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Archive for July 2012

Freedom Isn’t Free

July 30th, 2012

Flags for Nicholas TaylorGHS will be closed on Tuesday, July 31, in honor of a family friend who was killed in action in Afghanistan.  The saying “Freedom isn’t free” has become very personal to us.  Please remember the family of Nicholas Taylor in your prayers.  If you’d like to read his obituary, click here.

Thank you for understanding.  We will be back in the office on Wednesday.

Mum is the Word: Tips on Choosing and Growing Chrysanthemums

July 27th, 2012

homecoming perennial football mum plantSome people grow nothing but chrysanthemums, and why not? There are so many varieties of mums that you could plant an entire garden of them and achieve almost continuous color by choosing varieties that bloom at different times. In this newsletter, we offer tips on how to get the best results with your chrysanthemums, and we include links to those mums that are our personal favorites.

Out of the thousands of varieties of chrysanthemums available, we have narrowed our stock down to what we consider the three best types: Belgian, Perennial, and Yoder. On our website, we classify the Belgian varieties depending on whether they are very early, early, mid, or late bloomers. We also classify the Yoder into those that are early, mid, or late blooming.

Perennial Chrysanthemums

As the name indicates, Perennial mums will return each year if planted and cared for correctly. Many were originally cultivated in Minnesota, such as the highly popular “football” varieties, of which our favorite is Homecoming. We also consider the Peach Centerpiece and Ice Crystal to be exceptionally beautiful.

Belgian Chrysanthemums

Belgian mums are actually a subset of perennials. Named after their country of origin, they might better be called supermums, in that they are highly prolific, producing as many as one thousand buds per bloom season. They are also tougher and hardier than other perennial mums. If you are concerned that your mums might get damaged by wind and rain, or that they might not overwinter, choose Belgian varieties. Our favorite is the Mefisto Purple.

Mefisto Purple Belgian Hardy Mum PlantYoder Mums

Yoder mums are not perennial and they bloom only in the fall. However, some are knockouts such as the lovely Emma Coral Bicolor. We are happy to make these and other uniquely beautiful Yoders available to our customers at a price slightly lower than other types of mums.

When and How to Plant

  • Mums are great for adding color, so analyze your yard for areas that might need brightening up. Take advantage of the fact that they come in short, medium and tall varieties, as well as a wide variety of flower sizes.
  • To achieve something approaching an ever-blooming garden, be sure to include mums from each of the bloom-time categories: very early, early, mid, and late.
  • Mums can be planted at any time as long as the roots have at least six weeks to become established before being exposed to freezing temperatures.
  • Avoid planting in excessively hot weather. If your area has been in the 90s or above lately, wait until the temps cool down before you plant.
  • Plant mums a couple of feet apart so they will able to spread out and bloom to their fullest capacity. This will also prevent mildew by ensuring optimal air circulation.
  • Since mums take their blooming cue from shortening days, avoid planting them near streetlights or other nighttime light sources.
  • Water mums regularly, but don’t let the roots become waterlogged. As usual, fertile, well-draining soil is crucial.
  • Emma Coral Bicolor Yoder Garden Mum PlantMums need plenty of sunlight; five or six hours of direct morning sun is ideal.
  • Prepare the soil by mixing in compost, and applying a phosphorous-rich fertilizer such as Neptune’s Harvest. Continue to fertilize at least once a month until the mums begin to bloom.
  • Mums need to be “pinched back” to encourage bushiness and optimal flowering. Follow the directions that come with the particular mums you purchase.
  • Insects like to nest in the leaves in the fall, especially aphids. Dust lightly as needed with a natural insecticide such as diatomaceous earth.
  • Once your garden mums begin to bloom, fertilizer must be stopped, for it will fade the flowers.
  • After fall flowering has ended, dig some troughs around your mums to help allow water to run off during winter ice thaws. Apply mulch to protect your mums’ remaining leaves and stalks.
  • Keep tabs on which shrubs have become the thickest, and any that are more than three years old. When spring comes, divide these in order to minimize susceptibility to disease.

That’s all the tips for now. If you wish more in-depth information, please consult this article from the Ohio State Extension.

Happy gardening from all of us at Garden Harvest Supply!

Amazing Plants!

July 26th, 2012

passionate blush gaura plantOn receiving my order for Gaura and Euphorbia this week, I was totally amazed. I have been ordering plants online since the inception of the Internet and really didn’t expect such big, healthy plants at the price you offer them! And I’m super happy with the packaging and how quickly I received the plants. I’ll be ordering from Garden Harvest for a long, long time, as well as referring you to friends! Thanks for supplying such beautiful, healthy plants at a reasonsable price! Since my words are true and accurate, I have absolutely NO problem with you sharing it with customers or potential customers. In fact, I’ve already shared your site with many gardening friends/family! I’m sure you’re familiar with Pinterest. I have pinned the Gaura there and intend to post more of your fabulous plants on my Gardening and Gardening Design board. I’m truly excited about finding your site and I LOVE sharing good things with those I love! Sincerely, Norma

Response: Norma, we’re so glad you have discovered our website, and we’re pleased to have you among our satisfied customers.  Thank you for writing to tell us you are happy with your new flowering plants.  The two varieties you selected, Gaura and Euphorbia, are excellent choices for landscape beds or containers, and we’ll be anxious to know how you’ve incorporated them into your outdoor spaces.  We’ll check back to your Pinterest Board later this season to see how your plants are enjoying their new homes!

Both of these plants add lush foliage and dense color, while being low-maintenance and versatile.  Both these two plants have extended blooming seasons, so you really get a lot of color.  That makes them a great value, as well as a good choice for those who want lots of color without excessive trimming and pruning of the plant throughout the warm months.

We’re always excited to know others share our love of these plants, and we hope you’ll send us photos of yours as they grow.   We can all learn new planting and design ideas from each other.  Enjoy your flowering beauties as they keep providing life and color to your landscape.  And, thanks again for sharing your satisfaction with your new plants.

Happy Gardening~

From your friends at GHS

How Do I Care for My Weigela?

July 20th, 2012

weigela plants with flowersYou’ve chosen a Weigela, pronounced wy-JEE-lah, an easy-to-grow, deciduous, perennial flowering shrub with prolific, eye-catching blossoms and pretty foliage. Easy-to-care-for and exceptionally attractive, this simple, inexpensive flowering shrub is a good choice for enhancing your landscape. Now that you’ve got it home…what next?

Choosing a Location

First, if you don’t already know where you want to plant it, now is the time to decide. Weigela varies as far as height and width goes, depending upon the variety, so be aware of how your particular variety is expected to grow and choose your site accordingly. Your Weigela will prefer partial or afternoon shade in the hottest climates and during the hottest hours of the day at the height of the summer, though cooler climes will require full sunlight.

Fertilization

Weigela, as with most plants, prefers soil enriched with organic material when first planted. This provides the roots much-needed nutrients and will help your new shrub to survive the rigors of transportation and subsequent transplanting. Once established, fertilization will be up to you and to the plant. If you notice stunted growth or fewer flowers than normal, consider feeding with a slow-release fertilizer formulated specifically for flowering shrubs and trees and follow the recommended instructions for dosage. One of our customer favorites is Jobe’s Organic Rose & Flowering Shrub Fertilizer Spikes.

Watering

Though somewhat drought tolerant, your Weigela will prefer regular watering. As with your lawn, water in the early morning or evening in order to conserve water loss from evaporation. These hardy shrubs, once established, are rather hard to kill, so it is very rare to water too much, unless the plant is being regularly flooded and/or sitting in water for any length of time. Watering at the same time and the same amount as you water your lawn should be more than sufficient.

Pruning

Your Weigela shrub should be trimmed back every year in late spring. Regular pruning will aid the growth of newer, healthier branches and can contribute to more prolific blooming. Simply prune those branches back that are older than two years by about one third. A sharp, clean cut is always much less stressful than sawing or bending and breaking, so having the proper tools is not only important, but will save you time and possible injury. The size of the branches to be pruned will determine whether you need a pruner or a lopper. At this time we also recommend you remove excess brush, mulch and leaves from around your Weigela shrub, allowing those close-to-the-surface roots easy access to nutrients, air and water.

Now…Simply Enjoy the View!

Why Are My Tomato Leaves Turning Yellow?

July 17th, 2012

Yellow_Tomato_LeavesHello, I live in a condo and have gardened my front yard for 10 years. I have 9 tomato plants. Each spring I dig a new hole, discard the earth, and fill with enriched soil. 1 of 9 has gone bad. Yellowing of leaves up the entire plant, lots of bumps on the stem, and fuzz or powder on plant. Any ideas?  Thank you, Jim

Answer: Well there are a number of possible reasons for the such symptoms. First I would suggest that you not discard the previous soil but simply augment it yearly with compost. By using highly enriched soil, you are causing the roots of the tomato plant to not want to expand past the good stuff, thus actually weakening it, especially with the heat and drought conditions of this summer. It’s always good to add compost to the soil in the spring, but don’t over-enrich it.  Too much of a good thing isn’t better. This overly rich soil could also be holding too much moisture, which is not good for the plant and could be introducing other diseases.

Another common problem with tomatoes is the susceptibility to several fungus issues, especially verticillium wilt or fusarium wilt. There are new plant varieties that have been developed to be less susceptible to these problems.  Check your variety’s specs, as these characteristics are included on the label. Do some research online for specific signs and treatments; they differ slightly, so you need to know which one you have. Both will suggest crop rotation, because they are soil-borne pathogens. If you are in a small lot and cannot move them, then you might consider using pots, or a raised bed. Also check the pH of your soil: tomatoes want a nice neutral soil, 6.5 -7.0, and in PA you might be too acidic.

The bumps are normal on the lower portion of the stems. They are called stem primordia and are just areas that could develop into roots, if needed. When they develop higher on the stem, it could be caused by excess moisture in the soil or too-high humidity levels. While they are not a problem, if your plants are developing these in the top portions, then it’s a signal that they are staying too wet. You might want to use a soil moisture meter and check before watering.

The last couple of years have also presented significant issues with unusual temperatures and water, or lack thereof, which are outside the norm for most home vegetable gardeners.

Best of luck. Karen

How Many People Will a Strawberry Plant Feed?

July 13th, 2012

One plant is never enough!

The truth is, one plant will never, ever be enough, even if just for one person! The average strawberry plant in good production mode, with good growing conditions, will produce up to 1 quart of strawberries per plant over a harvesting season normally lasting 3 to 4 weeks. To put it in perspective, that is just two of those little pint baskets you can get in the grocery store. One person can eat that many strawberries, fresh out of the basket, in a few days (if they’ll last that long). On the other hand, if you will be slicing and sugaring for strawberry shortcake or making pies or parfaits, these same 2 pints of berries will not go quite as far, the process tending to reduce the volume a bit.

So How Many Do I Plant

The consensus among the experts estimates about 6 nicely producing strawberry plants per person per year, based on fresh consumption. If you are going to be freezing them, making jellies or jams or processing for syrup, you should at least double the number of plants, and possibly triple that number. Take into account the number of friends and family members who will want some fresh strawberries for themselves, and the kids or grandkids and “big” kids who may be visiting and raiding your strawberry patch. A lot of strawberry gardeners make gifts of jellies, jams and syrups. If you have a giving nature, plant a few more plants. This is where you might want to do some advance planning for what you’d like to do with your home-grown strawberries and ensure that you have the necessary equipment, such as canners, jars, freezer containers, etc. when your berries start coming off the bushes.

How Long Will the Plants Bear?

This part is up to you. Some strawberry beds have been in production for years. This involves harvesting and replanting runners as they become overcrowded. It also has to do with continuing nutrition, the care the strawberries receive in late summer and early fall, the buds forming at that time becoming the following spring’s strawberries, and the protection provided throughout the winter, if needed where you live. The largest single reason for poor strawberry production in the spring is the lack of moisture provided during those critical late summer and early fall months. Regardless if you are starting a brand new strawberry patch or have a well-established bed, a drip irrigation system is an inexpensive and ultimately priceless investment in the quality and production of your home-grown strawberries. You will also want to cover your strawberry plants with straw if your winter is colder than normal, or if you live in an area where winters are freezing cold but your plants don’t have a covering of snow to insulate them. This keeps the plants from “heaving” out of the ground, the most common reason for strawberry plant loss. You can read our blog article: Asparagus & Strawberries: Growing Tips, Fun Facts and Container Grown Strawberries, for more information on growing the best strawberries, even in limited space.

We wish you many happy strawberry seasons ahead!

When Should I Order My Fall Vegetable Plants?

July 11th, 2012

broccoli plant growing in the gardenMy broccoli was fabulous and I want to plant broccoli and cauliflower again for the fall.  If I order vegetables now, will you ship at the appropriate time for transplants in Zone 5? Thanks, Ann-Marie

Answer: Sorry, Ann-Marie, but whatever you order now will ship now.  You need to know when your first frost/freeze date is in the fall and then count backwards however many days the particular plant needs to mature. I would also add an extra 10 days.

So if Avenger Broccoli takes 50-60 days, I would plant it 60-70 days before that first frost date.  Also add an allowance for the number of shipping days to determine the right time to order.  This would be the rule of thumb for all our fall vegetable plants.

Here is a map for fall frost dates:  http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/img/climate/freezefrost/Fall28F_hires.jpg

Hope this helps. GHS

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