Category: Garden

Five Edibles You Can Grow Indoors

Here we are smack dab in the middle of winter and I’m starting to miss walking to the vegetable garden, snips in hand, to gather ingredients for dinner. To tide me over until it’s time to plant spring crops I’m actually growing a few things indoors. I won’t be harvesting any tomatoes, but at least I can get my hands dirty and enjoy the satisfaction of adding a few fresh ingredients to my recipes.

Here are five edibles you can grow indoors this winter.

Edibles to Grow Indoors

  • Lemons and Limes
    Citrus won’t give you instant gratification, but you can enjoy the sweet scent of the blooms while you wait for the fruits. Look for a variety that is known to thrive indoors and produces year-round such as Meyer lemon or Bearss lime. Place the tree near a bright, southern or western facing window and away from sources of heat. Deep soak the soil every 5 to 7 days. Citrus prefer slightly acidic soil and high nitrogen fertilizer. Feed with a slow release fertilizer designed for citrus plants and follow the manufacturer’s directions.
  • Sprouts
    Soak seeds in water overnight. Drain, rinse and drain again. Place the seeds in a quart sized Mason jar. Cover the top with cheese cloth secured with a rubber band. Set the jar in a dark place propped at a slight angle. Rinse and drain the seeds with cold water twice a day for about 4 to 5 days, at which point you will have mature sprouts. Place the jar of sprouts in indirect light and they will green up. Rinse in cold water and store in the refrigerator.
  • Micro Greens
    Micro greens are the baby leaves of fast sprouting seeds such as lettuce, radish and basil. The leaves are harvested while still small. To grow micro greens sow the seeds in sterile potting soil, cover with about ¼ inch of soil and mist the soil daily to keep moist. Keep the seeds warm until they begin to sprout then move the container to a sunny window. Ideally the plants need 12 hours of light for healthy growth so a grow light might be required. Depending on the type of plant you grow you should have harvestable leaves in 14 to 30 days.
  • Garlic Greens
    Garlic greens are a great substitute for fresh chives or scallions. Pot up about 10 organic cloves (ne need to peel) in a 4-inch container. Place in a sunny window and water consistently. Harvest the leaves when they are about 8 inches tall. When the cloves stop sprouting toss them into the compost bin and pot up another 10 cloves.
  • Mushrooms
    Growing mushrooms is pretty easy when you start with a kit. Everything you need comes in the package and all you need to do is keep the growing medium moist. Heck, you don’t even have to take these mushroom growing kits from Peaceful Valley out of the box.

Mythological Amaryllis

In Greek mythology Amaryllis was a lovesick shepherdess who stood at the door of her intended every night piercing her heart with a golden arrow. From her wounds sprung an exquisite flower.

Now that’s what I call the hard way to grow these gorgeous blooms. Unlike the Amaryllis in Greek mythology you can grow dramatic blooms this winter without a single puncture to the heart. Simply pot up a few bulbs this fall. With a little water and sunshine you’ll have breathtaking blooms in just over a month.

Here are a few varieties I’m trying this year. I feel certain that if Amaryllis had these to offer her flower-loving beau her fate would have been much rosier.

Amaryllis Dancing Queen

Clockwise from left: ‘Dancing Queen’, ‘Double Dragon’, ‘Blossom Peacock’.

Amaryllis Clown

Amaryllis ‘Clown’

Amaryllis Varieties

Clockwise from left: ‘Aphrodite’, ‘Red Pearl’, ‘Vera’, ‘Elvas’.

 

Eleven Edibles to Grow this Fall

Getting the kids back to school and heading to the lake for the long Labor Day weekend aren’t the only ways we kick off autumn. Planting cool weather crops such as lettuce, broccoli and spinach is also an activity that signals the advent of the season.

Many gardeners don’t realize that the end of summer doesn’t signal the end of home grown vegetables and herbs. There are quite a few things we can grow during the cool, short days of fall. Here are eleven of my top favorites.

Lettuce


Spinach


Broccoli


Arugula


Cabbage


Dill


Parsley


Radish


Chives


Chard


Kale

Fall Vegetable Garden Tips

You can harvest leafy greens just a few weeks after planting.

Find out the first frost date in your area and compare it to the maturity dates of plants. This will help you determine what and when to plant.

Use cold frames and frost blankets to extend the growing season.

August Bloom – Salvia

Silent all summer the late-season salvias in my garden are starting to sing this month. Drought-tolerant, long-blooming and vibrant I rely on salvias, or sages as they are sometimes called, to turn up the color volume from August through the first freeze in late autumn.

Salvia 'Sparkler Red'

Saliva 'Sparkler Red', Marigold 'Tiger Eye' and Pineapple Sage 'Golden Delicious'

I love the scent of pineapple sage. This image was shot in October and as you can see the salvias are still showing off.

Salvia 'Wendy's Wish', ColorBlaze Limelife Coleus, and Salvia 'Blue Bedder'

Autumn sage (Saliva greggi)

Mexican Sage 'Santa Barbara' (Salvia leucantha)

Hummingbird sage (Salvia guaranitica)

 

July Giveaway – Laguna Ponds Urban Water Bowl

I know a certain someone named Linda in New Jersey who is enjoying the soothing sounds of a brand new water feature. Linda was the winner of the Laguna Ponds Giveaway, a contest hosted by myself and the folks over at Laguna last spring. The prize was a new water feature provided by Laguna Ponds and gardens designed by yours truly.

In June we invaded Linda’s home to disrupt her life and landscape for two days to put in the water feature and new plantings. As it turns out Linda and I had a lot to talk about. She’s a poultry fanatic and a floral designer, lives on a farm and spearheads the local farmer’s market. I was tickled to be able to add to the charm of her already fabulous home.

 

When it came to the design of the beds around the water feature I used a combination of Linda’s favorite plants along with a few of my picks and some edibles.

I have to say thanks to Gary and the staff of Twin Pond Garden Center and Country Market. They were amazingly helpful and the garden center is something to experience. They’ve got a deli and country market there so you can get a fresh-baked apple pie, locally grown produce and some good looking plants for your garden all in one place. Now that’s what I call a one-stop-shop!

Linda is a winner for getting a brand new water feature and flower beds, I’m a winner for getting to spend a few days with my friends at Laguna, and we want you to be a winner too. In the comments section below tell me how you would use a Laguna Ponds Urban Water Bowl for a chance to win one. I’ll select a winner at random on Wednesday July 31, 2013.

Congratulations to Suzanne Mullen! You are the winner of the Laguna Ponds Urban Water Bowl! Your comment was selected using Random.org. Check your email for next steps. Thank you to everyone who entered. More giveaways are coming so check back.

 

Five Plants that Beat the Heat

Does your garden have hot flashes? Keep it cool with these colorful blooms from my Platinum Collection by Proven Winners® that can take the heat.

Luscious® Citrus Blend™ Lantana – The blooms on Citrus Blend® are clusters of tiny brilliant red-orange flowers with a few yellow ones in the center. It seems the hotter it gets, the more this plant flowers.
Annual except in zones 10 – 11; full sun; mounding habit; 24 to 36 inches tall.

Proven Winners Luscious® Citrus Blend™ Lantana paired with blue verbena.

‘Primal Scream’ Daylily – This award winning variety has spectacular 7.5 to 8.5 inch, glimmering tangerine orange, gold dusted blossoms. It’s a show stopper!
Perennial; zones 3 – 9; full sun to partial shade; 34 inches tall.

Proven Winners 'Primal Scream' Daylily

‘Cheyenne Sky’ Red Switch Grass – A chameleon in the garden. Over the course of the summer the blue-green foliage turns wine red. By the beginning of fall the entire clump is drenched in color. The flower panicles are deep purple. Compact 3 foot height makes it easier to work into home gardens and combo containers.
Perennial; zones 4 – 9; full sun; upright habit; 36 inches tall.

Proven Winners 'Cheyenne Sky' Red Switch Grass

Summerific™ ‘Cranberry Crush’ Hibiscus – A colossus in the Garden! Summerific™ ‘Cranberry Crush’ has extraordinary 7-8″ flowers of dusky burgundy, is a compact grower, and a profuse bloomer even into the fall. Its flowers are irresistible to hummingbirds.
Perennial zones 4a – 9b; full sun to partial shade; upright habit; 36 to 48 inches tall and 48 to 60 inches wide.

Summerific™ ‘Cranberry Crush’ Hibiscus

Lo & Behold® ‘Purple Haze’ Butterfly Bush – Dark purple-blue panicles of flowers radiate outward from this low-growing butterfly bush. The blooms are fragrant and a favorite of hummingbirds and butterflies. Deer resistant and non-invasive.
Perennial; zones 5 – 9; full sun; spreading habit; 36 inches tall.

Lo & Behold® ‘Purple Haze’ Butterfly Bush

 

Enter to win a Proven Winners® WaterWise® container watering kit by telling me which of these five “beat the heat” plants is your favorite. I’ll select a winner using Random.org on Wednesday, July 24, 2013. Use the comments form below to enter. Good luck!

 

Congratulations to Rosa Ghosheh! You are the winner of the Proven Winners® WaterWise® container watering kit! Check your email for a message from us.

 

July Bloom – Daylilies

Daylilies need to come with a warning—these plants can be habit forming! Once you have grown them for yourself, I think you’ll understand why they have such an enthusiastic following.

The genus name for daylily, hemerocallis, was derived from two Greek words meaning “beautiful for a day.” Each bloom lives and dies in the course of a day, but a single plant produces a plethora of buds that flower for weeks. Here are a few that I grow in my garden.

'Joan Senior' Daylily

'Going Bananas' Daylily is part of my Platinum Collection from Proven Winners®

'Mary Todd' Daylily

'Barbara Mitchell' Daylily

'Strawberry Candy' Daylily

'Persian Market' Daylily

Hemerocallis fulva is often referred to as ditch lily because it is found growing wild along the roads in ditches.

'Primal Scream' Daylily is part of my Platinum Collection from Proven Winners®

'Charles Johnston' Daylily

'Red Ribbons' Daylily

'Nosferatu' Daylily

'Night Beacon' Daylily

 

If you love daylilies too, check out the American Hemerocallis Society.

 

Homegrown Wedding Flowers

Click the cover image to read more of Allen's wedding bouquet ideas on AYMag.com.Whether you’re saying “I do” in spring, summer or fall, there are a bounty of blooms that are easy to grow for use in arrangements and bouquets. Here are a few of my favorite, garden stems for these three seasons.

Spring

Daffodils – If you’ve been to my farm, you know daffodils are one of my favorites. Plant the bulbs in the late fall and you’ll enjoy vases full of the yellow charmers as soon as the temperatures begin to warm.

Peonies – Peonies are one of the hardiest and most resilient plants in the garden. What’s more their prime time for blooming starts in mid-May and runs through June—perfect for the wedding season. If you plan to cut peonies from the garden, I suggest selecting half-opened blooms, simply because they will last longer.

Tulips – You can find a tulip in just about any shade and there are a variety of bloom shapes too. Plant bulbs in fall. Check the bloom time for the variety to make sure it will be in flower at the time of your ceremony.

Bouquet Idea
Contrast the cup shape of tulips with the soft curves of calla lilies. I think yellow calla lilies paired with pale yellow to cream tulips would be lovely.

Summer

Hydrangeas – Because hydrangeas are so full you only need a few stems to create a lush bouquet. It’s important to know Hydrangeas do have a tendency to lose their vitality, so you’ll want to keep them in a cool place and give them plenty of water after they are cut. If possible, cut them the morning of the wedding to ensure the freshest bouquet.

Lilies – Lilies will come back year after year and be prolific producers of open full blooms. White Oriental lilies make for an elegant and fragrant bouquet. For the best color selection choose an Asiatic variety. Be sure to remove lily stamens to keep the pollen from getting on clothes.

Zinnias – Plant zinnias and you’ll enjoy a bounty of wildflower-like beauty from early summer until the first frost. I like cutting these and loosely arranging a mason jar for an effortless look. For a bouquet, I suggest tying with natural raffia.

Bouquet Idea
For casual, but colorful flowers mix red, yellow and orange with pink and green zinnias.

Fall

Sunflowers – An iconic symbol of the close of summer and start of fall, cut a few sunflower stalks and loosely assemble with ribbon for a tied bouquet or simply enjoy their beauty in tall metal or glass vase.

Cockscomb – With a vase life of 5-10 days, cockscomb’s modern look makes for a hardy bouquet. Mix with other seasonal selections from your florist or market, such as button mums, for a fall display.

Dahlias – One of the most cheerful blooms in the garden, you’ll want to plant your dahlias around the same time you put tomatoes in the ground. You can expect to have cut flowers from late summer until the first frost.

Bouquet Idea
Any of these blooms would be lovely for a monochromatic arrangement or bouquet. All three offer varieties that produce different bloom forms so you can pick flowers in the same color family, but with different shapes.

June Bloom – Hydrangea macrophylla

How many of you remember the part of Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty where the fairy godmothers fight over whether Sleeping Beauty’s ball gown should be pink or blue? I think of that scene every time the old-fashioned mophead hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla) burst into bloom in June. The colors are so rich they are the stuff of magic.

It’s not a fairy godmother that determines whether this hydrangea’s blooms are pink or blue, it is aluminum. Lots of aluminum makes for blue flowers, lack of aluminum and the blooms will be pink.

The pH of the soil determines how much aluminum H. macrophylla can absorb.

Sweet soils (pH of 6.0 to 6.2) = pink hydrangea blooms.

Neutral soils (pH of 5.5 to 6.5) = purple blooms.

Acidic soils (pH of 5.5 and lower) = blue blooms.

Add lime to the soil for pink blooms; add aluminum sulfate for blue blooms. The amount of lime or aluminum sulfate needed depends on the soil composition.

If you are dead set on your hydrangea being pink or blue, grow it in a container where you can easily control the soil pH.

Deer Resistant Plants? Fact or Fiction?

Raise your hand if deer like to graze in your garden. How many different tactics have you tried to protect your plants? Have you tried hanging bars of soap from tree limbs, sprayed predator urine or scattered human hair around flower beds?

While these inventive measures may work temporarily, a long term solution requires a holistic approach. First, you have to give up the idea that you are ever going to deer proof your garden. Unless you build a 7-foot tall fence around your place, there’s not much you can do to keep them out. Next, make your garden less appealing to deer. Stop planting their favorites like tulips, roses and hostas and choose plants that deer are less inclined to eat. A few plant characteristics to look out for are fuzzy foliage, an antiseptic aroma and a bad taste.

Are there plants that are 100 percent deer resistant? No. The truth is that deer will eat anything when food is scarce, but if your garden is filled with plants that deer find unpleasant, there is a good chance they will move on to the delicacies in your neighbor’s yard.