Growing Begonias Not As Hard As You Think!

August 22nd, 2012

Growing Begonia Flowers in a PotIf  you have grown lackluster begonias and want to know why they haven’t dazzled  with beautiful blooms, this article is for you. A tropical plant, begonias are  one of the most versatile and hardy flowering plants, adaptable to being moved  from indoors to out and back inside as the seasons change. Somewhat drought  tolerant, most begonias will also thrive in heat and high humidity.

As a rule, almost all begonias will prefer at least partially shaded areas, the Bonfire® Begonia and the Solenia® Begonia being the exceptions to the rule. That does not mean they will thrive in full sun in the desert southwest, though! Your specific geographic location, as well as the type of weather you are having during any particular season, will determine the prime location for successfully growing your begonias.

My Special Angel Begonia PlantIn addition to preferring partial shade, most begonias will not tolerate even the slightest bit of frost. Wait until after all danger of frost has passed before moving them outdoors in the spring, and bring them in if there is the least chance of frost as overnight temperatures start to fall. Most people will tell you they have the best results growing begonias by keeping them potted and moving them indoors and out. However, some begonia growers with exceptionally green thumbs and plenty of time for their flower gardening will replant them directly into their flower beds, digging them back up and repotting them to bring indoors, with some of these plants thriving for years and years. In all of these cases, adequate mulching to retain moisture and warmth seem to be the key, as is afternoon shade in hotter environments.

Begonias prefer loose and fertile soil, as well as adequate air circulation and a well-draining location. If your begonia plants are in pots, ensure they do not sit in water. Allow the soil to dry somewhat between watering, and then water well, draining the Solenia Light Yellow Begonia Floweroverflow reservoir after the water has thoroughly soaked the soil. If your potted begonia plants are outdoors, do the same after it rains. Begonias will also grow best when not overcrowded, so repot or divide if they are crowded and appearing to suffer as a result. Moderate to heavy feeders, especially when in bloom, both your potted and bedded begonias should receive regular feedings, a liquid slow-release fertilizer working best. We recommend Neptune’s Harvest, an organic fish emulsion fertilizer. Fertilizers high in nitrogen should be avoided, since they resulting in lanky, fast-growing plants with few blossoms.

The ideal environment for growing begonias combines slightly acidic soil, between pH 5.5 and 6.5, with 60% humidity, though we’ve consistently found the begonia to be highly adaptable. The experts have determined that just the right pH and light seem to be the biggest contributing factors to color variations, these differences often having neighbors scratching their heads over why my begonias are so much redder than hers, or why is the foliage purpler on my neighbor’s plants? If prize-winning begonias are your goal, you can test the pH of your soil with an inexpensive soil test kit, and then adjust the pH as needed with the addition of garden lime or wood ashes to raise the pH, or aluminum sulfate or elemental sulfur to lower it, though this is usually only necessary in soils with very high clay content. It might just be best to grow your begonias in pots with a high quality potting soil, in this situation.

Begonias need only a bit of tending to be stunningly gorgeous. Remove the faded blossoms, leaves and stems, trimming off the extra long stems in order to retain the attractive, compact shape. This little bit of care will result in better branching, more lush foliage and additional blossoms. We also suggest, when moving your plants in or out of doors, a period of acclimation to help them survive the transition better. When bringing them indoors, put them first in a sunny window, gradually reducing the amount of sunlight they get, and doing the same when you move them outdoors again, gradually increasing the time outdoors. Significant leaf drop may occur during the transition period, but don’t despair, their adaptability will have them looking good in no time at all!

So, you see, growing begonias is no big deal! And they’re well worth the effort.  Many of our novice begonia growers will first try the Dragon Wing Begonia, one of the most adaptable varieties.

As always, we welcome your questions and comments. Happy Begonia Gardening from all of us here at Garden Harvest Supply!

Why Are My Pole Beans Not Setting Blossoms?

August 20th, 2012

IPole beans growing up a pole in the garden have planted Blue Lake Pole Beans. The site gets a lot of sun and I water on the base every day. I have beautiful plants but no blossums. Another type of pole bean, Burpee I think, has produced blossoms in the same vacinity. It has been almost two months and the plants themselves are very robust but no indication of flowering or beans. Please advise.   Bruce S.

Answer: I cannot give you a definitive answer as to why one variety did well and one did not, but I can give you some possible reasons.

In general, Blue Lake Pole beans need the following conditions:

First, they do not like to have too much nitrogen in the soil. The nitrogen makes them nice and leafy but inhibits blossom production. Since beans go thru a process of “nitrogen fixation” where they produce nitrogen in their root systems if the soil is already nitrogen rich from compost, then it could be the cause of no blooms. Test your soil first to determine nutrient levels. Heavy, clay soils will hold a lot more nitrogen than sandy soils where the nutrients tend to leach out.

Second, is the weather. Beans like the temps in the 70- to 80-degree range and if the temps are consistently over 85, then the blossoms will not develop. Hot dry winds will also aggravate the situation. Temperatures under 70 will cause the plant to not even attempt flowering. East Coast temps have been pretty high, so this could be a problem. It’s possible the other variety is more tolerant of such conditions.

Another thing to consider is fluctuations in soil moisture. The Midwest is experiencing a severe drought, so if you are having the same conditions, then that combined with the heat could be causing much stress on the plant. Blossom drop always occurs under stress conditions.

Also monitor for signs of any kind of disease.

Check the ripen time: Blue Lakes are typically around 60 days to harvest. They could be waiting for some cooler weather, as well.

I hope that gives you some ideas of things to look for. Remember, you could start some new plants and maybe get a late harvest out of them, when hopefully the weather is more cooperative for growing and fruit production.

Good luck with your garden,


Very Pleased With The Plants I Ordered Online!

August 16th, 2012

Minifamous Double Amethyst Calibrachoa PlantI received my MiniFamous Double Amethyst Calibrachoa Plants today and had to tell you. For years I have ordered plants online, a lot of plants, and most of them arrived dead or nearly so. I have never been more pleased with plants from online as I am with the ones I ordered from you!

They were extremely well packed. They are very healthy and perky looking plants. I will definitely be ordering more from you. And I will also be telling others about “Garden Harvest Supply, Inc.” Thank you so much for the wonderful plants! Sincerely, Cynthia L.

Answer: Thank you for taking the time to share your high satisfaction level with us.  We never get tired of hearing about our plants arriving in great shape and making our clients happy.  We’re so glad your MiniFamous Calibrachoa exceeded your expectations, and we hope it continues to make your summer a little more colorful as it fills up your space with profuse blooms.  Please let us know if we can be of assistance, and we look forward to your continued trust in our plants.  We appreciate your business!

What Vegetables To Plant In The Fall

August 15th, 2012

Vegetables growing in a fall gardenThe charts in this newsletter pull together three of the most important pieces of information gardeners need in order to choose what vegetable plants to grow in the fall: plant hardiness, days to maturity, and soil pH.

Maturity Time + Plant Hardiness: It’s best to consider maturity time and plant hardiness simultaneously because they play off of each other. For example, maturity time is crucial when growing tender plants for they will die with the first frost. In contrast, the date by which hardy plants will mature is less critical because they will keep right on growing despite the freezing weather.

Below you will find charts that group vegetables as hardy, semi-hardy, or tender, and state the growing time and ideal soil pH for each one. We’ve created a separate chart for tomatoes (all of which are tender) because we sell so many varieties of them. Please scroll down if you would like to immediately start working with the charts.

The Importance of Soil pH: Having your soil at the ideal pH is one of the keys to getting a good harvest. We recommend you do a quick and easy test of your soil to find out its pH and then keep that number in mind when choosing what you want to grow. Our Guide to Fall Vegetable Planting includes information on soil testing and how to prepare your soil for the fall growing season.

Of course, pH and other aspects of your soil can be changed. To learn how to change your soil’s pH, consult our Guide to Soil and Soil Testing that discusses a variety of soil tests and also goes into the diverse ways by which soil can be improved.

Getting Ready to Grow: By taking advantage of our charts and other online resources, it’s easy to plan a fall vegetable garden with as much precision as the pros. Just take outor pull upyour calendar and figure out when the starter plants you’re interested in will reach maturity based on the date you intend to plant them.

Alternately you can choose the dates by which you want to harvest certain plants and then count backwards to find out what dates they will need to be planted by.

Please note that it’s advisable to add on about ten extra days to the stated maturity date because plants grow more slowly in the fall.

Then go to and enter your ZIP Code to find out your climate zone and when the first frost date will be in your area. Also take a look at the other valuable information about your area that this wonderful site provides. You may have to revise some of your planting times so that the plants will have time to successfully mature. If you can’t accommodate a plant, just cross it off your list.

You will now have narrowed down your list, but you may want to narrow it further by considering your soil’s pH and crossing off those plants that will not do well in your soil. Alternately, you can plan to modify your soil’s pH to accommodate the plants that you want to grow.

Lastly, place your order, which we’ll ship out to you and guarantee your plants will arrive healthy and alive. To make ordering as easy as possible, we have included live links on the charts below so that you can simply click on a plant you are interested in to be taken directly to its page on our website.

We hope you will find these charts valuable as you go about planning your fall garden. We thank you in advance for your business, and wish you a great fall and winter harvest from all of us at Garden Harvest Supply!

Garden Harvest Supply Fall Planting Charts

Hardy Veggies (withstand hard frosts/freezing temps)


Ideal pH

Days to Mature

Brussels Sprouts




5.5 – 6.5



5.5 – 6.5



6 – 6.7

55 – 68

Semi-hardy Veggies (withstand light frosts)


Ideal pH

Days to Mature


6.0 – 6.5




65 – 75


6.5 – 7



6.5 – 7

50 – 60


6.5 – 7

75 – 85

Tender Veggies (will not withstand first frost)


Ideal pH

Days to Mature

Snap Bean




6 – 7

50 – 60


6.5 – 7.5


Tomatoes (All are tender, all need 6 – 6.8 pH)


Days to Mature

Better Boy


Cherokee Purple


Photo courtesy of Urban Home and Garden

Pleased With Your Products!

August 13th, 2012

I very rarely write back to a company I just purchased from, even if I’m dissapointed. I just had to drop a line to say how extremely pleased I am with your products. The two knockout roses are thriving. I have a bloom on one of them already. A sweet pale yellow flower! How exciting! Make sure to save me two pink ones for that will be my next purchase! How nice to do business with you.

Marlene H.

GroundHog Radish – A Smart Choice Cover Crop

August 10th, 2012

GroundHog Radish Cover Crop Growing In The SoilAs all farmers and ranchers know, when it comes to crop and land management, the smartest, and often the most successful, are the men and women who have done their homework and utilize their land in a way that will continue to build the soil while being able to make a profit on their cash crops or to provide nutritional forage for their livestock. Everyone who has farmed for any length of time has a system in place that works, though whether or not it is the best system is up to the individual and his or her measurable results.

That brings us to the subject of GroundHogâ„¢ Brand Radish. Grown as a cover crop in late summer or early fall, Groundhog Radish will quickly grow a closed canopy a full month before oat and rye cover crops, effectively blocking the sun from and aiding in weed suppression during the fall weed season. Weed suppression in the fall means fewer weeds in the spring! In additionand this is a huge plusGroundhog Radish produces more root mass than mustard crops or oil seed radish and has 2 to 4 times the number of roots as rye or rape grasses, enabling it to effectively mine nitrogen and other nutrients, that might otherwise leach down and out of the soil, back to the surface where your spring crops will receive the most benefit, reducing or eliminating the need for supplemental nitrogen.

Besides the benefits mentioned above, the size and depth of the root system on Groundhog Radish effectively aerates the soil, alleviating soil compaction, as well as promoting better water filtration, a definite plus when it comes to your spring and summer crop or forage performance, especially with the drought conditions we've seen increasing over the last couple of years. The University of Maryland conducted a study to measure the amount of nitrogen captured before winterkilling of Groundhog Radish occurred. Groundhog Radish will capture 150 to 200 pounds of nitrogen per acre! That is nitrogen you will not have to apply chemically, saving a lot of time and money. The beneficial root system will also reduce tillage; again a valuable money and time saver.

GroundHog Radish Growing In A FieldGroundhog Radish can be planted with other brassicas, clovers and grasses and should be used in rotation with other species as part of your land management plan. In the northern climes, you will want to seed in August, while the southern climes can wait until September, seeding at a rate of 10 to 12 pounds per acre. The seed can be broadcast or planted 1/4-inch deep if drilled. It is suggested you apply 60 units of nitrogen for the optimal root growth. Be aware that Groundhog Radish doesn't do well in spots that stay wet and will winterkill when temperatures drop into the teens. Allowing at least one month of growth, with the optimal growth time being at least 60 days, tilling the radish cover crop will start the decomposition process, making the mined nitrogen and other essential nutrients available for your spring and summer crops.

As always, we welcome any comments and additional information our customers can provide. We strive for the success of all of our customers, from our hardworking backyard gardeners to our industrious farmers and ranchers.

Happy Gardening and Successful Farming from all of us at Garden Harvest Supply!

The Way You Ship Your Plants Is The Best!

August 9th, 2012

I order plants from all over the country for our garden here in Florida and I just wanted to let you know that the way you ship your plants is the best I’ve seen. I always know when I order from you the plants will come to me healthy and undamaged. This one fact brings me back to your company time after time. Thanks,
Barry F.

Answer: Barry, we really appreciate your taking the time to write us and let us know we’re hitting the mark on growing healthy and hearty plants, and getting them to you in great condition.  We love knowing we’re making gardening and landscaping easier and more productive for our customers.  We look forward to serving your planting needs in the future.  Please share photos of your garden.  We enjoy seeing our plants all grown up!

Best regards,
All of us at GHS

Drought and Deer Control

August 8th, 2012

Field corn in drought conditionsThis year, 2012, has seen one of the worst droughts in history, according to the National Climatic Data Center. The 10th largest drought and the widest spread since the 1950s, this year's drought has affected 80% of the lower 48 states, with no end in sight.

Farmers, ranchers and homeowners are feeling the heat in more ways than one. Crops are failing, livestock feed is sparse and expensive, and prices are expected to soar in the marketplace, meaning you, the consumer, will pay by having to increase your food budget, your fuel budget and even your clothing budget, as the drought of 2012 takes its toll across the nation.

Deer Eating Plants in The GardenAs one way to offset the higher cost of living, you might have turned to farming your own, and if you haven't already, may be thinking of doing it. Be it a small family plot or a large community garden, as a result of the drought, you will find that the critters are straying further from their own homes in order to forage for food. They are attracted most by the water we put on our lawn and gardens, water being the one thing they cannot survive for any length of time without, any more than we can. So, they come for the water, but then discover your yummy flowers, bushes, shrubs, trees and yes, your vegetable garden. In fact, not only are our customers growing spring and summer gardens, fall vegetable gardening is becoming ever more popular, and is even a bigger attraction as the deer, rabbits and others increase their feeding in order to store fat for the leaner winter months.

The visitors to your particular area are probably varied, but easily, the wildlife causing the most problems when it comes to damage as they forage, are deer and rabbits. These creatures have become quite accustomed to eating healthy in back yards across the world, adapting well to the ever-encroaching human population. The problem, though, becomes even more exaggerated when drought has caused their natural habitat to wither and dry up. They have no choice but to forage in yards where water and greenery are available. You, on the other hand, have no choice but to protect your investment. You've invested a great deal of time and money on your landscape; and in regard to your vegetable garden, it comes down to the deer and the rabbits taking food right out of your family's mouth, something few of us can afford to tolerate.

All Natural Plantskydd Deer and Rabbit RepellentOur solution, and yours, too, is Plantskydd Repellent. This 100% all-natural product is easy to use, while being environmentally safe, even to the deer and the rabbits. Emitting an odor imperceptible to us humans, the deer, rabbits and a large number of other small rodents and foraging creatures respond in fear; the odor results in a fear-based need to flee the area, before they even come in contact with your shrubs, trees or gardens. Much more humane and incredibly safer than traps and poisons, Plantskydd Deer Repellent is available in a premixed, ready-to-use 1 Quart and 1.3 Gallon container, and is also available in 1-pound, 2.2-pound and 22-pound Soluble Powder Concentrate, for those extra large jobs. Our Plantskydd Soluble Powder Concentrate is the most economical way to repel deer, rabbits and other marauding small animals, encouraging them to dine elsewhere. Binding to plants, Plantskydd Deer Repellent stays effective through severe rain and snowfall, one application providing protection for up to 6 months. We even have a wide selection of sprayers to make the job that much easier.

You may also want to check out our 1-pound granular, 3-pound granular, 7-pound or 20-pound granular Plantskydd Rabbit and Small Critter Repellent, all in a convenient shaker pack with the easiest application for areas where rabbits may be a problem, but deer are notthe granular application being most effective for those critters with their noses close to the ground.

And if you feel guilty for depriving the deer (we know you're out there!), you can always feed and water them well away from the area you've treated with Plantskydd Repellent. By the way, there are many of us here at Garden Harvest Supply who love the deer and rabbitsjust not eating us out of house and home. Plantskydd works!

We hope you've found this helpful and we wish you all Happy Gardening!

Lean About Butterflies And The Plants They Love

August 6th, 2012

Common Buckeye Butterfly on Thistle FlowerDid you know that butterfly wings are actually covered with thousands of miniature scales? Overlapping in rows, the scales are arranged in colorful designs unique to each species, bestowing the marvelous butterfly with its extraordinary beauty. Each time we see a butterfly, most of us can't help but smile, though, many of us are ignorant of the fact the adult butterfly has a very short life span. From egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly can take a very long time, some species remaining in the chrysalis or pupa stage for more than a year, though some may emerge from this stage after only a few days. And then, once the adult butterfly emerges, some species will live just a short week or two, while just a few will live as long as 18 months, a long life for a butterfly, but unbelievably short in the scheme of things.

So, though any one or more of the species in your particular area may only be flying for  a week, the magical beauty, nevertheless, brings a smile to your face, encouraging you to grow flower gardens to attract them, provide safe housing for them and to ultimately preserve them in photos, sharing them with your friends, family, and through the wonder of social media, with the world! We have created a group called Butterfly Enthusiast on Facebook, a place for novices and experts and just plain butterfly lovers to meet and greet and share. One visit will make you want to capture your own butterflies on film or digitally. This group is a way to enjoy butterflies year round, to learn and teach about the various species and to test your own camera phone or digital camera prowess.

Painted Lady Butterfly on Yellow Gaillardia FlowerWe welcome you to post your photos and stories. As you'll see, if you are a butterfly enthusiast, you are definitely not alone! We encourage you to plant your flowers with an eye to the sky and attracting the butterflies. In most instances, the same bushes, shrubs or flowers that bring the delightful butterfly to your yard will also beckon to the hummingbird and to the honey bee, a species on the decline that is absolutely critical to the pollination of our farmer's crops and even to the fruit trees, flowers and vegetables growing in your own yard.

It's really quite easy to attract butterflies to your yard! And keep in mind you also want to plant what the butterfly caterpillars will feed on, that second stage of the transformative life cycle of the butterfly. Planting things like Dill, Lupine and Sunflowers will ensure any number of different species of butterfly caterpillars visit your yard, most of which will stay close, form their chrysalis and make their transformation to return as the glorious butterfly if you plant simply their favorite plants, like  Columbine, Dianthus, Phlox or Zinnia, or a whole host of others! Some plants, like Hollyhocks, Heliotrope, Beard Tongue and Snapdragons, will provide a home for both the caterpillars and the butterflies, definitely ensuring a large butterfly population for your yard!

In addition, we highly recommend you install a butterfly house or two. It's only fair that if you plant to lure the butterfly to your yard, you also provide shelter from the elements and from predators.  These attractive houses serve double-duty in your garden, providing safe haven for those beautiful flutterbys and adding personality and a conversation piece to your landscape. How many people do YOU know who have butterfly houses? The kids think these are the greatest things since peanut butter and jelly sandwiches!

Don't forget! Visit our butterfly group page and join in the fun!

The butterfly and caterpillar photos above are all courtesy of members of

Butterfly Enthusiasts on Facebook.

Why Are My Tomato Blossoms Falling Off?

August 1st, 2012

tomato plant with blossoms falling offI have a large (6 ft.) tomato plant, but a number of the blossoms fell off before even becoming a tomato.What is the cause and treatment? Dale H.

Answer: Since you didn’t list any other conditions, I am assuming they are getting full sun and are not suffering from any other tomato specific diseases.

Blossom drop is a fairly common problem with tomatoes, but there is no one thing that’s responsible. Here are some possible causes to help you diagnose the situation.

Temperature is the biggest factor. Tomatoes prefer a daytime high temperature above 85 degrees, and at night the temps should be between 55 and 70. There are different varieties that are more heat-tolerant: look for the phrase “heat set” on the tag or description. High night temps are troublesome for tomatoes because they don’t get to rest; if you’re having consistent high daytime and nighttime temperatures, the plant will abort setting fruit and just focus on staying alive.

Pollination is important.  If you are not seeing bees around the plant, you might have to hand pollinate or plant other blooming annuals around the plants that will attract bees and other pollinators.

Don’t over-fertilize. Many people think they should feed their plants weekly, which will ensure a nice green plant but usually few blooms or fruits. A well-tilled soil with good organic matter (compost) with a little balanced fertilizer when you plant, then a light application of balanced fertilizer when you begin to see fruit set, is all the plant needs.

Humidity outside the ideal range of 40-70% will also interrupt pollination. If humidity is too low you can water the foliage during the day; if it’s too high in your area, you’ll need to look for varieties that have been developed for high humidity climates.

Watering consistently is another important factor. Half a gallon every morning and night is just what they need.

Watch for fungal and other visible diseases prevalent in tomatoes that can inhibit blossom development.

Good luck with your tomatoes. I hope they begin to develop lots of juicy fruits.

Master Gardener