PLANTING EDIBLES

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Are you thinking about planting some edibles in your garden or yard?  There is nothing more fun or rewarding than picking a handful of fresh raspberries or an apple right off the tree. But planting home-grown edibles takes some planning, effort, and patience. Here are some tips:

1.    Start small – too often people get the planting bug and go overboard planting a large garden and/or too many fruit trees, berries, or other edibles. By summer the weeds have taken over and harvest time becomes over-whelming.  Begin with a small garden and/or a tree or 2 and add more each year if you choose.  

2.    Make sure all the plants you select are hardy for your zone. In North Iowa, we are in zone 4. Select plants from zone 2-4.

3.    Research planting and care of the plants you choose. Have a plan and think about making a garden calendar as a reminder of what needs to be done when.

4.     Call us at Natural Plus if you have questions. Two other excellent references for home gardening are the ISU Extension service www.extension.iastate.edu. and Purdue Extension service www.extension.purdue.edu.

5.    Enjoy! For most of us, gardening is a hobby. Enjoy the benefits – the beauty and joy of nature,  and savoring in the delicious taste of fresh fruits and vegetables you have grown yourself.

Focus on Plants: Planting Edibles

Edibles you can grow yourself include everything from fruit trees and small fruits to potatoes, vegetables, herbs, etc. At Natural Plus we carry a good selection of fruit trees, asparagus, raspberries, strawberries, and some herbs.  Spring planting is good for edibles.

Here are some common tips for planting and what we have in stock this season.

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Apples – We carry a nice selection of hardy semi-dwarf apples. (Apples can come in dwarf, semi-dwarf, and standard sizes.) We prefer semi-dwarf trees as trees are sturdier than dwarf sizes, and apples are easier to pick than on bigger standard varieties.  For pollination, you will need to plant 2 apple trees that bloom at about the same time.

Pears- Pears grow quite well in North Iowa if you select the right varieties. This year we will be carrying Patten Pear good for eating, pies, and baking.  You need 2 pears for pollination. Patten is a good pollinator for other varieties.

Plums- We carry Mount Royal. The tree is small- 8-12’ and plums are good for eating and desserts. You need only plant 1 plum. Mount Royal does not need another pollinator.

Cherries- We are carrying Evans Bali, Meteor, and North Star.  All of these varieties are tart and are good for pies, canning, and baking. (Most sweet cherries are not hardy in North Iowa).  They do not require another pollinator.

Peaches – We carry Contender which is now recommended for zone 4. Though recommended as hardy, they will still require extra attention and protection.  They do not need another pollinator.

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Raspberries – We carry sturdy 1 year,# 1 bare root plants. Varieties include Bristol Black (which has large black fruit late July), Heritage  (which has 2 crops of red fruit in July and September), and Lathum (which has red fruit late June into early July).

Strawberries – We carry 1 year, #1 bare root plants. Varieties include All Star and Sparkle – both are June bearing and good for eating, freezing, and preserves.

Asparagus-  We carry 2 year, #1 bare root plants including Jersey Knight, Mary Washington, Purple Passion, and Sweet Purple.

There is nothing better than enjoying the "fruits" of your labor. 

Natural Plus Nursery Celebrates 40 Years!!

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WRITTEN BY DAVE AND LINDA HOPPER

2018 is a milestone year for us at Natural Plus Nursery.  We founded the nursery in April of 1978.  Prior to starting up the nursery, Dave graduated from ISU with a degree in Landscape Architecture and was working for a large nursery in Des Moines.

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When Dave wanted to start his own business, we returned to the current place of Natural Plus because it had special meaning for us. It was initially owned by my grandfather and is where I initially grew up. My parents had a typical farm in the 1950’s with crops, dairy cows, pigs, and chickens. The farm buildings are now all gone, but the house, the memories, and the ambiance of rural living remain.  This place has been in the family now for almost 80 years.

Over the years Natural Plus has faced many obstacles and challenges – interest rates of 18%, financial issues, weather issues, gypsy moths, me working both at the nursery and at Mercy Dialysis Center, and the coming of “big box stores” thinking they should all get in to the nursery business.

But 40 years later, Natural Plus is still operating. We give thanks to our parents for financial and moral support, for our children and their hard work and tolerance of this life, for hard working employees, and most of all for all the wonderful customers who have supported us - some of whom have become lifelong friends and acquaintances.

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In 2013, our son David left his job with the DNR, and his wife, Mary, left her job as an OT to take over the nursery.  They face the same challenges we faced, and many new ones including a more impatient and demanding technology dominated world.  But they have risen to the challenge and hope to make improvements as the years go by, and most of all continue to serve you.

Again – we thank YOU , our customers for supporting us!  And we hope to get to meet many new customers.

 Help us celebrate 40 years at our Spring Open House  May 4-12.

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 Focus on Plants: Windbreaks & Some New Varieties

Now is the time to plan for and order windbreaks. If you need help designing a windbreak, give us a call. The most common windbreak varieties now are Norway Spruce, Eastern Red Cedars, Oaks, Redtwig Dogwoods, and Lilacs.

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New varieties of plants are continually being developed.  Growers are adding new varieties of barberries, spireas, rhododendrons, ninebarks, hydrangeas, perennials, and many other plant species.

We would especially like to inform you of hardy disease resistant Elms. These new varieties are resistant to Dutch Elm Disease which wiped out virtually all of the elms about 30-40 years ago.  These beautiful, vase shaped trees can now be added back to your landscape and will add interest, beauty , and shade.

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EARLY SPRING BLOOMERS

written by Dave and Linda Hopper

March has gone out like a lion - but spring is around the corner. Here at the nursery we are watching for those wonderful signs of Spring.  A sure sign of spring for us is that geese, and human snowbirds are back!  We look forward to seeing any new or previous customers soon.

Focus on Plants: Early Spring Bloomers

Each week this year we will do a short focus on seasonal plants and care tips that may be of interest to you. This week our focus is on early spring bloomers.
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 The first shrub that you will most likely see blooming very soon is the forsythia. These shrubs typically get about 6 feet tall and have yellow showy blooms early in spring. Blooms appear before the leaves. Keep your eye out for forsythias in your neighborhood.

Other early spring bloomers include tulips, daffodils, Siberian squill, and woodland natives like Virginia bluebells.  (Remember tulips and daffodils are bulbs and need to be planted in the fall for spring blooms.)  

 

 

 

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Merry Christmas!

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! 

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As 2017 comes to a close, we want to thank you for supporting us and believing in us. We are so excited for our 2018 season, to celebrate Natural Plus's 40th anniversary and our 5th season as owners.  We will continue to grow the retail side of our nursery, however we are taking a break from large landscaping projects in 2018, so we can better serve you at our nursery. We will continue to provide design services and recommendations for plantings, and will be delivering and planting our trees and shrubs. We are making it a priority to better serve our loyal and supportive customers.

Thank you for everything and we will see you in the New Year! 
 

It's not too late!

It's not too late: Protect your trees! 

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Winter is quickly approaching, it's time to make sure you've got your trees covered.

There are several reasons to protect your trees. 

If you have rabbit problems, you need to wrap the trunk of the tree. When food sources are scarce, rabbits and rodents will eat the bark of your new trees. Any trees with a trunk 3" or less in diameter, especially fruit and flowering trees, need to have a tree wrap protecting the trunk.

If you have an abundance of deer where you live, its a good idea to consider a fence around your newly planted tree. Just wrapping with the plastic or paper wrap will likely not be enough to protect the tree against damage.  Deer will rub their antlers against the new bark while rutting.

Trees should be wrapped or fenced from Halloween to May day every year. 

We recommend using light colored plastic wrap or corrugated plastic pipe to wrap your trees. Stay away from dark or black tree wrap as this can heat up the trunk of the tree too much.