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!

Varmints in the Garden

I never thought our Year in the Life of a Garden would be raided by varmints, but it was last night. I cannot tell what it was that dug into a row of Pak Choi seedlings and buried some Arugula with their tailings. Damage was slight and what ever came rooting around did not find much of interest in our salad bed. My guess is that it was a raccoon or opossum attracted by the kelp meal fertilizer. Maybe it is better not to use fish fertilizer, as that will surely bring curious diggers.

Another little lesson we have learned in this spring garden in that using old seeds is risky. We sowed extra because the seeds were two years old, but none of the Spicy Mesculin Mix lettuce seeds germinated. Today I sowed fresh seed into that row and we should still have plenty of time to grow lettuce for cutting. I think next I will add a few herb plants around the borders, maybe a basil plant in the center. The logs surrounding the bed are impregnated with mushroom so we hope to harvest some interesting salad makings soon!

DSC00511

Our New Garden

We have always wanted a place where all the plants grown in our nursery could be grown out to full size. Now that all of our time is spent working from the nursery, we found the time to dig up the yard surrounding it. Because time is always hard to find for such projects, we have been taking our time. Shrubs were planted the first year and later a waterfall was added. Now we have laid out the paths and beds on the ground and will begin preparing the beds for planting.

It may be fall before we have them ready. Not being in a hurry, we want to dig deep and work plenty of organic material into the soil. Only when the beds are finished will we begin to add herb plants and some perennial flowering plants. Piecemeal is always the way to tackle a large job, so we will finish some beds before others are started. This way we will be able to grow some of our flowering annual plants. Cut flowers like zinnias and celosia will provide fresh cut flowers for the office. We want to demonstrate all the ways our plants can be grown.

Every step will be documented: from soil and bed preparation, planning and planting, to care and harvest. Check out The Growers-Exchange.com for all of our Year in the Life of a Garden updates.

Office Garden Plan

First Seedlings Up

Looking at the salad patch this morning I was pleased to see we had a good stand of seedlings. Using a cold frame for early season protection, we get a month or more growing time over outside. The plants are also safe from wind and rain. A windy cold day outside is warm inside the cold frame. It is amazing the difference a sheet of plastic makes.

Finally I can begin to report on plant progress, not just winter preparations. Growing now we have most of what we need for a salad. Leafy greens come in all shapes and flavors so we have a good selection. Lettuces are represented by: Braising Mix, Wildfire Mix, Spicy Mesculin, and All Greens Mix. Check out the details on our site. Even though they are herb plants, I am adding Salad Burnet and Sorrel for their distinct flavors. Last but not least is Arugula for spicy greens.

The plants are growing so it will not be but a few weeks before we will be cutting and tasting these greens, spring is really here!! In the greenhouse this week we started four types of melons and two cucumbers, these will be planted in the cold frame beds when night temperatures are warmer. The plan is to train the vines to climb the cold frame bows, melons will be supported in little hammocks. Watch the garden grow, and let us know some of your gardening ideas.

machevit

First Seeds in the Ground

We are finally able to report actual planting in our “A Year in the Life of a Garden” cold frame. Today we began by helping ourselves first with a salad garden. We are growing all the lettuce varieties offered by The Growers- Exchange.com: Wildfire, Arugula, All Greens, and Spicy Mesculin. All these annual plants will be finished by June, the lettuces wilt in the early summer heat.

The night temperatures restrict us to cool season plants for now, but as spring progresses we will add a basil plant along with any other herb plants useful in cooking. Our small gardens will produce plenty to eat from our veggies and culinary herbs.

We plan to add lots of flowering annuals to compliment our herb plants. Annual vines such as Moonflower and Hyacinth Bean will climb trellises and frame our beds. We like to grow old fashion favorites like celosia. We have several varieties: the brain varieties ‘Cramers Burgundy’ and ‘Lemon Lime’ always draw attention in the garden and as a cut flower. The plume type celosia plant has an entirely different flower and makes a great filler in bouquets. I am getting ahead of myself, celosia planting time is at least a month away.

For now we will grow salad plants and a little collards, kale, and broccoli too! Soon we will begin planting example gardens for our herb gardening kits. We hope to have pictures of all growth stages, which we can post on here on the blog. Herb gardening can look like weed gardening so our challenge will be to add flowering annuals for color and texture.

Next week we will have photos of the baby salad plants! We encourage you to follow our garden and makes suggestions if you like…

DSC00502

Great Expectations

We have introduced our new garden we plan to grow in our cold frame beds and containers. In this garden we hope to recreate situations many home gardeners face. Limited space is our main focus and we will grow annual plants and various herb plants in combination to get the most out of a small space. This is an exciting venture for The Growers Exchange and we can already imagine the beds full of flowering annuals and all of our herb plants inter-planted. Vines will grow on trellises and melons will hang from the rafters. Will spring ever get here?

The other side of “ A Year in the Life of a Garden” theme is the outdoor garden surrounding the nursery office. A hedge was planted and a waterfall was built. As soon as the ground dries enough the beds will be cut out of the grass. Paths will be mulched and when the weather cooperates, plants will be planted. Here we plan to grow every plant we offer. By growing a test garden, we will be better able to know the ins and outs of the plants we sell. New plants will be trialed so we can see how they perform in all seasons. A photo record will be kept and journal entries made to our blog.

Follow the garden as it grows. We hope to begin planting the first seeds this week. Check back here to see the salad garden planted!

DSC00492