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Home Remedies

As the gardening season warms up, gardeners begin making many trips to the greenhouse to pick up plants, fertilizers, animal repellant and more.  There can be a lot of tools that go into maintaining a garden and believe it or not, there are lots of tools you already have at home.  Using some of these home remedies can save you an extra trip to the store.

One of the first home remedies is to extend the life of fresh cut flowers. Try putting a penny and a pinch of sugar into the vase of water with the cut flowers, and it will help keep them fresh longer. This way the cosmos and roses you cut from your garden will stay blooming on your table a little bit longer.

Another plant food that you may have at home already is tea. Believe it or not tea is a natural plant food that acid-loving plants especially like.  You can brew the tea and water your hydrangeas, rhododendrons and ferns with this. If you don’t want to brew it first, sprinkle new or used tea leaves around the base of these plants and then cover them with mulch. With each time you water, the nutrients will go into the soil and feed the plants.

For the coffee drinkers, used coffee grounds can be great for the garden.  Using them as mulch around your edible plants, tomatoes and blueberry bushes helps add organic nutrients to the soil. Coffee grounds can also be used to deter slugs away from plants. Something in the texture of the grounds keeps these pests away from your plants.

Bananas are also useful in the garden when you are done using them in the kitchen.  Cut up the peels and bury them around the base of your rosebushes to help prevent aphids from attacking your plant.  You can also use overripe bananas to attract butterflies. These will also, however, attract bees and other unwanted critters if left out overnight, so be sure to place them off to the side or where these insects won’t interfere with any outdoor activities.

There are a few more home remedies for dealing with insects. The first is using aluminum foil strips in with your mulch to help keeps bugs out of your garden. Salt is another natural pest killer. Pouring salt on slugs and snails will dry them up and help rid your garden of them.  Slugs and snails can also be killed by pouring beer into a shallow dish and set it outside in your garden. The bugs are attracted to the beer and never quite make it out.

Salt can also be a great weed killer. Mixing one part salt to two parts water and pouring it directly onto weeds can help prevent the growth of these unwanted plants. This is mostly good for areas like your sidewalks, patios and driveways.

Finally, newspaper is a great tool to use in the garden.  Laying newspaper down in sheets over the soil and then covering this with mulch helps keep the soil moist and the weeds out.  You can also add wet, shredded newspaper in with your compost to help remove odor. 

Come springtime, everyone is short on time. Between spring cleaning, bridal and baby showers and all the yard work, every gardener runs short on time.  Using a few of these home remedies to hold you over until the next time you can make it to the store can help keep your garden under control.


New Plants for 2014

Bratzella Itoh PeonyEach year we like to bring new varieties and colors of our favorite plants to our customers. This year is no different.  From the newest colors of Proven Winners to a few new tomatoes and peppers, we have a great selection of new plants to mix in with your old favorites.

This year, we are excited to introduce a few new varieties of perennials that are some of the best on the market. The first of these perennials we will be selling is Itoh Peonies.  These peonies are a hybrid between woody tree peonies and herbaceous peonies. They take more of a shrub like appearance with strong stems that do not need staking. Itoh peonies have large, strong blooms that come in a variety of exotic colors and have extended blooming periods that come in multiple waves.  Once these plants are established, they can produce up to thirty blooms each season. 

Another variety of perennials we are proud to be carrying this season are Spotlight Hollyhocks. Most Alcea rosea are biennials, meaning that they bloom every other year.  This new spotlight series, however, bloom every year, giving you beautiful hollyhocks year after year.

The third great perennial that we are carrying this Daring Deception Daylilyyear will be the 500 Series Hemerocallis, or Daylily.  These daylilies are known for the number of blooms they produce each season Stella d'Oro is one of the most popular daylilies on the market for its abundant blooms, but our 500 series hemerocallis bloom two to three times more than these.  Once established, these daylilies can produce more than 500 blooms each season, and they are available in a variety of colors. 

The final perennials we are introducing this year are two hostas that have been paired up with great organizations.  When you purchase the "Remember Me" hosta, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to Susan G. Komen for the Cure. This organization helps raise awareness and raises funds to help fight breast cancer.  The hosta itself is a beautiful one that grows to about 15" in height and blooms midsummer. Its colorful leaves change color as the season progresses, from a bright yellow  with blue-green margins to a milder cream with green margins.

The second hosta is called "American Hero" and by purchasing this hosta, you'll be helping support military families throughout the United States.  A portion of your purchase is donated to GreenCare for Troops which is sponsored by Project Evergreen. GreenCare for Troops helps provide free lawncare and landscape services to military families.  The hosta "American Hero" grows to be about 12" tall, blooming lavender flowers midsummer. Its Superbells Pomegranate Punch from Proven Winnersleaves have wide, dark green margins with cream to pure white centers.   

We also have a great variety of new tomatoes and peppers to try out in the garden this year. Heirloom tomatoes like Abe Lincoln, Box Car Willie, Tomatillo and peppers like Muscato Orange, Purple Mertlor, Yolo Wonder, Serrano del Sol and Santaka Hot Asian.  Another pepper to look forward to biting into this summer is Cute Stuff Gold, baby yellow bell peppers.

Finally, there a lots of new colors available in some of our most popular Proven Winners plants. From the new Flamingo Supertuniaand Pomegranate Punch Superbells to the Cinnamon Curls Heuchera, there are lots of new colors to choose from with your old favorites.

Get adventurous this year and try something new! Happy Planting!


Pansies & Violas: Strong & Bright


You know spring has arrived when pansies and violas begin to pop up in containers and garden beds.  These little flowers are not only beautiful pops of color after the long winter, but they are hardy enough to withstand the cold nights that occur during the spring…like the one we had last night.

Many people have trouble telling the difference between pansies and violas. Their foliage and flowers are similar in shape, but the main difference is in the flower size.  Violas have a smaller flower and tend to bloom a little bit earlier than pansies.  Pansies have a much larger flower head.

Both pansies and violas want sun to part sun in order to grow their best. They don’t do well with the hot summer sun. To get the longest life out of them, plant them in an area that is in full sun before the trees leaf out, and dappled sun after they are leafed out.

As I said earlier, pansies and violas can handle cool nights.  No need to cover these plants, even if the temperatures drop into the twenties. The morning after a cold night, they may look a little limp. They will pop back up to life once the temperatures warm up again the next day.  If it is really cold, the flowers may be damaged, but the plants themselves will be okay.

Pansies and violas are versatile in where you can plant them, too. They are great to pair with other spring annuals in containers, window boxes and hanging baskets. They also do well planted in beds and mass plantings. Just be sure to give them about 6 inches when planting, so they have plenty of room to grow.

Once planted, pansies and violas need to be kept watered. The soil should never dry out or the plants will stop flowering. Be sure to water at the base of the plants, as watering above them can cause spots on the leaves and blooms. To encourage blooming to continue, deadhead the plants when you see spent blooms.

Pansies and violas are great spring flowers, blooming early and throughout the season. They can withstand the cold nights, be planted anywhere, and they come in a variety of colors. From the clear blue that so many people love, to Johnny Jump Ups that are purple and yellow, the blotched faces of pansies and violas are always a welcome sight in spring.





Spotlight On: Strawberries

Summer is every gardener’s favorite time of year. From the beautiful flowerbeds to the delicious crops, it is a gardener’s paradise.  While many gardeners grow lots of vegetables, they shouldn’t forget about fruits like strawberries.

Believe it or not, strawberries are perennials in the Midwest. The great thing about strawberries is that they can be grown in either containers or garden beds.  There are even containers that are made just for them called strawberry jars. These pots have holes on the sides, allowing for the strawberry plants to trail and vine.

No matter where you choose to grow the strawberries, you will need plenty of sun for these plants.  You will also need well-drained soil, which is why pots can be a great spot for these.  They like to be kept moist.  Keep the plants well watered, about 2 inches a week for juicer, fuller fruit.

Strawberries grow in a trailing or vining habit. The mother plant shoots off smaller, baby plants, forming a sort of mat when they are planted in the garden.  For this reason, you will need a fair amount of space to dedicate to your strawberries.  Typically, one plant will need about two square feet of space to grow. It’s best to plant them in rows, with each plant being about six inches apart and rows that are 30 inches apart.

It is recommended to mulch around the berry plants after you have planted them.  This not only keeps weeds down, but the soil moist. It is also recommended to fertilize every two or three weeks.  Be sure to use an organic fertilizer, as this is a crop you will be eating.

After a four or five years, strawberries typically need to be replace because the plants produce less and less.  As far as when to harvest your berries, you will want to pick them as soon as they are ripe. Berries are ripening constantly, so the plants will need to be checked every other day.

Overall, strawberries are a prolific crop to grow in your garden, and they are a perennial.  Once planted in your yard, you will have fresh strawberries to snack on year after year.