Extension center hosts small fruit plant sale

Published 10:00 pm Monday, January 5, 2015

The Polk County Cooperative Extension Center is taking orders from area residents for small fruit plants. For 40 years the local extension staff have been giving gardeners an opportunity to grow strawberry and blueberry plants suited for the Polk County climate. In 2011 they added red raspberry plants in their annual sale.

Rabbiteye Blueberries are the best adapted type of blueberry for Polk County. They are more tolerant of different soil types, plus they are more drought and heat resistant. Ten plants should furnish enough fruit for a family of four. Climax, Premier, Tifblue, Onslow, and Powder Blue are the varieties available for sale. Don’t forget at least two different varieties are needed to ensure adequate pollination. When transplanting your blueberries set them six feet apart.

The type of strawberries available are considered matted-row plants. These plants are not grown on plastic like lots of our commercial berries of today. Matted-row strawberries are planted two feet apart in rows four feet apart. Normally 100 plants are enough to supply the typical family of fruit. Available in 2015 are Earliglow and Galletta strawberries. Both are flavorful, just perfect for the home garden. ‘Galletta’ is a 2010 release from NC State University.

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In 2015 for the fifth year we will be offering red raspberry plants for local gardeners. The two varieties chosen are Heritage and Nantahala, two cultivars selected for our area. Both are everbearing raspberries, meaning they will bear fruit at two different times, June and September, during the growing season. ‘Nantahala’ is another recent release from NC State University. These plants will come bare-root so prepare your planting area before the plants are delivered in March.

Pick up any health magazine these days and you can’t help but read about the health benefits from eating fresh berries. Fortunately many of these healthy fruits can be grown in your sunny backyard.

Orders for small fruit plants began on January 5. For more information, contact the Polk County Extension Center at 894-8218 or drop by the center at 4 Courthouse Square in Columbus.

Proceeds from the plant sale are used in the local Extension program.

–Submitted by Sarah Gottfried