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Buy your spring flowers and summer vegetables directly from Parks Brothers Greenhouses, Arkansas's largest greenhouse grower!

Parks Brothers Greenhouses grows top quality annual bedding plants, garden vegetables, perennials, hanging baskets and patio containers in the spring. In fall and winter, our greenhouses are full of mums, pansies, kale, snapdragons and poinsettias.

Parks Brothers Retail
6733 Parks Road
Van Buren, AR 72956
(479) 410-2217

Please call us at 479-410-2217 for our hours which change during the season.

Posts Tagged ‘water’

Gardening Without the Sizzle

41126_454896303209_557608209_6271043_5461263_n I’m hot.  Are you hot?  I think it might be hot outside.

Once upon a time, I remember praying that the sun would come out again.  Now I’m frowning at the sun for being my mortal enemy.  And my vegetable plants are talking about staging a revolt against Mother Nature.

Ask any gardener right now in the South and they will tell you the biggest threat they are fighting in their gardens right now is the heat.  With record temps becoming almost the norm in our area, our plants are withering before our eyes.  But there are some things you can do to keep your garden going through this heat wave and a few tips you can follow to help you get through the these high temps too.

Step One: Plan to garden in the morning and in the evening. Not only is this better for your plants, it’s better for you.  It’s cooler outside during those hours of the day.  Stepping out to garden in the middle of the day with temps above 100 just isn’t a good idea.

Step Two:  Mulch. Mulching adds a layer of protection to your plants.  It keeps them cooler during the day and helps to trap moisture in the ground instead of evaporating into an oblivion.

Step Three:  Water the base of your plants not the top or the leaves. The water droplets left behind from watering can heat up so much during the course of the day they can actually burn your plants and cause significant damage.  A plant pulls its moisture from the roots anyway, so watering the bottom is better for your plants.

Step Four:  Water deeply. A little splash of water in this kind of weather just isn’t going to cut it.  Soak the ground.  I know we always say don’t send your plants swimming, but the ground is drier right now and will require more water than normal.  Just make sure your garden area has adequate drainage.

Step Five:  Water in triplicate for containers. Containers dry out much quicker than plants planted in the ground.  And when you do water them, excess water runs out through the drainage holes before the super dry soil has time to soak up enough water to keep the plant alive.  So water your container 3 times.  Again, you need to soak the container.  Give it a few minutes for the excess water to drain out and soak it again.  Repeat the process at least 3 times to make sure the soil has soaked up plenty of water.  To check if your container plant has enough water, use Ron’s Second Knuckle Method.  Stick your finger into the dirt of the container all the way down to your second knuckle.  If your finger is dry and free of dirt when you pull your finger back out, it doesn’t have enough water.

Step Six:  Break up the soil around your plant using a small tiller or a hand rake or cultivator.  This will allow the water to penetrate the ground quicker and get more water to the roots of your plant.

Step Seven:  Throw on a little more soil. The more you water, the more the soil tends to move around and can expose the roots of your plants.  So toss in a little more soil around the base of your plants to keep the roots cool and protected.

Step Eight:  Water Twice. Plan on watering your plants in the morning and at night.  I, personally, have been watering my vegetable garden in the morning before work and at night just after dinner.  And so far, even the plants in direct sunlight have been doing great and all the plants are still producing plenty of veggies for the whole family.

Step Nine:  Stay safe. Your garden isn’t the only thing that can struggle in the heat.  Heat Stress can be very serious if not treated.  Drink lots of fluids.  Avoid sodas, teas, and coffee as the caffeine can actually cause you to dehydrate.  Wear a wide brim hat and sunscreen.  And rest when you need to.  Remember if you quit sweating, you’re dehydrated.  Signs of heat stress include nausea, weakness, headache, muscle cramps, confusion, and extreme thirst.  If you feel any of the symptoms of heat stress, stop what you are doing and go to a cool place.  Call for help and drink lots of fluids until help arrives.

Step Ten:  Do a rain dance. A really fancy rain dance, with costumes and make-up.  I’m not sure if it will actually work, but we’d love to see some videos of your best rain dance.  And who knows, your rendition of the rain dance could be just the trick to save us all from this heat wave.

Got Milk….Jugs???

I love the idea of having a giant garden.  The very aspect of being overwhelmed with fresh veggies or stunning flowers just makes me grin.  I don’t, however, like the idea of spending countless hours holding a garden hose while I painstakingly go from plant to plant to make sure it has an ample amount of water to thrive and flourish.  So how do I have the garden of my dreams and avoid holding a garden hose all day?  I stock up on milk….jugs to be specific.

Drip irrigation is a great solution for watering your garden and with a little help from items you would normally discard anyway, it can be easy and cheap.  Here’s all you need to know to get started.

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Project Time: Varies depending on Garden Size

Experience Level: Beginner Gardener

Tools Needed: 1 Large Nail, 1 Garden Spade

Materials Needed: Lots of Milk Jugs or Other Plastic Containers Such as Large Water Bottles, 2 Liters or Buckets

Sweat Factor: Low (Especially if it stays this cold!!!)

Satisfaction Meter: Moderate – You probably won’t be doing cart wheels or dancing in the rain with an umbrella while singing a song (although if you do we would really like you to video it and send us a copy), but you will feel a sense of accomplishment for being both environmentally friendly and a pure champion to your plants for giving them the gift of water.

How to Make Milk Work for You:

1. After consuming all the contents of your milk jug, water bottle, or 2 Liter, rinse the container out thoroughly with soap and water.  Don’t discard the container’s cap.  You will need it later on.

2. Using a large nail, poke a hole in the bottom of each container.  You can poke one or more holes depending on how much water you want to flow through.  Remember the more holes, the faster the water will flow out.

3. Survey your garden area for the best places to put your jugs or containers.  You want to choose places where the water will reach the root zones of several plants.  Once you have strategically eyeballed your target zones, use a garden spade to loosen the soil or dig a small divot in the area you want to place each of your jugs or containers.

4. Add water and put the cap back on your container.

5. Verify that the jug is working by lifting the jug and checking to see if the ground underneath is wet.  If it’s dry, you need a bigger hole or more holes in the bottom of your container.

BONUS TIP: If you see rain clouds rolling in, remove the caps of each container.   Rainwater is a garden’s best friend!

It’s Hip to be Green

When my little boy presented me with my Mother’s Day gift this year, I was tickled pink.  It was a beautifully handwritten book of all his thoughts and ideas.  Every page had a different topic and beneath each header were little snippets from the mind of an eight year old.  One page in particular seemed to leap out at me.  ‘”What would make the World a Better Place?”  My little boy’s answer was ‘The world would be a better place if everyone threw their trash away and quit littering.’  And you know, when I look back (way way back) to when I was his age, I can’t for the life of me say I ever once worried about the effects of littering.  But as the Environment takes center stage in news and politics, it’s not surprising that even a child would be concerned with environmental issues.

And the trend-setting word these days as we battle toxic waste, ozone depletion, and unsightly soda cans tossed on the side of the road is green.  Once thought to be just a color on the color wheel, Green is now a personal choice to making the world a better place.  Going Green is the new hip way of living.  Recycling.  Conserving Water and Energy.  Saying ‘no’ to plastic and carrying a re-useable shopping tote instead.  As well as replacing harmful chemicals with more organic options.  It’s all part of Green Living.  And it’s the ‘in’ thing to do.  Everyone and everything wants to be green these days.  Even Gardening.

So how do you make your Garden Green?  Use Organic Pesticide?  Well, yes, that’s a start.  But there are other things you can do to create a greener garden that would make Mother Nature proud. 

1. Conserve Water – Now, don’t panic.  I wouldn’t dream of suggesting that you deprive your garden of water.  That would be silly.  Instead of going green, you’d be going yellow with half starved plants.  But with a little effort, you can collect rain water and/or pump water from a nearby stream or pond.  You can even use waste water.  Not only would you be saving on your water bill, you would be helping the environment.  There are lots of options in the water conservation arena, but below are just two to get you started.

Rain Water:  Collecting rain water is fairly simple and not very costly.  It just requires something to catch the water in and a little help from a storm cloud.  You can use anything to catch the water from a barrel to a bucket.  Just whatever you have on hand.  That’s the easy part.  Getting help from a storm cloud may prove to be more difficult.  But if you do manage to charm the cloud with a rain dance, be sure to teach the dance to us too cuz that’s one skill we haven’t mastered yet either.

Irrigation Pump:  Water Pumps range in price starting around $30.00.  There are all kinds of pumps available depending on your needs and watering requirements.  They even have solar powered pumps if you want to be super green and conserve electricity too.  Although a water pump requires a little setup and creativity, it’s a long term investment that you can use year after year.

2.  Recycle and Reuse – Everything in a garden, from the plastic containers to spoiled veggies, can be recycled and/or reused in your garden.  So before you toss that tomato the worm made a home in while you weren’t looking, think about starting a compost pile instead.  Compost piles are a great alternative to chemically enhanced fertilizers and are fairly easy to make.  Plus you can throw just about anything in a compost pile.  And don’t give your slightly used containers to the trash man to discard, rinse them out and store them to plant new seedlings in next year. If you want to go an extra step, you can recycle yesterday’s newspaper and conserve water at the same time.  Just fold up a couple of pages and place them under one of your containers on the patio.  The paper will absorb the runoff water and allow the plant to get excess moisture when it needs it all at the same time.  Or spread your old newspapers under your garden mulch.  Not only will it absorb the excess water, weeds will smother underneath them. 

3.  Plant More – Gardening itself is green.  Planting veggies, flowers, trees, and shrubs is in essence going green.  And isn’t it nice to know that your love for gardening is actually just one more step to making the world a better place? 

Going Green isn’t easy, but then nothing extraordinary ever is.  However with a little thought and effort, pardon the age-old saying, you can make a difference.  For more tips on Going Green in your Garden, visit PeachyGreen.  And if you have some ideas for a Greener Garden, share them with us here.  We would love to hear from you! 

And remember, it’s ok to purchase a few more pretty flowers and rose bushes than what you actually need, because you’re not really purchasing them for you….you’re saving the world one plant at a time!!!

Water Confusion

If you were to Google ‘how to water your plants’, you would come up with over 29,800,000 results full of pages saying ‘this is the correct way to water your plants’, which can be an information-overload nightmare.  Every year, we are asked the age-old water question…how much should I water my plants?  And honestly, there really isn’t a simple cut and dry answer since every plant is a little different and has varying water requirements.  But rest assured, we do have some simple water tips and tricks for you that might take the headache out of your watering woes. 

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First, let’s separate your plants into two categories, containers/baskets/pots and flower beds.  Containers/baskets/pots have a tendency to dry out more than flowerbeds. This is because there is less soil which makes it harder for the plants to retain water.  So you have to water them just a little different.  We recommend the drenching method.  Completely saturate your containers/baskets/pots with water.  Give them a minute or so to soak up all the moisture and then saturate them again.  You want to do this at least 3 times.  The idea is to get the plant so wet that water runs out the bottom.  The soil in a container/basket/pot needs to be evenly moist.  And it’s very important that they are able to drain.  You don’t want your plants to be left sitting in water.  Plants love to play in the water, but they have yet to learn how to swim.  So leave the deep end for the kiddos and let the flowers play in the shallow end.   

As for Flower Beds, we recommend the ‘Second Knuckle Moisture Meter’ method, a phrase coined by one of our helpful Sales Reps, Ron.  You want to water your flower beds until the soil is moist.  You can check your moisture level with Ron’s ‘Second Knuckle Moisture Meter’ method.  Put one finger in the soil up to your second knuckle.  If you pull your finger up from the dirt and your finger is still dry, you need more water.  If you pull your finger up and you have moist dirt up to your second knuckle, you’ve successfully become a watering guru.  Keep in mind, you want the entire bed to have this moisture level.  Also, if you are watering your flower beds by hand with a hose or watering can, you need to direct the flow of water onto the soil, not the plants.  If you are watering by sprinkler, try to water as early in the morning as possible.  Tho there is great speculation on whether water on flower petals and leaves can actually cause the flowers to burn in the direct sunshine, we’ve found that plants just perform better if you water them in the morning.  Again, remember to think moisture, not puddles.

Lastly, we would like you to remember two rules of thumb.  One, water in the morning, not at night.  There is an old saying that says ‘never put your plants to bed wet’ that we tend to agree with.  And two, beware of windy days.  Wind is a water zapping monster to flowers.  So if it’s a particularly windy day, you might need to water your plants twice that day to avoid your plants drying out.

Now these tips won’t apply to every plant in the known universe, so be sure to read the tags on the plants you purchase before you plant and/or water them.  And as long as you’ve got the water on, go ahead and splash around a bit, because flowers shouldn’t be the only ones to get to play in the water.

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