.

Image and recipe courtesy of http://www.thismamacooks.com/2013/03/healthy-st-patricks-day-snacks-avocado-deviled-eggs.html

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April 4, 2016

Emerald Fluff - Day 4

To make a dessert salad serving 6-8 people, follow the recipe below.

Ingredients
  • 9 oz cool whip
  • 20 oz crushed pineapple with juice
  • 11 oz mandarin oranges, drained
  • 3 oz instant pistachio pudding
  • 1 cup miniature marshmallows
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
Directions

1. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and chill until served.

2. Food coloring can be added if you want a darker shade of green.

images courtesy of Melissa Snow at http://www.justapinch.com/recipes/salad/other-salad/emerald-fluff.html?p=32

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