A new year typically brings about resolutions right? Be they for losing weight, being more organized or simply an overall “being better” wish, resolutions are good goals to have.
Gardeners are no exception to wishing for the better; better gardens, better planning, better record-keeping, etc. Following are five resolutions that we wish every gardener, no matter their level of expertise, will embrace in the new year:
1. I will not blame myself for gardening failures. Oftentimes, Mother Nature is not our friend when it comes to gardening. Or life gets in the way. We do not want you to despair! Simply try again and learn from experience. Your garden, and your gardening friends, are both extremely forgiving.
2. I will not be afraid to ask questions. How else can you learn? Take advantage of the experience of your neighbor, your aunt, the garden center employee or the local extension agent. If they are like typical garden fanatics, they will appreciate your interest and be flattered that you want to learn from them. And learn you will!
They are a pre-sown product of single or multiple species of seeds that are already spaced between tissue layers at the correct distance for growing. As well as the simple, linear tape, there is a wide range of other shapes and sizes, such as discs, mats and carpets. Many flower, vegetable or herb seeds can be purchased already incorporated into these products.
- Even seed spacing prevents oversowing, especially with crops like lettuce, greens, carrots, wildflowers, etc. This also eliminates the need for thinning the young seedlings.
- The lightweight tape prevents birds from eating freshly sown seeds
- The tape, when covered with additional soil, won’t wash away in a sudden spring downpour, ruining evenly spaced and sown rows.
- Almost all seed tapes are biodegradable to protect wildlife and have no damaging impact on garden ecosystems.
- For gardeners experiencing arthritis or other mobility issues, a seed tape is a quick and easy way to sow tiny seeds.
Seed tapes:Come in various lengths, single track or multiple tracks, both available with the option of one seed variety or a multiple of seeds
For the second year in a row, vegetable breeding companies focusing on the Fresh Market and Home Garden segments are coming together to host Summer Vegetable Trials via Open Houses and Field Days. This event will be held in six locations from August 8-19, 2016. Just like the long-standing CA Spring Trials that are held annually in California during the month of April, attendees will have the opportunity to visit breeder company trial sites throughout the state.
Avid gardeners have always known that growing a garden is not only fun for children, but also teaches them skills such as patience, caring for something other than themselves, and the value of regular work, among other things.
The virtues of gardening have been expanded and taken into school classrooms around the country through a joint program by the National Science Foundation, the National Gardening Association, and the National Garden Bureau. Children in grades kindergarten through 8 learn not only simple growing methods, but also use their indoor gardens to study history, business, sociology, math, science, environmental concepts, and gain personal enhancements such as greater self-confidence and self-esteem. Who would have thought that a small garden could open a whole world of social and educational growth?
The program centers around an indoor growth chamber called a GrowLab®, a commercially produced indoor lighted garden. Through funding from its members, the National Garden Bureau donates GrowLabs to schools and organizes for materials such as growing media, seeds and other supplies to be donated as well. The National Garden Bureau also arranges for a nearby horticultural professional to “adopt” the class and work with the classroom teacher
It won’t be all that long before those vegetable transplants are setting fruit and getting ready to be harvested. Nothing compares to the stand-alone taste of fresh picked vegetables eaten for their own sake, and many gardeners grow vegetables just to have raw, fresh, tasty vegetables to enjoy at harvest time. But, of course, no vegetable is truly a meal entirely unto itself. When vegetables are combined with other companions from the garden for a planned purpose, the resulting combination often has as much or greater appeal than the individual fruits that went into the recipe. While fresh vegetables enjoyed right from the garden and eaten au naturel are a worthy goal and accomplishment, preparing or using vegetables in recipes that bring out their best and combine them with other garden produce are also noteworthy. Here are a few favorites and suggestions from the National Garden Bureau.
The growing popularity of Southwestern and Mexican cuisine has brought salsa to more tables than ever before. Americans now consume more salsa annually than they do ketchup, and since 1988 the Mexican sauce market (primarily picante and salsa) has grown at an annual rate of 13 percent.
One of the most versatile and easy ways to grow bushels of colorful annual flowers is in containers. The fast-growing popularity of “color bowls” is proof positive that Americans like container growing, whether they do it themselves or have someone else prepare it for them.
If It Will Hold Soil, It is a Container
While many people think primarily of terra cotta, plastic pots, glazed pots, or half-barrels as likely containers for plants, just about any “container” is a possible prospect. Car tires, old shoes, coffee pots, raw bags of growing mix, and just about anything imaginable can be used to grow plants. If whimsical is your style, don’t be afraid to try it. The basics remain the same.
Container growing offers many benefits, not the least of which is that you can put a “garden” just about anywhere. Cement balconies on a highrise building can become urban gardens, or splashes of color can be put on a backyard deck or patio. And, providing the containers are not too heavy, potted plants can be moved and rearranged whenever the need or mood arises.
Without a doubt, container gardens will require less
There’s something irresistibly romantic about a split-rail fence softened with intense clove-scented sweetpeas. Flowering vines of all sorts add an extravagant air to outdoor living areas. Whether a living curtain of morning glories softly shading a west kitchen window or a white picket fence embellished with a tumble of bright, sunny black-eyed Susan vines, flowering vines can add privacy, disguise harsh landscape elements, and give an aura of beauty.
Many annual vines grow fast enough to cover a trellis in only a few weeks. By mid-season, you can have an entire trellis softly covered with foliage to block the winds, offer some shade and add privacy.
The options for using annual vines are endless. Plant them in the ground in front of a window pane trellis or a tree wrapped with a flexible trellis. Use them in a planter box with a redwood fan, a pot with a topiary frame, or in a hanging basket or window box.
A particularly attractive option if you have limited room is to construct a trellis in a planter box on a deck or balcony. Annual vines covering the trellis will add beauty without sacrificing room.
Cucumbers are cool and peppers are hot as many people are showing renewed interest in growing their own vegetables. Today’s vegetable gardens come in a variety of sizes, shapes and styles, and can be found in a backyard, on a patio, even on a rooftop.
A national survey from the Garden Writers Association Foundation found that vegetable or fruit plants are second on the list of plants gardeners plan to purchase this spring – up from fourth place just a year ago. Thirty-nine percent (39%) of consumers plan on buying vegetable or fruit plants, behind lawn and grass (54%) but ahead of both annual (35%) and perennial flowers (31%), as well as trees and shrubs (35%).
There may be several reasons for this increased interest in vegetable gardening. Skyrocketing gas prices and increasing food costs at the grocery store are pinching our wallets. Food-borne illnesses and safety issues make us unsure about the food we buy and where it comes from. Concern about the environment is forcing us to look at how best to use our natural resources.
Vicki Nowicki of Downers Grove, Illinois, a gardener for more than 25 years, loves to grow her
Etymology (the history of a word; tracing its development and transmission from one language to another) is fascinating. And nowhere more so than in the names of herbs—culinary, medicinal, dye, and other useful plants. Many herb names (botanic and/or common) have their roots in Latin or Greek. This often reflects its original purpose, which may be quite different from the modern application.
The common name of a plant can vary from region to region and country to country while the botanic name is the same throughout the world—only the accent varies. Of course, what can be tricky is that the derivation of the moniker, such as bloom time, may hold true in the region where it was named, but varies in other climates and latitudes. For clarity, the best-known common name as well as the botanic name are included here so that we are all focused on the same plant.
Carl von Linné, the Swedish botanist (1707-1778), who introduced botanical nomenclature (all those Latin words which can seem like Greek to many of us), even gave himself a Latin name—Carolus Linnaeus. One of his projects was a planted floral clock. He included chicory (Cichorium intybus) because
Even in the dead of winter, you can recall the juiciness and delightful sweetness that burst forth in your mouth, as you tasted the first sun-warmed cherry tomato picked straight from your garden. The first bite is most memorable, yet the superb flavor is there in every tomato you harvest through the season. In fact, the quintessence of any homegrown vegetable or fruit is superior to comparable store-bought veggies, or even those purchased at a farm stand. The fresher, the better—taste, texture, and especially nutrients.
While small vegetable plants are available at garden centers, nurseries, or stores, often these plants have been stressed or outgrown their pots. It is less expensive to buy a pack of seeds, which may contain dozens of seeds, than a tomato plant. Growing from seed is so much more rewarding; sowing the seeds, keeping the soil lightly moist, waiting for the first signs of life emerging from the soil, nurturing the plant as it grows, feeding, weeding, pruning, and finally harvesting the fruits of your labor. For some people, the idea of growing vegetables from seed is daunting. Yet it shouldn’t be. It’s easy when you sow the seeds outdoors at the
The tragic events of the 11th of September 2001 changed the world, the way we view it, and how we relate to it. In the aftermath, more and more people are seeking solace and tranquility-their own quiet personal space. Many have turned to gardening for solace. Any time spent in the garden is beneficial-to the gardener, humanity in general, and to the Earth.
With all of the various aspects to gardening, it affords universal appeal-to young and old, males and females, beginners and experienced gardeners. Gardening affects people in a variety of positive ways. It can be calming, soothing to the soul, clearing the mind at the end of a day (explore the Zen of weeding and pruning).
As far as I’m concerned, anyone who gets his hands in the soil is a gardener. The very contact of skin with the soil helps to ground us (literally and figuratively) to the Earth. Getting down and dirty working in a garden-from planting seeds to watering them, from feeding plants to managing pests and diseases, and even cutting flowers to enjoy indoors-is one of the healthiest pastimes to engage in. Gardening incorporates good exercise with relaxation. Time in
In the best of times flowers help us celebrate the joyous occasions in our lives—the birth of a child, a wedding, career or personal success. In more difficult times plants give us hope and inspiration to meet the challenges of life.
The role of the plants and gardens in healing is ancient. As early as 3000 B.C. the Chinese were using medicinal herbs. The Greeks built a temple for Aesclepius, their god of healing, set among mineral springs, bathing pools, and healing gardens. Green was a sacred color in ancient Egypt and represented the hope of spring that brought new vegetation and life.
In colonial America, the Quakers felt a deep attachment to nature and believed gardens were a place of creativity for the mind and body. Growing plants was a way to relax and restore the soul. One of the first programs to use plants in a therapeutic setting was established in 1879 at Philadelphia’s Friends Hospital after a physician noticed that psychiatric patients working in the hospital’s fields and flower gardens were calmer and that the gardens had a “curative” effect on them.
In more recent times, advances in technology and new drugs
At National Garden Bureau, we like to encourage even the brown thumbs out there to attempt gardening, even if on a small scale. And what better way to start than with produce grown on your own patio?
Container growing offers many benefits, not the least of which is that you can put a “garden” just about anywhere. Cement balconies on a highrise building can become urban gardens, and a backyard deck or patio becomes a produce garden at your fingertips. Some of the top vegetable breeders are encouraging this trend by breeding smaller more compact varieties that still are prolific producers.
Without a doubt, container gardens will require less weeding than their in-ground counterparts. This makes them ideal for busy people who love gardening but have limited time. However, watering has to be monitored more closely. Containers in hot sun can dry out quickly, and even a gentle summer breeze will wick moisture from plants. Be prepared to water daily or even twice daily during long, hot, dry spells.
As for supplies, the shopping list is small:
* Appropriately sized container (bigger is usually better)
* Good quality growing medium
* Young plants or seeds
* Stakes or cages if growing vining edibles
After that, with a little sun, a little water and a little patience, you’ll soon have
Few topics are as interesting as color, and few things affect the overall look of a garden as much as color. Used effectively, color can create a feeling of calm, graciousness, spaciousness, excitement, or just about any mood a gardener wants to achieve.
If you are planning gardens near or around your home, it is natural to want the color scheme of the flowers to complement the exterior colors. If your home is basically neutral – beige, gray or white – you have a relatively easy task because you can use just about any color scheme you like. If, however, your home is accented with a colorful trim, you may want to pick colors that echo that color or complement it. Red, for example, is the direct complement of green, so red geraniums, salvia or petunias, etc., would be a good choice for a neutral house with green trim. Unless you are an expert at using color, stick to two or three colors that you repeat in your annual plantings. This will give a planned, unified look to all your garden spots, and avoid the hodgepodge look that lacks focus and distracts from the
It’s no surprise that Jack (of fairy tale fame) was traded “magic” seeds for his cow. By their very nature, seeds are magical. They’ve laid dormant, just waiting for the right conditions to come along so they can burst forth with entertaining growth and continue the fanfare to a summer long display of flowers or vegetables.
Seeds let you start at the beginning. It’s a satisfying, personal involvement that starts with your decision of which seeds to grow. Seed catalogs and seed packet displays offer you a much wider selection of flowers and vegetables than you will find among started plants. You get to choose exactly which plants you will end up with – size, shape, color and even the name you like. Seeds are inexpensive, so you can afford to “try something new,” or go a little “crazy” and buy all your favorites.
Seeds are as “natural” as you can get. You can watch their life cycle from beginning to end. Even if you aren’t an aggressive recycler, seeds naturally lend themselves to being started in egg cartons or other “throw away” containers that let you feel good about what you are doing.
“What’s best for the environment?” is often asked these days. Well, what’s best for the environment is teaching our children respect and concern for nature. One way to start this training early, and have some fun doing it, is a child’s garden. The immediate and long-term benefits of encouraging a child to plant his or her own garden are enormous.
Through school and the media, many youngsters, even preschoolers, are already very aware of nature and ecology. The garden is an excellent place to reinforce what they have heard and learned and a great place to encourage their creativity and self-discipline. They will be exposed to the beauty of Nature, a beauty they will help nurture, and through growing vegetables they may learn a degree of self-sufficiency. A childhood start on understanding and respecting the environment plants the “seeds” for future responsibilities. We all know it needs to be done, so let’s do it with fun.
Lions and Dragons
Did you ever “snap” the jaws of a snapdragon, or “see” fantastic faces in pansies, or savor the tangy aroma of fresh mint when you crushed some leaves in your hands when you were a child?
Start Small. If you decide to plant up some new areas this year, start small so that you can test for success and appearance. You can always make it bigger next year.
Consider water access. If you are planting an area far from a water source, figure out how you are going to get water there. If a long hose isn’t practical, you may have to carry water there, or plan on carrying the plants (assuming they are in containers) to the water source.
Try something new each year. If something in a seed catalog or in the garden center captures your imagination – try it. Starting on a small scale and a new spot, you can test the plant without a lot of expense or disappointment if it doesn’t please or doesn’t succeed.
Go for variety. Even within the confines of a color family you can achieve a pleasing mixture of different flower forms, heights and textures. While large displays of a single flower can be awesome, too much of a good thing can be boring.
Keep a “cookbook.” In a notebook, write down which classes and varieties you planted where. Often you
They are usually called “bedding” plants (they go in your garden beds), although some people think of them as just “plants,” but it isn’t the terminology that counts. What counts is that these started plants give you a handsome beginning on your garden; both in design and success, and gardening could hardly be easier.
If displays of bedding plants haven’t started showing up at your local chain store outlets, greenhouses and garden centers, supermarkets or even hardware stores, they will soon. And after a winter of not having had much to look at in the way of flowers and plants, you may find yourself irresistibly drawn to the rows of neat, green flats topped with buds and blooms as a dieter drawn to an ice cream sundae. But wait! Before rushing in and buying plants with the greatest eye appeal, take a moment to become a savvy shopper.
Generally, bedding plants are grown in small “packs” divided into three, four, or six sections, each containing one or more growing plants (if you read a garden center ad for a sale on “6-packs,” think plants, not beer). Larger, plastic “flats” hold 12 to 24
Container gardening offers many advantages that people can tend to overlook: containers can be less work because they can be placed closer to a water source; they offer a smaller soil area to have to weed; they can be placed at a height that can minimize bending for watering and tending; movable containers can “follow the sun” if you have changing exposure; they can provide a garden plot even in high-rise apartments or homes with no space for a traditional garden; and just about any plant—flower or vegetable—can be grown in a container.
Selecting a Container
Virtually anything that will hold soil and water is a candidate for container growing. From a bag of soil with holes punched for planting and drainage to wooden tubs, old riding boots, milk cans, hanging baskets and fancy ornamental pots. You can choose the size, shape and cost to fit your needs and desires.
The deeper the pot the less watering it will need. Pots with a small soil volume will dry out faster and require more frequent watering. Unlike plants in the ground, plants in pots or hanging baskets in the yard, on a deck or on a
One of the self-satisfying things about growing your own vegetables is the knowledge that you are providing healthy food for you and your family. Many claims have been made for various classes of vegetables, from helping to lower cholesterol to reducing the risks of certain types of cancer. We make no particular health claims for vegetables, but they have been recognized as being good sources of vitamins and minerals, and have long been thought of as “health” foods.
While flowers and ornamental plants may be a feast for the eyes, a salad you’ve grown in your own garden is truly a feast for the body.
One of the beauties of your own salad garden is its versatility. You can make an “enthusiastic salad” – where you put everything you have into it – or keep things as simple as lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers. And if you have family members that may not be the avid fans of the leafy greens and their companions that you are, getting them involved in the salad garden project will often whet their appetites.
Salads today go far beyond the simple fare they once were.