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…

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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!

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Not Yet, But Soon

We will plant these new beds. So far all we have been able to do is wait, all is ready but the weather. We have big plans for this garden we are calling “ a year in the life”. This cold frame structure is covered with a sheet of construction grade plastic, when spring temperatures are reliably warm we will remove it and cover with a shade fabric which gives about 30% shade and breaks up wind and heavy rainfall. The plastic keeps the inside warm, but not when temperatures are as low as now.

The beds are laid out to give us a demonstration garden for the plants we sell. We will keep a photo record of each planting, we will have flowering annuals and will mix in an assortment of culinary herbs. We hope to keep a bed of medicinal herbs and maybe some aromatic herbs, but would like some input as to what we should plant.

One bed may have a large basil plant surrounded by calibrachoa and celosia, combining herb plants with annual plants. First seeds will be sown in a week or two, as soon as night temps rise out of the twenties. For now I am still stuck talking about what I am going to do, but this has been one rough winter. Not yet, but soon we will have these beds full of plants!

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The first daffodils are a sure sign that spring is on its way!

Here We Go Again!

The third major storm of the winter is with us. It looks like another long weekend of babysitting the greenhouses. They are full of young plants, so someone will be here to make sure they stay warm and safe. Today as the snow flies outside, our greenhouse staff members are busy transplanting young herbs and annuals to their final pots. In a few short weeks these plants will be traveling to gardens far and wide. It is important they not get cold!

Being the one left to keep things running, I plan to use this time to plan my early garden. The beds we have in a cold frame are ready to plant, we are just waiting for warmer temperatures. Maybe after this storm we will sow seeds. But before we plant, we must have a plan. The general idea is to grow the herbs and annuals offered by The Growers Exchange, planted in situations similar to homeowners with limited space. We also intend to grow plenty of good things to eat, including lots of herbs. Whilst snowbound I will map out the details of our plantings. Any ideas would be appreciated, we do hope for a free exchange of ideas for this garden project. But first we must get the greenhouses safely through this storm!

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Building Complete

I cannot wait to begin reporting on our planting and growing progress. But here we are in at the end of January and all of us a The Growers Exchange are getting ready for another snowstorm that will arrive in the night. Our garden under cover has progressed another step; the irrigation is done. Now our test gardens can be watered automatically, freeing us on weekends. Irrigation is so easy and makes so much more gardening possible. And it does free the gardener to leave for some time and not return to a ruined garden.

Now the garden we will tend to is ready to plant. We will start in the greenhouse, sowing seeds for the first plantings in a few weeks. The logs around our salad patch have been impregnated with spores of Pearl Oyster mushrooms. Our goal is to grow as much as possible in our limited space. I hope people will follow and tell us what they are growing. It is not practical for most people to grow their own food; but any one with even a sunny window can grow something that will improve the quality of their life. For now we are waiting for spring, but soon we will be able to begin our spring garden, maybe after this storm. I will let you know next week!

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Our Irrigation Setup

Getting Ready to Plant

I have introduced The Growers Exchange playpen before, but what we have is a cold frame with beds and tables, and containers for all kinds of gardening. We want to create areas similar to what urban gardeners face. At our potting bench we will mix plants in container so they are beautiful and functional. Most of our materials have been scrounged, keeping cost to mainly seeds and plants.

The picture today shows our infrastructure complete, we will now work the soil in the beds and add drip irrigation. Our plants will begin life here on a diet of kelp meal, and we will work hard to keep a natural environment. Crops will be chosen from The Growers Exchange list, Starting with a salad crop, we will slowly add to our garden. The best that could happen would be suggestions from our readers! We hope that a free exchange of ideas will develop and this garden will spread its roots far.

We will soon start planting the first bed; it will be a lettuce garden with about twelve types and colors of leafy greens. The logs surrounding this bed have been impregnated with mushroom spores and will fruit in a few months. Follow our garden a day at a time and feel free to suggest what we might want to plant. The fun part is ahead, it’s time to start planting.

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