Considerations for Planning Your Garden, Part 2

Garden guyOnce you have determined the vegetables and herbs you would like to grow, take a bit of time to research what and which variety grows best in your area. You will find particular varieties of many vegetables are preferred over others in specific regions for the fact that they grow best there. This is great info to tap into, to better ensure your successfully-producing garden!

Where to go to get this valuable information, before you dig trowel into the ground?

As a Master Gardener Volunteer Graduate (MGVG), I can speak from first-hand experience and highly recommend the resources available and freely offered through the many local Cooperative Extension Offices. To locate the office nearest you, click here on this link

Your local Cooperative Extension Office can provide you with a list of preferred varieties that have been proven to grow best in your area. This saves you time and money! It’s fun to experiment of course — a lot of times we do that in the garden, but if you want to put food on the table the “tried and true” is best.

As the MGVG that I am, also I recommend having a soil test done through the Cooperative Extension Office. All supplies and information are available through them. Januray-February are the optimal months to have your soil sample to them for teating. This allows ample time for the process, and so you can prepare your garden spot, amending the soil as indicated by the test, for best results.

Considerations for Planning Your Garden, Part 1

Garden guy“Planning” your garden is key, in having a successful growing season.

This includes:

* Know what you would like to grow

* What and what variety grows well in your area

* The growing conditions your garden will provide, once amended

Have you been studying the many seed and plant catalogs, now arriving nearly daily? The choices are astounding. In my 10 years of our Herbal Treasures Garden, I am observing increasing variety and greater numbers of seeds and plants available. This is a very exciting time to be a gardener!

At the same time, the possibilities and choices are staggering, and can actually serve as an obstacle to getting started, if a gardener is not careful.

Make preliminary preference-based choices on what you believe you and your family will most likely eat, and probably completely consume.

As previously discussed, some vegetables yield greater quantities. This reminds me of tomatoes and zucchini. If you are looking for greater yield (as in a larger family), this may be a consideration for you, as well.

Some vegetables are more difficult to grow. If you have limited time, space and inclination, perhaps growing your own corn would not be advisable. However, with the price of tomatoes and the relative ease of growing them, they might be a worthwhile addition to your garden

Of course this being the Herbal Treasures website, I would remiss if I did not include copious amounts of herbs on the list! They will add life and spark up any veggie dish you make.

Seeds Sales are Skyrocketing for the Growing Season

Garden guyIn a recent post, I shared with our Garden friends that I was surprised to see seeds already available. It seemed so early — and my thought was confirmed by the store that in fact, this was the case.

We’ve discussed that many folks are planning to grow their own vegetable and herbs this season, as a means of offsetting foods costs with the economic downturn we have been experiencing. Food safety issues have also been consumer concerns.

If you plan to join the many planting a great garden this year, begin planning it now and get your seeds. Some pre-prep is required before you actually get those seeds or seedlings in the ground, after the last frost.

According to industry experts, seeds sales are up 30-40% over 2007. Last year vegetable seeds outsold flower seeds for the first time in ages, and seed companies are projecting this to be the case again this year.

One might pause to wonder with all of the sweat equity involved, if gardening to feed the family is truly worth it. Some vegetables may yield more and be easier to grow — such as tomatoes, versus corn.

It is estimated that the average cost-benefit ratio of home-grown vegetables is 1 to 25, according to a study by the W. Atlee Burpee Co.,  each gardening dollar invested in the effort has the possibility of producing $25 worth of vegetables.

My first piece of advice is to decide what you want to grow and survey your garden site to make sure it is suitable. Soil testing is recommended, and can be done through your Cooperative Extension Office.

When you determine what it is you want to grow, order or buy your seeds now. Even as the seed companies are bracing themselves for increased sales, ordering early better ensures getting the varieties you want.

Veggie and Herbs Seeds Sales are G-R-O-W-I-N-G

HT Kit With the not-so-lovely economy, many folks are turning to growing their own   vegetables and herbs. It is a cost-cutting measure, but it also provides many other benefits as well.

* Because the transport from your garden to your table is a much shorter distance and time span from harvest to serving time, the nutrient value is much higher.

* Working in the garden brings us closer to the earth, and is a great therapy. This sets our focus upon other things, if even for just a while.

* Gardening is an activity that offers great satisfaction personally, for the family or other participants.

* In gardening, we are reminded that we cannot control all things, but we can strive to maintain a productive garden.

SO many lessons learned in the garden!

More Signs of Spring: Seed & Plant Catalogs

calendula

Yes, even when they begin arriving in October (earliest I’ve ever received them — beginning in 2008), I know seed and plant catalogs are true ‘signs of spring.’ They harken my attention to the fact that no matter if the weather outside is frightful, the ensuing springtime will be delightful. They beckon me to begin thinking about what my garden plans will be for the fast-approaching season, for as we all know it will be here before we know it!

Seed and plant catalogs can be an excellent educational tool that don’t really require a great deal of intense study — but do peruse to your heart’s content, of course. Teeming with descriptives as to what to expect from the particular plant, growing specifications and requirements. The beautiful color photos to show the reader what a mature plant will look like — in ideal growing conditions, of course.

A really great seed or plant catalog will inspire ideas for using or enjoying the grown plant and perhaps recipes, as applicable. For the most part, these catalogs are written to be enjoyed by gardeners of all levels of experience — from beginner to the most experienced.

In recent years, many exciting plant developments have been made in the horticulture world. ne very interesting such advance is the disease-resistant elm tree. By reviewing seed and plant catalogs, a gardener can not only make plans for the approaching growing season, they can remain updated on the most recent developments and choose new and improved varieties of old-time favorites.

Have you been receiving plant and seed catalogs?

What are some of your favorite catalogs?

Please leave a comment about your favorites… let’s share and discuss the most interesting catalogs we’ve been receiving — and enjoying!

Big Trees

big-trees1 Did you know that there is a National Register of Big Trees? I recently discovered this, when I received the 2009 National Register of Big Trees Calendar, a program of American Forests sponsored by The Davey Tree Expert Company.

Since 1940, citizens have helped American Forests find the largest of 826 species of trees in the US; those champions are listed on the National Register of Big Trees.

For more information about registry, Big Trees, resources, click on this link:
http://www.americanforests.org/resources/bigtrees/

Anticipation for Spring!

tulip-blk-parrot

Around Thanksgiving a luscious assortment of bulbs arrived, that has all of us anticipating their appearance this spring!

It is a special Black-and-White collection of tulips and narcissus:

N. Misty Glen

N. Bridal Crown

N. Ice Wings

T. Pasionnale

T. Weisse Berliner

T. Silverstream

T. Black Parrot

T. Black Hero

Leucojum aestivum

This precious shipment was 10 pounds of 100 bulbs in total! With our fairly mild weather at the time of receiving them, we got them planted easily, scheduling planting segments around our appreciated rain showers.

While I can hardly wait to see the results of our planting efforts, I have to share with you I most look forward to seeing the Black Parrot Tulip!  If you click on the linked text or picture of this gorgeous tulip (above), you can read more about it.

Upon receipt and inspection, I must say they are the nicest bulbs I think I have ever planted in our Herbal Treasures’ Garden! They were much larger that the bulbs you might buy at many of the national garden centers and big box stores. I have purchased them at these outlets many times before, myself. While shipping of spring bulbs has ceased, you can peruse, anticipate, order and plant for summer — and fall, 2009!

This was a very special surprise gift from my friends at Brent and Becky’s Bulbs

Do You have yours? Herb Society of America’s Essential Guide to Growing and Cooking with Herbs

HSA Bk I recently caught wind that The Herb Society of America’s herbaliciously-tremendous book Essential Guide to Growing and Cooking with Herbs is going into a third printing. This is great news, because proceeds from this book do go toward the National Herb Garden located at the United States National Arboretum in Washington, DC.

If you do not have a copy of this book or are looking for a great gift idea, I highly recommend it! I wrote about it when it was first published in the fall of 2007. You can see my review here, by clicking on this link:

http://snipurl.com/9kxy6

For more information about this book, click on this link:

http://snipurl.com/1u5kn

I am honored to be included as a contributor to this book.

Getting Ready for Spring…

Seed Packets

During my recent visit, I was amazed at the selection of seeds at the nearby garden center!

Here are seeds to add to our Herbal Treasures Garden in the 2009 growing season:
Celosia, Red Velvet

Centaurea, Imperial Bouquet Mix

Cornflower, Tall Mixed Flowers

Cosmos, Summer Dreams & Summer Sunshine Mix

Marigold, Calendula Apricot Daisy, Citrus Mix & Cottage Red

Moonflower, Giant White

Nasturtium, Empress of India, Jewel Mix, Lipstick & Papaya Cream

Passion Flower, Blue (Heirloom!)

Zinnia, Candy Cane Red on White & Envy (Heirloom!)

Veggies go great with herbs and fresh-cut flowers from the garden, so I also chose:

Mesclun, Salad Mix, Spicy Mix &  Sweet Salad Mix

Tomato, Yellow Pear

Now, a sage word of advice to all those other rampant-to-get-started gardeners out there, also bitten by the ‘spring bug’:


  • When purchasing your seed packets, be sure to read the information about the plant on the back of the package. Find out when you need to start the seeds.
  • For some, you may need to begin them indoors, several weeks in advance.  Be sure to not begin immediately planting them outdoors, unless you live in a climate that is already in the growing season.
  • Avoid the great temptation to begin your garden ‘early,’ under the often false impression that spring has come early, only to lose the fruits of your labor, with the frost nipping them all in the bud.

Next: I will share with you a lucious-sounding collection of bulbs that we are eagerly anticipating their appearance this spring!

What are your garden plans for the 2009 growing season?

Please leave a comment and share a bit of your garden and your plans with us here…

Ready for Spring?!

Seed Packets Some folks have had more than their share of wintry weather, and while cold temperatures came into our area earlier than usual, along with unanticipated great intensity, the last few days have been nearly spring-like here.

In the meantime, we are receiving seed and plant catalogs daily, as you may be. In my observation, the mailings seem to get earlier each season. I received the first catalog in early November, for the next growing season. Perhaps regularly seeing these catalogs along with the unseasonably ‘warm’ weather (50-60F), inspires my thinking “spring.”

So I admit to being bitten by the ‘spring’ bug — early, without merit at this point. While seeming to suffer the early blast of cold, I know that winter is still with us. Due to this stark reality, my early spring fever is completely unwarranted. I have not truly earned this status, having not yet fully completed this cycle. I know January well, and expect that cold smack upside the head anytime soon… it reminds me that we are in a New Year, to make the most of it, and that I am alive!

Yesterday, I went to a nearby home improvement center and discovered a tremendous selection of seeds. Upon checking out, the cashier confirmed my thoughts: they were offering the seeds earlier than usual!

What seeds did I buy? The list was long, so I will include it in my next post…

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