Posts Tagged ‘veggies’
If you’re like me, when you saw the first hint of Spring, the first thing you thought of was how much you really want a tomato. But not just any tomato, a homegrown tomato from your very own garden. Which of course can only mean it’s time to start getting your garden spot ready for tomato plants. This is a yearly tradition for me. Craving a tomato and preparing the garden.
It’s a lot of work. You have to dig. You have to weed. You have to break up big clumps of dirt. You have to remove all the rocks that mysteriously showed up over the winter. And then you have to re-remove all the rocks after your faithful dog retrieves said rocks and returns them to your garden. Oh and you have to replenish your soil to replace the nutrients your veggies borrowed from the ground last year. Wait, what?
That’s right. Every year the vegetables you plant borrow essential nutrients from your soil to grow and produce those wonderful fruits and veggies you love so much. And it’s up to you to put those nutrients back so the vegetable plants you plant this year can produce quality veggies again. Failure to do so can leave you with a less than bountiful harvest this growing season.
There are several ways to replenish your soil’s nutrients. Our best recommendation is to take a sample of your soil to your County Extension Office to be tested. They can tell you EXACTLY what your soil needs and what you should add for optimum growing results. But if you’re like me, you won’t go that route. I’m the type that always asks for directions, and then goes in a completely different route. So if you are like me, here are some alternatives.
1. Use Osomocote or a Time Released Fertilizer. Be sure to work the fertilizer into your soil and follow the instructions on the label exactly.
2. Add Compost, Manure, or Worm Castings. Compost and manure work better when added in the Fall and allowed to winter over, but you can add it now as long as you work it into your soil very well and they are well decomposed. If it is not decomposed enough, it will actually rob your plants of nitrogen to finish the decomposing process. And your plants NEED that nitrogen, so make sure it’s well decomposed.
3. Add Miracle Grow or a Water Soluble Fertilizer. Again, be sure to work it into the soil and don’t over fertilize. Follow the instructions on the label and only fertilize once every week or every two weeks.
4. Pray for Snow. According to Jason Parks and a few websites online, Snow is the ‘Poor Man’s Fertilizer’. Not only does Snow saturate your garden with lots of life giving water, it also saturates your garden with a ton of nitrogen which is an essential nutrient for your plant’s growth. (Personally, I’m putting my foot down at praying for Snow. But Jason swears it works. I’m skipping manure too, because it’s gross and it smells bad. But that’s just me.)
Fresh veggies are in. Look around. It seems like everyone everywhere is growing some sort of veggie garden this year. I dream of a giant garden, with rows upon rows of flourishing vegetables and herbs. In my mind, I’m a superior gardener with acres of land waiting to be cultivated into growing prize winning produce. In reality, I have a deck with limited space and I still have to ask Jason what to do when my tomatoes get spots on them. Good thing I work at Parks, so I can get tips from the best in the business and share them all with you.
So, how do you have lots of fresh veggies and herbs when the only land you own is a patio or deck? You accessorize….with containers. Container gardening is all the rage this year. You get all the great produce you want without moving to the country or buying a tractor. And smaller ground space means less weeds, less bugs, and if the sun is being super elusive on any given day, you can just pick up your container and move it to a sunnier spot. Try that with a regular old garden. Here’s the scoop on starting your very own container veggie garden.
Project Time: Who can put a time limit on decorating?
Experience Level: Beginner Gardener
Tools Needed: No Special Tools Required, but if you want to look the part, you can grab some garden gloves and a floppy hat.
Materials Needed: An assortment of containers in various sizes. Potting Soil, store bought. Fertilizer, your choice, just make sure it’s veggie friendly.
Sweat Factor: Moderate – You might want to keep a water bottle close by just in case.
Satisfaction Meter: Oo la la – It’s Salad Time Baby!
How to Accessorize with Veggies and Herbs:
1. Go Shopping. You are looking for veggies and herbs. Some tried and true easy to grow veggies you might want to consider are cucumbers, peas, peppers, eggplant, summer or zucchini squash, patio tomatoes or even the garden variety of tomatoes (tho you will need a larger container and stake for these). You can purchase any herb you like, they all grow great in containers.
2. Keep Shopping. You need containers for all of your newly purchased plants. Containers for veggies need to be at least 12” tall by 12” wide. The larger the veggie grows, the larger the pot you will need. And remember larger varieties of tomatoes will not only require a larger container, they will also need some sort of stake or wire cage to tie the tomatoes up as they grow. 5 Gallon Buckets work well for this and I’ve seen them in a variety of colors this year at the local stores so you won’t have to give up beauty just to harvest tomatoes. Herbs can be grown in smaller pots or window boxes. Just make sure the container you purchase is slightly larger than the pot the herb is sold in. Double check all the containers you purchase for drainage holes. Poor drainage can lead to root rot and ruin your container garden. If the containers you like best don’t have drainage holes, drill some before you plant. Word to the wise, terracotta containers will soak up all the moisture from your plant. If you choose a terracotta container, put a plastic tray under it and water the tray instead of the plant. The plant will draw up the moisture it needs.
3. Stay in the store just a few minutes longer. Now you need fertilizer and potting soil. Potting Soil is important for container gardening. Regular old fashioned dirt from your yard might look tempting, but when you put it in a pot it can clump, resulting in poor drainage. And you run the risk of importing weeds into your brand new container. The better the potting soil, the better your vegetables will produce. Some potting soil already has fertilizer mixed in, but it’s a good idea to purchase a separate fertilizer to add to your containers every few weeks to keep your vegetable in mass production mode. You can also opt for a time released fertilizer like Osmocote.
4. Plant to your heart’s content. One plant per container please. And position your containers where they get at least 6 hours of sunlight a day. Veggies and Herbs are full sun plants. Don’t forget, you can move your container as needed to get more sun during the day.
5. Water your new plants. Vegetables need lots of water. Remember when you’re watering, you’re aiming for moist not soggy. In the heat of summer, you may have to water your veggies and herbs twice a day if the soil begins to dry out too quickly during the course of the day. Use Ron’s 2nd knuckle rule. Stick your finger down into your container to your second knuckle. If you pull your finger out and it’s dry with no soil, you need to water.
And just like that, you have a veggie and herb garden that doubles as patio/deck accessories.
Bonus Tip: Remember when I said I had to ask Jason when my tomatoes get spots on them? Well should your tomato plants get black spots on the bottom, add a little lime to your soil. This is usually blossom end rot and the lime will clear it right up for you.
Yes, it’s Summer. Yes, it’s HOTTTT. And yes, we are plum crazy to already be planning for the Fall in the middle of a heat wave. But hey, what true gardener isn’t a little crazy? While we relish in the spoils of our current crops, somewhere in those wild brains of ours, we are already deciding which veggies we’re going to plant next.
Fall Tomatoes are just like regular tomatoes, except you harvest them in the Fall clear to the first frost. The plants are slightly smaller than what you’re used to, but fear not, they are hardy little things and will grow up to be just as big as those other tomato plants you know and love. Fall tomatoes need lots of water, especially during the drought-like conditions we’ve been having lately. They also need a little lime in their soil. To prevent Blossom-end Rot, Septoria Leaf Spot and other viruses, you will want to spray your tomatoes with a fungicide beginning the first week you plant them and once every week thereafter. This is the prime-time to plant Fall Tomatoes. We have a few varieties to choose from, but they will go fast. So be sure to come see us soon.
And while you’re here, you might as well check out our End of the Season Summer Sales! Hanging Baskets, including Breath-taking Ferns, are all on clearance for just $7.00 right now!
See you at the Greenhouse!!!
***Picture provided by Burpee Home Gardens***
Come on, I know you remember that adorable little girl asking her daddy if he was going to eat the last pickle right? It was one of my favorite commercials growing up. And to this day, every time I hear the word pickle, I remember that same silly commercial. Aww the memories…
But memories from commercials aren’t nearly as much fun as the memories we can create all by ourselves in our own day to day lives. And with our gardens flourishing in cucumbers, we can make a brand new pickle memory! So grab those cucumbers ladies and gentlemen, and let’s make some pickles!!!
Easy Dill Pickle Recipe
Cucumbers (Count will vary depending on the size of the cucumber)
Quart Size Canning Jars with Lids
1 Grape Leaf (Optional) Per Jar
1 Clove Garlic Per Jar
1 Sprig of Dill Per Jar
1 Chunk of Onion Per Jar
Pickling Lime (In the Canning Section of your Supermarket)
3 Quarts Water
1 Quart Vinegar
1/2 Cup Salt
1 Teaspoon Alum Per Jar
Soak Cucumbers in Lime Water for at least 4 hours (Follow directions on Pickling Lime to make Lime Water). Boil Jars in a large pot. Boil Lids and Rings separately in a smaller pot. Boil Vinegar, Water, and Salt in another large pot. Remove Jars. Put Grape Leaf, Garlic Clove, Dill Sprig, and Onion Chunk in bottom of Jar while Jar is still hot. Pack Cucumbers tightly in Jar and sprinkle with 1 Teaspoon of Alum. Pour Vinegar, Water, and Salt mixture over Cucumbers. Remove Lids and Rings from boiling water and Seal Jars tightly while Lids and Rings are still hot. Follow Manufacturer’s Directions for Sealing your Jars.
Hot Sweet Freezer Pickles
3 1/2 Cup Thinly Sliced Cucumbers
1 Medium Onion – Separated into rings
2 Jalapeño Peppers – Diced
2 Large Cloves of Garlic
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 Cup Sugar
1 Cup Vinegar
1/3 Cup Water
Freezer Safe Container
Place Cucumbers, Onion, Jalapeños, and Garlic Cloves in Freezer Container. Boil Sugar, Water, and Vinegar until Sugar dissolves. Pour into Freezer Container and place in Freezer. Thaw when ready to eat.
These recipes will get you started on your way to new pickle memories and were submitted by our very own Retail Manager, Claudette Parks. But don’t let your Pickle Creativity stop here. Head on over to Cooks.com for even more Pickle-liscious ideas! And when someone asks if you’re going to eat that pickle, go ahead and say “Why yes I am! After all, I made that pickle!”
The sun is still shining, and we are loving every warm minute of it! Why it’s been so pretty and warm here lately, we’ve almost forgotten about Snowmaggedon that seemed to linger forever just a few short weeks ago. We’ve even replaced our coats and gloves with short sleeve t-shirts and sunglasses! And I, myself, have witnessed the more daring and brave locals don shorts and flip-flops as they bask in the sun’s inviting glow. After all that time cooped up inside, it’s no wonder that this weather change has us all out and ready to play in our gardens.
The Cole Crops have been mighty popular this week and seem to be flying off the shelves as quickly as we stock them. But we still have plenty of Cabbage, Cauliflower, Broccoli and Brussel Sprouts to go around. And the avid gardeners out there are snatching up tomatoes and peppers too, tho you really shouldn’t plant them outside until after Easter. We also just got in our Muscadines, which can be planted right now.
But we are really excited about our new stock of Fruit Trees and Perennials!!! Apples, Peaches, Nectarines, and Plums!!! Can you say Yum, Yum??? And we currently have over 25 Different Perennials in stock too! Add that to the breath-taking Spring Bedding Plants that are in full bloom, and you’ve got yourself a virtual buffet of Spring Treats to keep you busy in your garden for hours on end.
So come on, break out those short-sleeved shirts and go dig in the dirt! It’s fun, we promise!!!
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the Sun seems to have reappeared. No, I’m serious, take a peek outside. Yep, that’s the sun! And he brought a friend with him this time…warmer weather! The forecast is plum full of 60 degree temps ahead of us!
Now that doesn’t mean you should break out the swimsuits just yet, or even pack away your jackets and coats. But it does seem to support the theory that Spring, at long last, is here. And thank goodness, because we were getting tired of all that snow!
As is tradition at the beginning of March, we have all of your Cole Crops ready to go for that first round of Spring Veggie planting. Lettuce, Strawberries, Cabbage, Onions, Cauliflower, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, and Eggplants are all eagerly awaiting to become part of your garden. Tomatoes and Peppers are ready as well. Remember you don’t want to plant your tomatoes and peppers outside until after Easter, but you can keep them inside until then.
And for those of you who just can’t stand to see a world without flowers any longer now that the snow has melted, we have some color in bloom as well. Snapdragons, Dianthus, Dusty Miller, and Petunias are wonderful plants that flourish in this early Spring weather.
Yes, it’s official. Spring is here. See you at the Greenhouse!!!
As we cross our fingers and hold our breath, we’re saying ‘Adios’ to Snow and ‘Hello’ to Spring! Oh yes, it may not seem like it right now with the blustery temperatures the south has been toting, but we can assure you, Spring is just around the corner! And we are very excited it is on its way!
Now you know that Spring just wouldn’t be Spring without a veggie garden growing all those warmer-weather treats we know and love. There’s just something about fresh veggies that make us want to dust off the Bar-B-Que grills, grab our sunglasses, and toss a little ball around in the back yard with the munchkins in our lives. And here at Parks Brothers, we’ve been busy bees getting your Spring Veggies ready just for you.
Cabbage, Onions, Broccoli, and Strawberries are the first crops up for grabs.
Clay – aka The Plant Inspector
Remember you can start planting your veggies at the beginning of March! Now all you have to do is find those sunglasses…