Here is a confession: I haven’t always been an herb grower. Sure, I grew herbs along with everything else. Proven Winner Annuals, perennials, succulents, foliage plants, bulbs … you name it, I grew it. We had a garden center in Richmond, VA and my customer base was my guide. Whatever they wanted, I grew. Or, was it the other way around? Whatever I grew, they wanted? We had a very good relationship, my customers and I. It was truly an EXCHANGE.
But, in 2005, when I decided to close the store, my intention was to take EVERYTHING online. I would keep growing as I had been since 1985. Guess what? Everyone else had the same idea. There were plenty of folks growing and selling perennials online. I just had to get in line. It didn’t take me long, with the help of Google, to realize that what folks REALLY wanted was a quality herb grower. I had grown herbs all along, and actually loved growing them. But, here was my chance. I could begin growing MORE than the ‘usual suspects’; I was a kid in a candy shop. Send me the seeds, and I will grow them.
So, the unintended consequence? Enter some of the ‘unusual suspects’ with a BIG following. Among the most important?
This was one of those eye opening experiences ~ I began growing two types, Holy Red and Holy Green. I was getting seeds from a variety of vendors, but that was my first mistake. What was I really growing? Among my first customer was a wonderful grower from Texas. She was Hindu, and she educated me right away: ‘this is not Holy Basil’! Well, it said so on the seed package. My education began. (more…)
These unattractive enemies have taken over my squash, and I am spending much of my time and energy in a war against them. Squash Beetles ~ nasty little things that suck the life out of the plants I’ve been nurturing since I first put seed to soil in mid March. You name it, I’ve tried it : Diatomaceous Earth, Rotonone Powder, Pyrethrum Spray … even the time consuming and not so pleasurable task of hand picking these creatures off of my squash leaves. I’ve read articles, researched remedies and honestly, felt a lot of stress that is not a usual part of my post-spring mentality. This ‘war’ runs against all of the reasons that I love growing plants; growing puts me back in touch with the natural rhythms and harmony of the natural world. I like working WITH nature, not against it. But, this is an on-going war and I refuse to surrender.
This whole unfortunate situation brings me back to the reason that I LOVE growing herbs and making an herb spiral. Although they are not 100% free of worries, herbs have VERY FEW natural ‘enemies’. My greenhouses are filled with over 150 different varieties of herbs, but I can safely say that not much of my time is spent ‘fighting’ or ‘fretting’ about pests. These plants are really not bothered by insects the way fruit and vegetable plants can be plagued. Most pest issues occur when trying to grow herbs indoors, but when planted in the garden, they seem to have much fewer pest issues. Not, the qualifier is that you provide the best growing conditions – enough light, water and make sure that there is good air flow around each plant. You do your part, the herbs will do theirs. On the other hand, I’ve done my part, and more, in the case of the squash beetles and all I’m getting is aggravation! Not sure who will ‘win’ this battle ~
February is National Bird Feeding Month, and though we’ve had a fairly mild winter, here in zone 7, our feathered friends still need your attention. No matter where you reside, the birds in your area could use a helping hand during these cold, dreary months where weather may be harsh or unpredictable and food can be scarce. Here are a few tips to ensure that your bird buddies are well fed and warm until springtime arrives:
Water Through The Winter. Birds need a fresh source of water, so make sure to break and remove any ice that may accumulate in your bird baths, and replenish the water regularly. Our Bamboo themed Mini Oriental Bird Bath makes the perfect compact addition to your garden and gives birds plenty of fresh water to drink and play!
Cleaning is Key. Routinely clean debris from bird baths and old seed from bird feeders to prevent fungus and disease from developing and making the birds sick.
Home Tweet Home. Give your birds plenty of dry, protected places to nest for the winter. Hang birdhouses in areas that are out of the wind and weather to provide a great winter home for birds that don’t migrate. Looking for a cozy country-inspired home for your birds? Our Red Wooden Birdhouse compliments your country garden with a rustic look to give your birds the best place to nest year round!
Treats For Tweets. I have vivid memories of my mother placing halves of too-far gone oranges, apples and pears; mushy bananas, dried nuts and other edible compost out along the snow covered railings of our porch, for the mockingbirds. Songbirds LOVE fruit! Giving your birds additional nutrition keeps their diet balanced while giving them something new to instigate, while giving you a great natural show to watch from indoors.
Feed the Flock. Don’t forget to regularly refill your bird feeders and inspect them for winter damage. Replace cracked or broken feeders as needed with new ones.Our Glass Bamboo Feeder is made of thick, hand-blown glass and brass so it’s sturdy enough to withstand winter’s worst!
Out Smart the Squirrels. Other critters may be competing for food sources during this time of the year. Try to hang your feeders in areas that squirrels can’t get to, or attach guards or cages to keep them from stealing all of your birdseed. Alternatively, you can find the best squirrel proof bird feeder at the Ballachy website to prevent these pesky animals from getting to the bird food.
Select The Right Seed. Suet cakes are a great “hodge podge” of high calorie seeds that come in different varieties to attract specific types of winter birds. Peanuts and Nyger seeds are other high calorie nuts and seeds that will ensure your birds stay plump and warm this winter.
Thyme, Patchouli, Rosemary, Lavender and more! Here’s an inside look at some of our herbs that are big enough to be repotted into their new homes! We’ve been growing our crops for months now, starting from seeds that sprout in our germination chamber, and eventually grow big enough to replant into larger pots. ( If you read our previous blog, “Tis The Season To Plant Seedlings“, you’ll enjoy the before and after pictures of some of our plants! )
They’ll continue growing in our approximately four inch pots until they ship directly to your door! Do you see any plants that you’ve ordered for your spring garden in these pictures? We’ll begin shipping in Mid March, starting with zones 8-11, so they’ll be arriving before you know it! Wondering when your plants will ship? Click here!
Here’s a close up of our little Patchouli plants. At about two inches tall, they’re ready for to be repotted this week. Such beautiful, green growth! The process of growing plants is still an amazing experience to me. It’s truly a proud moment when you see your finished product, a lush, healthy herb plant, that you’ve known since it was a tiny seed, and you know that it will really make a difference in someone’s home or garden because of the care you’ve given it. We feel like proud papas down in the greenhouse when we begin to ship these little guys!
We are VERY excited to announce that our 2012 Catalog is coming to a mailbox near you! We have a polished new look, and some great new features to help you save this year!
Full of great growing tips for your favorite culinary, medicinal and aromatic herbs and flowers, as well as interesting facts, high quality pictures and more! We’ve also added more pages this year to include even more of our Potted Herbs and Potted Herb Garden Kits, Tools and Garden Accessories to give you the best selection possible. And, just for requesting a catalog, you’ll get multiple discounts found inside and even some additional savings for referring your friends. This is definitely a resource worth holding onto for reference while planting.
Request a catalog today and start planning your spring herb garden early — if you haven’t signed up for your free copy, click here!
We believe in a greener way of living. Hopefully the posts here on The Herb Exchange Blog will help you with knowledge of herbs, gardening, recipes and a healthy life.
The Growers Exchange is committed to a greener way of growing and has been for over 30 years. We deliver healthy, farm-fresh herb plants ready to be planted. We deliver your plants at the correct time for your shipping zone in the spring and fall.
The Growers Exchange is where gardeners go to grow since 1985.