Resolve to Garden in 2017

Resolve to Garden in 2017

There is nothing new under the sun ~ 20 years ago, I took Dr. Andrew Weil’s advice and put myself, and my family, on a restricted ‘news diet’ to lessen the anxiety and tension of whatever was considered ‘bad news’ back then.  Listening to what passes for ‘the news’ can easily send one into a downward spiral! How much not so good news can one take before depression sets in? I have found that taking news in small doses once or twice a week is about all I need and all I can stand to hear. And, I’m pretty picky about who I let give me that news ~ the less biased the better.

I’m a critical thinker, and please do me the favor of NOT EDITORIALIZING – ‘just the facts’. I’m old enough to remember when the news came in to our house, for about 30 minutes each weekday evening, and we considered ourselves well informed.  I’m convinced that too much of a bad thing is bad … it can really warp your thinking and distort reality.  Yes, there are a lot of bad things out there, but you know what, there are a lot of good things too.  And, we have weathered a lot of tough times over our history (which goes back a very long time) and we are still here and kicking! (more…)

And The Winner Is …

And The Winner Is …

It’s nearly the end of 2016, and time for us to recount the highs and lows of this past growing season. We all have our areas of interest, but for me, it’s all about you …. Trends in what gardeners wanted this past growing year. Basically, what plant sold THE BEST in 2016.

And, the winner is: Eucalyptus, Silver Drop. Always in the top 5, but never a winner. This year, Eucalyptus pushed out Lemongrass and would have done even better had we not run out near the end of the spring.

(more…)

Why Are Native Plants So Important For Your Garden?

Why Are Native Plants So Important For Your Garden?

With over 35 years of growing plants under our belts, we began to focus on herbs in 2008.  We’d always loved growing them, but honestly, the demands for perennials and annuals in our local market meant that herbs only accounted for about 20% of the plants we grew.  Once we hopped onto the world wide web, and were able to really use data to research what people wanted to grow, but couldn’t get locally, herbs became our focus.  For the past 8+ years, we had added more and more herbs to our line up.  Now, we are offering over 160 different types of herbs for you, our customers!

But, since we are growers, and addicted to growing a variety of plants, we’ve been ‘toying’ with the idea of introducing a closely related group of plants.  So, drum roll please… (more…)

Fall Makeover!

The Growers Exchange herb garden is under going it’s fall make over. Most of the annuals have been removed: several frosts left basil looking limp. Fall is the best time to move and divide perennials. Having substituted all the flowering plants with herb plants, we must study their garden characteristics just as with plants grown strictly for flowers.
The border along our office wall needed a new screening plant at the back of the bed. We were looking for a tall green plant to high light the shorter herbs growing in front. We could have easily chosen fennel in green or bronze to block the white wall, but they are already being used are center specimens in island beds. Lovage is another plant with potential for screening.
The lovage in the photo was dug from another place in the garden. Along with the main clump, we divided off four smaller plants. These will be set out to catch up with the parent. If needed, the main clump could have been divided again into  four or five smaller plants. In this case we wanted one large plant. If you have a lovage plant that requires moving or dividing, fall is the best time. The plant will establish roots until the ground freezes; this will produce a larger plant the following spring. To promote root growth an organic fertilizer should be applied.

Over Wintering Your Herbs

I am published in Fine Gardening magazine…

It all started with questions I was getting from customers about growing outdoor herbs in the winter. Because we strive to provide an exchange of information for all types of growers, I was more than happy to help. Fine Gardening was getting the same questions from their readers that we were getting from our customers, so they picked up my article and used it in their December 2012 edition to help reach more growers who were having the same questions.

 

A Strategy for Maintaining Fresh Herbs in Winter

Here are a few tips to help you winter over your favorite herbs:

3 reasons to bring your herbs indoors:

  1. Keep the herbs alive to get more months of enjoyment
  2. Enjoy fresh flavor for all of your hearty winter dishes.
  3. To keep tender plants over-winter for spring planting

When to bring herbs indoors: Two weeks before the first hard frost, typically mid-Sept to mid-October

 

How to repot:

  • Choose the healthiest plants and compost the others.
  • Clean soil of debris and weeds
  • Dig plants carefully, saving a generous root ball.
  • Repot into containers 2” wider and deeper than the root ball using fresh potting soil
  • Thoroughly water newly potted plants
  • Leave plants outside for a few days to acclimate to their new containers.

Indoor Care Tips:

  • Choose a sunny location with 6-8 hours of direct sun.
  • Consider temperature and humidity. Don’t place them where they will dry out quickly or be in a cold, drafty spot.
  • Typically herbs don’t need a lot of water. Check soil by sticking your finger about a half inch in to test for moisture.
  • Room temp should not go below 50 degrees
  • Let the plants rest before harvesting
  • Don’t be alarmed if your herb plants lose their lower leaves as this is the plant’s way of dealing with the change and getting rid of leaves that no longer produce enough food. Lemon Verbena is especially likely to do this.

Which herbs will work best indoors?

  • Tender perennials: Bay, Lemon Verbena, Lemon Grass
  • Biennial herbs: parsley
  • Annual herbs: cilantro, arugula,

Dormancy requirements make some plants better choices.

  • Unless you want to add grow lights, avoid plants that go dormant like mint
  • Hardy perennials are best left outdoors. Rosemary, Lavender, Mint

6 plants to keep for winter then return to garden in spring:

6 plants that are used for extended harvest.

Replanting your herbs for Spring:

After the last frost, usually late April or early May, start placing potted herbs outside during the day so they get accustomed to a new climate. Keep an eye on night temperatures. Begin to leave them out when night temperatures are above 50F.

  • Plants should have been pruned in winter. Trim stray stems to keep plants bushy
  • Replant in mid-May

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is Chamomile a Weed?

Chamomile a weed? One person’s weed is another person’s herb!

While on a trip to Prairie Canada, I was surprised to find find common chamomile blooming among the prairie plants. After first spotting this familiar herb, I began seeing it along the road shoulder, in fields of peas and beans, and even in the lawn where I was staying. From my host, I learned that on the prairie farmers consider chamomile a noxious weed and work hard trying to eliminate it from their crops fields.  This is a good example for comparing a desirable herb plant from a weed. And as the description for weeds explains; it all depends on where a plant is growing! So even though chamomile is a weed is some places, it is a welcome herb in my garden. I have plenty of other plants on my own weed list!