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Strawberries Next Summer-Plant Now!

August 28th, 2012

Fall Strawberry Plants Growing In The GardenHave a good crop of strawberries for next summer by planting now!

If you have in mind that you'd like to have your own strawberry patch, now is the time to plan for it, especially if you want to have fresh, red, juicy strawberries for next year.

Did you realize that if you wait until the spring to plant your strawberry plants, you will not be able to harvest until the following year? Many people make that mistake, not realizing how long it will take their strawberry plants to mature fully, and then are sorely disappointed to have to wait another whole year to harvest their berries, while still having to tend the bed, keep the weeds down and fertilize throughout a full growing season. Many people find that period of waiting and tending, with no immediate reward, unsatisfactory, resulting in their strawberry hopes and dreams being squashed, sometimes never to be reborn.

Don't let this be your story. Plant fall strawberry plants now, give them a little bit of TLC between now and winter, and watch them bloom away next spring with the promise of fresh strawberries on your plate this coming summer and more money to budget for other things, besides strawberries.

The strawberry plants you plant now will be shipped to you in pots with a healthy root system in place. With adequate water in a sunny spot, your fall strawberry plants will quickly become established and will start setting the buds for next year's strawberry fruits. If you live where you get regular snowfall, your new plants will be adequately insulated against the cold and will thrive with little additional care. In areas of the country where insulating snow cover is not ensured, simply cover your strawberry plants with a few inches of straw. This prevents them from heaving out of the soil with the winter temperature changes, this practice so ancient and effective as to be the foundation for the name strawberry. And then, come springtime, new leaves will appear, followed by those beautiful white blossoms and then by your first crop of much-anticipated strawberries! A most welcome and gratifying sight and flavor!

Now is the time to order your fall strawberry plants if you want to have a crop of fresh strawberries next year. If you aren't sure how many plants to order, read our blog post, How Many People Will a Strawberry Plant Feed? and then order your Fall Strawberry Plants and maybe some Neptune's Harvest Organic Fertilizer to get your strawberry plants off to the healthiest start.

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!

Kale Juice – Some Real “Great Stuff!”

July 22nd, 2011

My son Jim  ordered 10 Blue Curled Scotch Kale Plants for me, his mother. I am 91 1/2 years old and for many years I have had a backyard garden where I grow tomatoes, beans, peas, celery, peppers, parsley and kale. In addition to eating all the vegetables I also juice. That’s where kale comes in. I have a wonderful juicer which Jim gave me, and I drink some juice every day. My mix for the juice is:

  • Kale
  • Collards
  • Celery
  • Parsley
  • Other “greens”
  • Oranges, apples, grapes or other fruit for sweetness

This is “great” stuff!

I thank you for being so careful with my Blue Curled Scotch kale. It arrived in perfect condition because of your expert means of packaging – great stuff!

For some reason I have trouble finding kale plants each year for my garden. I even have neighbors driving around various nurseries for me. This was a particularly bad year. So, I am very appreciative of your speed and efficiency in getting this kale to me.

“Old ladies do go on” but I want you to know the value of juicing each day to the human body. Last year I overheard a voice in my next door yard. It was a young worker building a wall. He said to one of his associates “how tired he was.” At the time I was ‘juicing’ and I took a fresh juice glass to him for energy. He asked first “what was in it” and I told him. Then he drank it down, one half hour later he came back to me to again ask me what was in my juice. I repeated it all to him. Then he said “you put a kick in this stuff didn’t you?” I assured him the “kick” came from the veggies, etc in the drink. He said he felt “a kick” in the mix. Hooray kale!

Thank you again for your care!

Dorothy G.

Poopeas Compost-What It Is!

July 12th, 2011

Composting at homeHave you ever passed by a large cattle operation and grumbled at the smell? Some of those feedlots and dairies look like a never-ending field of manure. Their owners will argue that it’s a necessary by-product, which it is, but in reality it is a huge problem that feedlot and dairy owners have to deal with, while they go about the business of feeding and clothing America. Cows poopplain and simplebut what do you do with all that poop?

Yes, some people will gladly spread fresh, or not so fresh, manure all over their lawn. It is a fantastic fertilizer! But it is messy, it is clumpy, it takes weeks to finally work its way into the soil supporting an established lawn and landscape plantsand it stinks! Just ask your neighbors!

Poopeas Granulated Manure CompostPoopeas compost is the answer to having a beautiful landscape without the smell and the clumps, and also without resorting to chemical fertilizers.

In today’s world, instant gratification has become a way of life. Patience is a virtue, and we may have developed that trait with our children and coworkers, but when it comes to our lawns and gardens, we want instant beauty with as little work as possible. We just don’t have the time to devote to the slow nurture of our personal outdoor spaces. So, we resort to chemical fertilizers, which even as we apply them, many of us are having pangs of guilt over the fact that we know the runoff is not good and we worry about the harm that may come to our children and pets, so we keep them off the lawn that is supposed to be a place to play, not just a neighborhood fashion statement, and we experience another guilty pang when we hear a report about how chemical fertilizers have gotten into the ground water and over time the concentrations of chemicals will make the environment extremely unhealthy, threatening even our way of life, as our water supplies are polluted. We then justify it by the fact that “I am just one personmy little piece of real estate is not going to spell the end of our single most valuable resource.” Or”What am I supposed to do? Everyone else is doing it. It must not be that bad” Or”Just more scientific mumbo jumbo to confuse us.” Sound familiar?

Well, you can quit having this conversation with yourself and you can quit feeling guilty about the way you fertilize your lawn, landscape plants and gardens. Poopeas to the rescue!

Poopeas has solved both the agricultural feeding operators’ problem of what to do with all that poop, while also solving your problem of how to have a guilt-free, lush lawn, at about the same price you’re already spending on chemical fertilizers and with the same amount of effort.  Poopeas has made it easy for you!

Earthway Ev-N-Spread 1950A special process of aerobically (relating to, involving or requiring free oxygen) composting and processing manure products into a more usable product that can be spread using any broadcast fertilizer spreader, has provided a solution to the chemical fertilizer conundrum and a means to be an “earth healer” while also getting that ‘perfect’ looking landscape.  These little, dry peas made of poop are part of the solution; not a part of the problem!

Poopeas is dry, easy to spread, an all organic fertilizer solution and it does NOT smell! No more wearing a medical mask as you spread (and maybe for days afterwards); no more ticked off neighbors, no more “stay off the lawn kids” over and over and. Instead, you can spread it and forget it! You don’t have to test your soil and you don't have to worry about giving your lawn or plants too much of anything. This all organic fertilizer has everything they need, in just the right amount, just as nature intended. You can even use it on your houseplants. Either mix it with your potting medium when planting new plants, or dissolve it in water and feed as you normally feed your house plantsand it does NOT smell!

NOCDOWN III-All-Around, All-Natural Pest Control and Eliminator

June 24th, 2011

nocdown cedar oilCedar oil has been used for 1000s of years as a natural pest repellent. Though it may be hard to prove definitively, we believe that cedar, in the form of its needles and in the form of sawdust was used by the earliest earth-bound dwellers in order to deter the invasion of biting, stinging and destructive pests into their homes, as humble as they may have been.

There is, however, no doubt that our earliest ancestors used cedar saw dust to coat the floors of their homes and establishments in an attempt to not only deter destructive and dangerous insects, but to control odor. Cattle ranchers built their fence posts out of cedar, which naturally resists pest infestation and decay, some of which are still standing today. And the Egyptians soaked papyrus leaves in cedar oil, wrapping their dead, aiding in the mummification of their most revered leaders. Native Americans rubbed their bodies with cedar needles to discourage biting and stinging insects; even your grandma knew of cedar’s insect-repelling properties, storing linens and valuable textiles in cedar chests and placing blocks of fresh cut cedar inside closets so as to repel moths, cockroaches and other destructive pests.

What our ancestors and the ancients didn’t have though is the science to really understand exactly WHY cedar oil is so effective or HOW it works. More recent studies of NOCDOWN III and other products made of cedar oil have only added credence to what our forebears already knewthe positive attributes of cedar wood and cedar oil.

We now know, for example, that insects and snakes dependent upon their heat sensors and scent receptors in order to locate prey and suitable breeding areas are greatly hampered by cedar’s pungent odor. A most pleasant smell to us humanoids, the scent of cedar-based products like NOCDOWN III is kind of like that of a cesspool to non-beneficial pests, such as scorpions and snakes, ants and spiders, lawn grubs, cockroaches, mosquitoes, and fleas and ticks. It repels them; it confuses them; it makes them unable to function in that “smelly” environment, which causes them to flee and search for other, more pest-friendly environs.

We have also learned that in addition to deterring these pests, cedar oil is destructive to the eggs and larvae of these same noxious insects. Penetrating the cuticles and the exoskeletons of the eggs and larvae, these pests are no longer able to retain the moisture necessary for life. They dehydrate and die, very quickly, sometimes on contact.

So, not only have you discouraged the infestation of these nasty pests, you have now successfully interrupted their growth cycle, just by utilizing this family-friendly and earth-friendly, pleasant smelling, economical and completely safe product

NOCDOWN III organic pesticide will not hurt aquatic life. It will not repel beneficial insects, nor is it something that non-beneficial pests become immune to. The simple truth is that we are almost out of solutions for some of these pests. Ask any entomologist and you’ll be told how the majority of products on the market today are becoming less and less effective. Ants, cockroaches, lice, fleas and ticks are all becoming harder to kill because the pests are becoming immune to the chemicals being used. In fact, just ask your vet about how flea and tick preparations are always changing. Ask how certain parasites can no longer be treated and how scientists are quickly running out of solutions. It is all there by word-of-mouth and in printwe are running out of viable resolutions to control the most harmful and even the most innocuous of pests.

And yet, cedar oil still works! Only the process by which it is mass-produced is man-made. The product itself is all-natural.

As proof of its safety, visit any area with cedar trees.

  • Near the ponds in the Poconos, where the water is red from the cedar fall-out, there are virtually no mosquitoes or other offensive insects, but you will find plenty of turtles, frogs, fish, butterflies and honey bees.
  • On any farm, you will find chickens taking “dirt baths” below the cedar trees in order to rid themselves of fleas and mites. Equines, cattle and goats will even congregate under cedar trees, sometimes rubbing against the bark and oftentimes eating the needles. No, it’s not for the shade!
  • I’ve seen numerous species of birds nesting in cedar trees, a further indication of their safety.

So, then the question becomes, “Why use anything that is chemical-based and not safe when there are cedar oil products, such as NOCDOWN III readily available and highly effective?”

NOCDOWN III and products of its kind will not harm the environment. There are no chemicals to rinse into drainage systems and ground water, contaminating our streams, rivers and lakes. There are no chemicals for mutant insects to become immune to. There is no danger to you, your family or to your pets.

There is, simply put, no reason NOT to use NOCDOWN III!

Canned Meat? A Time-Saving Miracle!

May 9th, 2011

I can hear some of you thinking, Really? or Right!, but don't knock it until you've tried it!

This is not your Grandma's canned meat, unless she happens to stock Grabill Country Meats. The meat is processed at a USDA inspected processing plant. Each can is hand-packed and then is fully cooked, right in the can, with all of the meat's natural juices. You don't even have to worry about cooking it properly to avoid things like botulism or E-coli. Grabill Country has taken the worry and the time out of preparing wholesome, nutritious and quick meals for your family.

Stressed and time-starved Moms are just now discovering what hunters and sailors have known all alongcanned meat is really convenient, has exceptional flavor and lasts almost forever on the shelf! Though Grabill Country puts a 5-year expiration date on their products, the truth is that they can last twice that long, losing none of their flavor and being perfectly safe to consume.

Keep some on hand for when you've just run out of time and don't want to go out for fast food or stock up for those unexpected weather events, such as flooding or blizzards, that may keep you confined to your home for an extended period. Watch our short video for even more ideas on how to use this fantastic product and then stock up on Grabill Country Meats canned meat products.

Ride The Wave – Grow Like a Pro

May 5th, 2011

easy wave, easy wave petunia, petunia plant, pink petuniaThe Wave family of petunias has made growing and displaying luscious petunias easier than ever before. Easy Wave™, purposely bred to be easy to care for, have bold colors, grow fast, bloom profusely and are more heat and cold tolerant than your ‘garden variety' petunias. Most Easy Wave petunias will be from 8 to 12-inches tall and can spread up to 3-feet, which makes them perfect for hanging or tall standing containers, spilling over retaining walls or out of window boxes and for flowering ground cover applications to brighten up a fading perennial garden.

When it comes to care, they were aptly named. When you receive your potted Easy Wave Petunia plants, we recommend that you set them in a shady place, maybe under a tree, to recover from the rigors of shipping for two or three days and to become acclimated to your climate before transplanting. We have also found that allowing them to soak in the pot, set in a shallow container with Neptune's Harvest for a few hours, gives the already vigorous root system a bit of a boost, ensuring they will take hold in your flower beds quickly.

Easy Wave Petunias are sun-lovers, so sun is a MUST! The bed where you plant these beauties should have at least 5 to 6 hours of sunlight daily. If you work and are unable to watch the bedding area to make sure it gets that amount of sun daily, you might want to purchase an inexpensive 4-Way Analyzer or Sun Calculator to ensure that your Easy Waves will thrive and bloom their best throughout the season. And of course, you can use these handy tools over and over for every part of your landscape or vegetable gardens.

When transplanting Easy Wave Petunias to flower beds, you should maintain the same depth as the original pot. In a prepared bed, dig a hole almost twice the size of the pot and about an inch deeper, then add loose soil back to the bottom of the hole to bring the pot back to the proper depth, in line with the top of the soil. If you have soaked your petunias, they should come out of their shipping pot easily by just squeezing gently to loosen the soil from the pot. Then, simply tip the pot upside down, supporting the plant and the soil in your palm and between your fingers. Set the shipping pot aside and gently set the plant in the hole, double-checking to make sure the original soil is level with the bedding soil. Replace the soil around the plant, gently tamping as you go, and then water well.

We recommend that you space Easy Wave about 12 to 24-inches apart. This will ensure enough room for luscious growth and will fill in nicely for uninterrupted color. You are welcome to mulch to retain moisture, but once Easy Wave takes hold and starts growing, they quickly create a living mat that shades the soil, retains moisture and keeps the weed population at bay.

In containers, we recommend 3 plants for every 10 to 12-inches of container width. Keep in mind that containers will dry out more quickly than your garden beds and that petunias of any kind don't like to go to bed with wet leaves. Water in the morning and don't allow them to dry out completely between watering; you'll be rewarded with healthy growth, prolific blooms and gorgeous color.

Easy Wave also does not require pinching or deadheading. The faded blooms will just dry up and drop off on their own, providing valuable nutrients back to the plants from which they came; and more blooms will continue to appear all season long. As for pinching, that is not necessary either, unless they are not getting the recommended amount of daily sunlight and become leggy.

Finally, Petunias are heavy feeders and though they will perform well with little care, they will reach their full potential with regular feeding. The Easy Wave breeders recommend using a liquid fertilizer very 10 to 14 days, or you can use a combination of liquid and a slow-release fertilizer over longer intervals. Jobe's Drip Feeder for Flowering Plants is an easy solution for your containers, or use Jobe's Organic Container & Bedding Plants Fertilizer Spikes in your flower beds!

We hope this has answered all of your questions about how to plant and care for your Easy Wave Petunias, but in the event that you have further questions, you are invited to contact our Master Gardener, Karen.

Happy Gardening!

Sweet! Easy to Grow, Amazing to Eat

April 26th, 2011

sweet potato plants, sweet potato, sweet potato plantIt's hard to find a more rewarding plant than the sweet potato. Easy to grow with a result that is amazing to eat, the sweet potato plant, a root vegetable, has long been a diet staple all over the world.  It was cultivated in the tropics of South America 5,000 years ago.

The warm-weather vegetable is native to Central and South America, but is eaten daily in Africa, Polynesia, Japan, Indonesia, Taiwan, India, North America, New Zealand, Vietnam, the Philippines, the Solomon Islands and in some European countries.

In the United States, it's most commonly grown in the South. And it's in the U.S. where there is the issue and confusion between the sweet potato and the yam. When Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492, and landed in what was to become America, Europeans had their first taste of the sweet potato. After decades of variations on the name, sweet potato appeared in the 1775 edition of the Oxford English Dictionary.

Yam Controversy

It's also here where the sweet potato became commonly referred to, interchangeably, as a yam. In reality, the yam and the sweet potato are completely unrelated. The sweet potato (Convolvuaceae) is from the Morning Glory family, and the yam (Dioscoreaceae) is a tuber or bulb of a tropical vine. The sweet potato is primarily grown in tropical North America and the yam is grown in Central and South America, West Indies, Africa and Asia. The sweet potato is moist and tastes sweet. The Yam is drier and has a starchy taste.

Yummy Benefits

Sweet potatoes are not only extremely tasty, but they are an excellent source of nutrition. Fat-free, they are high in fiber (there are four grams in a medium-sized sweet potato). Sweet potatoes are also low in sodium, cholesterol and saturated fat. They're a terrific source of Vitamin B6, Manganese, Vitamin A and Vitamin C. A small (100grams) sweet potato has 2 grams of protein, .5 gram of fat, 233 grams of carbs, 20 mg. of calcium, .9 gram of Iron, 8100 I.U. of Vitamin A, .7 mg. of niacin, and 22 mg. of asorbic acid.

How to Plant

  1. You can begin to plant when foliage turns yellow and the ground has warmed.
  2. Choose a slightly acidic soil, one with a pH between 5.0 and 6.5
  3. Sweet potatoes are grown from small rooted pieces of tuber, which are called slips. Make your own: slice a sweet potato in half (lengthwise) and lay it on top of dampened potting soil. Top slices with a few inches of soil; keep moist and warm. Small roots will develop in a few days and will be ready to remove and plant when the foliage reaches 4 to 8 inches tall (this will take about six weeks). To avoid disease-free roots, buy slips from a reputable supplier.
  4. If you live where there's a short winter, you can start new slips from 6″ vine tips, and cut before frost. The cuttings are placed in water. When they develop roots, plant them in soil in a sunny location until it's time to plant outdoors.
  5. In regard to spacing, remember that the vines spread and need plenty of room. Space the plants about 12″ to 18″ inches apart and 3″ to 4″ between each row. Keep the area around the planting clear and make sure weeds don't start to grow.
  6. Foliage is usually the result from feeding sweet potatoes. So experts suggest you simply plant in soil high in organic matter.
  7. Water regularly, but during the final three to four weeks before harvest, don't water. This will prevent the mature tuber from splitting.
  8. Pest-y problems: Avoid disease by using certified disease-free sweet potato plants, and by choosing disease-resistant varieties. Experts suggest you change the location of your sweet potato garden annually because it's a way to avoid wireworms and root-knot nematodes. Mice may be an issue, too.

Variety of Colors

Sweet potatoes usually have orange flesh, but sweet potatoes can be white, yellow and even purple on the outside.

Suggested Sweet Potato Plant Varieties:

* Beauregard – Pale reddish skin with dark orange flesh. Popular commercial variety. (100 days)

* Bush Porto Rico – Copper skin with orange flesh. Compact vines with big yields. Good for smaller gardens. (110 days)

* Centennial – Good disease resistance and relatively quick maturing. (90-100 days)

* Georgia Jet – Reddish skin with orange flesh. Good choice for shorter season. (90 days)

* Patriot – Copper skin/Orange flesh. Great pest resistance. Good choice for organic gardens. (100 days)

* Ruddy – Better pest resistance (insects, diseases and nematodes) than Beauregard. (100 days)

Very Vinca Pretty Periwinkle

April 25th, 2011

Trailing Vinca Vine plant growing in a window boxVinca, also known as Periwinkle (a much cuter and more illustrative name), is a beautiful, fast-growing, prolific plant from the family Apocynaceae, or Dogbane. It is a drought-tolerant annual and is recommended for hot, dry planting areas in need of some gorgeous bursts of color. Vinca vine has six different species. The Vinca's flowers are usually blue or blue-ish purple and are solitary, and funnel-shaped. They are found in 43 of the 50 United States. They're native to North America (that's the U.S. and Canada), as well as Europe, China and India.

Their beauty is enhanced by shiny, glossy green leaves. The flowers bloom from seeds from late spring to early summer in moist, well-drained soil, but vinca tolerates soil that may even be poor and dry. Vinca fares well in part shade to shade, and will tolerate a Northern sun if they're given sufficient moisture.  Space plants 12 to 15 apart, water well when planting, and after, only water when there are extended droughts. They'll grow one to two feet tall. A general fertilizer needs only to be added once or twice a season. Mulch around dry areas to keep soil moist.

Vinca vine is popular with landscapers who use it in their designs for everything from cascading from containers, in  woodland gardens, on slopes for erosion control and as vigorous aggressive ground cover.  Vinca should not be chosen as a plant in a garden or yard where containment of it is preferred, because it will spread quickly.

Vinca major and Vinca minor, two of the six Vinca species, are extensively cultivated as a flowering evergreen ornamental plant, but they are also sometimes considered invasive species and weeds. Because the plants are low-growing and spread quickly, they are often used as a ground cover in garden landscapes and container gardens, or, specifically, fire-retardant ground cover. They are available with different plant, leaf, and flower colors, sizes, and habits.

Maculata Vinca VineThe Vinca major species come in deep blue (with green-edged, gold/white centered leaves) and blue (with large furry leaves). There are more variations with the Vinca minor, which are available in white, double white, white with creamy variegated leaves, blue (with white variegated leaves), reddish-purple, blue (with deep-yellow, variegated leaves), light blue, light blue (with less-diseased leaves), white/pink blush, double blue, light blue (with golden margin leaves), lavender blue (with chartreuse leaves), light blue (with green edges, gold/white centers), pure white, sky blue (with glossy, wide white-margin leaves), pink, dark blue (with white-margin leaves) and pale blue (with yellow variegated leaves).

Vinca's other four species are Vinca herbacea, Vinca difformis, Vinca erecta, and Vinca pubescens. Other pseudonyms the Vinca goes by are Periwinkle, Madagascar Periwinkle and Myrtle.

Extracts from Vinca are used medicinally. Of the 86 alkaloids extracted, there are some that are used as chemotherapy to treat leukemia, lymphoma and several other types of cancer. It's also used for lowering blood pressure, sugar levels for diabetics, and treatment for coughs, colds and sore throats, as well as treating eye and lung infections.

Vincas are hardy and not often plagued by bugs or illness. In humid or wet weather, fungus can occasionally occur. If either bugs or ailments/disease attack, treat immediately with repellants or fungicide.

Million Bells Calibrachoa-Grow a Million Smiles!

April 22nd, 2011

million bells, million bells calibrachoa, million bells calibrachoa plant, purple calibrachoaThe Million Bells® flower is a registered trademarked series, but as a whole, the calibrachoa is also commonly called million bells and has been likened to a tiny petunia on steroids. In fact, one is often mistaken for the other, but once you grow the prolific calibrachoa, all confusion will end. They literally burst upon the scene, making a huge, colorful and happy splash regardless of where you plant them, as long as they have the benefit of plenty of food and water.

Perfectly at home in containers, along borders or in beds, Million Bells spill out and over to create magnificent displays of blooming color. In warmer climates they have even been known to blossom right through the winter months!

Calibrachoa absolutely thrives in acidic soil with a pH between 5.5 and 6. At this pH level you will see the unqualified best performance in terms of growth, the number of blooms and the rich color of both the blossoms and the foliage. If you are unsure of your soil pH, an inexpensive soil tester can solve that problem and simple soil amendments can either raise or lower the pH of your soil. If your pH needs to be increased, you can try a layer of organic mulch or apply a limestone based soil amendment, such as Espoma's Organic Traditions Garden Lime. If you need to lower the pH of your soil, you can use sulfur, which takes a little time to convert, or High Yield Aluminum Sulfate, which will result in a pH decrease as soon as it dissolves into the soil.

Million Bells Calibrachoa plants love the heat and perform very well in fully sunny beds, but will tolerate partially shaded areas with at least 4 hours of full sun daily. They also don't like wet feet, though they need to be kept moist, so they should be planted where soil drains well or in a container that has adequate drainage. You can mulch to retain moisture or utilize a soil conditioner, such as Jungle Flora, which will not only enrich your soil, making it more water-retentive, but will also perform double duty as a source of natural nutrients.

When transplanting your Million Bells flowers, the top of the soil the plant is shipped in should be level with the top of the soil in your bed or container. Dig a hole that is about twice as wide and an inch deeper than the original pot, then put enough loosened soil in the bottom of the hole to bring the pot level with the soil it is being planted into. Then, simply squeeze gently to loosen the soil and roots from the shipping pot, turning it upside down in your palm and allowing the plant to dangle between your fingers. Set the pot aside and gently place the calibrachoa plant, in its original soil, into the hole you've prepared. Double-check that the depth is right and then push the soil back into the hole, gently tamping it down as you go. Water really well.

Yellow Million Bells CalibrachoaWhen planting in a bed, you should plant them between 12 and 15-inches apart if a mounding variety and 18 to 20-inches if they are a trailing variety. This will allow for plenty of room for growth while enabling the plants to fill the bed completely. When planting in a container you will want 3 or 4 plants for every 10 to 12-inches of container width. This will result in a well-rounded, full container that will overflow with sumptuous blossoms and foliage. In a bed, some gardeners prefer to use mulch in order to retain moisture, but as the Million Bells series has a well-defined growth habit, they will fill in, creating shade beneath their foliage that retains moisture and will inhibit weed growth. Hanging or standing containers will show Million Bells off to perfection. Pinching early on will encourage fuller growth and more blossoms, but deadheading is not needed. Million Bells is self-cleaning and will bloom non-stop from April through Octoberand sometimes longer!

As is the case with any rapidly growing, prolifically blooming plant, they will look their best when properly fed. Regular feeding with a liquid fertilizer or a slow-release fertilizer over longer intervals will ensure healthy blossoms and vibrant color all season. Use Jobe's Container & Bedding Plants Fertilizer Spikes in your flower bed or baskets!

We hope this has answered all of your questions about how to plant and care for your Million Bells Calibrachoa, but in the event that you have further questions, you are invited to contact our Master Gardener, Karen.

Happy Gardening!

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