Plan Your Spring Garden and Plant Your Winter Garden

heirloom tomato plantJanuary is a busy time for us at Garden Harvest Supply. We begin taking orders on our vegetable plants this week, which means that when spring comes, we can ship plants out to you at the perfect time for replanting based on where you live. We offer a greater selection of starter veggie plants than anyone else online, and we're proud to grow them in larger-than-usual pots to ensure healthier roots systems. So let one of your resolutions this New Year be to plan your spring garden early. Then order the vegetable plants you need from us!

How to Keep On Growing Despite the Frost

If planning is not enough for you and you just can't wait to plant, we suggest you put up a row cover, or it's larger cousin, a hoop house. That's what Michelle Obama and her staff did a couple of weeks ago at the White House Garden, enabling them to grow a large variety of crops there during the Washington winter including spinach, lettuce, mustard greens, chard, cabbage, winter radishes, onions, broccoli, turnips and carrots.

We've long recommended row covers to those customers who want an extended growing season but don't need anything as large or permanent as a full-sized greenhouse.  These simple tunnel-like structures with plastic or fabric stretched over and around them catch the sun's rays and achieve results similar to a greenhouse for a fraction of the cost. They are also easy to put up, as you can see from viewing their installation at the White House Garden.

If you'd like to give row covers a try, Haxnicks Easy Tunnel Row Cover contains everything you need to get started. The galvanized steel hoops will last for years, and the tough UV-stabilized polyethylene forms a complete barrier retaining humidity and warmth, while protecting against frosts, harsh weather, and pests. At $39.50, it's a very economical way to keep on growing despite the snow and frost.

An alternate solution is the Cold Frame Single Mini-Greenhouse, which, at $44.99 is almost as inexpensive and provides more than 5 sq. feet of growing space. The advantage of the Cold Frame is that you can move it from one area of your yard to another, allowing you, for example, to start seedlings and grow plants to maturity without transplanting. Simply move the cold frame when the danger of frost is past.

cold frame double mini greenhouseWe also carry the Cold Frame Double Mini-Greenhouse which provides more than 10 square feet of growing spaceenough for a small family to grow their veggies and herbs. In some zones you'll be able to grow all year round.

The Season Starter, one of our best selling products, is designed to give you a jump on the next growing season by allowing you to plant your cold-sensitive vine crops as much as six weeks earlier than usual. An improved version of the popular Wall O' Water, it is often used for growing early tomatoes, but will also work with peppers, cucumbers, melons, and all other vine crops, as well as certain herbs.

Though simple in its design, it delivers sophisticated results, the kind you'd be more likely to expect from a fancy product with timers and light sensors. When you wrap the Season Starter around a plant during daylight hours, the tubes of water it contains begin to absorb solar energy. When the temperature drops, these tubes slowly and uniformly release that accumulated energy, generating enough heat to keep plants warm overnight. In freezing temperatures, the walls of water freeze before the plant feels the cold, releasing increasing amounts of heat as they do. In this way the Season Starter is able to protect tender plants during frosty nights, and the wrap-around design helps shelter them from chilly winds.

Certified Organic Seed

If you're going to be planting this winter, you'll need seed. The best kind of seed comes from plants that have not been genetically engineered, and were grown entirely by natural means without the application of any synthetic chemicals.

This kind of seed is known as organic, but not everyone who claims to provide organic seed produces it the same way. That's why standards for organic agriculture were developed, along with a certification process by which growers can prove that they have followed all the best practices recommended by experts in the field.

We're proud that all the seed that we sell has been certified organic by MOSES, the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service.  This organization holds the bar so high that some organic farmers don't want to take the trouble to meet all their certification requirements. Those who are willing to walk the extra mile are the ones from whom we get our seed. The produce you grow from it will have a healthier start than nearly all the organically grown produce that is commercially available.

How can we say this? Because less than 5% of certified organic produce is grown from certified organic seed. This is far from ideal, as Peggy Miars, an organic certifier for CCOF, an organic certification and trade organization, explains:

I think in order to be truly organic, you need to start with the organic seed, and I know that's something that CCOF is trying to encourage farmers to use, and I know it's something they really want to use, and I know it's something that consumers think need to be used as wellso I think it needs to start organic from seed all the way through to the table.

The Big Picture: Earth in the Balance

That's just what we offer at Garden Harvest Supply: everything you need to grow organic from the seed all the way through to the table. And when you grow that way, you not only end up with great tasting produce, but you help to restore ecological health to the earth.

More than two hundred years ago, George Washington wrote that the improvement of agricultural practices is one of the most real and important services anyone can render to their country. How ironic that the farmers rendering that service today are those that are in some ways returning to the kind of farming that was practiced by the early settlers: one that involves crop rotation, the planting of perennials, and the use of organic fertilizers and natural methods of pest control.

By retaining the best of our hard-won agricultural advances over the last two centuries, while once again working with nature rather than against it, we can replenish the soil, restore the purity of our waterways, and be more productive than farmers in Washington's time could have ever dreamed possible.

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