Cooperative Extension to hold small fruit plant sale

Published 10:00 pm Friday, December 30, 2016

The Polk County Cooperative Extension center is now taking orders from area residents for small fruit plants.

For 40 years the local Extension staff has been providing gardeners an opportunity to grow strawberry and blueberry plants suited for the Polk County climate. In 2011 red raspberry plants were added to the annual sale.

All the profits from this sale go directly to help the Polk County Extension office provide informative classes and assistance to the people of Polk County.

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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, Brightwell, Tifblue, and Southland are the varieties available for sale. These varieties are well suited to our climate.

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 is 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.

Available in 2017 are Brunswick and Galletta strawberries. Both are flavorful, just perfect for the home garden. Galletta is a 2010 release from N.C. State University.

In 2017 we will be offering red raspberry plants for local gardeners. We have chosen Josephine, a cultivar selected for our area. Josephine is an everbearing raspberry, meaning it will bear fruit at two different times (June/Sept) during the growing season.

Gardeners who purchased this variety last year have given it rave reviews! The raspberry plants will come bare-root so prepare your planting area before the plants are available in March.

Orders for small fruit plants are being accepted now through the end of February.

For more information, contact the Polk County Extension Center at 828-894-8218 or drop by the center at 79 Carmel Lane (behind the Senior Center) in Columbus.

– article submitted by Sarah Gottfried