Which Seed Catalog to Choose From?

January 9th, 2010

I might have a problem! I started requesting seed catalogs in the mail, to help me in selecting the perfect collection of seeds for my garden. Wow! I didn’t think that it would be so overwhelming, because I didn’t realize how many I had requested. What do I do now? Toss them all together, throw them up in the air, and whichever lands in my hands are the ones I order from. However, I don’t know if I could get that many catalogs in the air at one time.

That might be a silly way of going about it, but it could work. However, may I suggest another approach? Let’s start with a plan: a plan of the garden. How large of a space is going to be your garden? Do you want it to be small enough just to enjoy the harvest throughout the season, or do you want to plant enough to can or freeze your bounty?

Have an idea of what you want to plant from seed and what you will be planting from actual live plants. Normally, tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, and broccoli are vegetables that you would plant live sets or plants into the ground. Beans, peas, carrots and other root crops, corn, also lettuces and other leafy greens will be planted directly in the soil by seed. I realize this is a condensed list of vegetables, so more information might be needed about which method is correct for the vegetable you may want to plant.

Order the seeds that you want to plant in your garden. However, I have never ordered live vegetable plants for home delivery, and this service is available, but I just don’t know though–I have seen how packages are handled and delivered…you make that decision. I am going to start some of my seeds indoors, ahead of time, but I will be getting some of the plants from the local greenhouse in town.

It has been funny to see what people insist on planting in their garden and why they plant certain vegetables. For some, it might be for the simple fact that they remember their parents or grandparents planting those vegetables. For others, it might be that they don’t quite understand what will be produced. I remember talking with one excited family about what they had planted. While I was working in a garden center, they called to ask about how soon they could expect zucchini from the plants that had just germinated and were pushing up through the soil. As I reported that it would be several weeks before they could be tempted to pick their produce, I ask how many plants they planted. They reported that they had planted a 20ft row with seeds about 6 inches apart. I wished them good luck and locked my doors. If you don’t like how beets taste, don’t plants beets just because your mother and father did. Know what you want to plant and how those plants will produce.

Know when the average last frost date for your area is. I currently live in planting USDA Zone 4, average last frost date in that area is around the 20th of May. Call your local County Extension Agent for the correct date, or check with your favorite garden center. By knowing this date, it will help you with what you can plant outside safely. But remember that this is an average date. The last freeze can happen before and also after this date.

Back to the catalogs; the options and selections that you can choose from can be mind boggling. Where does one begin? What do you choose? How much do you order? Oh the questions! Maybe this is why the catalogs get tossed in the air. All companies offer similar seed choices, yet some seeds are exclusive. You will look at the catalogs and not realize there are so many varieties to choose from for planting green beans, or corn, even radishes have a lot of differences. Compare the harvest dates, check to see if the seeds germinate in cool soils or do you have to wait until the first of June. Read, Read, Read.

If you haven’t received any garden seed catalogs in the mail, and you are feeling left out, you can actually do a search on the internet for FREE SEED CATALOGS and start requesting. Over the years, I have had experience and great success with Henry Fields, Gurney’s Seed, Burpee Seeds, Johnny’s Select Seeds, Thompson and Morgan, and several other companies. This year I am trying a new company called Territorial Seed Company out of Oregon. If you request their current edition of catalog and find out that it is gone, most of them have their own website to browse and select seeds from.

The list and possibilities seem endless. Just think of the conversations that could be started when you bring to the local church potluck, a purple carrot salad, stripped pickled beets, or a seedless tomato salad. Have I got your interest yet?

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Raised Flower Beds

June 22nd, 2009

As we help me with my homework drive around town in the spring, I like to look at what other people have done with the landscaping of their property- particularly flower beds.

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We have a new house with basically no landscape design. And, with no money to hire a professional landscape designer, we are left to our own creative devices. Hence the driving around looking for real life examples.

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Raised flower beds have caught my attention.

Photo provided by ladyheart

Photo provided by ladyheart

Raised flower beds are creative alternatives to the traditional flower beds that lay flush with the ground. Raised flower bed design is extremely versatile and personal. You can raise a bed to waist height if you like or leave it a few inches off of the ground. It all depends on your own gardening needs. And, their design can be customized to compliment your landscaping style. They can be made of brick, stone, concrete, or wood. Here are a few features to raised gardening that make it a desirable option in your landscape design.

• You can create the right conditions for special plants that don’t thrive in your soil.

• A raised bed allows for better drainage and most plants do better in well-drained soil anyway.

• Raised beds make gardening easier for people with joint conditions because they don’t have to do as much bending and kneeling. They also work great for the wheelchair bound.

• They make beautiful, stylish additions to the hardscaping of a property as they add new depth and personalization.

• In small paved spaces, they are often the only means for gardening and displaying plants.

• They’re a great space saver. Without needing to till or cultivate between rows, you can plant rows of flowers closer together and have higher yields.

• The soil won’t wash away.

• You can hand cultivate since you’re dealing with nice top soil that isn’t compacted.

• If a raised bed is built with a wide enough coping, you can have extra seating in your garden.

Raised flower beds are a great alternative for use in landscaping. I love how they soften the contrast between the yard and paving or the wall and yard. It’s great to know your options when building flower beds and designing the landscape of your yard. What’s your favorite part about having a raised flower bed?

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Eradicating Weeds in the Garden

June 19th, 2009

One of the biggest sources of frustration for a gardener is our nemesis, the weed. Weeds seem to grow wherever they want, whenever they want. It doesn’t seem to matter if anything else will grow in that location or not. Invariably, a weed will grow and do it well.

So what are some options for getting rid of those pesky troublemakers? Of course there are many chemical solutions for weeds, but if you are looking for something a little more organic, then have I got a video for you! This week’s video is full of some really great ideas to get rid of those pesky weeds once and for all. And the video even explains why weeds grow and how we can inadvertently make things worse for ourselves. And who wants that to happen, right?

Now that you have seen the video, which techniques will you use in your garden? Do you have other solutions for getting rid of those nuisance-causing weeds? Leave me a comment and share.

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