Archive for August, 2014

5 Benefits of Planting a Radish Fall Cover Crop

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

5 Benefits of Planting a Radish Fall Cover Crop

jhn5 Benefits of Planting a Radish Fall Cover CropThe majority of backyard gardeners will not plant a fall cover crop. Though this practice is frequently used with overwhelmingly positive results by farmers producing cash crops, the benefits are yet to be widely recognized by the backyard gardening community.

One of the most beneficial rising stars in the world of cover crops is the radish. We aren't talking about the garden variety, globe-shaped radishes; we're talking about the open-pollinated, large-rooted, daikon-type radishes. You may recognize the formlarge, white, long radishes commonly used in Asian cooking. However, many of these culinary radishes are hybrids and prohibitively expensive, at least when being utilized solely for purposes of soil enhancement. The cover crop radishes we will discuss are not the products of formalized breeding and are relatively inexpensive. Not grown to be harvested, when used as a cover crop, these radishes will be left in the ground to die and decompose over the winter, with the beneficial results extending into the spring planting season:

Biodrilling is the name given to the robust growth, soil aeration and improvement of compacted soils of this root crop. Nature's aerator, the roots of these radish plants can grow to more than three feet deep in as little as 60 days. The largest part of the root, what you may know as the tuber, can be more than one inch in diameter and extend more than 12 inches into the soil. Once the root withers, it leaves holes, often extending into the subsoil, which will improve drainage, and air and water infiltration. The biodrilling effect also improves the root growth of your spring-planted vegetables and even allows the roots better access to subsoil moisture, resulting in less water usage, especially noticeable when drought conditions exist. The naturally perforated soil dries out and warms up more quickly, enabling you to plant both seeds and plants earlier than normal.2jhn5 Benefits of Planting a Radish Fall Cover Crop

Weed suppression is also a natural result of cover cropping with radishes. Studies have found that if you plant radishes early, at least 6 weeks before the first frost, and plant them in high concentrations, with at least five plants per square foot, weed suppression will be almost total into the month of April. This is not the result of bio-chemicals produced by the radishes, but is due, instead, to their rapid and weed-competitive fall growth. What that means for you is less preparation for springtime planting.

Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium (NPK) production. Early springtime nitrogen, the result of radish residues, will give your vegetables an early growth boost. The nitrogen boost attributed to radish cover crops has been compared, by researchers, to that of planting a legume cover crop or of nitrogen fertilizer application. The result was shown to be most effective on sandy soils. Regardless of your soil type, however, planting a radish fall cover crop will save the time and money associated with a more labor-intensive cover crop planting and/or application of nitrogen-rich fertilizer. Radishes have also proven to be exceptional sources of P and K, further reducing your reliance upon commercial applications.

Soil erosion, runoff and organic matter are all improved with radish cover cropping. The leafy canopy, which can be established in as little as three weeks, significantly reduces the effect that rainfall, even if heavy, will have on surface impaction and subsequent runoff. Even after the radishes have been killed by a hard freeze, usually happening when temperatures drop into the mid-twenties, the layer of dead leaves on the surface throughout the winter and early spring serves to control erosion. Researchers also noted the water runoff and the resulting sediments were captured by the holes left by the rotting roots before it was able to leave the field. And though minimal, due to radish's highly decomposable nature, some increase in soil organic matter is inevitable.

GroundHog Radish growing in garden soilRootknot Nematodes
(Meloidogyne incognita), the parasitic culprit responsible for many vegetable deaths, especially the susceptible tomato, have proven to be sensitive to radish residues. Rootknot nematodes' numbers were found to be drastically reduced or completely obliterated. Researchers in eastern Texas planted radishes 58 days prior to planting sweet potatoes, with exceptional results. On the other hand, the beneficial nematodes, those which help to control disease and cycle nutrients to the plants (the ones we hardly hear anything about), were benefitted by the nitrogen-rich radish decomposition.

To learn even more, you can read GroundHog Radish – A Smart Choice Cover Crop. All in all, the combined positive effects should result in a higher crop yield with less work for you. Cash crop farmers have long known the benefits of cover cropping with radish; we think it's time you realize the same benefits.

Photos are compliment of Josh Gruver of Western Illinois University and Ampac Seed Co.

Thanks For A Great Start To My Herb Garden!

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

I just wanted to say thanks for everything! I planted the cilantro seeds and they are growing like crazy!

Cilantro seeds growing in a container

The rosemary and the English thyme have overcome transplant shock and they, too, are growing like crazy!

Thyme plants growing in a container

I want to thank you for the attention and service, and for getting me started on a great herb garden. I plan to expand my herb garden and will be ordering from you in the future. I plant to tell a couple of friends about Garden Harvest Supply and the great service I got! Ray D.

Rosemary  herbs growing in a container


Ray, we sure appreciate your nice note and the photos showing how healthy and vibrant your new herb plants are. We look forward to seeing your future herb growing successes, too. With herbs, you can’t lose: They’re pretty plants, they’re easy to grow, they’ll be happy nearly anywhere, and they can kick up your culinary skills by many levels. Thanks for your business, and keep us posted! GHS

7 Reasons Fall-Planted Strawberries Are Best

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014
  1. chandler strawberriesYou will receive potted plants with well-established root systems
  2. You can harvest strawberries next spring and summer
  3. You will know your strawberries are chemical and pathogen-free
  4. Your strawberry patch will come back year after year
  5. You will save money over the ever-rising cost of grocery store strawberries
  6. You can soak up the benefits of Vitamin D while tending and harvesting your strawberry patch
  7. You can spend quality outdoor time with loved ones

You will receive potted plants with well-established root systems. Unlike bare-root strawberries (most often planted in the spring), these are live, potted strawberry plants. The already-established root system enables them to take hold quickly with a minimum of care, which makes it possible for your fall-planted strawberries to survive the rigors of winter. These plants have already set next year’s strawberry buds.

Container-Grown Strawberries

You can harvest strawberries next spring and summer. When you spring-plant strawberries, whether bare-root or potted plants, you will not be able to harvest until the following spring and summer. (That’s a whole year you have to wait!) In fact, harvesting strawberries the first year can reduce your harvest substantially for the following year. It’s best to pluck the first spring flowers and let the plant use its energy to grow roots and produce more buds. Strawberry plants set the buds that will be next year’s strawberries during the early fall months. The plants you will plant this fall are already setting next year’s strawberry buds; this means you’ll be able to harvest fresh, juicy strawberries the very next spring and summer.

You will know your strawberries are artificial chemical- and pathogen-free. When you buy strawberries in the grocery store, you may be putting your family at risk. Strawberries are often imported from other countriesMexico being the most common. Regardless of where they are grown, you cannot be sure they haven’t been sprayed with pesticides or have been picked and packaged under unsanitary conditions. As they are a soft-skinned fruit, even proper washing may not be entirely effective. Planting your own is the only way to know for sure.

Why You Should Grow Your Own Strawberries

Potted Strawberry PlantsYour strawberry patch will come back year after year. Strawberries are perennial, even in areas with cold and snowy winters. If your temperatures get below freezing, simply cut your strawberry plants back to the ground in the fall and cover them with a few inches of straw. This will protect the roots and keep the plants from ‘heaving’ as the soil thaws and freezes. Then, as you start to see new shoots in the spring, simply push the straw off the plants, leaving it between them, which helps to retain moisture and keep weeds at bay.

You will save money over the ever-rising cost of grocery store strawberries. The costs of all foods continue to rise. Even in a good year, with the climate just right and bumper crops of produce, inflation ensures you will be spending more next year than you did this year, in perpetuity. By the same token, growing your own perennial strawberry patch will ensure the cost will go down. And, not only will the cost per pound of strawberries decline over time, but the amount of care you will have to invest in your strawberry patch will decrease. Your initial outlay will be the most you will ever spend for strawberries again, both in terms of money and time. After the first year, as runners grow and become new plants, your strawberry yield will increase and weeds will decrease. Then, as newer plants fill in, simply take out the older plants; this will provide a constant heavy yield.

Asparagus and Strawberries: Growing Tips, Fun Facts

sweet charlie strawberriesYou can soak up the benefits of Vitamin D while tending and harvesting your strawberry patch. The results of studies on the benefits of Vitamin D speak for themselves; and the most common advice is to get it naturally, not from a supplement. As little as 10 minutes of sun exposure daily can provide many of the health benefits of Vitamin D. You can start with a small strawberry garden, and then expand as you become more comfortable with the process. Many of us need an excuse to get out in the sun. What better excuse than growing your own strawberries?

You can spend quality outdoor time with loved ones. This may be the last reason given, but it is certainly not the least reason. In fact, it may be one of the most important. Children love to see the results of their labors and they love the attention they receive when spending time with their family members. Even the most prickly sibling rivalries can be put to rest in the strawberry patch. Don’t have children? That’s okay. Take some quiet time solo or with a partner, and pick out errant grass, count the number of strawberries, or harvest, prepare and/or preserve your strawberries. A strawberry patch can be a solitary or group endeavor with the same benefits to be had by all.

How Many People Will a Strawberry Plant Feed?

Have you been thinking about planting your own little piece of strawberry heaven?

Now is the time.

Everyone at looks forward to serving you!

Host a Welcome Home Party for the Monarch Butterfly!

Friday, August 8th, 2014


The story of the Monarch Butterfly, unfortunately, is turning out to be a sad one. Due to habitat loss and the widespread use of insecticides and herbicides, that orange and black butterfly that used to be literally everywhere, is now hard to find. Do you realize some children have never had the joy of seeing a Monarch Butterfly? Many adults have not seen a Monarch in years. It's true! How sad is that?

When is the last time you saw a Monarch Butterfly?

The amazing part of this story is that we all have a way to help the North American Monarch Butterfly return home. The solution is simple and relatively inexpensive.





Tuberosa_MilkweedIf you don't have a back yard of your own, ask a friend, ask a neighbor or ask your apartment manager. Most will love the idea of saving the Monarch, and who can object to a bit of free landscaping?

The life cycle of the Monarch Butterfly is nothing short of amazing. You may think that these brilliantly colored and oh-so-recognizable butterflies have a short life span, only 4 to 6 weeks, but the truth is that every fourth generation of Monarch Butterfly will migrate some 3,000 miles south to the warmth of Mexico and Southern California, living there for 6 to 9 months before migrating back north. But the winter of 2013-2014 saw the Monarch Butterfly colony numbers hit their lowest populations in recorded history!

Why Should You Care?

  • Because they are an endangered species
  • Because by feeding them, you attract other beneficial pollinators
  • Because they help scientists monitor global warming and ecological health
  • Because every child should be able to see and appreciate the Monarch Butterfly
  • Because seeing a photo is absolutely nothing like meeting the real thing
  • Because they are simply beautiful

Asclepias is the ONLY food

Monarch Larvae and Caterpillars will eat

Monarch_Caterpillar-1Female Monarch Butterflies will lay their eggs on other plants, if they have no choice. You may have noticed them on the leaves of your Echinacea, Buddleia, Delphiniumor Syringa(Lilac). However, that will have been a labor of love with no benefit; the Monarch larvae and caterpillars must have Milkweed in order to survive. It's a fact, plain and simple.

This inbred instinct also has to do with survival of the larvae and adult

Butterfly Weed leaves contain a toxin that is not harmful to the life cycle of the Monarch, but it makes the Monarch taste incredibly nasty to all but a couple of predators. The black and orange coloration warns those hunters that the Monarch is not a tasty morsel, enabling this delicate beauty to survive when many other species of insects fall prey to birds and other exterminators.

However, its ‘instinct' is also leading to its demise. Milkweed, with its connotation of ‘weed' and its prolific growth habit, is being systematically eradicated from farmers' fields and North American back yards. The emergence of genetically modified (GMO) seeds, those which are immune to the most common herbicides, enables farmers to spray their fields so that weeds, including Butterfly Weed, are no longer a problem. Additionally, the number of people growing Asclepias in their yards is declining, even though it is becoming widely known that this easy-to-grow, fragrant, non-invasive wildflower is critical to the Monarch Butterfly's survival.

Ways to Save the Monarch Butterfly

Monarch_Way_StationThe easiest way to do your part is to plant Asclepias plantsLOTS of them:

  • This perennial (in Zones 3 through 9) will come back every year
  • It is available in colors from white to yellow to the traditional pink
  • Butterfly Weed can last forever; it can be dried for year-round enjoyment
  • This wildflower is NOT invasive
  • Milkweed tolerates salty environs well
  • It is nicely fragrant and reblooms from early summer through fall
  • Asclepias is adaptable to many soils and has average moisture requirements
  • It will bloom best with at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily

If you appreciate the beauty of butterflies, don't miss the butterfly enthusiast page on Facebook, where people share their photos and their passion for these beautiful and delicate creatures.

Also, view this Pinterest page for more information on ways to show your love for Monarch Butterflies.

We would like to thank you, in advance, on behalf of Monarch Butterflies everywhere!