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And the Best Supporting Plant Goes To….

April 19th, 2011

The first award to be issued at The Academy Awards (or Oscars to you insider-y types) is the Best Supporting Actor. There's a reason for that: without the skill of a supporting actor, you're not likely to get a good, if not excellent, performance out of the main attraction, the very best actor. In our universe, we deem it the very best plant, fruit or vegetable.

And what can greatly contribute to a beautifully grown plant, fruit or veg is a support system. If you think about it, families, organizations, businesses, clubs and groups all operate with a heavy emphasis on a support system.

Think of your live growing plants, fruits and veg in that way and you'll quickly realize the relevance, important and critical role a support system plays.

An initiate might not realize just how many plant supports are available. To name a view, (all available at Garden Harvest Supply) there are decorative trellises, garden trellis netting, spirals, wall of waters, plant covers, tomato cages, garden helpers, garden stakes and plant hoops.

Whether you are just starting to grow plants or whether you are a seasoned grower, you'll find why plant supports are considered one of a gardener's little essentials, a gardener's little helper if you will.

While a blooming plant is a beautiful accessory on its own, for your home or office, the addition of a pretty support can only enhance the natural beauty and oxygen you're bringing into your space.

Wren Scroll Pot Trellis

The beautiful scrolls which rise from the soil in the pot create an illusion of layers and movement, swirls and twirls, if you will. The scrolls are made of sturdy steel and covered in a plastic green coating. The green coloring both blends and enhances whatever plants you chose to grow in the container from which the trellis protrudes. The styling of the trellis can be considered both modern and vintage, depending on the setting in which you use it. Wren makes a high-quality product with an innovative design. They are very practical as well, as terrific starters or trainers for the vines.

Walls of Water

Just the name of this classic plant support conjures up images of nature and health. Seasoned gardeners look to Walls of Water to extend a grow season and to start one quickly. Here's how it works: the Walls of Water create a heated soil, so that planted seedlings will nearly instantaneously begin to grow! You can harvest sooner and produce more, because everyone knows that seeds placed in cold soil stunts and slows growth. You also want to avoid the shock of replanting. Gardeners can actually begin planting six to eight weeks before the final frost. While it's an ideal product for many types of plants, it's especially noteworthy and good for tomatoes, peas and peppers.

Garden Stakes

Well, sure, you can keep one of the wooden stakes GHS sells on hand, just in case of a possible vampire attack, or you can use it for its intended purpose – to help your plants grow to their full potential. In addition to the traditional wood stake, there are also steel stakes. GHS' steel stakes are vinyl-coated and have aesthetics in mind – they're green to blend and enhance the actual plant they support. The aforementioned wood stakes are made from selected North American hardwoods trees, noted for their beauty and strength.

Plant Hoops

These clever and popular plant supports, Plant Hoops, should last through several seasons. That said, it's smarter to opt for quality over bargain; look for strong, plastic-coated metal. In addition to providing support through several seasons, a plant hoop should be sturdy as it prevents your precious plants from breakage and, importantly, as it withstands the heaviest rain. Like a support garment, that works without showing, a good plant hoop will eventually blend into the plant and the garden.

GHS offers a variety of flower frame grid sizes, in diameter and height, to accommodate your beautiful  blooms. The other types of plant hoops are semi-circular supports, single hoops and wraparounds. Semi-circular supports are available in three sizes, and offer versatility.

Let's face it, we can all use a little support – and that includes the plants in your garden.

Californian Grown

February 21st, 2011

1.  This is the Vancouver Centennial Geranium I received from you on 10/29.   As you can see, from the itty-bitty start you sent to me–it has done quite well here in California on my deck railing!

2.  This is in the yard of my own home (not where I am now)…showing a ground Amaryllis and a special brocade geranium that my son’s gardening helper pulled out of the ground last fall, thinking it was totally dead. I could have KILLED him…for I’ve never seen another one like it anywhere!  If YOU see one…HOLLER!!!

 

3.  This is the front entry to my house, showing lush growth all around it.  On the right is what they commonly call “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow”–beautiful three-colored blooms, dark purple first, fades to blue the second day, and white on the third day.  There are a lot of ferns, lilies and celestial orchids in the ground, with an open lattice cover for the perfect partial sun/shade most of the day.

4. And here’s a shot of my wee Nina when she was a little over 2 years old and still had quite a bit of black on her mug. We were battling sarcoptic mange on the edges of her ears, and a mite infection. Got over all of that and never had any more problems. But, today–she has hardly any black mug left. Ah me.

As my plants develop, I will send you shots of them if you’d like. Can’t wait to get my next shipment.

Later…
BK

Echinacea for Everybody!

January 13th, 2011

Pow Wow Wild Berry echinacea plantIf you don't have Echinacea planted in your flowerbeds yet, save some room in this spring's planting space.

Echinacea, commonly called coneflower, is a perennial herb that is widely believed, although unsubstantiated, to help alleviate upper respiratory illnesses and to prevent or shorten the duration of the common cold.  Its roots, leaves and flowers are used as an immune system booster. However, this article only focuses on the beauty of the flowers, and how no garden should be without at least a few varieties.

Want some drama in your landscape?  Pow Wow Wildberry Echinacea is such an intense hot pink color that you'd swear it had its own internal lighting.  The bright petals are notched at the outside edges, and the glowing pink is contrasted against the dark orange-burgundy cones at the center. The unusual Double Decker has pink petals flowing like a tutu below the cone, and then a spray of petals coming out of the top of the cone, as well! Another stunning pink variety is the Pink Poodle, which has yellow cones that increase in size to blend right into the petals, resembling a zinnia.

Flame Thrower echinacea plantFor a splash of yellow or orange, there are several varieties with vivid colors and varied petal and cone shapes.  Flame Thrower is a stunning daisy-like flower with intense fiery yellow-orange color. Echinacea also comes in different shades of creamy white, lilac to deep purple (the most common color), and rich eye-catching reds. Can you guess what color Tomato Soup Echinacea is? 

Secret Passion has a unique two-tone flower that combines a huge red pompom cone on top of a spray of pale pink petals. Most Echinacea has blooms with two or three contrasting colors, which make their blooms so distinctive.

Garden Harvest Supply has 24 varieties of Echinacea available in its 2011 collection of plants.  And since Echinacea comes back each year, it's a great value, and a perfect plant for those seeking abundant color and low-maintenance flowerbeds.

Planting Echinacea couldn't be simpler. Garden Harvest Supply ships Echinacea plants in 3-inch pots, so they're well established and ready to plant in the ground as soon as the shipment arrives, based on your Hardiness Zone.  Choose a spot with Secret Passion echinacea plantfertile, well-drained soil and plenty of sunshine. Don't overwater this herb. In most regions, this plant will bloom from mid-summer through late October. 

Echinacea grows up to three feet tall, so plan accordingly when you incorporate it into a landscape feature or flower garden. Because the flowers grow on sturdy stems, this lush bloomer is a great choice for cutting and using alone in a bud vase or in flower arrangements.

Most Luxurious Plants EVER Received

October 27th, 2010

I have ordered from MANY catalog nurseries. The four carex Amazon Mist plants I received were quite possibly the biggest (for the price), healthiest and downright luxurious plants I’ve ever received. Carol O.

Season Starters Are Season Extenders, Too!

August 4th, 2010

season starterAll gardeners know that water is the essential ingredient to a successful crop, but water can also be a used as a tool to extend the growing season by as much as 4 months!

Season Starter Plant Protectors are designed to shelter plants against damage from extreme temperatures, allowing some garden plants to go into the ground as many as 6 weeks before the last frost and likewise, to stay in the ground long after the first frosts of fall. Season Starter Plant Protectors are designed like the original Wall O Water but include updated features that make them the ultimate chill repellent.

The Season Starter works miraculously well, considering it doesn't require much effort or maintenance.  The concept integrates natural laws of physics, and operates like a solar panel for plants.  The lightweight plastic protector is similar to an inflatable pool float, with a row of hollow tubes.  In this case, the Season Starter's tubes are filled with water.  The empty Season Starter is stood up around the plant with the tubes aligned vertically with their openings on top.  It creates a physical protector around the plant but is transparent, so it allows sunlight in.

Once in place, the tubes are filled with water, so the protector is weighted down and stays put.  The water serves to conserve energy from the heat of the day, then releases it as nighttime temperatures drop.  As the water gets colder, it actually releases heat to the core of the protector, and thus to the plant.

If the water freezes because temps drop below 32 degrees, your plants will still be kept well above freezing, because the water in the tubes turns to ice and then releases even more calories and heat to the center.  The sun's heat is stored and released like magic, not only keeping the plant warm, but keeping the ground around the plant's roots from freezing.  Frost can't even settle on the plant's leaves, meaning the plant can withstand unseasonal or seasonal dropping daytime and evening temps.

When the fall approaches, you can put Season Starters around any plants that still have produce in the works.  Harvest your late-season vegetables much later than you have ever imagined by buying an extra month or more of growing time.  Season Starters are very affordable, and are available in 3-packs.  They're lightweight, collapsible, and store flat to take up no space in your garage or shed between seasons.  They're durable and should last through several garden cycles.

A fall harvest must end at some point, but why not extend your growing season as long as possible, when it's as easy as using Season Starters and your garden hose?

A Worry-Free Vacation

June 24th, 2010

vacationI was actually pretty hesitant about trying Vacation for plants. I mean, how many times do you buy something and it just doesn't work as advertised? And when it comes to your houseplants or your lawn and landscapingthat's quite a risk to take! But this year I took my summer vacation with my best friends, my neighbors, which meant none of us had someone we could depend upon to watch after our plants and lawns.

When I bought mine, I decided to buy one for everyone else and just hope for the best. I've always been happy with GHS products, so I took a leap of faith, and just thought positively, convincing myself and my friends that we could take a care-free vacation and not worry about our plants or lawns. I'll tell you, that was quite a leap!

In fact, we worried more than we wanted to. While traipsing through the World's Biggest Yard Sale in August, we kept a constant watch on the weather back home by way of my laptop computer. I bookmarked the Weather Channel page and checked my Yahoo weather report every chance I got. Dismally, we watched the temperatures rise and the humidity decrease. We just knew that we would return home to scorched lawns and withered bushes. We weren't as concerned about all of our houseplants, except that each of us had one favorite that we fretted over, but the thought of returning home to our houses surrounded by the same shade of ‘blah brown' became a bigger and bigger worry. We managed to still enjoy ourselves during the day while filling our trunk and a small trailer with goodies we had found, but when we sat down to lunch or dinner, the talk inevitably turned to our yards. Finally, two days before we returned home, we had a little rain. Yay! Rain! You would have thought we were farmers depending upon the rain for our livelihood! It was kind of funny, but that was one of the most positive moments on our whole tripuntil we thought, ‘This is probably too little, too late'.

Our dread became almost unbearable as we pulled back into town and then drove toward our neighborhood. What a surprise was waiting for us! Not only were the lawns perfectly green and every shrub perky and in perfect health, but because we had not had much rain while we were gone, the lawn didn't even need mowing. We had been gone for almost two weeks and we were amazed! Not only that, but our telephones were buzzing as we were all so thrilled that our houseplants had survived our absence as well.

Vacation really worked! You see, it says that it puts your lawn or plants in a state of dormancy. It gradually wears off over a two-week period, unless you get rain, in which case it dissipates and the normal growth cycle takes over. So, if we had gotten more rain, our lawns would have survived also, but we would have had to mow as soon as we got home. Because we didn't get rain, the growth cycle stopped, kind of like it does in the winter time! Wow! Now we could sort through our treasures and get our laundry caught up and just relax for a week before we had to worry about lawn work. Truly amazing!

We have already decided to do the same trip next yearwithout the unnecessary worry. Thanks to Vacation! Tim G.

Laurel's Pyramid Planter

May 26th, 2010

I have been a customer of Garden Harvest Supply for a couple of years now. I recently bought a Pyramid Space Saver Garden with Built-In Sprinkler in order to grow my strawberries. I've had a strawberry bed in the past, but have also fought with my chickens for the right to harvest, so had almost given up completely on ever being able to have a really productive strawberry bed that would not only provide yummy berries throughout the season, but that would allow me to make some strawberry jam and still let the grandkids eat their share when they visited. I think this tiered planter, along with the frame and net, may completely solve my problem.

The first thing I noticed is that, even though the dimensions are accurately given in the product description, until it is actually laid out on the ground, you really don't realize what size this is. If you have any question about whether or not it will fit in the area you want to put it, take a 3-foot string attached to a stake or just use a yardstick to trace the outline of where the bottom ring will be. Choose your mid-spot and use either of these to revolve around the middle and give you an idea of where it will be situated. If you have some flexibility, as I did, this is not necessary, but I had to change my original plan because I realized it would not allow easy access from the back door to the chicken coopnot a good thing. You also want to have easy access to a water source and realize that though it comes with a built-in sprinkler, you will still have to have a water source, such as a hose or sprinkler system to run to the sprinkler access that extends a little out from under the bottom pyramid ring.

Don't forget to lay the sprinkler and hose out prior to adding the soil. If you do, it is easy to fix as long as you only have the first layer of dirt filled in. (Just ask meI did it!) Make sure to use good tape or a good heavy plastic bag taped over the end of the sprinkler head to keep it from getting clogged with dirt. I found that I also should have done this with the female hose end that will be attached to your sprinkling system or to a garden hose because dirt can spill over the edge as you are working. Hooking the sprinkler to a hose once you have it in position will probably also do the trick. Then, as you fill with soil, you will have to readjust the sprinkler head. It really looks like it is too short, but it is just the perfect height once all the dirt is in.

You'll find that the first level is the hardest. The aluminum is sturdy, but getting it to stay in a circle can be a challenge until you get the knack. I recommend taping the seam with duct tapethis seems to add a little stability and keeps the seams from coming back apart. Put the tape along the inside lower half and once the dirt is in you will not even know it's there. Also fill each layer all the way to the top, tamping lightly. The dirt will definitely ‘water in' and settle and you may have to add some additional dirt once you have watered it thoroughly.

I also recommend using a weed barrier of some kind underneath the pyramid. For mowing purposes I allowed the weed barrier to extend past the bottom ring and then went back and trimmed it after it was complete, allowing the weed barrier to extend past the base in order to allow me the room to put the rubber mulch around the base, allowing the wheels of my mower to ride on the mulch. Strawberry roots are shallow. If using this space saver garden for herbs or flowers, a weed barrier underneath it may not work and you may instead have to de-sod the area under where the planter will sit.

As I said, the first ring is the hardest. One person can easily do this job, but it will take some time. It took me and my husband about 3 hours to do the whole project and that included lugging the bags of soil from one place to another. Get the first aluminum ring as round as possible, and then start filling with dirt. (It takes about thirty 40-lb. bags of top soil) Start in the middle and work the dirt out toward the edges, using the dirt as a stabilizer for the ring and rounding it out as you go. Take a step away on a regular basis and look at the WHOLE picture so that you can judge where you need to push or pull a little bit in order to get it as round as possible. Tamping the dirt along the inside edge will stabilize the ring but still enable you to move it as needed. The aluminum doesn't bend real easily but is light weight enough to adjust easily. Make sure you keep track of the sprinkler head, keeping it centered and letting it rest on top of the soil. (You can make a final adjustment once all three rings are on.)

Once all the soil is in the bottom ring and gently tamped to reach the top of the ring, you can do your second and third levels. As these rings are smaller, they are much easier to keep round and you can push them into the soil slightly in order to keep them in place. I measured on 4 sides of both the second and third rings as I started them to make sure they were centered. If trying to ‘eye-ball' it, step away to at least five or six feet and walk around it. The perception of center changes from each side, so you want to make sure you have the same amount of space between the wall of the bottom ring and the wall of the second and third rings, on each side. Also make sure that you bring the sprinkler head up through each layer and adjust it to center.

Finally, make your final adjustments to the sprinkler. Keep in mind that breezes or winds will affect the spray as will it being tilted just slightly one way or another. Try to make your adjustments when there is little to no wind. Tamp earth around the sprinkler as you move it one way or another and then tamp more firmly once you have the position set.

Overall I'm extremely happy with the quality of this planter and the ease in which it went together. I've been dealing with severe weather here in Oklahoma, so haven't planted or added the frame support or netting yet, but have plans to do that before the end of the monthweather permitting. I'll keep you up to date on the netting installation. Both the net and frame seem to be very sturdy, so I don't foresee any problems with either the installation or keeping the chickens out of my strawberry bed. I can't wait to see what it looks like when I have strawberry plants overflowing each tier!

Our Seven Favorite Hummingbird Feeders

April 13th, 2010

With the imminent arrival of the hummers, we'd like to tell you about seven of our favorite hummingbird feeders. Our hope is that our recommendations will save you time if you're looking for hummingbird feeders and want advice based on our extensive experience and feedback from customers.

As you can imagine, there are many types of hummingbird feeders, However, most feeders are either the cylindrical type or the flying saucer type, and we're going to focus on these becausewith the exception of a popular feeder that is shaped like a giant strawberryour favorites fall into these two categories.

Cylindrical Hummingbird Feeders

These types of feeders have been around for a long time, thanks to the Perky-Pet Company, which has been making feeders since 1958. Their Original 30-oz. Hummingbird Feeder, Model PP209, has a hardened glass feeding chamber with a base that contains six feeder stations. Perky Pet describes it as their best model, and customers tend to agree.

If you want something smaller, another great model is the Perky Pet 8-oz. 4 Fountain Feeder, Model PP203C. This one has a pinch-waist glass feeding chamber, and four feeding stations that feed from the same reservoir.

For the smallest of all, go with the  3 oz-cylindrical mini-feeder designed by Perky Pet for hanging baskets. It consists of a shatterproof BPA-free polystyrene feeding chamber with a bee guard, plus an attached mounting rod that you insert into the soil so as to suspend it a few inches above the basket or planter box. Some people put some right into their flowerbeds. Because of its diminutive size and wide-mouth design, it is very easy to clean and fill, and is dishwasher safe.

Though it is sometimes described as a beginners' model, veteran hummingbird enthusiasts also use it because its single feeding station gets around the problem of hummingbirds being territorial: only one hummer can feed at a time. Some people put out ten or more and have hummers all over the place, each feeding happily in his or her own spot.

What are the advantages of the cylindrical feeders? Well, for one thing, the hummers really and truly love the tubular designthat's been verified by their use for more than twenty years.  The bee guards on these models work well, in fact, they also keep out finches as well. These models will not collect rainwater and they will not clog. They also hang nice and straight.

The main disadvantage is that, compared to the flying saucer models, they are difficult to clean. People also sometimes complain about dripping, and that the chamber is not so easy to fill, and might require a funnel.

Not so with the Perky Pet 48-oz Grand Master Hummingbird Feeder, model PP220, which has six feeding ports, and an unbreakable BPA-free polystyrene feeding chamber. This jumbo model is preferred if you go through a lot of nectar quickly; its maximum storage capacity allows you to cut down on mixing and filling. Its wide-mouth design makes it easier to clean than the other Perky Pet models we've mentioned, with the exception of the mini-feeder for planters.

The easiest cylindrical model to clean is Dr. JB’s 16-oz Clean Feeder, Model DJB16CY. The base comes totally apart, in fact, it snaps apart, so you can put the pieces through a dishwasher cycle or sponge them out in your sink. This sturdy feeder features a hardened glass feeding chamber and a baffling system that minimizes leakage, even in high winds. Though relatively new on the  market, this feeder has been getting great reviews from veteran hummingbird enthusiasts and it may eventually earn the reputation of being the best moderately-sized tubular feeder ever.

Flying Saucer-Type Hummingbird Feeders

Flying saucer feeders have been gaining in popularity in recent years. Their main advantage is that they are super-easy to keep clean, and, because the openings are on the top not the bottom, it tends not to leak. Bees are less attracted to this design, so that's another advantage. This type of design also lets you see the hummers from all angles, and it's less likely to spill nectar on windy days.  However, the jury is still out as to whether hummingbirds like this design as much as the tubular models. Some customers insist they don't, while others get scores of hummingbirds visiting each day.

The model we carry of this type is the Perky Pet Oasis 16-oz. Hummingbird Feeder, Model PP221, which features six feeding stations and a built-in ant moat that works really well. Cleaning and filling is a snap, thanks to the snap-on top. Though it comes with a brass rod, this model is best mounted on a pole because it has a tendency to hang crooked otherwise. (Some customers, however, fiddle with it and get it to hang just right with the help of a rubber band or other household item.)

One thing we like about this model is that its shatterproof nectar holder is made of acrylic, a plastic that is BPA-free. For this reason, we prefer it to Hummzingers, a line of similar hummingbird feeders made by Aspects, which are made of polycarbonate, a plastic that leaches BPAs.

The Giant Strawberry Hummingbird Feeder

Finally, we come to a 48-oz model that certainly has the most fun design of any of the others we've discussed: the Perky-Pet Strawberry Hummingbird Feeder, Model PP260. This feeder has three feeding ports and features a large BPA-free polystyrene feeding chamber molded to look like a giant red strawberry. Like the 48-oz Grand Master, a feeder of this size will help you cut down on mixing and filling provided that you have the enough traffic to warrant its use. (Otherwise, your nectar will go bad before the hummers finish it.) Full disclosure: none of us have used this feeder in our own gardens and we haven't received feedback about, although it is one of our bestselling feeders. Assuming that no news is good news, we are including it on our favorites list because it is a favorite of our customers.

Hummingbird Feeder Troubleshooting

Some models have yellow flowers painted onto the feeders. These help to attract hummingbirds, but they can also sometimes attract bees. If this is true in your case, the easiest solution is to simply paint the flowers red using some red nail polish.

When it comes to cleaning the cylindrical models, some owners keep extras on hand so that when they bring one in for cleaning, they hang the other one out.

Many people choose to mount their feeder on a pole, but some find that the pole becomes an ant highway.  To stop this, spread a band of Vaseline or Tanglefoot about .5 to 1 inch wide around the perimeter of the pole.

If ants are getting into your hanging feeder, a season-long solution is the Perky Pet AntGuard, which can be mounted above and/or below the feeder. The device has a shielded disc saturated with Permethrin, an insecticide that is not harmful to birds, pets, or children, but will definitely stop the ants.

Hummingbird Feeder Accessories

Some people think that the only way to a hummingbird's heart is through its stomach, but they will also appreciate it if you lend them a hand in finding nesting material. Save your hummingbirds a little work by hanging a Hummer Helperâ„¢ Cage with Nesting Material out for them. The 6″ x 11 coated wire cage is refillable, and the nesting material is fully biodegradable and environmentally safe. A real hummer helper that all hummingbird lovers should have!

If you find that the heat is making your nectar go bad too quickly, get a Songbird Essentials Hummer Helmet. This 12″ hanging protective baffle will also give your hummers some much-appreciated shade, and its bright red color will help to attract even more hummers to your garden. Simply attach it above your feeder using the connectors provided.

Learning More about Hummingbirds

There's a lot to know about hummingbirds, and there are many resources to help you learn. We highly recommend the The Hummingbird Book by Donald and Lillian Stokes, which contains a wealth of information, There are also some good hummingbird sites on the internet, such as http://www.hummingbirds.net.

There's also a lot more to know about hummingbird feeders, such as that there are some very nice window feeders as well. But we'll stop here, and wish you the best in attracting and enjoying hundreds of hummers in the months to come.

Flavorful Vegetables at Your Fingertips

January 31st, 2010

dried vegetablesEveryone knows that vegetables are part of a healthy diet.  They're also crucial ingredients in many recipesyet fresh vegetables aren't always available when you need them.  Canned vegetables are mushy and bland, and frozen veggies get freezer-burned quickly.  If you don't garden, or you live in a climate with a short gardening season, or you don't live right around the corner from a supermarket, you might have limited availability of the vegetables you need for the most basic meals.

Now there is a simple, practical and cost-effective way to have vegetables on hand at all times:  dehydrated!  You can store dehydrated carrots, bell peppers, tomatoes, onions, celery, spinach and potatoes in your pantry, ready for adding to soups and casseroles, stews, and most other recipes whenever you need them.  They're even delicious rehydrated and eaten on their own.

There are several advantages to dehydrated vegetables.  They retain their color, so they look fresh and attractive, once they're rehydrated.  They have great nutritional value, and most importantly, they maintain their fresh flavor, longer than canned or frozen vegetables.  The best part is they can be stored on a shelf until you're ready to add them to your recipes.  They only need to be kept in a dark, dry place.

To use dehydrated veggies, simply boil them for 2 minutes, and they resume their original plump state.  Sprinkle on your favorite seasoning and enjoy them alone, or add them to recipes as you'd add fresh ingredients.  Or, if you just pour the dried veggies into cooking soups and stews, they will absorb the broth or fluids of the recipe and the flavors meld as the dish cooks.

The best part of dehydrated vegetables is that they're pre-cut.  No more dicing and slicing!  Now you can pour your desired amount of pre-chopped veggies right into your cooking foods, and instantly add all the color, flavor and texture of fresh vegetables, but without the work! Ounce for ounce, dehydrated vegetables are less expensive than fresh, store-bought producebecause there's no waste, and because of the time saved in preparation.  Once you've tried them, you'll agree they're certainly more convenient!

The Bell Boy Pepper Plant

January 29th, 2010

bell boy pepperWith their beautiful glossy leaves and colorful fruits, Bell Boy Pepper Plants look equally at home on the patio or in the vegetable garden. All-American selections winner, the Bell Boy Pepper is considered a first class ‘all rounder' and its popularity with chefs has exploded within the last ten years. The vigorous growing plants will thrive in full sun and need to be protected from strong winds. They are reasonably sturdy and are a popular choice of children or young budding gardeners. They have a crisp fresh taste when eaten raw and are both a colorful and tasty addition to many cooked dishes.

Bell Boy peppers can be planted in pots but if planting in the earth should ideally be spaced 18 inches apart. The time between planting out and harvesting is normally 70 days and the fruit will at first appear green and although safe to eat at any size, it is best to wait until it is 3-4 inches long and comes away easily from the plant. The fruit will eventually turn from a deep green to a deep red and the longer Bell Boy peppers are left to ripen, the sweeter they become so your decision to harvest will be based purely on taste. Allowing the peppers to ripen will also prevent you causing the plant any damage as you remove the fruit.

The two most important things to remember when growing Bell Boy Peppers are space and soil. They do not thrive if there is too much nitrogen in the soil and do best if the ph level is 6.5 to 7. Do not guess the acidity of your soil. A soil tester is inexpensive, easy to use and can save you a lot of wasted time and money. If you do grow the Peppers in pots, make sure the container is big enough and there is plenty of space to allow the plant to grow and spread. If the growing space is restricted this can seriously reduce the amount of fruit produced.

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