The Plant Farm

"Because Life is Better in the Garden"


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Add Excitement to Your Planters

Planter Season is here! Have you decided how you want to create your planters? Try adding a nontraditional plant for interest, or different colors and textures. Have you ever considered using a tropical plant?

Adding House Plants

Spider_Plant_PlanterLast year I used a spider plant as the center focal point with a white geranium, white lobelia, white bacopa and vinca vine. The spider plant added the height I needed as well as a different texture against the white flowers. An added bonus came when the spider plant put off pups as they hung over the edge of the pot. It created just the interest I was looking for.

This year try your favorite house plant in your planters and see what you can come up with.

TIP: If you want to bring your houseplant into the house after the season, the easiest thing to do is to leave the houseplant in the grower pot that it was purchased in and plant pot and all in your planter. This will allow you to remove the plant easily without worrying about separating the roots from your annuals.

Adding Tropical PlantsBanana_Plant_Planter

My father used a large red leaf banana plant for the edge of his patio with a combo of trailing petunias. By doing so he added a large height item to the patio which created some extra shade to sit under in the height of the summer heat. This combination would also work extremely well near a pool creating a tropical feel.

Getting Ideas

This year I’m thinking about using a tricolor wandering Jew. I haven’t decided what to place around it; however, I think the tricolor (purple, silver and green) leaves flowing over the side of the pot would make a really nice trailing effect.

This time of year there are tons of garden magazines from which to get ideas. You can also find photos online to give you inspiration. One of our favorite places to look is Better Homes and Gardens. Check out their ‘Gallery of Beautiful Container Gardens’ here. Don’t forget Pinterest for ideas too!

If you need a little hands on inspiration, come to The Plant Farm for our Proven Winners weekend on April 19th and 20th with special guest Ron Newble, our Proven Winners representative.

By: Jessica Creach


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Cold Crops Questions Answered

This time of year, you hear the term ‘cold crops’ in your garden center. While everyone is anxious for tomatoes, if you try to plant them now you will likely have a frost that will kill the tender plant. You can successfully plant cold crops now to satisfy your garden ‘itch’ until the soil warms up enough to handle the tender crops.

What is a cold cropCold_Crops_Blog

A cold crop is a term used for vegetable starts/plants that can take a little bit of frost and can be planted in the ground before the soil warms up. For our zone, cold crops include:

  • beets
  • broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • cabbage
  • cauliflower
  • lettuce
  • onions

These plants are also pre-hardened off for weeks before they are available for purchase; they have been out in a greenhouse exposed to cold temperatures for best performance in your garden.

So while you are waiting for the precious tomatoes, you can find these plants on the shelves in April. If you are really into gardening and can’t wait to start your garden this is a line of plants that will let you get a little fix till the rest can go into the ground.

Happy gardening!


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Should You Plant Onions or Leeks?

Many people, including me, have been baffled by the difference between onions, green onions and leeks. I always thought that leeks were just really big green onions, however that is not the case. In fact green onions are just very young regular onions. They are harvested before the bulb forms and are planted more closely together than when growing to full maturity onions.

Leeks are completely different. Leeks do not form bulbs. They grow a thicker, fuller stock and a tougher stem above the ground. So the question posed by our title… Onions or Leeks? really should be answered individually by taste although there are a few growing differences as well:

White Onion in the GroundOnions:

  • Stronger more Pungent Flavor
  • Require Full Sun Growing

Leek

Leeks:

  • Mild Onion Flavor
  • Require Full Sun Growing but can handle cooler temperatures than onions
  • Can handle shorter amount of daylight hours than onions

If you have had trouble with your onions molding before you get them out of the ground to be used, try leeks. Because they can handle cooler temperatures, leeks can be left in the ground longer (until you want to use them).

Leek preparation and storage:

Because of the tough skin and layers of a leek, they trap dirt in their layers more so than other types of onions. To clean leaks, cut the bottoms (root end) off and wear the white flesh fades into the green stems. (The dark green portion of the leek should be discarded.) Then slice the leek lengthwise down the center. Place the leek in a container filled with water. While under water, fan the layers out then turn cut side down in the water and let sit for several minutes. The dirt that was trapped in the layers will fall to the bottom of the container.

Leeks do not last as long in storage as Onions and need to be refrigerated. If you have a good size crop of leeks you can also freeze them, however it is recommended to use the leek frozen rather than letting them thaw before using.


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Urban Gardener: Tips for March

March in the Northwest is unpredictable as well as April. Here are some things that you should be thinking about in your northwest garden this month.

Last year’s refuse needs to either be worked into the ground in our gardens or if old stalks and stems are too large and bulky you can add it to your compost pile.

compost binCompost piles are valuable assets for building humus material for the soil. Humus (or rotted plant stems and leaves) is essential for well aerated soil profiles. If you are using a compost pile, take the time to add nitrogen, bone meal and other nutrients into the pile. The nitrogen will help to break down the carbon while the bonemeal and other elements will be available in a usable form when we add the finished compost back into the garden. For more information on how to start your own compost pile at home click here.

If you are able to work last years decayed plant material into the soil, make sure and mix any additives into the garden before you turn the soil over.

March is a time when all the cold weather weeds and grasses begin to germinate and grow. So, if you can turn the soil in your garden a couple of times prior to planting the early crops, you will be assured of less work when it comes to weeding the garden later. As a gardener you should want to watch and when there is a new flush of weed seeds germinating and appearing you can turn the soil so all the small weeds will die.

As the end of March approaches it will be time to plant:

  • Potatoes
  • Strawberries
  • Cold Crops
    • Cabbage
    • Broccoli
    • Brussels Sprouts
    • Lettuce and any other leafy cool weather crop

Be sure to watch our Facebook page, website and YouTube Channel for more information about Spring preparation and planting.

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Got Deer? Tips for a Deer-free (or as close as you can get) Garden

Are you tired of coming out to find your beautiful bulbs with no flowers left? This is happening more and more. However there is good news, there is two way to combat against these crimes against flowers.

1)      On the market there are now several products you spray that detour deer from wanting to eat your plants. They are not harmful to you, your children, other pets, deer or flowers they just give off an odor that the deer wishes to not be around

2)       There are some bulbs that are deer resistant. Deer resistant however does not mean deer won`t touch them, it just mean unless they are really hungry they will avoid them. They are the following:

Allium

Crocus

Dwarf Iris

Early Stardrift

Fritillaraia

Glory of the Snow

Grape Hyacinth

Lily of the Valley

Scilla

Snowdrops

Winter Aconite

Narcissus Or Daffodils

Hyacinth

These sets when combined should help greatly with your problem however if your deer are very hungry nothing will keep them from eating.


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Seed Catalogs in the Mail Means Spring is Coming

Love_GreenhouseIt’s nearing the end of January, Spring may seem a long way away but now is the time to be planning out your garden. Think in terms of cool weather crops that can be grown, finished, and followed with the main course like potatoes, corn, beans, tomatoes and cucumbers. Don’t forget about the berry plants. I like to walk through my urban garden in the cool of the evening and graze off of the assorted berries that are ready, plucking blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries as I go. Later in August the thornless blackberries come on; someday I’ll get my wife to make a cobbler, if I can quit eating them long enough to pick four to five cups. Think edible landscaping. Why maintain for looks alone when with even less work you will get the opportunity to put food on the table.  I put those thornless Blackberries on a trellis blocking my bedroom window from the hot westerly sun, they really love it there.
 
Now that February is almost here, the seed catalogs are starting to show up. These are great to look at but don’t forget about the online storesshop_heirloom_seeds like www.SeedCatalog.com. They have the best selection of Heirloom seeds that I know of and its owned by a personal friend of mine down in Oregon. Every seed is hand packaged for superior performance. A lot of experts claim that Heirloom varieties have more nutrition packed into them. For a good selection of seeds that do well in our area look in Garden Centers like The Plant Farm, many of the varieties that are available on their racks I have trialed in my own gardens. As you plan your garden selections don’t forget about color texture and nutrition, in the truest sense of the word, you are indeed what you eat so carefully consider how you are going provide your body with the well balanced nourishment necessary to maintain a vibrant, active and healthy life style. We have some control over how nutritional our produce is also by building our soil too. You can join us for our Build Your Soil with The Urban Gardener (that’s me) class in March to learn more. Check out all of The Plant Farm’s classes to see if one might be right for you. CLASSES
 
If you’re thinking about losing some of those winter pounds, don’t forget that most vegetables are an “all you can eat for free” on the points system.
 
Yeah it’s snowing outside but spring is coming, I know because I just got another seed catalog in the mail.
 
Happy planning
By: Alan Creach


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Planning Your Vegetable Garden for 2013

So you want to grow your own vegetables… do you know when it is the best time to plant them? What if you are looking for a veggie start and can’t find it? I have been there. Searching all of my local garden centers to no avail. What I didn’t know is that the particular veggie I was looking for could only be started from seed. We have compiled a little (or big) list for you so you can plan AND execute your veggie garden like a pro this year!

There are several plants that need to be planted at different times and in different ways if you want to have them in your garden. Be sure to go to the garden center early if you are looking for specific varieties,  because without fail (Murphy’s Law) if you don’t go early they will be sold out. A little planning ahead will help you to be the early bird who gets the worm.

Here is a list of veggies that we carry and when they begin to be sold at The Plant Farm.

Beets—Early to Mid April Examples of Early to Mid April Crops

Broccoli—Early to Mid April

Brussels Sprouts– Early to Mid April

Cabbage—Early to Mid April

Cantaloupe—Late April to Early May

Cauliflower—Early to Mid April

Cucumber – Late April to Early May

Eggplant –Late April to May

Lettuce –Early to Mid April

Onions –Early to Mid April

Peppers –Late April to Early May

Pumpkins –Late April to Early May

Strawberries – Mid to Late March

Tomatoes –Late April to Early May

Squash –Late April to Early May

Watermelon –Late April to Early May

Zucchini—Late April to Early May

Just a quick note: If you are looking for a specific variety of say TOMATOES… be sure to go in early. I know, I know… if planted to early tomatoes will surely freeze out, but you can keep them in your garage or on your deck close to the house. They are just one of those things that goes quick (at least the favorite varieties such as: Early Girl, La Roma, Sweet 100, Sun Sugar and Early Goliaths)

Other items that need to be seeded and when to start them in order to plant around May 15th:

Artichokes –in seeding flats  Mid February to Mid March

Beans – In ground after May 15th

Carrots – In ground in mid march

Celery — in seeding flats  Mid February to Mid March

Corn –In ground after May 15th

Okra – In ground in Late May

Parsnip – In ground after May 15th

Peas – In ground in Early April

Radish – In ground in April

Other Vegetable Starters

Asparagus Crowns – In the ground in April

Onions sets – In ground in April

Leeks – In ground in April

Potatoes – In ground in April (unless of course you take the potatoes in a bag class at The Plant Farm… we will be planting potatoes in March – traditionally planted on St. Patrick’s Day)

Be sure to check out our class offerings as we bring the benefits of gardening to you www.plant-farm.com. Why?

Because Life is Better in the Garden.

by: Jessica Creach

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