5 Benefits of Planting a Radish Fall Cover Crop

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!

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

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!

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!

Can I Put Coleus In An Inside Window Box?

July 15th, 2014

I am interested in buying Coleus for indoor window boxes.  I live in Manhattan, NY, and the window boxes are directly inside north-facing windows. The apartment gets full filtered sun all day, since there is also a skylight in the room.  I am hoping to find a coleus plant that will grow well in these conditions.  If possible, a trailing variety.  Humidity is very low, since I keep air conditioning on all the time in the summer. Can you offer some guidance?  Thank you! Sandie

Answer: Sandie,

Coleus could be a challenge for the conditions you describe since they tend to like warm tropical climates and you want to keep them in an air-conditioned space. Coleus were originally found in shaded areas but in the past few years new varieties have been hybridized that are fully sun tolerant. Your conditions would be considered full shade, so you would want to choose varieties that best tolerate shade; no coleus will do well without some sun exposure. As for temperatures, they will offer their best color performance in the 80- to 90-degree range but will grow well as long as the temperatures aren't sustained in the low to mid-60s and without draft from a vent.

So, that said, I am always one to experiment and push a plant’s comfort zone a bit, knowing full well that the experiment might succeed but if it doesn't, well that opens the window to try again!

Growing Coleus InsideSome of the ones you might try are:

Dark Star

Gold Lace


But experiment with any that we have in stock. None of the Coleus are cascading plants. They are all upright, so you might want to add one of our Hedera Ivy plants for the spiller plant. Play with the wild color combinations and leaf textures available with Coleus to create a stunning arrangement.

Coleus do not like a wet soil, so keep the soil evenly moist. They do best if you keep the blooms trimmed back and are easily trimmed and shaped to keep the plant shorter and fuller. A monthly dose of a water soluble fertilizer will also help keep them growing to their fullest.

Happy Gardening,


Why Are My Bell Peppers Rotting?

July 8th, 2014

Green pepper rotting on the plantI am staying with my daughter for a month and she has a Bell Boy Pepper plant that was getting too big for the small pot it was in, so I transferred it to a larger pot. I used Miracle Grow potting soil and put it outside on the covered front porch. Within days it shot up 2-3 inches and it is now covered with little buds. The directions said to keep well watered, so I water it every day. The problem is that the 3 fairly good size fruits are starting to rot before they are full grown. Also, they are not turning red as specified on the tag. Can someone please tell me what I should do to prevent this from happening to the rest of them? P.S. I have also had this problem with large size tomatoes in the past. Thanks, Lori.

Answer: Lori, you did not specify where the rot begins, so there are a couple of things that could be happening.

If they rot starting at the blossom end, it could be blossom end rot. On peppers, the affected area usually appears tannish in color in the beginning and then will turn dark as secondary molds appear. It can occur on the sides of peppers, but it’s generally at the blossom point. Blossom end rot is due to a calcium deficiency in the plant. This can be caused by various reasons, soil moisture fluctuations, or over-fertilization with a high nitrogen fertilizer. You mentioned using Miracle Grow soil and it comes with fertilizer built in, high in nitrogen, to make plants grow quickly. It’s a good practice to always check the soil moisture before adding water. It might be that it doesn’t need it or it could need moisture twice a day to keep it evenly moist. Container growing can be tricky, especially with the heat we’ve had this summer. A good fertilizer for peppers would be HyR-BRIX® Tomato and Pepper Fertilizer. In the future use a container soil mix that has no fertilizer added.

I suspect you are experiencing blossom end rot since Anthracnose Fruit Rot, a fungal disease, is a little less likely in container plants, but not impossible. In this disease, the lesions will develop as circular or angular sunken spots on developing fruits; you might also see spots on leaves and stems. It can be spread from overhead watering or watering late in the day when the plants do not dry before sundown. For this there isn’t a cure other than to remove and destroy diseased fruits and plants. You can compost the remaining soil if no plant debris remains and your compost pile does heat sufficiently.

As for the coloring, they will start green and stay that way until they reach mature size, then develop their red pigment somewhere between 10 to 28 days for full color. They, like their relatives the tomatoes, are sensitive to temperatures, so they might be waiting on some cooler temps to finish their maturation. The tag on the plant should give you an indication of days to maturity, which will give you an idea of when to start seeing color shift.

Good luck with your peppers, and happy gardening.


What Size Container For Peppers and Tomatoes?

June 30th, 2014

pepper plant growing in a containerI am putting together a container for Early Girl tomatoes and one for jalapeno peppers for a friend. My question is: what size of container and how many plants per container?  I would also like some watering and feeding instructions for each container. Thanks, Pam


Pam, How many plants depends on how large the container. For an average 15-18 inch, lightweight pot I would not plant more than one plant per pot. When gardening in containers you have to remember that you are restricting the plants’ access to nutrients and moisture that are naturally occurring in the soil. If you over-plant you are putting your plants under stress because they compete with each other for very limited nutrients. It’s better to go with one plant with a slightly smaller pot and use several pots for multiple plantings. If you use square pots they will all nicely line up in a row like a garden!

Because they are confined, moisture will be an issue, unless you happen to live in a location that receives daily rainfall. If not, daily watering will most likely be necessary to keep the soil evenly moist. During periods of extreme heat they may require water more often. Growing plants are thirsty plants. If you have the ability to set up a drip system for each pot and can put it on a timer, then watering very early in the morning is ideal.

The confinement also limits the supply of essential nutrients to the plant, so more frequent feeding will be needed as well. Adding a slow-release fertilizer that is evenly balanced when you pot the plants is a good start. This will give plants the needed micro-nuritents not found in a sterile potting mix. Read our blog article Container Gardening for Tomatoes and Peppers for detailed fertilizing instructions.

Happy Gardening,


Why Is My Asparagus Not Growing Well?

June 19th, 2014

Asparagus Growing In Raised BedI planted my asparagus behind my garage that has a SW facing of 245 degrees.  The rear row, the one closest to my garage, is not faring well.  Soil prep for both rows was essentially the same.  I had tried to water a little more heavily for the row near the garage, thinking the foundation might be heating and drying out the soil adjacent to it and impacting that row of asparagus.

Pictures attached. Any suggestions?  This is the first year.

Thank you, Phil L.


Phil, It is possible that the radiant heat from the concrete wall is keeping the bed too dry. Keeping consistent soil moisture is important. You want to make sure to keep all weeds out of the bed for the best production; asparagus hates any competition, and I would suggest mulching the bed with shredded leaves or straw to help maintain the moisture level. Also make sure your soil pH is above 6.0. It's possible the concrete or any pea gravel could be altering the pH near the wall. You might also try feeding the plants with a mild formula Vegetable Fertilizer. Be sure to leave the foliage over the winter and remove before the new growth appears in the spring.

For more helpful asparagus growing tips, read Just About Everything About Asparagus.


I Have NEVER Received Plant Orders So Well Protected!

June 17th, 2014

Azelea plants in shipping containerTo everyone who works at Garden Harvest Supply,

I was so happy with my first order that I decided to make Garden Harvest Supply the first site I shop when looking for plants online.

On June 10, I ordered two Bloom-a-Thon Azaleas in red, choosing to ship USPS Priority Mail. Yesterday, June 12, I was checking my email to see if my order had shipped. My husband went out to get the mail and brought me a box marked “LIVE PLANTS.” I thought it was an order from another site that I placed on May 28, and had not yet received. It was the order from your company!

The plants were packaged with loving care and arrived in great condition–the soil was still moist. I have NEVER received orders online so well protected and in such fabulous condition. The plants I received from your company are in better health than plants I have shopped in brick and mortar stores. Sincerely, thank you Garden Harvest Supply for the excellent work you do.

Your Truly, Pamela S


Reply: Pamela, it’s very gratifying to know our plants make others happy.  We really appreciate your taking the time to write to us, and we hope you’ll share photos of your Azalea plants as they get established.

Thank you for sharing that you were so pleased with your order from us.  It helps prospective clients shop with confidence when they read letters like yours. We’ll look forward to serving your plant needs in the future, and we hope to always exceed your expectations.  Don’t ever hesitate to ask, if you have questions for us.  We’ll do our best to continue earning your business.

Best regards,

Joe, and everyone at GHS

These Are The Best Flowers EVER!

June 3rd, 2014

Neon flowers blooming in plantersI’ve been planting these SuperCal Neon Rose Petchoa Plants in my porch flower boxes for the last few years now, and plan to continue using them there as there is just NOTHING that beats them!  They start blooming immediately when planted from small plants, and fill out so fast with a solid mass of flowers that is non-stop until frost.  They do not need to be dead-headed, are very hardy, and for pots and planters are just the absolute best.  I’ve tried a few colors of the Petchoas, and each of them has a little bit different growing habit, with this Neon one growing the fullest, from what I’ve found so far.  It doesn’t really vine and trail very far, but as you can see in the photo, it turns into a mass of flowering plant. It does actually hang, but does not get leggy and thin; it stays very thick.  My railing boxes here are about 24″ long and I only put four plants in each of them for it turn into this mass.  There were a few purple wave petunias that had come up volunteer in these boxes, which I left in there that particular year, but as you can see the Petchoas really do not need them in there with them.  I’m attaching a photo of them.  Sincerely, Sue V.

Answer: Sue, we appreciate your sharing your enthusiasm and photos, because no one would believe the dense carpet of color and plush foliage these flowers provide, unless they saw it with their own eyes.  Your photo is proof of how these Petchoas perform.  Thanks for letting us and others see the beauty you’ve created for your porchand we’re sure your neighbors are enjoying the view! GHS