First take an unsuspecting little plant, a foreigner that is probably native to a shaded woods edge, greenhouse grown in a 2 ½” container.  Plant it out in a field in New Mexico’s high UV rays and add a good dose of almost constant 20-40 mph wind for 2-3 months.  Give it snow one day and 85 degree weather 2 days later, varying between freezing at night and full sunny hot days and you have successfully entered the unseemly world of plant abuse.  Many of us have become serial abusers.  Not only have we done this before, but we continue to do this again and again.

  Our goal at Road’s End Farm is to develop fruit varieties that you can be successful with in our climate.  We want you to be able to plant it out with the minimum of environmental adjustment.  Many plants can’t take the shock of the scenario we played above and live, but they would have if they were slowly acclimated to our climate.  All of the varieties we sell are already acclimated and ready for you to plant here.

Often we receive rare plants for trial and breeding purposes that are small or “plugs” as they are known in the trade.   Finding a consistent and economical way to keep these experimental plants not only alive but thriving in a farm situation has been a constant challenge.  An example would be 3 varieties of haskap we received from Saskatchewan, Canada in May.  A more different climate I can’t imagine.

Last year we had 2 of these that were grown in the USA and were larger and stronger plants (a  good 1 gallon size).    These are an understory plant in their native environment and like just  part day sun.  We attempted several tries and styles of keeping a shadecloth over them.  Hemming, grommeting, reinforcing with wire, anything we tried could not stand up to our spring winds. After once and sometimes twice daily repair we finally were forced to give up.  But this year we may have found a simple solution.

The same 2 plants were used as an experiment.  One had died down to only a little twig about 5” high.  Miraculously it reappeared this spring, the other one I was sure was dead.  To my surprise 2 weeks later I found one leaf of green where it used to be, no stems, just a leaf popping out of the ground approximately the size of a squirrel’s ear.

Our experiment is actually pretty simple and inexpensive.  We obtained a few 5 gallon white plastic buckets from 2 local restaurants as a donation to our cause.  Russell then cut the bottoms out so we have about a 16” high white plastic tunnel about 12” in diameter.  This was put over the plant and a piece of rebar driven into the ground on the upwind side to hold it.  Direct sunlight can only come in from right above about 3 or 4 hours per day.  Being white and translucent though, the interior stays bright with diffuse light.  The wind is kept off the plant.  The soil stays moist and it develops a more humid little micro environment. The bucket helps to hold some heat in and around the immediate area of the plant which surely helped with the cold snaps this spring in May.

Now the plant can grow up and out of the tunnel, slowly acclimate and harden itself off to the “outside” world and adapt instead of dying.  The experiment seems so far to be a tremendous success.  The price is right and they do not blow away in the wind!  Last year’s 2 plants have not only survived, they have thrived and look totally different in both color and leaf shape.  We are trying this on some smaller plants with black nursery containers.  These provide a dark shade and I am not sure it will work well but we will keep you posted.Honeyberry row with 5 g buckets for cover

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