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Archive for June 2009

How should I water my garden?

June 30th, 2009

Hello, I live in Boise, Idaho where our summers tend to get hot and dry. There are a few summer thunder storms but nothing we can count on. I’ve always watered by just turning on the hose and slowing filling my trenches. It could be daily for the cukes and 2-3 a week for the tomatoes. That was for a 10×20 garden that I puttered in and it worked fine – always had enough tomatoes, beans, peppers and cucumbers to share with family and neighbors.  This year I’ve gotten serious and increased that plot to 12 x 30, and added another plot that’s about 15×40 and added corn, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, watermelon, pumpkins, basil, onions, carrots and artichokes. Plus I have separate strawberry, raspberry and blueberry patches.  So, I’ve been researching watering options. I can’t install a sprinkler system.  Too expensive, plus I don’t understand how you would keep your leaves dry.  In my research I’ve come across many articles that mention, “one inch of water per week.”  I just discovered Garden Harvest Supply and yours is the first site/blog that has given me the opportunity to learn/share/ask questions. I’m sorry this is so long. I do have 2 questions:

  1. What is/how do I measure one inch of water per week. I’m familiar with the tuna can method when using a sprinkler  and watering your lawn, but don’t think that’s appropriate because of wetting the vegetable leaves and getting water into places in the garden that don’t need watering and causing weeds, etc.
  2. I planted my melons near my sweet potatoes, then learned they are not good companions. What do I do? They are separated by marigolds and watering trenches, but is that enough?  Should I maybe add some other flowers (nasturtiums) or herbs (sage, thyme, oregano)?

Thank you for any insight that you can provide.  Best regards and may all your blossoms bloom. Kathy

My Brandywine Pinks

June 25th, 2009

brandywine_groupDear Garden Harvest Supply: Last year I grew some Brandywine Pink heirloom tomato plants and was very satisfied, I have included a photo. This year I’m experimenting with Brandywine Pink, Brandywine Black, Caspian Pink, Cherokee Purple, Mortgage Lifter, Pineapple Heirloom, Red Delicious, and Big Beef tomatoes. There should be no shortage of tomatoes at all this year! Thanks for your wonderful selection of heirloom tomato plants. Alton S

Natural Pest Control

June 22nd, 2009

If you believe that diet pills are the best way to lose weight quickly, you probably also think that the most efficient way of getting rid of garden pests is to use powerful chemicals. It’s the same mindset: wanting a quick fix without regard to long-range consequences, or even long-term effectiveness. Here at Garden Harvest Supply we can’t advise you on how to best shed pounds, though gardening will help keep you fit, but we do believe in a moderate, safe approach to getting rid of pests.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM), the approach we recommend, is actually an umbrella-term that refers to a variety of sensible and sustainable gardening practices that are highly effective when implemented together. You don’t have to be a serious gardener to follow IPM; it’s really just common sense, or, rather, the kind of earth sense you would develop if you lived close to the land and had worked it for years, observing and learning. To help you get started with IPM, we’re going to focus on four of its main pillars, which we will discuss individually in the sections that follow.

Go Native

Did you know that by planting native species you will be much less likely to run into pest problems? As the gardeners at Growing Hope explain, “Native plants are better protected by their own ‘immune systems’ and their relationships with other plants and animals in the area.” Thanks to websites like enature.com or wildflower.org, it’s easy to find which plants are native to your region.

Within the native plants, you can zero in on those that are the most pest-resistant. Toronto Master Gardeners have compiled a list of the most pest-resistant flowers. To learn about the most pest-resistant varieties of fruits and vegetables, try this Wikipedia list.

The Buddy System

Companion planting is based on the principle that plants can complement each other in mutually beneficial ways. For example, aphids will tend to stay away from tomatoes if chives are planted alongside them. Likewise, planting marigolds next to your pansies will help to keep slugs away. Companion planting can even help to discourage big pests like raccoons. As David Beaulieu explains, if you plant corn and squash together, pesky mammals wanting a sweet corn treat will be discouraged by the prickly squash vines crisscrossing their path. To learn more about companion planting, check out this article from Organic Gardening Magazine, or, if you just need to know what goes well together and what doesn’t, try the Home and Garden Site. For personalized attention, don’t hesitate to ask a master gardener.

If You Plant It, They Will Come

If you encourage good critters such as ladybugs, lacewings, ground beetles, birds and bees, they will help to take care of some of your pests for you. In Ecological Gardening, Marjorie Harris writes that the larvae of the ladybug “can down 25 aphids a day, the adult 56 a day. And one coupling will produce from 200 to 1,000 offspring. They can get into areas no spray could possibly penetrate.” To create an inviting environment for this most welcome garden guest, plant one or more of the following: alfalfa, angelica, caraway, cilantro, clover, dill, fennel, marigolds, nasturtiums, or yarrow.

Songbirds will go after many of your beetles, grubs, and flying insects. To attract them, gardening expert Theresa Forte recommends a border of fruit-bearing shrubs such as serviceberry, dogwood, viburnum or rosa. Since birds also look for sheltered spots to nest, they will use evergreen shrubs such as spruce, cedar and juniper if you make them available. Bluebirds will be happy to both sing for you and eat your pests but they are cavity-nesters so you’ll need to provide them with a house, such as this popular top viewing model. Ms. Forte’s final suggestion is to get a birdbath—something that birds as well as bees will love. We sell some beauties, such as these bird baths.

Natural Pesticides

The IPM approach allows for the prudent use of organic biodegradable pesticides because the interventions discussed above won’t always solve pest problems completely. However, the use of inorganic pesticides can harm your pets and even you and your family. The larger picture is that when these substances find their way into the groundwater, they contribute to the pollution of land and water. On the other hand, natural pesticides can be highly effective without doing any damage.

Our favorite natural pesticide is diatomaceous earth (DE), sometimes referred to as fossil shell flour. It could also be called microscopic razor wire because when magnified 1000 times, each particle is shown to have extremely sharp edges. When insects eat it, it cuts up their insides and simultaneously dries them out. If they get dusted with it, it also cuts into them when they scratch themselves, and, again, dries them out. Yet it will not harm pets, in fact, food grade DE (which is what we sell) is often given to animals as a parasite treatment. It is so pure that it can even be given to children for this same purpose: a teaspoon a day should do the trick.

DE works on just about everything— ants, aphids, whiteflies, loppers, mites, leafhoppers, cockroaches, silverfish, bedbugs, fleas, box elder bugs, crickets, ticks, slugs, snails, even scorpions. Just be careful to use only food grade DE for gardening or internal consumption. There is another kind used in swimming pool filters that is treated with harmful chemicals. We sell food grade diatomaceous earth in five or fifty pound bags. You can apply it yourself (use that mask you bought for Swine Flu), but for larger area you might want to buy a Dustin-Mizer Garden Duster. This duster works great for spreading DE, and is well worth the $35 investment.

If grubs are what’s eating you and your plants, we recommend a product originally developed by the USDA: Milky Spore Powder. Though nontoxic to humans and animals and harmless to the beneficial insects in your garden, one application will do away with grubs for a guaranteed 10 years, and possibly up to 20 years! These results are possible because Milky Spore Powder infects the critters with a bacterium to which only grubs are susceptible. After two or three weeks they die, but the spores remain in the soil, ready to infect future generations of grubs that might happen to find their way into your garden.

Keep your Mind on the Roses, Not the Thorns

We’d like to leave you with the thought that there are 200 million bugs for every human being on the planet. This puts things into perspective doesn’t it? Consider also that 95% of the animal species on the earth are insects. So pest control is really a matter of peaceful coexistence, isn’t it?

Make your garden a happy place for the good critters, use IPM to keep the pests away, and try to enjoy yourself despite the problems, big and small, that inevitably come to us, even in our gardens. As someone once said, “Don’t grumble that roses have thorns, be thankful that thorns have roses.”

Garden Memorial Plaques

June 19th, 2009

garden_plaqueNature has a unique way of calming and centering us.  Outdoor spaces are ideal for contemplation, relaxation, and meditation.  They can also serve as living memorials, places to be mindful of life cycles and to remember those we’ve loved and lost.

Placing an inspirational garden plaque among your living plants adds beauty to your garden and anchors your landscape design with a focal point that’s warm and inviting.  It is a lasting memorial to cherished relationships, honoring those living or deceased, each time you enter that quiet space. 

Garden Harvest Supply has a wide variety of plaques that relate spiritual, inspirational, or motivational sentiments.  Whether you are recognizing the bravery of a public servant, seeking solace, grieving a recent loss, or giving a gift that says you share in someone else’s joy or sorrow, a garden plaque is a gentle reminder of all the richness in life.

All of the garden plaques carried by Garden Harvest Supply are made of durable and weatherproof cast concrete materials, and most come with stands.  They are designed to look rough hewn and to blend into any natural space such as landscape borders, at the base of an ornamental tree, or along walkways, flower beds and vegetable gardens.  They are a great way to express yourself and they make an excellent lasting gift that says you care.

How to produce strawberries on a raised bed through plastic

June 17th, 2009

I would like to know how to produce strawberries on a raised bed through plastic. I thought you had to let berries run and set new plants to produce a crop the next year. The pictures I looked at seemed to have the plants close together and there weren’t any runners. Also, what kind of plants is best suited for this. I would appreciate any information I can get.  Thanks very much, Jim

Will turnips grow after cutting off their tops?

June 17th, 2009

If I cut the tops off the turnips before the turnips get big enough to harvest, will the turnips still develop? No one seems to know the answer to this!  Hope you can help! Brenda

All About Potatoes

June 14th, 2009

potatoesPotatoes are one of the most fun garden crops and one of the easiest to grow.  Potatoes can survive in nearly any climate above freezing, and they require next to no effort.  There are many varieties that will flourish in home gardens.  Just make sure, like with most plants, that you give potatoes plenty of room to grow.  Don’t try to place seed potatoes too close together, or you’ll reduce your crop.

Potatoes grow best in a hill or mound of dirt.  They’ll produce a lush, leafy green plant on the top, which sends nutrients down to the tubers.  Whether you’re harvesting “new” potatoes, the small, delicate early crop, or later crops, the process is the same.  Choose a warm and dry day—but make sure it’s not too sunny, because sunlight on the potatoes will cause them to turn green, which will alter their flavor.  You’ll know when they’re ready to pull from the ground, because they cluster just below the surface of the soil and it’s easy to tell by sight and feel when they’re adequate size.

Gently stick your hand into the soil and dig around for the ripe potatoes.  Or, you can carefully use a pronged fork to loosen the soil around the clusters of potatoes and ease them up out of the soil.  Take only the potatoes you want, and leave the plant intact in the soil if you have enough frost-free weather remaining for it to continue producing potatoes.  Shake off any loose soil, and have a warm, dark place ready to leave the potatoes for an hour or more to dry.  At this point, don’t handle the fresh-picked potatoes too much if you’re trying to brush the dirt off them, and don’t wash them.  They’ll store better if the skin isn’t bruised or nicked, but they need to be as clean and dry as possible.

If you stab a potato with a prong as you’re digging, be prepared to eat it right away, because it won’t store well.  It’s best to dig with your hands, but if you use a prong or shovel, dig well below the level you believe is the bottom of the potatoes and raise the entire cluster up out of the soil to avoid injuring them.

It’s not uncommon for potato skins to have small cuts or bruises.  That’s why a curing period of a week or two is required for best results before long-term storage.  Allowing the potatoes to rest in a 55- to 60-degree location with fairly high humidity and darkness will give the skins time to heal.

After curing, move the potatoes to a dark and cooler location, with temps between 35 to 40 degrees.  Moderate humidity and good ventilation will keep the tubers at their resting best.  A root cellar is the ideal location for keeping potatoes throughout the winter, but a basement or even crawl space with good air circulation will keep spuds from sprouting or rotting until you’re ready to eat them.

Because potatoes provide large bounties of produce, it’s a good thing they are versatile in the kitchen.  Remove as many potatoes from your storage area as you’ll need for one meal, then bake them whole, and top with butter and/or sour cream and chopped chives.  Or dice them for a filling breakfast hash.  Slice them for hot German potato salad, or cube them and chill for American potato salad.  Make your own French fries or potato chips.  And what stew would be complete without potatoes?  No potatoes will compare to the ones you grow yourself!

Quality Vegetable Plants!

June 10th, 2009

My vegetable plants arrived green, healthy and quickly. I couldn’t wait to plant them in my garden. I am so glad to find a grower with quality plants that I can have shipped. I live in rural up-state NY and don’t drive. I will be buying many plants in the future. Thank you again. Cathy S

Calibrachoa Mini Famous Problem

June 8th, 2009

My hanging container of Calibrachoa Mini Famous Red flowers look like they are dying in the middle of the pot, what am I doing wrong? Help please.

Show Dad Some Love

June 8th, 2009

Father’s Day is just around the corner, and Garden Harvest Supply has the ideal gifts for Papa, whether you want to show your appreciation to your real Dad, your Step-dad, your Grandfather, or any man who has been like a father to you.

If you have limited time to select a gift, we’ll make it easy for you to choose and we’ll ship it to arrive on time for Father’s Day.  We have an awesome selection of items that will appeal to men of all ages.  He’d love a consumable gift of assorted fruit jams and jellies, handmade hard candies, or a few bags of the best-tasting popcorn you’ll ever pop.  We have a variety of naturally flavored honeys and pure maple syrup.

Does your Dad enjoy fragrance?  Our handmade soaps contain all-natural ingredients that leave the skin feeling soft and smelling great.  They come in a wide range of unique scents that are each a slice of heaven.

For the Dad who is a backyard enthusiast, Garden Harvest Supply has decorative and practical backyard gifts like rain gauges, outdoor thermometers, fountains, garden plaques, plant hangers, and wind chimes.

Men are as passionate as women about growing flowers.  Why not surprise Dad with a gift of a hanging flower basket, a beautiful assortment of vivid annuals, a custom-selected herb garden, a new trellis, or an ergonomic planting accessory?  What about livening up Dad’s patio or deck with brightly colored flowers and perennial bushes that are known to attract hummingbirds?

Hummingbirds are colorful, mystical and fascinating to watch.  Garden Harvest Supply offers everything for the beginner hummingbird enthusiast to seasoned aficionados.  Whether your Dad lives in an apartment with limited window space, or a large home with a nature sanctuary in the back yard, there are hummingbird supplies to suit all spaces, budgets and needs.  We carry Hummer Helper cage and nesting materials, hummingbird nectars, and every type of hummingbird feeder available.  We also supply cleaning brushes and accessories for feeders like hummer helmets (12-inch baffles to protect the nectar and to provide shade for hummers as they feed), replacement yellow flowers, and ant guards.

If you can’t find just the right gift, consider a Garden Harvest Supply gift certificate to let Dad do his own selecting from our vast Website.  It’s quick and easy for you, and he’s sure to find something he’ll love, since he selected it!

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