How to grow juniper
The common juniper (Juniperus communis L.) is a small tree or evergreen, evergreen shrub of the Cupressaceae family with a ramified and resinous stem that can easily reach three meters in height. It is an evergreen plant, with needle-like leaves and with characteristic purple-blue berries. In this sheet we will see how to grow the common juniper and the most useful precautions from an agronomic point of view. Juniper grows spontaneously on rather dry soils, and tolerates all climatic conditions quite well, developing both in Mediterranean regions and in mountainous areas from cold temperatures, up to a height of about 2500 meters above sea level, in general, however, the juniper prefers a climate temperate and Mediterranean, even if it also adapts to low temperatures and harsh seasons; it is a plant that does not fear the wind and likes exposure to the sun.
Juniper grows better on alkaline soils, compact, not stony or too soft. In fact, in nature, the plant develops in rather arid environments, in uncultivated countryside and in the woods. The plant can also be cultivated in pots and can be propagated through cuttings through rooting obtained by immersing the branches in the water until they have formed the root. However it multiplies, as well as by cuttings also by seed. Sowing occurs in the spring, the plants obtained from the seed take a very long period of time before germinating.
Both in the cultivation in the garden and in the pot it must be remembered that the Juniper does not appreciate the soil too moist, but prefers a dry environment. For this reason, the suitable soil can consist of a mixture of medium-sized vegetable garden with 30% of sand. Before planting the plant it is advisable to add an organic fertilizer (mature manure) at least a month before. Remember that being a dioecious plant, in order to obtain the berries, it is necessary to have both the male and female specimens.
For good control of this plant we recommend a light pruning during the winter, in order to eliminate dry or damaged branches, while before the summer it is good to shorten the buds too long. The juniper requires constant irrigation during the summer, especially in the early years, afterwards, after the complete development of the roots, it can withstand drought perfectly.
Even with regard to potential pests or diseases, the Juniper is particularly resistant. However, among the most frequent weeds we find first of all the cochineal, the roots could be subject to problems if the plant is in a clayey soil with little draining. In order to successfully treat the presence of weeds, it is possible to use natural substances, such as garlic or horsetail extract.
For the harvesting of the fruits, which however have a very long maturation cycle, even for a few years, this can be done at the beginning of autumn, with due precautions (because of the numerous thorns). Once the berries are harvested, leaving them attached to the twigs, they must be left to dry in a dry, cool and dark place.
The Juniper berries, for their pleasant aroma, are used for various uses:
– to flavor stews, stews and meat dishes, especially game, given that their characteristic taste is able to balance the strong flavor of these meats;
– they are used to prepare excellent distillates, including gins and grappa.