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7821 Red Arrow Hwy.
Watervliet MI, 49098
USA

(269) 463-3187

The Watervliet Fruit Exchange is celebrating our 75th year serving the farm and garden industries.  We are not just a fruit exchange.  We are also a leader in Lawn and Garden Centers in Southwest Michigan.  As a garden center we offer the latest in equipment and gardening techniques, year round gardening ideas, plants, bulbs, fruit trees, strawberry, raspberry, blueberry, blackberry plants, landscape material, shade trees, bushes and shrubs, fertilizers, lawn and garden chemicals, and a whole lot more.  

 

The Fruit Exchange continues to expand our product lines.  Visit our gifts area where you will find Corinthian Chimes, scarves, jewelry, soaps, jams, jellies, artesian chocolates, food items, original paintings, furniture and more.  Many of our items are made right here in Michigan!

 

Looking for classes?  Want to learn more about what to do in your garden?  We offer classes throughout the year including yogurt and cheese making, specialty craft classes, garden design and our exclusive WFEX University where you will learn all the ins and outs of gardening.  Or just stop in and talk to one of our gardening experts who will be more than willing to help you with your project. 

 

Visit our seed area and choose your garden seeds from our selection of top quality, non-GMO products.  Only need a few seeds?  We will sell you a few seeds.  Need 250 pounds of grass seed?  We can do that as well. 

 

Visit our wild bird and critter area and choose frown our huge selection of bird feeds, feeders, squirrel or deer feeds as well. 

 

Each visit is an experience in itself with old fashioned one on one customer service, delivery in the local area and people that load your car with the heavy bags of products.  We are open all year so stop by and have a cup of coffee and some fresh popped pop corn on us.

Or visit our gifts area where you will find Corinthian Chimes, scarves, jewelry, soaps, jams, jellies, artesian chocolates, food items, original paintings, furniture and more. Many of our items are made right here in Michigan!

 

Looking for classes? Want to learn more about what to do in your garden? We offer classes throughout the year including yogurt and cheese making, specialty craft classes, garden design and our exclusive WFEX University where you will learn all the ins and outs of gardening. Or just stop in and talk to one of our gardening experts who will be more than willing to help you with your project.

Fall Pictures 002.jpg

Gardening Tips

This blog is about gardening and everything that has to do with gardening. Raising your own food is one way of beating the rising costs of the grocery stores and big box stores.  It is my hope that you will enjoy the ramblings of this old man. 

 

Getting Set Up for the Winter

Bob Fairbairn

As we here more and more about this polar vortex and that polar vortex, we begin to panic and make our winterizing decisions based on this panic mode. We need to just sit back for a moment and think about just what will it take to make it through this cold season. If we operate off of our experience, we may be able to save ourselves from many headaches. 

Needed for the winter may include needing a new snow shovel, salt spreader, salt, calcium chloride... Well, first lets look at what we have left from last year. Do we really need to get a new one or is it still in good shape? Same with the spreader and so on. How about a snow blower? Do you really need one or will you be hiring someone to do the deed? 

Let's talk about salt, calcium chloride, magnesium chloride and the rest of the chemicals "they" say we need to take care of the ice and snow. A mix of these takes care of all levels of ice and snow problems however sodium (salt) will, not can, will damage or even kill parts of your lawn. Calcium chloride on the other hand will not harm the lawn at all. Calcium chloride is also great for the roof as it will not damage the roofing materials to where sale will cause corrosion of any medal like nails, medal roofing... Do not look at the brand, look at the chemical contest of your products and you will keep from over spending on the ice melt product you need. Calcium chloride, salt, magnesium chloride is the same under all labels or brands so go with the less expensive. 

When push comes to shove, we need to turn off the commercials and figure out for ourselves just what we need, make a plan, pick up the things that we feel we need before we really need them and enjoy not overspending this season.

Happy snow removal! 

Fall is NOT always the best time for trimming

Bob Fairbairn

WHAT? Fall is not the best time for trimming? This is true, if you are planning to trim your forsythia, magnolia, rhododendron, azaleas, dog wood, red bud, lilac and several other ornamental shrubs, fall is not the best time to trim them. The main reason people have these ornamental's in the landscape is for the beautiful flowers. Trimming at this time of year will result in the removal of many of not all of next years flowers. 

The best time for trimming these is just after they bloom and up to about July 4. They will still have a chance to set buds for the following year. Be careful when you trim though. Removal of more than one third of the size may result in death or severely stunting the growth for a couple of years. 

When trimming, refrain from using pruning sealer through. It can trap in disease and cause the branch to decay. Use only clean, sharp tools and don't forget to fertilize after trimming. If you follow these simple things, you will have many years of enjoyment.

Fall Raspberry Trimming

Bob Fairbairn

Now that the fall has set in, it is time to begin thinking about trimming the raspberries back. 

Why do we trim them back? To ensure that there is an abundance of fruit for the next year, to cut out any dead and weak canes, to eliminate canes that are out of bounds, to tie up any canes that may need it.

Where to begin? Well, you need to know if your raspberries are everbearing or June bearing cane. 

June Bearing

As with anything, begin at the beginning...of a row. I always start with an outside row. Keeping the rows to an 18 inch width will help make picking easy next year. Start with the tall canes, cut them to about the same height that you are or a little shorter. This will help the canes branch out next year giving you the maximum amount of fruit that the cane can hold.

Second, remove any canes out side of the 18 inch width on one side of the row. This may give you some replacement plants for any that may have died or for a new patch/row.

Third, thin the canes. There are two kinds of canes, the primocane and the floracane. The primocane is the NEW cane and the one that will bare the fruit for the upcoming year. You want only the thickest, healthiest cane for the upcoming season. The floracane is the cane that gave you the fruit this year and it has given all it can give and if it hasn't done so already, it will soon die. It is easy to sot these canes as they are usually brown and dry looking. They should be removed at the surface level of the ground. At the same time, remove any spindly, broken or diseased canes. Make sure that the healthy canes are about 12 inches apart. All else will simply reduce your harvest.

Fourth, tie the canes. If you are using a trellis system for your raspberries, you will need to tie the canes to the wires or trellis system. Use a jute string or twist tie to secure them to the system. This will support the heavy harvest of fruit to come. If you are not using a trellis, you are pretty much finished with trimming.

Fifth, clean-up. Remove all the removed canes and debris making sure you burn them. Burning kills any disease, mold or mildew than may be lingering. It also creates potash which is beneficial to the roots of your plants so go a head and spread the ashes evenly and let mother nature take it's course. 

Everbearing Raspberries

Everbearing plants are just the opposite of June-bearing with the exception of bearing twice a year. Your large harvest is in the fall of the year. When getting ready to trim these plants, you need to know that the NEW cane, primocane, comes up in the spring, bears in the fall and a smaller harvest the next spring then you cut the cane off.

The everbearer is a smaller plant that is much more aggressive in putting out runners/suckers so don't be afraid of cutting out too many suckers. The plant will be fine. Most people simply cut the cane back to about hip high so if you wanted to, simply use your hedge trimmer. As with the June-bearing plant, you want the canes about 12 inches apart. This gives room for the plant to put out growth and larger fruit than with plants that are too close. 

All in all, growing your own fruit is easy, healthy and makes sense. It is always better to know what your plants have been fed and what was sprayed on them. You also will pick the fruit at it's peak rather than the green so the taste and color will be more intense and flavorful. So ENJOY!

Fall Gardening

Bob Fairbairn

Something that most people forget is that we can truly garden in the autumn. This is a great time for the greens and raising baby veggies.

Mustard, turnip, collard greens, lettuces, green onions, baby beats, radish are just a few of the veggies that are available for growing. Planting the seeds in early October will give you these fall delights within a few weeks. If a frost threatens, simply create a tent over the tender little ones using a few sticks and plastic. How refreshing would it be to have fresh out of the garden veggies for Thanksgiving. 

Happy Gardening!