Archive for August, 2013

I Love Your Echinacea Plants!

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

HI! These are some of my Echinaceas that I bought last year. I have had many friends stop by to see how pretty they are and have told them to order from you, for you have always sent nice plants–some blooming at the time I get them in the spring.  I wrote down your name so they would have it.  I have about 50 of the new ones now. Arlene

echinacea plants blooming in the garden

How to Grow Green Giant Arborvitae Plants

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

Here are some easy tips for how to grow Green Giant Arborvitae plants: Dig a hole 2 times the width of the root ball. Till down to 10 in. deep. Add 1 part peat moss to 4 parts soil. Set the shrub so the root ball sits 1-2 in. above soil level. The planting hole should have slanting sides, so the soil does not collapse on the center. Tamp down the backfill to get rid of air pockets. Water deeply and thoroughly. Mulch to retain moisture.

Pronunciation: are-burr-VEE-tie or are-burr-VIE-tee

Description: These fast-growing (3 ft. a year) evergreen shrubs reach 50-60 ft. tall and 12-20 ft. wide. They have an attractive pyramid shape. The flat sprays of dense green foliage darken to a rich bronze in winter. The cinnamon-red bark makes a nice contrast. Green Giant Arborvitae is a cross between Western Red Cedar and Japanese Arborvitae.

Propagation: Semi-hardwood cuttings or seed

USDA Hardiness Zones: 5-7

Companion Plants: Place Green Giant Arborvitae 5-6 ft. apart for a fast privacy screen; otherwise, set shrubs 10-15 ft. apart.

Fertilizer: At time of planting, use a starter fertilizer such as 20-20-20 to encourage root growth. Check with your nurseryman to find the correct water-soluble feed and follow package directions.

Sun/Light Needs: Full sun to part shade

Maintenance: If foliage color, annual growth, or general condition is poor, consult your nurseryman. Otherwise, low care and little to no pruning is needed.

Display/Uses: Screen, hedge, or windbreak

Wildlife: Deer resistant

Note: In the first year after planting, shrubs need special watering so the root ball does not dry out. Water every 3 days in summer, 1-2 times weekly otherwise. To protect shrubs in winter, wrap with burlap to avoid drying from wind.

Received the Mums today and they all look very good!

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

Hello. Just wanted to say, I received the Mums and they all look very good! Genius little containers, too.

Today was planting day for my 120 Mums. As promised, here are pictures of these babies! 

120 garden mums planted in my yard

Drip line is installed and working. I still need to lay down redwood bark or something to cover up the ugly drip line, but these are so cute!

Garden mums after planting

I am glad I acclimated them in the shade for a few days before plantingit’s been really hot out here. As you’ve probably seen, we’ve been having a heck of a heat wave lately. The past few days it was 107, but today it was only around 100, and should be cooling down more. The Mum plants did fine today after being planted.

Chrysanthemum plants growing in the ground

Funny…I came out ONE plant short! There was no mistake on your end; I miscounted the number of holes we dug. So, I will probably be buying another order of a handful more of the Mums in the near future.

Attached are some pictures.

Thank you very much! I am looking forward to watching these babies grow up to be beautiful plants. – Sam

How to Grow Garlic

Monday, August 19th, 2013

First Things First:  Shelf Life

In the grocery store, garlic is already at or near the end of its life and is drying out. If it is packaged in plastic, it is suffocating; garlic has to breathe. Cloves of not-so-fresh garlic will be drieror in some cases moldyand will not have the flavor necessary to make your culinary creations shine. At its peak, garlic should be planted in the months of September through December, depending upon where you live, and then not harvested until about July, though young bulbs can be harvested in early spring before the cloves have developed (these are called rounds) and sautéed or otherwise used as you would green onions.

Top-Setting vs. Underground Garlic

No, we're not talking about black market garlic here. We are talking about growing flowering garlic as opposed to growing garlic plants that don't flower. Most of the garlic you find in the plastic packages in your grocery store is underground garlic, largely because it is easier to cultivate and harvest. Simply put, underground garlic does not flower and does not yield a tall stalk that gets in the way of harvesting. It also has a thicker, more protective papery covering that withstands the rigors of shipping and storage in full light in the produce aisle.

Gralic_Plant_Going_To_Seed

Top-setting garlic is also called hardneck. It produces a stalk with tiny bulb-lets, called bulbils, that will drop off and scatter if not harvested, some of which will grow again. Harvest the bulbils when you see them start to drop in order to control crowding; overcrowding will result in smaller bulbs. You can keep them to plant for next season's crop or give them away to your friends and family.

Top-setting varieties, such as our Music garlic, are said to have a richer and more pungent flavor with easier-to-peel cloves, although the individual cloves may not be quite as large. The cloves will also have a decidedly purplish cast to them, while the entire bulb may still have a white, papery wrapping. The top-setting garlic plants will produce the useable garlic underground, just as underground plants do. Some home gardeners prefer to have a visible signal as to the progress of their plants, which is why top-setting varieties are more popular with grow-it-youselfers and, as stated above, the flavor is said to be superior.

Underground garlic, like our Common Garlic, is called softneck and rarely produces a tall flowering stalk; however, a shorter stalk with leaves will be present. Producing large bulbs, usually with larger cloves than top-setting garlic, and wrapped in light-reflecting, protective white papery skins, these are the cloves normally mass-produced for the grocery store, the spice manufacturers, and the pickle-producers. Due to the thick, dry, papery wrapping, these cloves are also more difficult to peel and may require more per recipe than top-setting garlic.

If you are unsure of which garlic to plant, plant both. You can then determine which grows best in your climate, and you will be able to do your own taste-tests. Gourmet chefs will use both kinds in their kitchens and will grow both in their gardens.

A quick note: Top-setting garlic is also known as bolting garlic, while underground garlic is considered non-bolting.

When and Where to Plant Garlic

Harvesting_Garlic_PlantsGarlic can be planted in the spring, but the best results happen when it is planted in the fall and then harvested in late June through August, depending on where you live. For example, in far northern climates you will most likely be planting in late September or early October to beat the heavy frost, and then harvesting in July or August once the summer heat has matured your garlic crop.

Garlic's natural habitat is in cool, moist soil and the longer it is there, the better it will be.

Garlic, according to the experts, needs the wintertime cold and moisture to produce the best-tasting, most filled-out bulbs. Too little moisture and too little time in the ground will result in smaller, less plump-looking, dry bulbs, which also greatly affects the flavor and the shelf life.

Your soil should be deeply tilled to provide the best growing environment. Garlic prefers sandy, silty loam with exceptional drainage. If you live in an area with heavy clay content, you will either want to amend your soil or plant in a raised bed with amended soil at least 12 inches deep. Under ideal soil conditions, garlic roots can grow up to 3 feet deep. You will want to plant your garlic where it will receive at least 8 hours of full sunlight daily.

Which End Is Up?

Just about everything you read will tell you to plant the rounded (root end) down and the pointed (sprout end) up. Regardless of how the cloves are placed in the ground, the roots will grow from the root end and the sprouts will grow upward, toward the sun. What we can't see under the ground is that through the natural process of the soil's expansion, contraction, settling, etc., the clove will eventually right itself to the proper growing position. If you are planting a large crop, plant your garlic sets in the way that is easiest for you to do it.

Rows & Spacing

Garlic should be planted between 2 and 5 inches deep. Rows should be about a foot apart, allowing you the space to walk between them for weeding. The space between the individual plants only needs to be about 6 inches and since you are planting large-sized cloves and not seeds, you will not have to go back and thin them afterwards. About the weeds: cultivate the garlic until the snow starts falling or until winter sets in. This is when the roots are first becoming established and it is most important to reduce the competition for nutrients. Mow the weeds down as short as possible before the first shoots start to appear above the ground in early spring. Weeds should always be kept under the best control you can manage.

Feeding

Garlic is a relatively heavy feeder; it will do best if the furrows are prepared with a high phosphorous fertilizer like Triple Superphosphate prior to planting. Growers have also reported exceptional results with all-natural fish emulsion plant foods, like Neptune's Harvest.  Bone Meal, which provides phosphorous and nitrogen, is then side-dressed in early and late spring, with fertilization being suspended in early June when the heat and moisture have signaled the cloves to start swelling.

Watering

Garlic needs a fair amount of water, as well. It's best to water very deeply and slowly every 10 days to 2 weeks, allowing the water to soak down at least a foot. If your area has particularly hot summers or has been experiencing severe drought, you may have to water once a week. Proper irrigation is most critical in early June as the cloves are swelling, helping them to maintain their high moisture content for better size and flavor.

Harvesting

Hanging_Garlic_To_DryThere is no above-ground indication that your bulbs are ready to harvest. You will have to dig down to take a look at the bulbs to see if they are ready. Getting them out of the ground takes a little practice, but it's fairly easy. Remember that the roots go deep, so you'll be cutting the roots off below the bulb. A sharp, hoe-type implement will work best. You can work each row by hoeing and cutting below the bulbs and then going back and pulling them from the ground, laying them all facing the same direction so the stalks don't become tangledparticularly important if you will be braiding and/or hanging your garlic plants to dry before storing. Harvesting when the ground is a bit dry is also easier and will result in less drying time. Drying should take place in a well-ventilated, shady, warm and dry area and it usually takes two to three weeks; this process further matures the bulbs, as well, and will greatly increase their shelf life. Some people set up drying racks or screens, while some braid the stalks and let them hang. Try to avoid bruising the bulbs in any way; this shortens the shelf life dramatically.

Storing

Fresh garlic should be stored in a dark, dry and well-ventilated space, protected from high humidity and freezing. Cooler temperatures combined with humidity will result in sprouting. Remember: garlic needs to breathe. Do not store in plastic. Garlic stored properly should last on the shelf until your next harvest, though this is not true of grocery store garlic, as the storage and distribution system will not accommodate garlic's ideal needs for long-term storage. It is also true that after 6 months the flavor may not be as pungent. Garlic can be dried and crushed into garlic powder. It can be stored in oil in the refrigerator for a few months, but it should be discarded if any sign of mold or yeast is seen on the container or on top of the oil. It can be pureed and then frozen by mixing one part garlic to two parts oil; it can be chopped and wrapped tightly in a freezer bag or plastic wrap and then frozenor you can freeze unpeeled garlic and remove the cloves as needed. Canning is not recommended due to the high temperatures required to kill botulism, while the airless environment created in oil is also ideal for growing this bacteria, which is why it should never be stored in oil at room temperature.

This may all sound really complicated, but the truth is that garlic is fairly easy to grow. We just wanted to give you as much information as possible. There is no comparison when it comes to homegrown fresh vs. grocery-store aged. None!

As always, we will appreciate any contributions of garlic-related stories, anecdotes or advice you may have. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for all the latest news and discounts or to share your own gardening experiences.

Happy Gardening! From All of Us at Garden Harvest Supply

How to Grow Barberry Plants

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

Here are some easy tips on how to grow Barberry plants: These colorful, easy to care for shrubs do well in average, well-draining soil. They have normal water needs, and do best in a sunny spot. These shrubs offer a long-lasting, three-season display of eye-catching color.

Description: This yard and garden standout is easy to grow and easy to care for. The Barberry plant is a deciduous shrub with half-inch flowers that bloom in April and May. The attractive foliage grows on compact, thorny branches.

Origin: Native of Japan

Propagation: Semi-hardwood stem cuttings cut in mid-July or mid-September.

USDA Hardiness Zones: 4-8

Companion Plants: Place Barberry shrubs 4-6 ft. apart to make a natural privacy hedge.

Fertilizer: Generally, none needed. For new plantings, use a slow release liquid feed and follow package directions. Consult your nurseryman with any questions.

Sun/Light Needs: Full sun is best

Maintenance: Low.

Display/Uses: Hedges; foundation planting

Wildlife Value: Deer resistant; attractive to birds

Diseases/Pests: Root rot, if soil does not drain well; rust and wilt

 

How to Grow Hardy Hibiscus Plants

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

Here are some easy tips on how to grow Hardy Hibiscus plants: These hardy, fast-growing herbaceous perennials do best in moist soil rich in organic matter. But they will also grow in average medium to wet soil. Soil pH should be 6 to 7. Hardy Hibiscus plants like full sunlight and good air circulation. They need regular, deep watering. They do not need staking.  Avoid windy locations to guard from windburn.

Botanical Name: Hibiscus moscheutos

Common Name: Rose Mallow

Pronunciation: hi-BIS-kiss

Propagation: Division of woody crown is challenging and best avoided.

Description: These tropical flowering plants grow 3 to 8 ft. tall and 5 ft. wide. Hardy Hibiscus plants only stay green year-round in areas without frost. These perennial plants have red, white, pink, or bicolored blooms and triangular leaves with saw-tooth notches. They bloom late (July) and right up to frost.

Origin: Native of USA swamps, marshes, and stream banks

USDA Zones: 4 – 9

Companion Plants: Baptisia, Campanula, Coreopsis, Coneflower

Fertilizer Needs: Fertilize early spring, late spring, mid-summer, and late fall with Espoma Palm-tone.

Maintenance: Low. Similar to daylilies, Rose Mallow flowers last only one day, then turn to mush and clump together. Deadhead before this happens. Stems need to be cut down in the late fall for new spring growth.  Hardy hibiscus responds to pruning before flowering to create fuller plants. This may also help avoid early Japanese beetle damage.

Water Needs: In the first growth season, follow a regular schedule to set deep roots. Afterwards, regular moderate watering will do. In extreme heat, water more often; if soil dries out, leaf scorch sets in.

Display: Great choice for rain gardens, in borders or large pots

Wildlife Value: Deer resistant; attracts butterflies and hummingbirds

Pests/Diseases: Japanese beetle, aphid, whitefly

When to Plant Fall Vegetables

Monday, August 5th, 2013

Planning_Fall_Garden

For some, planting veggies in the fall is second nature. For others, planting veggies can be like naming the constellations: difficult to remember and easy to second guess.

Well, fear not, for we are here to lay out the basics of fall planting that will not only make things easier for you, but also a lot more fun!

The most advantageous perk of fall planting comes with the ease of working in the cooler weather. The vegetable plants you choose will of course have to be capable of roughing it in the cooler temps, but once you have picked your harvest, it’s as easy as pie from there.

As we’ve mentioned before at Garden Harvest Supply, testing your soil can be the most critical first step in preparing your garden for the fall and making sure that your investment is returned with the spoils of a beautiful and delicious fall garden.

Testing your soil can be as inexpensive as $1.50, but it can be as valuable as weeding your garden. This test will prepare you for what plants will respond the best come fall, and will allow you to manipulate your garden if you’d like to prepare it for a different veggie.

Amending your garden can be a headache if your soil is not where you’d like it to be, so as always, our expert gardener is on hand to give you quick and credible advice, allowing you to be confident and prepared when it’s time to lay out your veggies.

Once you’ve learned the pH of your garden and have prepared it for any improvements, you can begin deciding on what to plant. Also, finding the right date to plant your veggies is, well, the root of your garden.

The first fall frost date differs, depending on your region. To get the average first frost date in your area, simply go to this link and type in your ZIP Code. From there, you count backwards from the first frost date in accordance with the maturity date of your selected vegetable. It’s wise to go ahead and count back an additional week to give your plant a little breathing room to mature.

So let’s recap with an example: If your plant has a time-to-maturity of 50 days, or roughly seven weeks, you’d count back using this number, and then back an additional week (or two) to find your earliest planting date.

Just for the record, there is a 50 percent chance that these frost dates could happen before the normal averages. In most regions, mid- to late October is the average range for the first fall frost.

Frost can happen in various forms, too.

A light freeze, which is the norm, falls between 29°F and 32°F. This will destroy the most tender of plants. A moderate freeze (25°F – 28°F), on the other hand, affects most vegetation, especially fruit blossoms. And as for the dreaded severe freeze (24°F and colder), this weather shift will pretty much annihilate any variety of plants.

Finally, if you’re wondering whether you can enjoy your favorite spring veggie in the fall, the answer is usually a resounding ‘yes.’ Spring or fall, these cool season plants can flourish during either time of the year.

So, now that you have the basics of fall planting in your information arsenal, it’s time to get yourself ready to perfect your delicious fall garden!