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Helianthus

sunflowers...

sunflowers...

In a garden recently and I spotted this little beauty growing in a widow box….

It brought me way back to my childhood days. Dad used to have these old cavity concrete blocks running along side the oil tank. Every summer we’d go down to the library to get our free seeds and plant them direct into the hole. Well… I’d plant the seeds that I didn’t eat… 😆 It sounds a little silly in hindsight going out every morning to see if they had sprouted… 😉 The innocence of it all…..

Anyhow… the sunflower or helianthus of the asteraceae [compositae] family are a genus of about 70 species of annuals and perennials. The flowers can rage from 3″ approx in diameter to 12″ in the annual varieties. And surprisingly [possibly] not all flowers are yellow/ yellow brown.

The annuals are generally grown by seed sown in spring but the perennials may propagated by division and base cuttings.  

Prepare for it now and mark it on the 2010 calender. You can start growing them indoors around the end of February or outdoors at the ned of March. These little beauties will flower for you all the way from June to October.  Remember: plant only twice the depth of the seed.

  

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the brainiacs guide to strawberries…

elsanta strawberry plants fruitstrawberry plant leavesstrawberry-fruit fragaria

Strawberries – the info that may prove useful in a pub quiz

better know in botanical terms as the Fragaria, commonly known as the strawberry plant. Surprisingly, [or confusing-ly] it is a member of the  Rosaceae or rose family.

Here’s the possibly boring bit fancy-speak bit and where this article may prove beneficial. They are a genus of 12 species and are by definition stoloniferous* perennials**

*stoloniferous – they produce stolons/ little plants in the form of offshoots
**perennials – complete their life cycle in more than one season

The leaves are 3 palmate*radical with toothed edges and bear white [or pink] flowers. They are mainly grown for their edible fleshy fruit.
*3 palmate – like 3 fingers of a hand shape

The difference between strawberry plants grown just for reproducing more plants [pause if you need to…]  is that the parent plant is prevented from flowering and therefore prevented from pollination. The point in this is that all of the plants energy goes into the production of stronger [new] plants.

strawberry plant leavesstrawberry plant elsanta strawberry-plant producing off shoot

Strawberries – the info thats good to know if you want to grow them

Last season i bought some strawberry plants. I chose the Elsanta variety. No particular reason except for I was reared with this variety and [like a lot of thing Irish] if it’s not broke etc… Apart from that they are good croppers/ yield well, grow very well indoors and out and aren’t really that fussy on the type of soil.

strawberry-plant-elsanta-youngstrawberry-plantsstrawberry-plants-elsanta

I keep mine in the wee little glasshouse [6’x4′] I own and have just 4 plants. I have however seen them growing in hanging baskets, buckets and all sorts of anything that can contain soil 😉 This is the good bit… Buy your wee plant, Bung it in the hole and simply keep it watered. Then wait for the fruit. Per plant expect to pay about €2 each **if** it is not potted. Its a good tip to keep yours in a good drafty spot to stave off pests and diseases.

Whatever about commercial growers who produce for the fruit or the plant – from a domestic point of view… when the plant does sprout the little ‘baby plants [as ‘her indoors’ calls them] just nip them off and pot them up. New plants for next year and a great gift that costs pretty much nothing 😉

strawberry-fruitfragaria strawberry-plant fruitstrawberry-plants-fruiting

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