Do-it-your­self blue­ber­ries com­ing to a gar­den cen­tre near you

Ontario Gardener Magazine - - LOCAL DIRT - By Lil­ian Schaer for Ag In­no­va­tion On­tario

Vineland – On­tar­i­ans will soon be able to eas­ily grow blue­ber­ries on their own bal­conies or pa­tios.

That’s thanks to an agri­cul­tural in­no­va­tion made pos­si­ble by Grow­ing For­ward 2, a fed­eral-provin­cial­ter­ri­to­rial ini­tia­tive, and the Cana­dian Or­na­men­tal Hor­ti­cul­ture Al­liance.

De­mand for more ed­i­ble pot­ted plants com­bined with height­ened con­sumer in­ter­est in food pro­duc­tion led re­searchers at Vineland Re­search and In­no­va­tion Cen­tre (Vineland) to work on new tech­nol­ogy to al­low con­sumers to more eas­ily grow plants in con­tain­ers.

Dr. Youbin Zheng and his team have de­vel­oped a new or­ganic grow­ing ma­te­rial – known in the plant-grow­ing world as sub­strate – that is specif­i­cally suited to grow­ing plants like blue­ber­ries or other small fruits in con­tain­ers in­stead of in gar­dens.

“Pot­ted blue­ber­ries are a new prod­uct that pro­vides con­sumers with op­por­tu­ni­ties to grow their own fresh blue­ber­ries on their bal­conies or in their gar­dens,” ex­plains Zheng. “At the same time, this will help Cana­dian nurs­ery grow­ers broaden their mar­kets by be­ing able to of­fer a wider selec­tion of plants to gar­den cen­tres and other re­tail out­lets.”

Dark blue fruits like blue­ber­ries are great sources of an­tho­cyanins – or an­tiox­i­dants – that can boost hu­man health. Those an­tiox­i­dants are scav- en­gers of free rad­i­cals – high en­ergy par­ti­cles in the hu­man body that can dam­age cells – which mean they can help com­bat com­mon health prob­lems like in­flam­ma­tion, di­a­betes, and can­cer. The Vineland team has also es­tab­lished grow­ing pro­to­cols for nurs­eries, such as best nu­tri­ent rates, ap­pli­ca­tion meth­ods and tim­ing for grow­ing con­tainer crops us­ing dif­fer­ent grow­ing sub­strates and fer­til­izer types like gran­u­lar or­ganic, liq­uid or­ganic or con­ven­tional con­trolled-re­lease fer­til­iz­ers.

As well, they’ve de­vel­oped a fer­til­izer guide to help grow­ers max­i­mize their prof­itabil­ity and minimize pos­si­ble en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pacts caused by nu­tri­ent runoff.

Be­ing able to pro­vide a plant with the pre­cise amount of fer­til­iz­ers it needs to grow at its best not only cre­ates healthy vi­brant plants for con­sumers, but also de­creases the amount of nutri­ents grow­ers need to pur­chase and use.

“The grow­ing sub­strate and pro­duc­tion pro­to­cols are ef­fec­tive for blue­ber­ries and sim­i­lar plant species,” Zheng says.

“Grow­ers can now use this in­for­ma­tion to pro­duce a larger num­ber of ed­i­ble or­na­men­tals to sup­ply the mar­ket­place so that con­sumers can grow their own fruit even if they live in apart­ments or con­do­mini­ums with­out back yards or gar­dens,” he adds.

The or­ganic grow­ing sub­strate is now avail­able to in­ter­ested nurs­eries.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.