Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Enjoy Muscadines Year Round!

Add a Taste of the South to your
 Holiday Meals and Parties

Muscadines are like Christmas, they only come around once a year. I am excited when they ripen in mid August and I am sad when the harvest is over in mid October. If only there were muscadine flavors available year round, the world would be a better place.

Well, what if I told you we have many muscadine products available year round. Now you can enjoy this wonderful southern flavor with your favorite meals and we have packaged them in gift boxes that you can mix and match and choose your favorites to share with family and friends this Christmas season.
  • Our red and white muscadine juice contains 100% pure juice, best served chilled and is out of this world. Save a bottle to ring in the new year with. (Our most popular item)
  • Our muscadine and scuppernong jelly and preserves make breakfast the best meal of the day, you are responsible for the buttered biscuits.
  • Don't forget to try our muscadine syrup on your pancakes, we've been told that if I-Hop offered muscadine syrup they would sell more pancakes.
  • For our grill masters we offer muscadine steak sauce and muscadine bbq sauce, fantastic on steaks, chicken, and pork.
  • Our kickin muscadine pepper jelly is made with jalapeno and bell peppers, it is perfect with cream cheese and crackers or it compliments vegetables very nicely. Great addition to party menus
  • For chips and dip fans we have muscadine salsa. It is a tomato based salsa with muscadine fruit to enhance the flavor and texture, it is wonderful and is more nutritious than the average salsa.
  • For salad lovers we offer our muscadine vinaigrette. It is a combination of muscadines, vinegar, and oil for a healthy alternative to the average salad dressing.
We are sort of like Blue Belle Ice Cream with our muscadine products, we eat all we can and sell the rest. You don't have to wait until the fall to enjoy the flavors of muscadines, all you have to do is give us a call or order online and we will take care of the rest.

Greg Ison
Add a delicious taste of the south to you holiday meals.


Muscadine Gift Boxes are Perfect for Christmas Gifts

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Muscadine Fall Maintenance Reminder

It's time to remove any fruit left on the muscadine vines
For more information visit www.isons.com

Removal of fruit.
Any fruit left hanging on the vine that was not harvested should be removed. If left on the vine the fruit will rot or mummify (become raisin like) on the vine. This rotting fruit can lead to a build up of disease over the winter and will be present in the spring. If you do not remove the fruit you will have much more disease pressure such as ripe rot or macrophema rot that can affect next years harvest.

Many vines will also have what are called "shot berries", these are grapes that get about as big as a dime and are green and will not ripen on the vine. They are the product of the vine either trying to set a second crop or late blooms being pollinated but do not have enough time allowed for the ripening of the fruit. Any green or shot berries should also be removed this time of year.


Do not prune too early. For years we pruned our vines beginning after the Thanksgiving Holiday. But through trial, error and experience we have found the best time to prune muscadine vines is from mid January to mid March. We have found that a vine that has not been pruned can handle colder temperatures or big swing in temperatures better than a vine that has been pruned. In general we experience our coldest temperatures from late December-January, by pruning later we are giving our plants a better chance of coming through the winter with little or no cold weather damage.

If you are used Blue-X plant shelters this year and your vines have reached the top wire, now is the ideal time to remove the shelters.

On a planting report we have a beautiful crop of muscadine vines this year, so if you are thinking about adding a few vines or considering planting some acreage now is a good time to begin getting your orders in. Take advantage of the Early Bird Discount by ordering before November 15th. The all new 2013 Catalog will be available later this week. Check it out or request one to be mailed to you.

I hope these tips will ensure  that you have an abundant crop for 2013.

Happy Planting & Keep Growing!
Greg Ison

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Pomegranates - An Ison's Fall Favorite

One sure way to know that the "Fall" has arrived is by the appearance of pomegranates. The pomegranate is native from Iran to the Himalayas in northern India and has been cultivated since ancient times. The fruit was used in many ways as it is today and is mentioned as far back as the Old Testament in the Bible. One of its best characteristics is that it is relatively low maintenance for home gardeners. There are very few insects or diseases that affect the pomegranate and essentially can be grown organically.

Pomegranates are both self pollinated and cross pollinated by insects, wind plays little or no role in pollination. Even though they are characterized as self-fertile, cross pollination by another variety has increased yields as much as 60%.

The growing zones for pomegranates are 7-10. They are naturally adapted to areas that have cool winters and hot summers. In the United States they have been grown as far north as Washington, D.C. and in Washington County, Utah. With that being said the English Quaker Peter Collinson wrote to the botanist John Bartram in Philadelphia in 1762 " Plant it against the side of the house, nail it close to the wall. In this manner it thrives wonderfully with us, and flowers beautifully, and bears fruit."

Pomegranates prefer an alkaline soil on loamy ground. If you have more clay soil you can add peat moss or other soil conditioners to loosen the area and allow for the spreading of roots once new root growth begins.

When planting a pomegranate tree we recommend pruning it back to half of its original height. So if the tree is 4 ft tall we recommend pruning the tree back to 2 ft tall at planting. We recommend doing this the first 2 years after planting, the reason is to encourage the maximum number of new shoots on all sides of the trunk to prevent straggly development and encourage a strong framework. After the third year only suckers and dead branches are removed.

Fertilize twice a year, once in mid April and again in mid June, 1/2 lb of 10-10-10 in a 15 inch circle around the trunk.

Lastly not only are pomegranates fun to grow they are also good for you. Studies have shown that pomegranates can be effective in reducing heart disease, blood pressure, inhibit viral infections, and are high in antioxidants.

Our pomegranate trees will make a nice addition to any landscape and we recommend adding this historic fruit to your garden.

Happy Planting
Greg Ison
www.isons.com website
ison@isons.com email


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Easiest Fruiting Plants To Grow In Your Home Garden

When it comes to growing fruiting plants many gardeners can be either intimidated or out of their comfort zone. The biggest challenge for the home gardener usually comes down to pruning and summer maintenance of fruiting plants. I have compiled a list of cultivars that I believe are the easiest for the home Gardener in terms of pruning, spraying, and low maintenance.

Blueberries are one of the lowest maintenance plants a home gardener can add to their landscape. Blueberry plants have little to no disease or insect issues. They will grow to a height of 8-10 ft tall with a 3-4 ft spread. The home gardener can hedge the plants back to control the height if desired. Plant spacing should be 4-6 ft apart, in full sun with  well drained soil. Blueberry plants like a pH in the 4.5 range. If your pH needs to be corrected you can add peat moss in the hole when planting your blueberries then mulch with pine straw. In the summer the plants are graced with plump, juicy, fruit and the fall will add striking color to your landscape. They can be planted as a hedge or grouped in an island similar to the way azaleas and roses are. Blueberry plants are partially self fertile but will produce more fruit when planted with another variety. Pruning simply involves a light hedging in mid winter, and removing any interior branches that are crossing one another.

Figs are a traditional southern fruit that is easy to grow.Fig trees (bushes) have little to no disease or insect issues. Fig trees can grow as tall as 10-12 ft tall with a 10-12 ft spread. The home gardener can control the height by cutting the tops out of the tree which will lead to more lateral branching. Figs are tolerant of most soil types but grow best in a deep clay loam soil. Figs like a pH in the 6's and a heavy layer of mulch. Figs produce best with little or no pruning, however branch thinning is recommended to prevent the accumulation of dense unproductive twig growth. Figs ripen in late summer/early fall and are a beautiful addition to your landscape. Figs are self fruitful.

Pomegranates are steeped in history and are one of my favorite fall fruits. Pomegranate trees have little to no disease or insect issues.  They grow to a height of 8-10 ft tall with a spread of about 6 ft. The home gardener can control the height of the tree and the spread by hedging back mid summer and again in the winter months. Pomegranates prefer a more alkaline soil and will grow best in amended soils using a soil conditioner or peat moss. In the early years of planting we recommend pruning the bush to 1/2 of its original height the first 2 winters to promote a strong framework and discourage straggly branches. After the first couple of years the only pruning required will be the removal of low branching and the removal of dead branches. Pomegranates are self fruitful.

Olives are one of the oldest cultivated fruits and steeped in history. There are little or no disease or insect issues on the plant. They will grow to a height over 20 ft but most are kept pruned to a height of 8 to 10 ft. They can grow in any light soil, including clay if well drained. Olive trees prefer a hot summer and a milder winter, if the winter temperatures drop below 14 degrees Fahrenheit the tree may incur some winter injury. Olive trees are drought tolerant and can live and produce olives for decades if properly pruned. Olives ripen in the fall and early winter. The fruit must be cured before consumption.


Persimmon trees were first introduced into the United States in the 19th Century. There are little or no disease or insect issues on the plant.  They will grow to a height of 12-15 ft tall with a spread of 6-8 ft. The home gardener can control the height and spread of the tree by pruning mid summer and again in the winter months. Persimmons prefer a soil pH of 6.0-6.5, well drained and fertile. They can tolerate many different soil types but need it well drained and in full sun. As the tree matures, any branches that cross over one another should be removed allowing adequate sunlight and air penetration through the canopy. Persimmon trees live a very long time and make a nice landscape tree. Their beautiful fall color and decorative fruit make a nice addition to any landscape.

Muscadines are a native plant to the southeast and have little or no disease/insect issues. They love our heat and humidity. Muscadines prefer a pH in the 6's, and like a well drained soil in full sun . Muscadines do require a wire trellis or an arbor to grow up and down on. The first year there is simple pruning involved to direct the growth up and down the wire. Once the framework is established, a winter pruning is necessary to ensure proper fruit set. Muscadines ripen late summer and early fall. The aroma is sure to attract anyone to their location in the garden. An arbor makes a stunning display in any landscape.

Blackberries  can be easily grown and require very little space in the garden. They have few disease or insect issues on the plants. Blackberries are tolerant to a wide variety of soil types, they prefer well drained, sandy loam, and a pH in the 6's. Blackberries produce their crop on the last seasons growth. Once the cane has produced and begins dying back, the cane should be removed and discarded to help reduce disease pressure. Once the old woody canes have been removed, only the vigorous new growth will be remaining. Once the new growth reaches 48-60 inches in height, the canes should be tipped to encourage branching. Plant spacing should be 3-4 ft apart, and average yield would be 1-2 gallons per plant. Delicious.

Jujube's are commonly called the Chinese date.  It is an exotic fruit that grows well in most areas of the South. They have little or no disease or insect issues. Jujubes are a nice landscape fruit however most varieties have a few thorns on the tree. Jujubes are adapted to a wide range of soil types and prefer a pH in the 6's. When eaten fresh the jujube is like a sweet, dry apple. The fruit is about the size of a date and are best eaten when the fruit is half green. Jujubes ripen in the fall.

In my opinion these are the best options for growers who want to grow fruit organically and have little disease or insect issues. All of these selections will add beauty and interest to any garden and will only require minimal maintenance. We hope you have room in your landscape to add one of these great cultivars to your garden.

Plants and trees are going into dormancy and we are fast approaching our shipping season. We have a great inventory this year and the plants are beautiful!   There is still time to take advantage of the Early Bird Discount when ordering.  Browse Now

Keep Growing,
Greg Ison

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Strawberry Plugs: How to plant and grow strawberry plugs

Strawberries are becoming one of my favorite plants. I can not think of any other plant that you can plant in the Fall and begin harvesting fresh berries the following Spring.  Most fruit plants and trees have to grow for several years to either reach maturity or they must be trellised and trained to establish the framework necessary for fruit production.

With our strawberry plugs, you simply plant in October and the arrival of fresh, sweet berries begin the following spring. Now that I hopefully have your attention, I would like to go over the details of successfully planting strawberry plugs and the care they require.

First we need to choose a location:
It needs to get plenty of sunshine and is weed free.  Strawberry plants will grow well in many different soil types; we recommend that the soil has good drainage. If the soil does not drain well then the plants should be planted on raised beds. Strawberries also like organic matter (manure, compost, or peat moss) that has a ph in the 6.5 range. We recommend at least 5% of the soil be composted with peat moss or compost. Once the location is prepared, you are ready to start planting your strawberry plugs.  Space your plugs 12-18 inches apart in the row; optimal row spacing is 3-4 ft.  Set the plants in the row with the root ball facing straight down. The middle of the crown should be level with the soil line. Soil should be well watered after planting to set the plants in the ground but try not to water the plugs directly. After the soil has been watered properly the soil line should be level with the bottom of the crown on the plant.

Second maintain good weed control:
The easiest method to control weeds is called plasticulture. Place black plastic over the raised beds and plant the strawberry plugs through holes punched in the top of the plastic. This will improve weed control from growing around your strawberry plants, help conserver soil moisture, and keep the fruit clean. You may also choose to cultivate around your plants, keeping them free of weeds and this method would not require the use of plastic

The third step is fertilization:
Fertilizer is used to maintain soil fertility and maximize plant growth and fruit production. We recommend using 1/2 lb of 10-10-10 fertilizer per 100 square feet to be worked into the soil prior to planting your plugs. We also offer a specialized water soluable strawberry fertilizer.

The fourth and final step is mulching:
Strawberries are perennial plants that must survive the weather conditions throughout the winter to survive. Mulching strawberry plants help prevent quick freezing and thawing which can affect plant survival. Mulch maintains a large volume of dead air spaces, which help insulate the plants through cooler temperatures. The best mulching materials to use are wheat straw or hay. You should mulch the plants in mid to late November when the plants have started to go dormant. We need to obtain a 2 inch layer to provide adequate protection; the mulch should stay on the plants until the tops of the crowns put out new growth in the Spring.

Advantages of planting Strawberry Plugs
  • Plugs do not have to be planted immediately; they can be kept in the trays until you are ready to plant
  • Average loss rate of plugs is 1 to 2% compared to 15-20% for bare root plants
  • Plugs have an intact root ball so they are easier to plant
  • Plugs establish more quickly minimizing transplant shock
  • Best of all, you plant in the fall and harvest in the spring

Happy Strawberry Planting!
Greg Ison

Strawberry plugs have 50 per tray.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Muscadines, The Last Frontier

Being a business owner I am always looking for the next big thing or new ways to market or merchandise products.  I recently visited a new clothing store in Griffin that is selling clothing lines that up to this point have only been recognized on southern college campuses. Southern Tide, Southern Marsh, and Vineyard Vines clothing lines occupied most of the store. I thought it was brilliant that the business owner was introducing high quality clothes that most people were unaware of the brands. I mean really, who wants to go to a backyard cook out and everyone is wearing either Columbia or Polo shirts.

I know everyone is waiting for my angle so here it comes. Did you know that muscadine fruit is only available once a year? Did you know that the fruit is only offered in grocery store chains mainly in the southeast, roughly there are about 12 states that offer the fruit and usually not on a consistent basis? Everyone is looking for the next big thing, an uncovered gem or unlimited marketing capabilities.

Muscadines give the opportunity to introduce a new product to a new target area with little or no competition and it offers health benefits to its consumers. This whole time I have been looking for the next big thing and it has been surrounding me this whole time.

A ten acre planting of muscadines would require about two thousand plants. 2000 vines x 50 pounds per plant would equal 100,000 lbs of fruit. 100,000 lbs of fruit would fill about 100,000 clam shells  x $2.00/lb would gross revenue about $200,000 for a 10 acre planting. I have not even mentioned the possiblilty of shipping fruit to our Canadian friends to the north or our Latino friends to the south.

I often ask myself why has no one ventured out and grabbed this opportunity. Potential road blocks could be that people outside of the south do not know what muscadines are, logistics or if growers can sell all they can grow in the south why sell to other areas.

We have been active in marketing our vines in all the states that can successfully grow muscadines. I look forward to the time where our fellow Nebraskans or Arizonians go to there local grocer and see muscadines on the shelves. I only hope someone can send me the video of the expression and the results of the moment when they pop the muscadine in their mouth and the juice runs down their chin.

Now that the world is discovering just how healthy muscadines are for you their popularity has soared and we are still at the very beginning.  Do a little research on-line and google muscadine health.  You will be amazed. Dr. Oz even featured muscadine juice recently as a way to fight cancer on one of his shows. 

So if you have just a little bit of land - there is tremendous opportunity with this amazing southern fruit. 

Food for Thought,
Greg Ison
Ison's Nursery & Vineyard

Thursday, June 28, 2012

I did not know I was so green

We have all either noticed or taken part in the new green movement. We all know the importance recycling, we now take our own shopping bags to the grocery store, we are fuel conscious by buying hybrid or electric cars, and email has taken the place of letters. But are we as green as we should be with our most important commodity.  Water is essential in our daily lives. From the showers we take, to brushing our teeth, to washing clothes, the food we cook, to quinch our thirst, and to water our plants. I have always taken the approach that someone else would do my share and that one single person can not or could not make a difference. Water is the life line of a farm or plant nursery. We have to have it, the plants have to have it, and we would not be in business without it.

One of the ways we are "green" is the use of our drip irrigation systems. Drip irrigation is a low flow, low pressure watering system that drips water right to the root zone of our plants. When we water with a hose or overhead sprinklers we are wasting water either by runoff or watering weeds or other undesired plants. Drip irrigation can provide optimum moisture levels in the soil at all times, resulting in less water lost to the sun and wind. With drip irrigation, water is not wasted on non growth areas, and the root zone  is maintained at a steady moisture level.

Drip irrigation is simple and inexpensive to use. If you can connect a garden hose to a water faucet then you can install a drip system. We have fittings that will adapt to a garden hose or faucet, from there you will run the tubing on the ground by the plants you wish to water, and lastly punch a hole into the tubing and place an emmitter near the root zone. Simply turn on the water supply and  you will have water going to the root zone of your plants without the waste of time nor water.

We recommend using drip on new or established planting to ensure healthy plants, larger fruit, increased yields, and earlier production.

Over the last year we have planted additional acreage in peaches, blueberries, blackberries, and muscadines.We had to plant the majority of the acreage during the hot months of June and July, our nursery schedule does not allow planting at other times. Because of the use of drip we were able to successfully plant with little or no plant loss.

Yesterday before I left work I turned on a single valve and was able to water 2 acres of peaches, 1 acre of blueberry, and  a 1/2 acre of blackberries with our drip system. Not only was I being green with the conservation of water, I was able to get home and enjoy time with the ones who mean the most to me. I think I may wear a green shirt to work tomorrow.

Save money and lower your water usage.
Give us a call with any drip irrigation questions.  We will be happy to assist in the layout of your drip system.

Greg Ison

Drip Irrigation
Advantages and Benefits of Drip Irrigation System

·   Water Efficiency
·   Water only goes where needed
·   Ease of Installation
·   No special tools or glue required
·   Reduced pest problems and weed growth
·   Only water the roots plus increase fruit yield and plant quality
·   Works anywhere in the home garden
·   Save money and lower your water usage

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Do your plants have gas in their tanks ?

Do you make sure your gas tank is not on "E" before you make a trip to work, shopping, or vacation? One of the first things I do when I get into my vehicle is to make sure I have enough gas to get where I need to go. Fuel is what keeps us going on the road, if we run out of fuel we are going to be stuck.

Plants and trees are the same way, if they do not have adequate fertilizer releasing to their root zones the growth is going to get stuck and the plant is not going to grow to its potential.

Customers tell me all the time that they were told not to fertilize the first year or that they just did not realize that it was necessary. I have never understood the logic of  "do not fertilize the first year so the plants can get established" to me it is a huge mistake not to encourage as much growth the first year as possible.

The first year of planting we want to encourage as much vegetative growth as possible to establish the framework or the branching of the plant.
  • On fruit trees if we can encourage 6-7 feet of growth it allows us to choose the branches we wish to keep, develop the scaffold of the tree, and be that much closer to production.
  • On grapes it allows us to have the vine reach the top of the wire and extend down the wire and be that much closer to production.
  • On berries it allows us to push the primocanes and to be that much closer to production. The first year we can be the most aggressive because the plants are not of fruit bearing age, so all of the nutrients the plants receive will go strictly to the growth of the plant.
Recommended Fertilizer Schedule on Young Plants and Trees

Fruit Trees:
     1 lb 10-10-10 April 1st,  1 cup calcium nitrate June 1st,  1 lb 10-10-10 July 15th

Raspberry and Blackberries:
     1/4 lb 10-10-10 April 1st,  1/4 calcium nitrate June 1st, 1/4 10-10-10 July 15th

     1/4 10-10-10 April 1st, June 1st, and August 1st

Muscadines and bunch grapes:
     1/4 lb 12-10-10 or 10-10-10 April 1st, May 1st, June 1st, and July 1st
     1/4 lb Calcium Nitrate April 15, May 15th, June 15th, and July 15th

Follow these recommended guide lines to ensure your plants get where they need to go.

Greg Ison