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Archive for November 2010

A 2011 Thanksgiving Message from Garden Harvest Supply

November 18th, 2010

A Thanksgiving Message from Joe Stutzman, owner of Garden Harvest Supply

Five years ago I had a vision of creating a business that would offer a full line of vegetable plants for sale online. No one else was doing this, but I believed in that saying, “If you build it, they will come.”  Today I want to thank every single person who has ordered from us, for you have made my dream come true. We’re thriving thanks to your support!

We still offer more vegetable plants than anyone else online, and we’ve expanded to carry everything you might need for your garden, and more.  We remain a family business—perhaps you’ve spoken with me or my daughter Stefni if you’ve called our new toll-free number. By the way, we’re always happy to answer your gardening questions, even if they’re not in connection to any order. Just call us at 1-888-907-4769.

So, on behalf of all the staff, and myself, I want to wish you a very happy Thanksgiving, and to thank you again for choosing Garden Harvest Supply.

Things You Didn’t Know About Squanto

Most adults will remember getting a history lesson in elementary school about Squanto, the Native American who taught the early settlers how to grow corn and other crops. But there’s a lot more to this Squanto than what your teacher probably told you.

For instance, did you know that Squanto had been captured by an earlier group of explorers and taken to England where he was sold as a slave? Like the biblical Joseph, the experience did not break him, and, in fact, he learned to speak English and learned quite a bit about English methods of agriculture. When a group of friars opposed to slavery liberated him, he was able to secure passage on a ship heading for the New World by working as part of the crew.  He managed to get back to the region where he was born and to his tribe, the Wampanoag. Thus he was uniquely qualified to communicate with and assist the settlers when they arrived in Plymouth on the Mayflower a few years later.

What Squanto taught the settlers was a mixture of Native American gardening techniques and his newly acquired English techniques. For instance, he taught them to use fish as fertilizer, something Native Americans were not doing at the time, but that worked marvelously well. He also taught them how to make the traditional Wampanoag Three Sisters Garden, a method of planting that did not involve any tilling of the land—a great boon because the land around Plymouth is quite acidic with many rocks and pebbles. As you can read in Squanto’s Garden:

The sites were typically round in shape, as opposed to orderly rectangles. The corn was planted first in mounds about six inches apart. After the corn had sprouted, beans were planted on the sloping sides of the mounds. Squash seedlings were to be planted between the mounds, at the same time as the beans. The sunflowers were positioned on the northern edge of the garden, so as not to cast a shadow over the other plants.

As you probably remember, the settlers had a rough time that first winter. After taking Squanto’s advice, however, things turned around for them. When harvest time came, they not only had enough to get by, but in fact, had a bountiful harvest. To celebrate and express their thanks to God, and to Squanto, whom William Bradford described as having been “a special instrument of mercy and grace,” the settlers gathered together in a feast that became the first Thanksgiving.

According to a letter written by colonist Edward Winslow, there were almost twice as many Native Americans as colonists at the feast. Although it is unclear whether turkey was served, we do know there was plenty of corn, beans and squash, as well as deer meat, fish, and—surprise!—various seafood including lobster and crab. A letter Winslow wrote at this time to his loved ones in England well captures the spirit of Thanksgiving: “And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.”

Thanksgiving Quiz

This quiz is guaranteed to keep your kids occupied for at least two minutes while they’re waiting for the Thanksgiving meal to be served. Also suitable for cooks staring at a pot of water and waiting for it to boil, or anyone waiting for the meal to be ready. Answers may be found at the very end of this email.

  1. What Native American man is credited with having helped the settlers to produce bountiful harvests in the New World? 1. Tonto 2. Squanto 3. Tecumseh 4. Sitting Bull
  2. What was the name of the Native American tribe to which he belonged? 1.Wampanoag, 2. Winnebago, 3. Mohawk 4. Lakota.
  3. What soil amendment did these Native Americans teach the settlers to use on their fields? 1. manure 2. lime 3. fish 4. potash
  4. Why did the settlers choose Plymouth as a place to land? 1) They’d been blown off course 2. They were mightily impressed with Plymouth Rock 3. Plymouth looked like it would make a good port 4. The Native Americans were so friendly when they stopped there.
  5. Why didn’t the Settlers realize that they would have a very hard time gardening in Plymouth? 1. The Native Americans told them the land was very fertile 2. They came in the summer and didn’t realize how harsh the winters would be 3. Reports from other earlier explorers had misled them. 4. They Googled “Plymouth” and believed a website that contained incorrect information.

Interview: Customer Margarete C. Jones on her experience with Garden Harvest Supply and what she’s thankful for this Thanksgiving

“I’m 89 years old, and I’d rather enjoy flowers now than have people send them to me after I’m dead! I placed a very large order with Garden Harvest Supply and they sent it all right away. Soon I had a beautiful blooming garden. All those plants they send in boxes are fresh and very good—not one of them has ever been bad. I still have some beautiful flowers, even though it’s cold now where I am in Stedman, North Carolina.

“I’m originally from Austria. Everyone has flowers outside their house and lots of window boxes. I like to continue that tradition, and I especially love daisies and mums. Though I’m confined to a wheelchair, my caretaker wheels me out to the garden, and I explain to him how to do the planting. When it’s watering time, I get to hold the hose. I have a big place, about 20 acres, so he pushes me about quite a lot.

“The rest of the time I have to stay in bed, but I have double glass doors so even then I can still see the beautiful flowers. This Thanksgiving I’m thankful that I can still use my computer (I’m even on Facebook), and that I’m still able to get around in my wheelchair and get out into the garden. Most of all, I’m thankful to God that He takes care of me.”

When Asked What She Was Thankful For, Our Master Gardener Replied:

Defining something for which to be thankful is a hard seed to crack. There are so many things large and small that one should always include. Looking at the struggles of so many others during this tough economic time, I am thankful for the education and training that has allowed me to continue to maintain a modest lifestyle, and thankful that most of my family and friends have been similarly blessed. I’m thankful for all that I have, but there is always room for another plant!

News Flash from Dave Barry

Dave Barry reports that recent scientific research has confirmed a theory he advanced in the 1980s that men are genetically more suited for gardening than cleaning house. “The problem,” he famously argued, is that “women can detect a single dirt molecule 20 feet away” while “men cannot see dirt until there is enough of it to support agriculture.”

Five-Star Bread and Celery Turkey Stuffing Recipe

Is this the first time you’ll be making turkey stuffing, or were you not fully satisfied with how it turned out last year? Here’s a simple but great stuffing recipe by Carlota Chmielewski who describes it as “an easy stuffing recipe for a 10- to 12-pound turkey.” Thanks to AllRecipes.com for letting us reprint it.

Prep time: 20 min.  Cook time: 40 min.  Ready in 2 hours. Yields 10 servings.

Ingredients

1 (1 pound) loaf sliced bread

3/4 cup butter

1 onion, chopped

4 stalks celery, chopped

2 teaspoons poultry seasoning

salt and pepper to taste

1 cup chicken broth

Directions

• Let bread slices air dry for 1 to 2 hours, then cut into cubes.

• In a Dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat. Cook onion and celery until soft. Season with poultry seasoning, salt, and pepper. Stir in bread cubes until evenly coated. Moisten with chicken broth; mix well.

• Chill, and use as a stuffing for turkey, or bake in a buttered casserole dish at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 30 to 40 minutes.

Quiz Answers

2, 1, 3, 1, 2

Frustrations of a Tropical Night-Blooming Cereus Grower

November 10th, 2010

The tropical night-blooming cereus blooms at night. Not really surprising, that factoid. But it only blooms for one night.  And then, one night a year.  A neighbor of mine in Columbus, OH called me unapologetically at 1 a.m. one weeknight 15 years ago, begging me to come see her first-ever bloom. She needed someone to help her appreciate the moment, to witness the miracle. After admiring the rare, unusual flower, and learning about the plant, I knew I had to someday grow my own night-blooming cereus. (But not for an excuse to wake people on a work night.)

cereusThis odd, gangly and unruly plant will take over whatever space it’s allotted.  It sends out long, hairy shoots that will keep extending until they reach a wall or ceiling, then they’ll bend and continue growing to infinity. The long, flat, irregular leaves look like a Picasso painting melting. Unexpectedly, right out of the side of a leaf will sprout a hot pink stem and a bud.  Then, a spidery, multi-layered white flower singing tunes from “Little Shop of Horrors” opens to reveal a delicate perfume…evocative of jasmine and evenings spent chugging Mai Tais on Waikiki Beach.

The night-blooming cereus has a cult following. Maybe it’s because of its grotesque greenery only a mother could love. Maybe it’s a purist’s way of proving superhuman patience. Or, maybe it’s just a quirky fun conversation piece.  The first-time viewer always asks, “Why?”

I have been growing a night-blooming cereus indoors from a small start my neighbor Karen (a Master Gardener) gave me about 3 years ago. I’ve tended it, groomed it, and cleared space for its ever-increasing size. I’ve waited for what seemed like 3 1/2 years to see my first bloom, never knowing if or when it would happen.

There is something magical about nurturing this horrible-looking monstrosity to have a large, fragrant flower appear out of the edge of a leaf, only one night each year.

Well, mine bloomed for the first time last night. I missed it. Here’s the wilted, shriveled and jaundiced remains of a flower I found when I woke up:

cereus

There is no point or moral to this story. I was mocked by my own houseplant, and I just needed to vent. Thanks.

Blooming Hibiscus for Container Planting

November 3rd, 2010

white hibiscus plantThe tropical and exotic flowers of the hibiscus plant are adored by plant lovers everywhere.  And experienced growers of this colorful bloomer know that it’s superb for container growing, for many reasons.

Since hibiscus has been hybridized, there are now several growth habits to choose from, as well as varied leaf types, and colors and bloom sizes of flowers. Choosing the type of hibiscus to grow should start with selecting the space where you intend to keep the plant.  It requires a minimum of six hours a day of full sunlight. If you live in a climate with freezing winter temperatures, you’ll need to bring your hibiscus indoors to overwinter.  Therefore, keep that in mind when thinking about the type of container for your outdoor—and indoor—space.

Next, determine the growth habit you prefer for your container-grown hibiscus.  There are hibiscus plants that are best suited to hanging planter pots, like the High Definition Cajun Hibiscus. It has a weeping habit and giant 9- to 10-inch blooms.  A variety with a semi-upright growth habit like Bridal Party also does well in a container that allows it to drape over the sides. Cosmic Dancer has a full upright growth habit and will require a taller growing space. Your container selection might also depend on how frequently you plan to move the plant, if weight is a consideration.

After you’ve chosen the plant type, select a container that will be approximately as deep as it is wide.  Hibiscus prefer to be slightly root-bound, and they’ll send small feeder roots out horizontally to fill whatever space they’re allotted, as well as sending down the main support root vertically. This is a plant that requires proper drainage and some coarse sand mixed in the soil will allow the aeration the roots need.  A container that doesn’t breathe too much, like cement or glazed ceramic, is preferred, since hibiscus are relatively heavy water consumers, and wood or terra cotta won’t hold in the necessary moisture, especially in dry or very hot climates. Otherwise, a standard potting mix and fertilizer regimen should be used.

Hibiscus leaves vary widely among different varieties, from small and simple to large and ornate, and there are plenty of leaf color choices.  In tropical climates, the plants produce blooms nearly year-round, but they go dormant in four-season climates when brought indoors for the winter. During the dormant months, you’ll want a plant that is attractive even without flowers.

Bloom type and color are the main selection criteria for most hibiscus lovers.  Blooms can be single, double, flat or frilly, and the range of colors is pretty much endless!

Provide ample water and sunshine to get the best looking and healthiest container-grown hibiscus.  A well-maintained plant should live and provide abundant blooms for many years.

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