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Archive for June 2011

Planning Your Fall Vegetable Garden

June 30th, 2011

fall vegetable gardenIf you are an experienced spring and fall vegetable gardener, you already know what works in your area, and what doesn’t work as well. Of course, personal preference also plays a huge part. (Who’s going to plant vegetables they don’t like?) On the other hand, trying something new is always a good thing! You don’t have to plant a whole row to get a taste for a new variety of an old favorite, or even for something you’ve never put in your mouth before. Planting one or two vegetable plants will do, and then if you like the flavor and it grows well in your area, you can plant it again next year in larger quantities. Don’t be surprised that what comes out of the grocery store will taste bland and uninteresting compared to your homegrown produce.

If you are new to fall vegetable gardening, you can rely on the advice here and the forthcoming comments from our expert customers who have “been there and done that.” And you can always ask our Master Gardener if we have failed to answer any of your questions here. That is just one reason we recommend you buy vegetable plants online, from us. We promise a quick and complete answer from a seasoned professional, and every order is backed by our Satisfaction Guarantee!

The first thing to do is to plan. You, of course, will have vegetables you planted in the spring or early summer that are still producing, but there will be many that don’t tolerate the dog days of summer well and will have quit fruiting or growing by mid-July and into August. Pull up all of those that are now just taking up space. Determinate tomatoes and early lettuce will definitely be on this list. Weed well, remove any overgrown plants from these areas, turn the soil, stand back and take stock. Now you know exactly where you have room to plant. You might even want to make yourself a list so that when your plants arrive, you don’t have to try to remember where you wanted to plant what.

You also need to take into consideration your first fall frost date. This information can be found at your local university extension office, online at Plant Maps, or in the Farmer’s Almanac, though unless you are new to an area, you probably already know when the first winter frost usually is. Furthermore, there is a difference between early occurring frost and winter frost. Many of the earlier frosts are very light and of a short duration, which only serve to enhance fall vegetable plant growth; the winter frost is considered the “killing” frost.

In fact, many of the earlier, light frosts are followed by an Indian summer with warmer than fall-like daytime temperatures and cool fall nighttime temps for a period of two weeks to a month, during which time your fall vegetable garden may explode with growth! So, when researching the fall vegetable plants for sale, count backwards from your first winter frost day, using the “days to harvest” as a guide, and then plant those fall garden plants that will produce prior to that killer frost. “Days to harvest” is the period of time from transplant or first mature leafing to the average harvest day, which will also be determined by the weather conditions for any particular year. We try to make gardening an exact science, but Mother Nature keeps us all guessing.

Once you have made your selections, you will also want to order those essential nutrients that you may need to replace. Hopefully you already have a soil tester that will easily determine what you require, but if you don’t, you can search online for what vegetables deplete what nutrients and order those nutrients that will rebuild the soil from the areas that have already been harvested and cleared. You can also order your soil tester at the same time as your fall vegetables and then add supplements as needed. A good rule of thumb is not to plant the same thing in the same place in successive seasons. For example, if you’ve already planted lettuce, do not follow up with another lettuce crop in the same spot. Rotating your crops, as well as repairing or ‘remineralizing’ your soil by using organic waste products, like compost, are the best methods to provide the essential nutrients that will grow healthy plants, but that will also supply the necessary nutrients to your family.

Now, as far as fall vegetables go, you want to look for the words “cool temperatures” or “cool weather.” There are also fall vegetable plants that are classified as tender, semi-tender, semi-hardy and hardy crops. The tender and semi-tender varieties may withstand a first light frost, but will not survive repeated frosts, so plan accordingly. By the same token, the hardy and semi-hardy can often overwinter, depending upon your area, so you may not need to even worry about the days to harvest. As always, this may vary slightly, or a lot, from year to year.

You can look to our Guide to Fall Vegetable Planting for additional information on this topic and for a list of those fall vegetable plants that are categorized as tender, semi-tender, hardy or semi-hardy.

We are always learning, and we strive to provide you, our customers, with the most up-to-date and valuable information available. Please feel free to comment at any time.

Happy Fall Gardening and Harvesting!

Getting Ready to Transplant Tomato Plants

June 29th, 2011

tomato starter plantTransplanting your tomato plants in to the ground can be done anytime after the last frost date, or more specifically, when soil temperatures are at least 55 ˚F to 60 ˚F and night air temperatures do not go below 45 ˚F.  Determining the soil temperature can be tricky for both novice and experienced gardeners, which is why we recommend using a Soil Thermometer. A soil thermometer can provide you with an exact temperature of the soil several inches in to the ground and can save you the worry of guessing.

Before setting your plants in to the ground, consider their surroundings. Did you know that tomato plants are actually picky about who their neighbors are? Do not grow your tomatoes near corn because the corn earworm is identical to the tomato fruitworm.  Also avoid planting near potatoes; when the two are together your potatoes become more susceptible to potato blight.  Finally, tomatoes and all members of the cabbage family repel each other and should be kept separate.  On the other hand, tomatoes are compatible and can be planted with or near chives, onion, parsley, marigold, nasturtium, carrot, and garlic. Be cautious about your tomato predecessors as well. When rotating your crops, avoid following potatoes, peppers, or eggplants in addition to all members of the family that includes tomatoes. A good book on the subject of companion planting is Carrots Love Tomatoes.

Some final considerations you should make prior to planting are the amount of sunlight and the soil conditions of your garden plot.  First of all, tomatoes should be grown in a spot that will allow them to enjoy full sunlight.  If you are unsure of how much light your garden plot is actually receiving, try using the SunCalc® Sunlight Calculator.  Secondly, tomatoes should be planted in fertile soil with plenty of organic matter. Knowing the nutrient levels of your soil is essential to growing tomatoes.  For example, soil with too much nitrogen, will produce leafy plants with little fruit.  This is why we recommend using a Tomato Grower’s Soil Test Kit.  This kit is inexpensive and easy to use and will determine pH as well as NPK (Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium) levels in your soil before you plant.

While this may seem like a lot of information to remember, we are confident that with these few considerations you will be growing successful tomatoes in no time.  Feel free to utilize any of our resources for help or guidance.  Best of luck and happy gardening!

30% Off of Every Perennial in Stock!

June 27th, 2011

Digitalis Perennial FlowerIf you’ve put off the purchase of your perennial plants for one reason or another, your delay, unintended or otherwise, has paid off big!

From now until July 5th you can buy any perennial that we have in stock for 30% off! That is ANY perennial!

You can choose from flowering beauties, such as Alcea, Kniphofia or Papaver (Poppy) plants, one of which will meet your requirements when it comes to shade or sun, moist or dry, or even a particular color or height that you would like to have.

You can also browse our foliage perennials like Athyrium, Brunnera or Heucherella plants, which will also produce flowers, but whose flowers pale in comparison to the striking multi-colored or variegated leaves.

Or select a perennial that has both beautiful blossoms and unique foliage such as one of the delicious varieties of Ajuga, Lamium, or Polemonium.

Perennials are the basis for your landscaping, along with your trees, shrubs and lawn. They come back year after year after year, getting better each year, with minimal care. They may require dividing or thinning every few years or so, in order to refresh their good looks, kind of like a facial for your flowers, but otherwise the normal requirements for essential nutrients, sun and water will suffice.

You will want to choose your perennials with placement in mind and with an eye to symmetry and color combinations. If there is a place that you know you would like to plant perennials, check that area a number of times throughout the day so that you know how much sun it receives. Also be aware of what type of soil it is; is it loamy, moist, sandy, dry, well-drained? And if you have fallen in love with a certain variety and it meets all of the requirements, say, except for moisture, then consider installing an inexpensive soaker hose on a timer in order to easily satisfy those requirements. You will save water and time, but still be able to have that one perennial that you just can’t live without!

Our perennials, just as all of our plants are, are presented with the best photos available and with detailed descriptions so that you can make informed choices on what would be best planted where. And, if after reading the descriptions, you still have questions, you can ask our Master Gardener, Karen. She has almost all of the answers, and if, by chance, you ask one that she does not feel comfortable answering; she will do the research to give you the best and most complete answer possible.

In addition to offering 30% OFF ALL OF OUR PERENIIALS right now, we are also extending our 50% OFF ANNUAL ANNUAL SALE. This dual sale will enable you to not only plan your flower beds for the future, but to continue that colorful display long after many perennials may have stopped blooming; right up to the first winter frost in many cases.

Experiment with color and texture. Plant the taller plants towards the back Amethyst In Snow Centaurea perennial plantand the shorter plants near the front and consider planting a trailing groundcover in an area that is hard to mow or maintain, such as the Centaurea plant that will spread 18 to 30-inches, or Creepng Phlox that blooms in the spring and is partial-shade tolerant. With careful consideration, you can make your landscape a most welcome retreat from the computer, the television and the telephone, while also making it easy to care for.

In our busy lives, we all need a place we can retreat to, but also require inviting spaces that don’t take a lot of work. Unfortunately, especially during these challenging economic times, we all have to consider our budget. Balancing emotional or aesthetic needs with monetary restrictions has become a way of life.

We have given you the tools to do just that by offering all of our Perennial Plants at 30% off, from now until July 5th. In addition, we have extended our Annual Annual Plant Sale so as to provide you with a more total decorating package, at a more affordable cost.

Happy Outdoor Decorating Everyone!!!

NOCDOWN III-All-Around, All-Natural Pest Control and Eliminator

June 24th, 2011

nocdown cedar oilCedar oil has been used for 1000s of years as a natural pest repellent. Though it may be hard to prove definitively, we believe that cedar, in the form of its needles and in the form of sawdust was used by the earliest earth-bound dwellers in order to deter the invasion of biting, stinging and destructive pests into their homes, as humble as they may have been.

There is, however, no doubt that our earliest ancestors used cedar saw dust to coat the floors of their homes and establishments in an attempt to not only deter destructive and dangerous insects, but to control odor. Cattle ranchers built their fence posts out of cedar, which naturally resists pest infestation and decay, some of which are still standing today. And the Egyptians soaked papyrus leaves in cedar oil, wrapping their dead, aiding in the mummification of their most revered leaders. Native Americans rubbed their bodies with cedar needles to discourage biting and stinging insects; even your grandma knew of cedar’s insect-repelling properties, storing linens and valuable textiles in cedar chests and placing blocks of fresh cut cedar inside closets so as to repel moths, cockroaches and other destructive pests.

What our ancestors and the ancients didn’t have though is the science to really understand exactly WHY cedar oil is so effective or HOW it works. More recent studies of NOCDOWN III and other products made of cedar oil have only added credence to what our forebears already knew—the positive attributes of cedar wood and cedar oil.

We now know, for example, that insects and snakes dependent upon their heat sensors and scent receptors in order to locate prey and suitable breeding areas are greatly hampered by cedar’s pungent odor. A most pleasant smell to us humanoids, the scent of cedar-based products like NOCDOWN III is kind of like that of a cesspool to non-beneficial pests, such as scorpions and snakes, ants and spiders, lawn grubs, cockroaches, mosquitoes, and fleas and ticks. It repels them; it confuses them; it makes them unable to function in that “smelly” environment, which causes them to flee and search for other, more pest-friendly environs.

We have also learned that in addition to deterring these pests, cedar oil is destructive to the eggs and larvae of these same noxious insects. Penetrating the cuticles and the exoskeletons of the eggs and larvae, these pests are no longer able to retain the moisture necessary for life. They dehydrate and die, very quickly, sometimes on contact.

So, not only have you discouraged the infestation of these nasty pests, you have now successfully interrupted their growth cycle, just by utilizing this family-friendly and earth-friendly, pleasant smelling, economical and completely safe product

NOCDOWN III organic pesticide will not hurt aquatic life. It will not repel beneficial insects, nor is it something that non-beneficial pests become immune to. The simple truth is that we are almost out of solutions for some of these pests. Ask any entomologist and you’ll be told how the majority of products on the market today are becoming less and less effective. Ants, cockroaches, lice, fleas and ticks are all becoming harder to kill because the pests are becoming immune to the chemicals being used. In fact, just ask your vet about how flea and tick preparations are always changing. Ask how certain parasites can no longer be treated and how scientists are quickly running out of solutions. It is all there by word-of-mouth and in print—we are running out of viable resolutions to control the most harmful and even the most innocuous of pests.

And yet, cedar oil still works! Only the process by which it is mass-produced is man-made. The product itself is all-natural.

As proof of its safety, visit any area with cedar trees.

  • Near the ponds in the Poconos, where the water is red from the cedar fall-out, there are virtually no mosquitoes or other offensive insects, but you will find plenty of turtles, frogs, fish, butterflies and honey bees.
  • On any farm, you will find chickens taking “dirt baths” below the cedar trees in order to rid themselves of fleas and mites. Equines, cattle and goats will even congregate under cedar trees, sometimes rubbing against the bark and oftentimes eating the needles. No, it’s not for the shade!
  • I’ve seen numerous species of birds nesting in cedar trees, a further indication of their safety.

So, then the question becomes, “Why use anything that is chemical-based and not safe when there are cedar oil products, such as NOCDOWN III readily available and highly effective?”

NOCDOWN III and products of its kind will not harm the environment. There are no chemicals to rinse into drainage systems and ground water, contaminating our streams, rivers and lakes. There are no chemicals for mutant insects to become immune to. There is no danger to you, your family or to your pets.

There is, simply put, no reason NOT to use NOCDOWN III!

Decorate with Garden Plaques

June 17th, 2011

Whether you have a vegetable garden or flower gardens, or no gardens at all, a garden plaque can say the one thing that is closest to your heart or be a reminder and tribute to someone you care for.

Garden PlaqueProudly made in the U.S.A., our garden plaques are cast from concrete, not resin, therefore having the true look, feel and weight of real stone. Colored throughout, not just on the surface, they are designed to last a lifetime while decorating your favorite outdoor spaces. Each garden plaque or stone has a meaningful quotation or comment on life and is artfully decorated, designed to contribute to the beauty of your outside world. Our selection features a wide range of colors, everything from natural to charcoal gray, terra cotta, sand, white granite and even more vibrant colors. All of our garden plaques come complete with a stand, while our garden stones are meant to be displayed like a stepping stone. It is up to you if you choose to use the provided stand or not.

There are many reasons that you may want to express your feelings through a garden plaque or garden stone. One of the most common is in memorial to a loved one that has passed, leaving you feeling somewhat adrift and lonely. Many gardeners choose to plant a bush, shrub or perennial plant in honor of this special someone and many will add a fountain, wind chimes or gazing ball and stand to further memorialize them; a garden plaque will serve to let all who enter your yard know that your heart was touched by this person and that he or she will never be forgotten. It can be like a healing salve to know that you have remembered someone so cherished, even in this simple way. We even have garden stones for beloved dogs and cats.

Garden plaques can also display your pride in our Armed Services. So many of our country’s young men and women are serving in dangerous places around the globe, the guardians of our freedom and that of the down-trodden in other nations. Many of you are probably related to or are friends with a soldier. We have Honor Garden Plaques with each of the armed service logos for the US Army, US Air Force, US Navy and US Marine Corp. as well as for the National Guard.

US Armed Forces

And if your loved one serves here in the U.S. as a public servant in the form of a Police Officer, in the Fire Department or as an EMT Paramedic, they too are deserving of recognition and their community’s pride. Garden plaques of this kind will always bring a warm smile and a bit of hope to the heart of someone who may be feeling down, and will definitely boost the morale of those people who serve both their country and their community so selflessly.

Garden PlaquesProclaim your faith, honor a friend or make a loving statement through the permanent and reverent display of a garden plaque or garden stone. It is amazing that such a simple artifact can bring such peace of mind or joy to those who display it, to those who see it and to those who give it as a gift!

Better Boy—One of the Best Tomatoes

June 16th, 2011

Better Boy Tomato gardenAhhh. Just the mere mention of a succulent, sweet, juicy, humongous Better Boy tomato will have gardeners licking their lips with anticipation and preparing their garden bed or containers for the day when they can finally begin the growing season and start producing this most popular of all tomato varieties. There are even backyard “tomato gardeners” that will grow nothing but the Better Boy tomato, their whole garden being a tribute to this one vegetable; this tomato is THAT good!

The Better Boy tomato is a hybrid indeterminate variety, which is a fancy name that means it is a cross between two other tomato plants and that it will produce tomatoes all season long. Hybrids are bred for qualities in the parent plants that are desirable, such as better disease resistance, color, meatiness, size and ease of growth. The Better Boy’s parents are the Big Boy and the Lemon Boy, both of which are still available and popular in their own right, but the Better Boy has surpassed both of them when it comes to popularity with both commercial and individual producers.

The Lemon Boy tomato is often advertised as an heirloom because of its unusual lemony color, but is actually an F-1 hybrid itself; the F-1 simply means it is resistant to Fusarium wilt, a very common tomato disease. It is a particularly meaty tomato with few seeds and has an exceptional flavor when compared to many bland tasting yellow varieties. Yellows also tend to be less acidic, which heart-burn and acid-reflux sufferers appreciate. Big Boy’s parentage, on the other hand, is a trade secret, as it has been for over 50 years. An Israeli vegetable breeder joined Burpee’s staff and produced a number of successful hybrid vegetables; his most significant being the Big Boy tomato in 1949. With a sweet, full flavor, this smooth, red-skinned fruit is also remarkably fragrant and can often weigh in at a pound or more. Being blessed with good disease resistance, it also has a bushy growth habit and is a strong grower. In fact, tomato connoisseurs often list it amongst the top five of their all time favorites.

So, now that you know where it came from, let’s look at the Better Boy’s qualities. First and foremost, Better Boy is resistant to Verticillium wilt, Fusarium wilt and nematodes, often annotated with the initials VFN either before or after the variety name. When it comes to tomatoes, it’s a good idea to know what the initials mean: V – Verticillium wilt, F – Fusarium wilt (F1, race 1; F2, race 2), N – nematode, T – tobacco mosaic virus, A – Alternaria alternata (crown wilt disease) and L – Septoria leafspot. Obviously, the more initials the better, but most will have 3 or less, with some having no special resistance at all; VFN are the most prolific diseases that you would like your tomatoes to be resistant to, but you can find more information about The 10 Most Common Tomato Plant Problems here.

Being an indeterminate variety, the Better Boy tomato plant will produce tomatoes all season long. In fact, the green tomatoes can be picked when the first frost is expected and allowed to ripen in a cool place in a brown paper bag. You really don’t want to let a single one of these juicy fruits go to waste. Determinate varieties, on the other hand, will form blossoms and then fruit, all at one time, and then quit producing. These varieties are most popular with people wanting to make tomato pastes, sauces, salsas, stewed tomatoes, etc. for canning. You can pretty much determine when the crop will be ready to harvest and process. Most serious gardeners will plant both the determinate and indeterminate varieties.

One or two plants will produce more than enough tomatoes for a family of 4, maybe allowing you to give away a few too. Plan accordingly. One of the biggest mistakes someone growing tomatoes for the first time will make—planting way too many plants, which means some going to waste (which is a shame), the creation of more and more creative ways to use tomatoes, your first efforts at home canning, or really happy neighbors and coworkers who receive the extra tomatoes your family is tired of seeing by now. The other by-product of over planting is frustration.

Better Boys are meaty and have a superb flavor. They are large enough to make great sandwich slices and their smooth, red skin is a joy to see hanging from the branches. Most Better Boy tomatoes weigh in at around 8 to 12-ounces, sometimes more and tend to have fewer problems when it comes to cracking and splitting.

You can grow Better Boys just as you would any other tomato plant, but definitely be sure to provide support for this precious plant. You don’t want these tomatoes hanging on the ground to be easy prey to critters or insects; their size and weight make that a real possibility.

You will find that tomatoes are remarkably easy to grow, though some seasons, like 2010, just seem to be “bad” years, with the instances of tomato growers grumbling about high temperatures, disease run rampant and even soil borne diseases. The best way to guard against this is to buy your plants from a reputable green house. Local greenhouses are best, because they grow tomatoes common to your area. Beware though—many of the so-called largest local retailers are importing their plants from other countries which can lead to diseases and pests being imported as well. If you are not confident in your local supplier or they do not have a large selection of tomatoes to choose from, we grow all of our tomato plants right here in our greenhouses in the heart of the U.S., in Berne, IN. We guarantee their quality and their arrival and provide amazing one-on-one customer support. We even have a Master Gardener on staff to answer any questions you may have…without waiting in line!

We have many varieties from open-pollinated to Heirloom to Hybrids, of which the Better Boy is. Better Boy will produce ripe tomatoes about 70 days after you’ve transplanted…and then for the rest of the season. You better order right now—the longer you wait, the longer you will be waiting for that first beautiful tomato to appear!

We are quite sure that you will be just as enamored of the Better Boy tomato as are most tomato lovers! Enjoy!

*The Better Boy photo was provided courtesy of Becca from Little Green Bees.

How to Get My Lilac Bush to Bloom

June 15th, 2011

I have two lilac bushes that are on the west side of my home. They are 5 years old, 5 feet tall, bushy and have never bloomed. I would like to cut them back to a smaller size. If they are not going to flower I want to pull them out.

I will appreciate your advice.

Bonnie T. – Salt Lake City, UT

Answer: The usual reason for lilac plants and other blooming shrubs to not bloom is being trimmed at the wrong time of the year. Lilacs should be pruned immediately after the blooming period. Since yours has not bloomed, you would just have to watch others in the area, then trim. Also, when you prune it’s good to thin an older shrub by removing no more than one-third of the older woody trunks, trimming down to within a few inches of the ground. Blooming is usually more vigorous on new growth. It would also be advisable to give the shrub some fertilizer in the late winter/very early spring, usually just around the time of your last snowfall. I would recommend using Hi-Yield Triple Superphosphate as the phosphate is what the plant needs the most for blooming. Avoid giving it too much nitrogen, which is the first of the three numbers that will be listed on the product. The nitrogen will just produce lots of green leaves and no blooms.

Also check your plant’s location and the amount of sun the plant receives. It should be getting four to six hours of sunlight daily. Lilacs transplant easily, so try taking one of the divisions or side shoots and plant it in a different location. Southern exposure is always good. See if your luck improves.

Some lilacs do take several years to reach maturity and a blooming state. You might try not pruning it this year. Give it some Superphosphate in the spring and see what happens next year.

Good luck and happy gardening,

Karen

Battling Whiteflies

June 15th, 2011

Whiteflies are a scourge that more and more gardeners are falling victim to. A world-wide problem, the use of insecticides has created a whitefly “monster”, immune to the most common pesticides and becoming more immune every year, until there will be a point where insecticides may no longer work. Insecticidal soap is becoming the most accepted form of control because pesticides are now known to go more than skin deep on fruits and veggies, it is safe to use, it produces results quickly and insecticidal soap is a solution that whiteflies cannot become immune to.  

A tiny pest, they work in huge numbers to devastate your house plants, greenhouse plants, vegetable plants and the world’s food supply. Most of you will be the victim of the greenhouse whitefly, which is so-named because it is frequently seen in greenhouses, but is a major pest that attacks numerous fruit, vegetable and ornamentals, both inside and outside. In fact, these thirsty pests not only feed on just about everything, they transmit any number of plant diseases. Tomato yellow leaf-curl begomovirus, TYLCV, is considered the worst, but they are attributed with spreading 60 different viral plant diseases.

In addition to the Greenhouse whitefly, the Silverleaf whitefly is becoming more prevalent. Your plants are likely to be attacked by either one of these species and though the physical differences may seem minute, the damage they are both capable of causing can be catastrophic. They often go unnoticed for a while because they attack the undersides of the leaves, staying out of the direct sun and out of sight, so the first preventative measure is to check the undersides of random leaves throughout your garden, especially on your tomatoes, squash and watermelons.  

An adult female Greenhouse whitefly will lay an average of 50 to 150 eggs, and though the Silverleaf whitefly is smaller, she can lay up to 7 times the number of eggs that the Greenhouse whitefly can. The life cycle of both is also similar, growing from eggs, which hatch in 5 to 10 days, depending upon the temperatures, at which time a “crawler” emerges, travels a short distance and then starts feeding, which is when they start damaging your plants. From crawler to nymph to pupa takes about two weeks, and then the adult female will emerge from the pupa about a week later and will start laying eggs almost immediately. Her average life span is only 6 days, so she makes the most of it. She feeds with sucking mouthparts that extract the sap from the phloem of your plants. The phloem is the living tissue of your plants that carries nutrients throughout the plant. Without it, plant death can be quick to occur, but the warning signs are usually quite easy to spot:

  • Yellowing leaves, yellow-spotted leaves and curling leaves can all be symptoms
  • Eggs will normally be laid in a circular pattern and will either be opaque or slightly yellow, depending upon whether it is a Greenhouse or Silverleaf whitefly. The eggs will be laid on the undersides of your plants’ leaves.
  • The nymph and pre-pupa stage will see the emergence of tiny white “legs” or fibers all around the small oval in the Greenhouse whitefly and not so much in the Silverleaf whitefly.
  • As they reach pupa stage, they may appear to look like fish scales on the backs of your plants’ leaves.
  • The most obvious sign is if you are enveloped in a white cloud as you bend down to inspect your garden. By that time, your infestation is probably quite advanced and at least partial plant death may be occurring. (Silverleaf whiteflies will be smaller and more yellow than white)
  • Adults secrete honeydew as they suck the life out of your plants, and this will attract ants in droves; another sign to watch for.
  • The honeydew that is secreted is the perfect growing medium for sooty mold, a black sticky mess that is impossible not to notice, but even more difficult to deal with than the whiteflies.

As stated above, there are pesticides to combat the problem…for now. Just remember that every time you use a pesticide, you are contributing to a future generation of whiteflies that will be immune to the pesticide you use today.

We recommend, instead, organic means by which to control this stubborn and adaptable pest. There are, of course, natural enemies of the whitefly, such as green lacewings, ladybirds (ladybugs), minute pirate bugs, big-eyed bugs and damsel bugs. You can either buy them in egg form or as adult insects from commercial enterprises or you can plant plants that will attract them. Lacewings and ladybugs are both attracted to fern-leaf and common yarrow (achillea), fennel, dill and cilantro/coriander. There is more information here on which plants to grow in order to attract beneficial insects to your yard.

But, if you have a whitefly infestation to deal with now, you don’t have the time or the luxury to wait for plants to grow, or even if you buy plants already close to adult size, for the word to get out to the “whitefly brigade” of insect assassins to gather for the whitefly buffet in your garden. You need something now and you need something that will act quickly (remember, it only takes them about 3 weeks to go from egg to egg-laying adult). 

The most common and safest organic method used is an insecticidal soap. We carry Safer Insecticidal Soap, derived from all-natural potassium salts and OMRI (Organic Materials Review Institue) listed for organic gardening. You simply spray Safer Insecticidal Soap on the undersides of the infected plants’ leaves, either in the very early morning or in the late evening when the temperatures are below 85°F and when the whiteflies are not actively flying. It kills by penetrating the outer shells of these soft bodied insect pests, smothering, dehydrating and causing death in just a few hours. Insecticidal soap is non-lethal to beneficial insects and can be used indoors or out. A 32-ounce ready-to-use bottle will treat about a 1000 square foot garden plot. It is gentle on your most prized ornamentals but lethal for whiteflies and it has no unpleasant odor.

Whiteflies do not have to be the death of your garden. Besides ornamentals, palms, weeds, poinsettias and countless other plants, the fruits and vegetables most affected are: Avocado, Cantaloupe, Carrot, Citrus, Cucumber, Eggplant, Gourds, Drapes, Lettuce, Peas, Pepper, Potato, Sage, Squash, Strawberry, Sweet potato, Tomato & Watermelon

Always look for whitefly infestation prior to bringing home new plants. It will save you a world of heartache. But, whiteflies can attack at any time, so we also recommend having insecticidal soap on hand, ready to do away with this pest before they have a chance to become a real problem for you.

Happy Gardening!

Is it Fuschia or Fuchsia?

June 13th, 2011

Fuchsia PlantsSo which plant is it? If you look up the first instance, with the “s” before the “ch”, Webster will tell you that it is definitely wrong. In fact, as I write this, Word has underlined F-U-S-C-H-I-A in the red wavy line that tells me it is incorrect, while the spelling F-U-C-H-S-I-A, has not been marked for correction.

That should be all the proof you need, and yet there is a battle constantly waged over this issue across back yard fences and in local gardening circles around the world! There is, however, no confusion (okay, just a little) over its pronunciation. The most common pronunciation is FEW-she-uh, while some of us tend to run it all together, saying FEW-sha, and still others pronounce it FEWK-see-uh. We, by the way, have got the run-together version and a new one, FOOKS-ee-uh, listed in our description, derived from some botany pronunciation guide or other. I’m afraid the original pronunciation has been lost to time. And the truth is, that regardless of how you spell it—Fuchsia Plant or Fuschia Plant, everyone is going to know what you are talking about anyway!

We are here, though, to set the record straight, at least insofar as the proper spelling goes. The proper spelling is with the ‘CH’ before the ‘S’. The reason for this is that the Fuchsia plant was named after Leonhart (or Leonhard) Fuchs who was one of the founding fathers of botany (and I can find no phonetic pronunciation for his name). A very well-known German physician, at least in the 16th century, he created the first medicinal garden at the University of Tubingen in 1535. The Fuchsia, which bears his name, was discovered on Santo Domingo in the Caribbean in 1696 or 1697(record-keeping at that time left much to be desired) by French scientist Dom Charles Plumier. Okay, this is probably where the original confusion started—a French scientist named a tropical plant after a German botanist.

So, there you have it! Webster describes the fuchsia as “ any of a genus (Fuchsia) of ornamental shrubs of the evening-primrose family having showy nodding flowers usually in deep pinks, reds, and purples”. Most of us though, just call them beautiful! Maybe we should just take a clue from Shakespeare and know that “a fuchsia by any other name, would smell just as sweet” and just enjoy the flower, not worrying about whether it’s spelled it Fuchsia or Fuschia.

Appreciate the Service at Garden Harvest Supply

June 13th, 2011

Hello – I just had to write to tell you how impressed I was with your service…last month I ordered some plants from a large, well-known internet plant and seed company. After hearing nothing for nearly 3 weeks, I went online to check my order and saw it still had not shipped. I contacted customer service and was informed that “oh, those are no longer available”. Guess they never planned to let me know. I found the same plants on Garden Harvest Supply, ordered them, and they shipped the next day! They have arrived and are beautiful – thank you so much! I will definitely be ordering from you again. Cathy F.

GHS: Cathy thanks for your kind words. Glad you enjoyed your plants. We look forward to seeing you again.

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