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Creative Companions: How Companion Planting Increases Harvests through Natural Pest Control

February 20th, 2017

companion planting

We all know that certain foods taste delicious together, like basil and tomatoes. But did you know that basil and tomatoes grow well together, too?

Companion planting—combining different species of plants to benefit one another in the garden—is a long-practiced organic gardening technique. Remember U.S. history class? Native Americans grew food for a balanced diet in a single plot of land. By planting corn, beans, and squash together on a hill, they maximized their harvest in minimal space. The practice became known as a “Three Sisters Garden.” The plants proved mutually beneficial: the tall corn supported the climbing beans; the beans added nitrogen to the soil, providing nutrients for the corn; and the low-growing squash vines served as a living mulch, preventing weeds while retaining moisture.

Companion planting is a great way to pack lots of veggies into a small space, but it also serves many other purposes in an organic garden.

Companion Planting Deters Pests

beneficial insects, useful insects

Scent attracts many pests to their host plants. Insects lay eggs on the host plant, knowing that the plant will provide food for the newly hatched larvae. By interplanting strongly scented herbs and flowers among crops in the vegetable garden, pests become confused, leaving your future dinner in peace.

If you want to protect your harvest, try these companion plantings that repel pests:

However, French marigolds win the prize as companion-planting champs. They deter Mexican bean beetles, aphids, potato bugs, squash bugs, and nematodes (microscopic roundworms in the soil that damage many plants). Plus, they add a beautiful burst of color to the garden. After all, an organic edible garden should be lovely to look at, too.

Companion Planting Attracts Beneficial Insects

bee, pollinator, pollination

Not all insects are bad. Along with repelling pests in the garden, it’s also important to attract beneficial insects. Beneficial insects serve many purposes. Bees, butterflies, and some beetles provide pollination, which increases harvests.

Besides pollination, many beneficial insects feast on pests, making your work easier. For instance, when you find a tomato hornworm happily snacking on your beautiful heirloom tomatoes, have you noticed small white spikes on its back? Those small spikes are actually killing the hornworm—organically. Parasitic wasps lay eggs on the hornworm, and as the eggs hatch, the larvae feed on the hornworm, eliminating your garden nemesis without an ounce of pesticide.

Nature is amazing, isn’t it?

As gardeners, we can minimize pests and eliminate pesticides by encouraging beneficial insects to visit. The trick is to know which insects are the good guys, and what plants to include in the garden to attract garden helpers.

Some beneficial insects include:

  • Ladybugs: both the larvae and adults eat aphids, small caterpillars, and pest eggs.
  • Braconid wasps: a parasitic beneficial insect, it lays its eggs on host insects. When the larvae hatch, they consume the host insect, killing it.
  • Hover fly: larvae eat mealybugs, small caterpillars, and aphids.
  • Lacewings: larvae eat aphids, small caterpillars and caterpillar eggs, small beetles, and insect eggs.
  • Ground beetles: consume many pests, from asparagus beetles to squash vine borers.

How can you recruit an army of organic helpers to keep your garden pest-free? Adding flowering plants to your food crops attracts beneficial insects that will keep the pest population low, while also encouraging pollinators to boost your harvest. Plus, some of the recommended plants serve a dual purpose: attracting beneficial insects and providing flowers and food for you, too. A few recommended plants include:

  • Dill
  • Yarrow
  • Queen Anne’s Lace
  • Asters
  • Fennel
  • Feverfew
  • Angelica
  • Cosmos
  • Sunflowers
  • Golden Marguerite
  • Butterfly weed
  • Tansy
  • Lemon Balm*
  • Mint*
  • Also, allowing parsley, carrots, and celery to overwinter in the garden produces blooms the following year, which are attractive to many beneficial insects.

(*Plant mints and lemon balm (also a member of the mint family), in containers, as the plants can overtake a garden with their vigorous growth.)

Remember to include a succession of blooms so that beneficial insects visit your garden spring, summer, and fall—and winter in mild climates. Feed your flowers and crops with Espoma Flower-tone 3-4-5 to keep plants healthy and productive.

Companion Planting Increases Harvests and Improves Flavors

companion planting, marigold

While we often think of companion planting primarily as a method of pest control, companion planting also improves harvest flavors—and even yields. For instance, in a limited-space garden, combining tall, sun-loving crops, like tomatoes, with shorter plants that enjoy a bit of shade in the heat, like lettuce, allows maximum use of space in a 4′ x 4′ raised bed. Add nasturtiums to your bed, and now you have beautiful, edible flowers to brighten your meals. Place a trellis for cucumbers along the back edge of the raised bed, and you’ve added another treat for your organic salad. The nasturtiums entice pollinators to visit, increasing the yield of your tomatoes and cucumbers, plus they serve as a trap crop for aphids, protecting your harvest.

Add a few radish seeds near the lettuce. Not only do radishes and lettuce grow quickly, but the lettuce protects the flavor of radishes in summer when they can turn bitter. Add a dill plant or two in the corner, and encourage braconid wasps to hunt tomato hornworms for their nursery. You’re protecting the tomatoes while growing an ingredient to add to a homemade salad dressing.

Perhaps you want to create a pretty, edible container garden. For a cool season combination, plant kale as a “thriller”—the central, taller plant in the combination. Add aromatic herbs, like sage, to protect the kale from cabbage moths as your “filler.” Finally, plant pollinator-friendly violas along the edge of the container as the “spiller.” The violas will tumble over the edge of the container as they grow, attracting pollinators and adding aesthetic appeal—and the flowers add a lovely, edible ingredient to meals.

companion planting, marigold

Companion planting packs many benefits into a small space. It does require a bit of thought about your garden. What crops will you grow? What pests also enjoy the same food you do?  Which plants can help you fight off the bad guys while attracting the good insects? The time spent planning your companion plantings is worth it. Adding beautiful, beneficial flowering plants into your garden plan is much tastier than eating a toxic dressing of pesticide on your produce, don’t you agree?

Besides, creating an organic garden filled with blooms is a beautiful way to eat healthfully while saving money, too. Enjoy!

All About Clematis

February 6th, 2017

Clematis are loved both for their ability to climb and for the lovely flowers they produce.

All you need to enjoy the beauty of clematis is to provide them with a minimum of 6 hours of sun, well-drained soil, and proper support, such as a wall, fence, trellis, rocks, tall shrub or another vine. Once these requirements are met, they are happy planted in gardens or in containers. If planted in full sun, keep a heavy layer of mulch around the roots.

Jackmanii purple clematis plant growing on a bamboo trellisIf you are a first-time clematis grower, here are a couple of short videos that will take the guesswork out of planting.

Clematis grow best if these watering, feeding, and pest control instructions are followed:

  • Watering: For newly planted plants, keep the soil moist for the first few weeks. After that, watering only needs to be done during hot dry periods. Its better to do a deep soak rather than a few light waterings.
  • Fertilizing: Feed the plant with a fertilizer that’s rich in potassium. Look for a fertilizer that has an N-P-K ratio with the third number being the highest value. Feeding can be done each spring and fall.
  • Pest Control: Slugs are the main pest, and they can be kept away by putting down a slug barrier each spring. Sluggo® works very well.

Clematis plants require pruning, but how you prune depends on the variety and the planting location.  The amount of cutting and the correct time to prune is determined by when your clematis blooms and other factors, such as your preferred growth habit.  Some clematis bloom only in the spring, others later in the summer, and a third variety can bloom both early spring and late summer.  Once you’ve chosen which clematis is right for your growing conditions and bloom-time preferences, you’ll want to do some research to find the pruning method that fits your circumstances to ensure you get the maximum amount of blooms the next season.

With the proper care, your clematis will provide you joy for many years!

New Varieties of Grasses for 2017!

January 31st, 2017

Ornamental grass growing next to a benchWhat’s not to love about ornamental grasses? These easy-to-grow plants bring multiple seasons of movement, sound and color to your gardens and containers.

Their dramatic form provides a distinctive look and offers a good contrast for your other landscape plants.

Not only are ornamental grasses very adaptable and low-maintenance, they also have very few pest problems. They’re just about the perfect plant!

The first thing to think about when selecting a plant is its mature size. Because there are many different sizes and structures, finding the correct one for your space will make all the difference. Once you have your size, you’ll want to choose the color and texture that will provide the best look in your landscape.

View our fantastic grasses here:

When you purchase plants from us, it’s more than just buying something for yourself: you’re helping to feed someone who’s hungry! We are accomplishing this by partnering with community gardens across the nation. We will provide them with free plants to grow and then they will distribute the produce to the needy. So, from everyone who will benefit, allow us to say, “Thank you!”

We appreciate your business and look forward to continuing to serve you in the future.

Joe Stutzman and Everyone at GHS!

Feeding The Hungry, One Plant At A Time

January 3rd, 2017

Garden Harvest Supply is excited to announce the launch of our service project to help alleviate hunger in our communities.

The idea behind our community service project can be summed up by the famous old saying: “If you give a man a fish, he eats for a day. If you teach a man to fish, he eats for a lifetime”.

We are helping the hungry, one plant at a time

Photo compliments of Bed-Stuy Campaign Against Hunger (BSCAH)

Poverty exists all around us, including among some veterans and senior citizens. Churches and other organizations have started creating community gardens, and they often designate part of the garden as a place where needy people can learn to grow their own food. They give them a plot and teach them how to get started.

We are partnering with these types of community gardens and also with those whose main purpose is the donation of their harvest to the hungry, as well as with the community gardens that allow those with special needs to participate. Come harvest time, there are a lot of smiles all around, and plenty of good, nutritious veggies for people who really need the nourishment. And pretty soon after that, it’ll be planting time again.

We think this is a great idea, and we want to promote it. Therefore, Garden Harvest Supply is going to provide the plants for outreach programs at community gardens around the country. We have already started forming partnerships and are planning to do so with many more gardens in the future.

We love growing plants and we have always wanted to do something that will have a continuing positive impact on the world. We are very thankful that we have now found it, and we want to thank our esteemed customers for being a part of this. With your continued support of our business, you’ll be participating with us in feeding the hungry!

If you know of a community garden that could benefit from our plants, please email us at gardens@gardenharvestsupply.com

We appreciate your business!
Joe Stutzman & Staff,
Garden Harvest Supply

Feeding the hungry, one plant at a time.

The bigger the gift, the better. Correct?

December 9th, 2016

Do you remember what it was like as a child to walk into the living room Christmas morning and see the presents all tucked under the tree?

I sure do, and I also remember that the bigger the size, the more they were anticipated…because bigger always meant better, or at least that’s what we thought as children.

Wrapped gifts under a Christmas tree

Now here we are, adults who need very little, and bigger does not always mean better. If fact, when we have our family gift exchanges, which are often White Elephant events, it is inevitable that the smaller packages, which are often gift cards, are the ones everyone wants to “steal.”

Just as time goes faster the older we become, the gifts we like become smaller.

So, with this in mind, we are offering everyone the opportunity to purchase the “perfect” gift for the gardener in your life: a Garden Harvest Supply Gift Certificate!

Our Gift Certificates are electronic, which means you can email them directly to the recipient, or you can place the codes in envelopes to be given Christmas morning.

So skip the long lines and go for the perfect gift. It makes everyone happy, including your budget, because we have them marked down 20%! This offer expires December 24.

Since our certificates don’t expire, consider buying one for yourself. You can use it to save money on your next plant purchases!

A Garden Harvest Supply Gift CertificateView our Gift Certificates here: Gifts

We wish you a Happy and Healthy Holiday Season, and a New Year Filled with Joy!

All the best,
Joe Stutzman
Owner
Garden Harvest Supply

 

“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.” — Norman Vincent Peale

Let us never forget this outrageous act!

December 7th, 2016

December 7, 1941, started out like many other Sundays for the military personnel stationed at Pearl Harbor. People waking up, eating breakfast, getting ready to enjoy another gorgeous Hawaiian day.

However, at 7:44 a.m., their lives, and the lives of many others would never be the same. For at that very moment, hundreds of Japanese aircraft appeared in the sky over Pearl Harbor and started their surprise attack.

Over the next 110 minutes, the Japanese attackers killed more than 2,400 American servicemen and wounded over 1,100 more. They also crippled the U.S. Pacific Fleet by sinking five of the eight battleships and damaging virtually all the Navy ships that were in port that day. They also managed to destroy 188 U.S. aircraft and damage an additional 159.
Of the battleships that were hit, the USS Arizona was the greatest loss. It was struck a number of times by bombs. One of these bombs, thought to have hit the area where the ammunition was stored, caused a massive explosion, which quickly sank her. Approximately 1,100 of her crew were killed in this attack. A memorial has since been placed over the Arizona’s wreckage.

Memorial over the sunken battleship USS Arizona

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The memorial was dedicated in 1962. As a special tribute to the ship and her lost crew, the United States flag flies from the flagpole, which is attached to the severed mainmast of the sunken battleship. The USS Arizona Memorial has come to commemorate all military personnel killed in the Pearl Harbor attack. To this day, oil can still be seen rising from the wreckage to the surface of the water. It is sometimes referred to as “the tears of the Arizona” or “black tears.”

This attack was supposed to deter the United States from entering World War II; however, it had quite the opposite effect. By the very next day, war had been declared.

World War II went on to become the most widespread and deadly conflict in history, involving more than 30 countries and resulting in more than 50 million deaths. The United States lost over 418,000 of her citizens in this war.

So, today we want to pause and remember this day of infamy, and to honor all Gold Star families who have lost loved ones in defense of our country.

We so highly value these Gold Star families that Garden Harvest Supply has partnered with the Hershel Woody Williams Medal of Honor Foundation in their cause to erect memorials to Gold Star families in all 50 states. Here is how we are contributing: Gold-Star-Family

Medal of Honor recipient Hershel Wood Williams standing in front of a Gold Star Monument

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let us never forget that our freedom has come at a great price!

Sincerely,
Joe Stutzman
Owner
Garden Harvest Supply

Ways to get off the naughty list

December 6th, 2016

Santa making out his naughty and nice listSanta has started making his “naughty” and “nice” lists. Which list will you be on?

If there have been a few naughty days this year, these suggestions will make sure you’re on the “nice” list.

If you have only been slightly naughty, you only need to plan on growing more vegetables in 2017. And we do have it on good authority that Santa places a higher value on growing Superfoods. This list will get you started:

  • Kale is rich in vitamins A, C and K, it provides 9 percent of the recommended daily intake of calcium and it’s loaded with minerals and phytonutrients. It also offers more antioxidants than most other fruits and veggies! It’s also a fantastic source of fiber and iron.
  • Broccoli is packed with vitamins, minerals, disease-fighting compounds, and the fiber essential in any diet. It also stands out for its exceptionally high levels of vitamin C and folate (which can reduce risk of heart disease, certain cancers, and stroke).
  • Watermelon is low in sugar and high in vitamins A and C.Studies suggest it has the potential to lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. It also provides antioxidants (which are thought to help protect the body from cancer), potassium, lycopene, beta-carotene, and citrulline (which relaxes and dilates blood vessels).Inspecting a healthy kale plant
  • Spinach is loaded with anti-inflammatories and vitamins. Just one cup offers up to 12 percent of the recommended daily dose of calcium and enough vitamin K to help prevent bone loss.
  • Cauliflower contains cancer-fighting compounds that have been shown to prevent damage to the lungs and stomach and to potentially protect against those cancers. And thanks to interactions with estrogen, cauliflower may also help prevent hormone-driven cancers like breast, uterine, and cervical.
  • Goji Berries are a great source of beta-carotene (which helps promote healthy skin), Vitamin C, fiber and antioxidants.

Now, if you have had more than a few naughty days, you should consider giving someone a gift that gives back all season long. This penance will get you on the right list:

  • The Sweet Baby Girl cherry tomato was the number one plant given as a gift last season! It was judged the sweetest of all cherry tomatoes. Its ½- to 1-ounce fruits resist cracking and the plant offers good disease resistance. Someone will surely think you are sweet when this plant arrives at their door as a gift.
  • We would also recommend giving our Sunpatiens as a gift.These beautiful flowers can be grown in the sun or shade, they love heat and humidity, and they are resistant to Powdery Mildew. They are so easy to grow that anyone you send them to will enjoy their color all season long.
  • Santa also gives bonus points for gifting Monarda plants. Not only do they produce colorful masses of fluffy-looking mixed colors of sunpatines in a containerflowers that bring a smile to everyone, but they are also highly beneficial to hummingbirds, butterflies and bees. And they come back year after year.

In case you have been downright bad this year, we have a solution, as well. As you may have heard, we are partnering with community gardens across the nation to fight hunger in those communities. We will be donating plants to these gardens, so every plant you purchase helps us donate more plants to these gardens. Of course, the more plants you order, the more likely Santa’s judgment will be swayed about placing you on the “nice” list. Are you ready to help yourself and others?

Sincerely, Joe Stutzman (and Elves) at Garden Harvest Supply

SAYING THANKS

November 11th, 2016

Hello Friends,

We have just come through a very hard election season. Some may be happy with the outcome, while others may be saddened.

No matter the feeling, let’s not forget those who, through their selfless dedication over these last 241 years, have preserved for us the freedoms we have today: our veterans!

Being a veteran myself, I can say that we aren’t looking for glory; however, on this one special day that has been set aside for recognition, let’s make sure we take every opportunity to personally thank those veterans with whom we may cross paths on this Veterans Day.

On this day, we also acknowledge those who have lost loved ones in the defense of our great country. We owe these Gold Star families a debt of gratitude that cannot be repaid. However, that should not stop us from doing all we can to keep their memories alive.A monument that honors Gold Star Families

With this goal in mind, we have teamed up with the HERSHEL “WOODY” WILLIAMS MEDAL OF HONOR FOUNDATION in their quest to erect monuments in all 50 states that will honor our Gold Star families and preserve the memories of our fallen. You can read more about their mission here.

One of the ways we are helping is by donating $5 to the HWWMOHF for every Gold Star perennial mum sold. Would you be willing to help us? If so, make your purchase here.

To my fellow veterans, Happy Veterans Day and THANKS for your service!

Semper Fidelis,

Joe Stutzman
Owner
Garden Harvest Supply

SunPatiens: Unstoppable Flower Power for Sun or Shade!

November 7th, 2016

mixed colors of sunpatines in a containerNot only are SunPatiens® the first impatiens that can grow in full sun or shade, they can’t be beat for easy care and non-stop color. Aside from regular watering, they are virtually maintenance free. Plant them, step back and enjoy the exceptional performance.

SunPatiens can be grown in baskets and containers, and as bedding plants in flower beds.

With their strong, durable root systems, SunPatiens will grow quickly and fill in fast. They also offer strong sturdy stems that can tolerate high heat and humidity, rain and adverse weather conditions. And these disease-resistant plants aren’t affected by downy mildew!

White sunpatiens growing in a hanging basketFor the best performance, plant your SunPatiens in a well-drained spot. If you have clay soil, amend it with peat or compost when transplanting. The location can receive full sun or as little as a few hours of sunlight. The variegated leaf varieties are great options for locations with heavier shade.

During the first few weeks following transplant, don’t allow the soil around the SunPatiens to dry out. If they happen to wilt, increase the amount of water you’re applying. It’s best to do the watering early in the day. If mulch is used, avoid mounding too much close to the base of the plants, as this could cause stem rot.

SunPatiens do not require much fertilizer. If a liquid fertilizer is used, only apply 1/3 of the recommended rate and don’t apply more than every 2-3 weeks. If a slow-release fertilizer is used in the soil, apply at half the rate. Too much fertilizer will result in less flower production and leaf-tip burn.

Sunpatiens growing a flower bed around a houseIn most cases, SunPatiens should not be cut back to control size, but if they get taller than desired by late summer, they can be cut back by taking off the top 1/3 of growth. New leaves and flowers will cover old blooms, so there is no need to remove old flowers or cut off older growth.

Now sit back and get ready to enjoy the unstoppable flower show these SunPatiens will put on for you!

A Streamlined and More Generous Garden Harvest Supply

October 20th, 2016

butterfly-on-echinacea-plantsFor many years we have not only been selling you plants, but everything that has to do with plants—from fertilizer to tools to fencing, right down to birdbaths and books.

Recently we did some thinking about our mission and vision, and reflected on what we like to do the most (and what we are best at.)

We came to the conclusion that the thing we like to do the most is grow and sell plants. Not surprisingly, that is also what we are best at. We have therefore decided to zero-in on both our strength and our passion, and focus our business on the growing and selling of plants.

We also realized that simply turning a profit is not enough for us: we want Garden Harvest Supply to make a difference in the world.

Although growing and selling plants is certainly a positive livelihood, we decided to take it a step further and form ties with organizations that are teaching people in need how to grow their own food. We will soon be revealing the details of this community service component of the newly streamlined and restructured GHS.

We’ve been featuring a lot of 50% off sales in order to clear out our non-plant inventory. These will continue until we are left with just plants. If you need organic seeds, growing supplies, high quality tools, books, or any other items in our inventory, stay tuned…because we will continue to offer exceptional discounts while supplies last.

And stay tuned for news about our upcoming charitable program. Not only will we be growing and shipping the very best potted plants, but together with our customers—you!—we will be making a difference in people’s lives through helping the needy to be self-sufficient by growing their own gardens.

We appreciate your business and look forward to continuing to serve you in the future.

Joe Stutzman and Everyone at GHS!