Selling to a New Generation of Gardeners

Selling to a New Generation of Gardeners

I had my plant sale last weekend. I had 400 tomato plants ready to go to new homes along with herbs, perennials and a few annuals. It was a lot of work to set everything up but with Farmer Jim’s help we finally got the last bit done by 9pm the night before the plant sale. I also had my friends, Jassen and Janice come with a table full or ornamental shrubs and perennials.

Selling to a New Generation of Gardeners

My plant sale was a week earlier this year but the weather was warm once again. Our summer drought is on the horizon I fear. People came and took home plants on both plant sale days but it was slower than the year before.

Selling to a New Generation of Gardeners

It was late in the afternoon on the first day that I decided to place photos of my tomato plants for sale online. You see I tend to sell plants to young families with small children, new gardeners that need help with their gardening skills. I realized last year that if they were like my children most of the stuff they buy is seen on their smart phones. It’s just the way things are these days. I knew if I posted my plants online I would get more sales.

Selling to a New Generation of Gardeners

It worked. you see when plants are sold online people can pick up when its convenient for them and the seller. Yes, some people may not show but that’s the chance you take. The difference is when they do come they like to ask me gardening questions. Perhaps they haven’t grown tomatoes before or don’t know what type of soil to use in their containers.

Selling to a New Generation of Gardeners

I find myself giving lots of garden advice along with the plant sales. I think that’s what we are missing these days. If you go to a big box store to get plants, you are hard pressed to find knowledgable advice on growing.

To be successful in this business you need that personal service. It’s what makes customers come back year after year. I love to talk about plants, and my education in the field means they will get good advice. My customer service skills come from working retail for 35 years. Of course, I am just a little bit passionate about what I do.  So in the end I realized that almost half my sales this weekend were online. Yes, times are definitely changing and we have to move along with them.

May Brings New Flowers

May Brings New Flowers

Its been a busy week in the greenhouse and hardening off plants for the garden. I was so busy I hadn’t realized the roses were in bloom. You know what they say, stop and smell the roses. It’s so true. Life gets busy and we miss out on the simple pleasures. Our garden is full of fragrant roses and over the weekend I had people ask me about the one above. In the garden we have six old-fashioned shrub roses. They are in full bloom this week and the fragrance is intoxicating. May Brings New Flowers

It wasn’t until I was out watering the kitchen garden this morning that I saw this. Wow! It must have been all the great weather we have had this week as this apricot coloured climbing rose is stunning. We are way behind in the garden and many of the canes haven’t been tied in over the arbor. The advantage to that is I get to reach them and enjoy their fragrance. I may even cut some for a bouquet.

May Brings New flowers

This is a closeup of the climbing rose. I have no idea  which rose this is as they were all here when we moved in. The stems of these plants are three inches across so it has me thinking they are about twenty years old if not more.


May Brings New Flowers

On the other side of the arbor the white climbing roses are just opening. They cover a ten foot wide section of the arbor and are amazing when all are in bloom.

May Brings New Flowers

This rose drives me crazy. I love that it’s so pretty and fragrant but after it blooms it send out masses of wild shoots that bear single petalled roses. They are most likely suckers coming from below the graft and even though I cut them back they return each year.

May Brings New Flowers

It’s not only roses out this week. The peonies are open among the Centaurea montana. In behind, the variegated Weigela is in bloom with its light pink flowers.

May Brings New Flowers

Aquilegia or columbine is out with its granny’s bonnet shaped flowers. Such  a nice perennial to have in the garden.

May Brings New Flowers

For years we have been wanting to prune this monster Weigela before it eats someone coming through the gate. We never seem to get around to it. The bees love the trumpet-shaped flowers. It blooms now and then again in late summer.

May Brings New Flowers

May is Iris month. The early Iris are long done and now the main season Iris are here. I think of Iris as the orchid of the garden, flowers so perfect in so many amazing colours.

May Brings New Flowers

I rarely show this back area of the garden. The Rhododendrons are fabulous this year. My favourite are the whites as they show up so well in the evening. Someone asked me once if I deadheaded my Rhododendrons. I answered back, we have forty plants, so no. I have to admit I tend to take some spent blooms from the white ones but the rest I leave for mother nature.

May Brings New flowers

This Iris has to be my all time favourite.  I love the purple and white blooms!
May Brings New Flowers

The last of the spring bulbs are the Allium. They are planted throughout the garden. They are great architectural plants to have in the garden. Once they are done blooming all the spent foliage from spring bulbs will be removed to make way for annual flowers. That’s about it for this week. Its time to get my Impatiens, zinnias, purple millet grass, sunflowers and salpiglossis out of the greenhouse and into the garden.

Growing Food for Winter Meals

Growing Food for Winter Meals

Last weekend I was invited to do a short presentation on growing food to feed yourself year round . So why plant the crops I will talk about? They can be either stored in a cool garage, frozen or canned so you can eat them all winter long. This lessens your footprint on the food chain and you only have to go into your garage or freezer to get what you want.  

Growing Food for Winter Meals

These potatoes were freshly harvested. How are they different from the ones at the store? Yes, they are dirty. Potatoes must never be washed before storing or they could rot. I like to grow potatoes as a late season crop. If harvested early they can start to sprout in the garage. I will be growing some Kennebec potatoes as they store better than most. The best place to store potatoes is in the ground. You want to harvest the last of the potatoes before a hard frost. 

Growing Food for Winter Meals

Here is a cucumber plant that I grew in a container. Last year I had 70 pounds of cucumbers from six plants in a raised bed. The problem is you can’t freeze cucumbers. So what did I do with so many cucumbers? I made hamburger relish. You can also use cucumbers to make pickles that you can eat all winter long. Can you store them fresh? No you can’t, so you really need to plan what you will be doing with your harvest. If you don’t know how to preserve it, perhaps grow only one plant. 

Growing Food for Winter Meals

 Pumpkins are great for not only jack-o-lanterns but for eating as well. When choosing a pumpkin to grow read the label to see if it’s a good eating pumpkin. Who doesn’t love pumpkin pie? You can cook your pumpkins and freeze the flesh for future use.

Growing Food for Winter Meals

Maybe you want to make some pumpkin soup. Looks yummy!

Growing Food for Winter Meals

Do you recognize this plant? Since most of us shop at the grocery store we often don’t get a chance to see what this plant looks like. We often don’t see the long green stems on this plant if we don’t grow them ourselves. 

Growing Food for Winter Meals

This may be a better photo as its cleaned up a bit here. Yes, its an onion. 

Growing Food for Winter Meals

This is what we see in the store. Here the onions have been cured which means they were laid out to dry in the shade on large trays. The tops were removed, the soil brushed off and sent to the stores when ready. Onions are a good crop to grow and store easily in your cool garage over the winter. I never have to buy onions unless I don’t grow enough.

Growing Food for Winter Meals

Cabbage is a wonderful crop to harvest in the fall. When lettuce goes up to $4 per head why not switch to making coleslaw? Cabbage must be stored in a cool garage. This cabbage is quite large with lots of big leaves. 

Growing Food for Winter Meals

Here is what cabbage looks like when you get it at the store. All the outer leaves are removed and composted. It’s quite wasteful what we don’t eat. Cabbage can be stored over the winter as well. Harvest it late in the season. 

Growing Food for Winter Meals

Lettuce is one crop that you can only eat fresh. You can’t freeze it, can it  or dry it so why grow it? I grow a small amount of lettuce but its important to make sure you plant some cabbage for a fall crop. Did you know homegrown lettuce will store and keep fresh in your fridge for almost a month. 

Growing Food for Winter Meals

It’s not like store-bought lettuce which barely lasts a week. The only reason I grow my own little row of lettuce is so I can avoid plastic. Plastic is something we need to be more aware of when we shop.

Growing Food for Winter Meals

Carrots are great for storing. Like potatoes they are best stored in the ground and used as you need them. You can actually plant carrots in late summer to last you into the winter months. If it is supposed to freeze you can harvest the crop and store in a box of sand in the garage. You will need to trim the top off but don’t wash the carrots before storing.

Growing Food for Winter Meals

 You may not know what this crop is. Any guesses? 

Growing Food for Winter Meals

This is my garlic being cured. Garlic has layers of paper covering it and those layers need to dry out so it stores well. 

Growing Food for Winter Meals

Here is a garlic I harvested last July. Yes, its been nine months and its a good keeper in the garage. 

Growing Food for Winter Meals

Peas are an easy first time crop but you have to grow a lot to have a good supply for winter eating. It’s a great crop to grow if you have children as they love to snack from the garden. 

Growing Food for Winter Meals

Kale is one of the hardiest crops you can grow in the garden. It is very nutritious and lasts all winter long. One plant can feed two people all winter.

Growing Food for Winter Meals

Anyone know what these are? I get asked all the time what this funny looking plant is. You can grow Brussel sprouts right into December. They taste better once the frost has hit them.

Growing Food for Winter Meals

 I love spinach but I prefer to eat it fresh. You can plant this in early spring and again in the fall for late harvests. It can be frozen but I prefer it fresh. It can be frozen and used in lasagna, as it is or in that wonderful spinach dip we all love. 

Beans, even though it freezes well, is the one vegetable that uses the most water. As our climate warms we need to be aware of how we use our water. Perhaps we grow a shorter beans instead of the six-foot high pole beans. Less leaf surface means less water to keep the plant alive. I found in growing beans in the greenhouse this year that they couldn’t go 24 hours without water. If I decide to grow beans this year it will be a french fillet koala bean that grows 10″ tall. 

Growing Food for Winter Meals

We need to think about what we waste. This potato would never be sold in the stores because it isn’t perfect. It still tastes the same. Why do we expect perfection? Is it really responsible to throw food like this away? 

Growing Food for Winter Meals

Think about planting to save water in the garden. Using plants to shade the soil will help.This is a three sisters garden where each plant has a supporting role. The corn is planted first allowing the beans to grow up its stalk. It is followed by squash that covers the soil with its huge leaves. Shading the soil allows for less watering.  Squash is one of the easiest plants to grow if you have room. One plant can take up ten feet of space. Its harvested in the fall and stored in a cool garage on trays that allow it to breathe. The good thing about squash is that its growth habit with its large leaves covers the soil. This helps to prevent water loss and erosion. 

Growing Food for Winter Meals

Plant close together to get the most out of your garden. If you harvest a crop always plan to have something else go into that space. Never have a bare spot in the garden. 

So thinking about what we talked about so far. Choose seeds to plant that will give you a harvest that can be stored in a cold garage, canned or frozen. Select seeds of crops that will store well. Plant wisely to save water. 

Plant Sale Frenzy in Delta

Plant Sale Frenzy in Delta

It’s a busy week ahead as I prepare for my annual plant sale on April 30 and May 1. Many plants need to come out of the greenhouse and be hardened off so they do well in their new homes. The last three days I have hauled 23 flats of tomatoes outside for the day. It’s now the fourth day so they will spend their first night outside.  Once they are outside the cucamelons will begin their move to two mini greenhouses. The mini greenhouses can be covered with plastic so these delicate plants don’t get cold at night. It’s early for them to go outside but I have pre-orders for plants from last fall.

Plant Sale Frenzy in Delta

The greenhouse will seem empty once the plants are outside. It will give me room to start some heat loving plants such as squash and pumpkins. Pumpkins don’t go in the garden until June. We certainly don’t want them ready in September unless they are being grown for food. The later I harvest squash the longer it will store in my garage.

Plant Sale Frenzy in Delta

The basil is loving the heat we had the last week. It’s still early to place your basil outside as it likes a night-time temperature of 12C. You can easily grow it in the house until the temperatures warm up. Give it a sunny place to grow in the kitchen.

Plant Sale Frenzy in Delta

The cucamelon plants are so ready for new homes. They are twining around every plant within their reach in the greenhouse. Yesterday I had to move them from strangling the zinnias. Imagine such violence in the greenhouse!

Plant Sale Frenzy in Delta

I am not the only one having a plant sale this month. The South Delta Garden club is having their sale on May 7 at the Mountain View Extended Care home in Ladner. The garden club has  a huge selection of perennial flowers for your garden. If you don’t find the tomatoes you are looking for at my sale, Bruce from the garden club will have many more to choose from.

 

Plant Sale Frenzy in Delta

West Coast Seeds is also having their annual tomato seedling sale on May 7 at their retail location on Elliott street in Ladner. I hear they have over 44 kinds of tomato seedlings this year. If you haven’t been to their retail location, you are missing out on some unique items for the garden. From hummingbird feeders to gardening books there is something there for everyone.

 

 

Adding Fragrance to the Garden

Adding Fragrance to the Garden

Yesterday I talked to a low vision club  about fragrance in the garden. I wasn’t until I was preparing for this talk that I realized how important fragrance was to me. I find that when I walk through my garden and come upon a scent that I can’t identify, I will stop and spend time finding out which plant it is. It means I take time to live in the moment and it’s relaxing. 

Adding Fragrance to the Garden

Every garden should have some kind of fragrance. Fragrance brings a garden to life.  Unfortunately many plants we have thought of as fragrant have had it bred out of them. If you see beautiful roses often they have no scent but will be virtually disease free. It seems like we are trading one thing for another.

So why add fragrance to the garden? The sense of smell is so strong. Most of us remember scents from the past. The perfume our mothers wore or bread being baked. Certain smells trigger fond memories for many people. The scents of a garden also relax us. A walk under a large rose arbor underplanted with alyssum has us wanting to sit and stay awhile. It makes us slow down and enjoy the moment, something many of us don’t know how to do.

Adding Fragrance to the Garden

Where would you add fragrance? I would suggest adding fragrance near the path to your front door, on the patio to enjoy while sitting outside and anywhere someone would walk in the garden. You can create pockets of fragrant flowers, shrubs or trees anywhere people will enjoy them. It may be a simple container of Daphne on the patio or wall flowers in a window box.

Everyone likes different smells. Some people don’t like the overpowering scent of Hyacinths but many love it. I like scents that surprise me like those of night-blooming flowers such as Nicotiana.

Adding Fragrance to the Garden

What types of plants could be used to bring fragrance in the garden? Lets look at trees to begin with. How about adding a small tree like Styrax japonica with its fragrant white bell-like flowers that bloom in June or the scented leaves of lemon trees. Many trees have scented leaves or bark. Often you have to rub the leaves to smell them.

Adding Fragrance to the Garden

I have a favourite winter blooming shrub called Viburnum bodnantense which blooms from November to February with tiny pink scented flowers. Its one of my favourite plants in the garden at a time when not much else is in bloom. It’s possible to have fragrant plants in the garden year round here on the west coast.

Adding Fragrance to the Garden

Flowers that are fragrant help attract pollinators to the garden. The fragrance of flowers is produced in glands at the base of petals.  Flowers that are pink and white tend to be the most fragrant. Imagine old-fashioned roses as you walk by them or sweet peas winding up a trellis. 

What if you don’t have a garden? Use houseplants to bring fragrance into the home. You could have a scented geranium, jasmine, citrus, gardenia, orchids, paperwhites, Hoya or eucalyptus. I would use miniature roses and then plant them outside.

Adding Fragrance to the Garden

So your choices are many when it comes to adding fragrant plants to the home or garden.  Lets take a look at some fragrant plants for spring. Plants such as hyacinths, lilac,  wisteria, stocks , choiysa or wall flowers are excellent choices for the spring garden. Having a lilac tree in the garden is wonderful. You can pick the flowers and bring them in the home to enjoy.

Adding Fragrance to the Garden

For summer fragrance you can grow roses, lemon verbena, lavender, lilies, honeysuckle, alyssum, heliotrope, sweet peas, mock orange, mint, Nicotiana or  lemon gem marigolds,

How about  herbs to add scent, both spicy and sweet, to your garden? Herbs are wonderful to use in the fragrant garden. I harvest lavender each year and place it an area where I can reach in and smell it. Right now its in a bag in my seed storage box and each time I go there I remember to enjoy the lavender. Lavender makes a wonderful addition to the fragrant garden.  Grow plants such as mint and lemon balm so you can touch the leaves and have them release their fruity scent. Both these plants should be in containers to keep them from spreading. Grow herbs such as sage and rosemary for their scent and for culinary use. Both are great plants to have for the bees.

Adding Fragrance to the Garden

 Most perennials continue to bloom late into fall. Petunias are often fragrant and last until frost sets them back. Annuals such as scented geraniums are wonderful for planters on the patio.  So when you shop for annual flowers, smell them to see if they are fragrant before buying them. Add some winter fragrance to the garden with the addition of witch hazel, viburnum and sweet box.  There is so much choice when it comes to fragrant plants. Why use plants without it? 

 

How to Create a Living Wreath

Its been many years since I made a living wreath. As I tidied the greenhouse I came across all the supplies I would need. I have the wire frame needed. All I need to get is wire, moss and plants. This sounds like a fun  project for the weekend.

How to Create a Living Wreath

It didn’t take much of a push to get me to the garden center for three packs of Impatiens. Normally on this 12″ wreath form I use nine plants. I want plants that will stay short so decided on Impatiens for this project. If it was early spring you could use Violas or for a perennial wreath you could use succulents.  Always water your new plants before starting your project. Now you can use moss from your garden if you have a supply. It contains lots of nutrients. I bought mine at the garden center.

How to Create a Living Wreath

This project is best done outside so its less mess to clean up. Trust me, moss goes everywhere or is it just me? Place the wreath ring on the table open side up. For this project I decided to use a green waxed string which is quite strong. You could use wire as long as it is flexible enough. I found that wire is hard to remove later in the year and can break due to rusting away.

Attach the string at one end of the ring leaving a tail about six inches long. The rest of the roll is the string you will wind around your wreath to enclose your plants. The six-inch piece will help in the end to tie the final knot. The next step is to place moss in a bucket of water to soak for about five minutes. Drain the water way and place the moss within arms reach. Separate your plants before starting and to make sure the root ball will fit in the wreath form. You may have to remove a bit of soil from the root ball if it doesn’t. I like buying plants in 2″ plant packs as their roots seem to work well. Don’t try this with a 4″ pot as it is too large.

How to Create a Living Wreath

Grab a handful of moss and place it in the inside and on the bottom of the wreath form. Next take one Impatien plant and place on top of the moss you placed in the wreath. Add more moss around the top and sides of the plant to cover the soil attached to the plant.

How to Create a Living Wreath

Take your string and wind it carefully beside the plant and under the wreath and over the moss pulling tightly to firm the plant in. Place a handful of moss next to the plant as a spacer. You want a couple of inches of moss between each plant. Tie the moss in by winding the string round the wreath form. It’s at this point you will feel like you need three hands but take your time and it will come together.

How to Create a Living Wreath

Now you are ready to add the second plant to the wreath. I have chosen three different colours for this wreath but you could use all white flowers for a wonderful display against the green of the wreath.

How to Create a Living Wreath

Repeat the wreath flower pattern by alternating a plant then moss filler while winding the string around the wreath as you go. Be careful to not let the string cut into your plants but be sure the string is firmly in place. Here the wreath has eight plants in it. One of the plants was a peach colour so I left it with eight plants instead of nine. Is it finished yet?

How to Create a Living Wreath

When you have placed the last plant in, hold up your wreath and take a good look at it. Does it seem thinner in some areas that others? As you can see above, I can see the wreath form on the underside of the wreath. Add moss where needed and use more string to hold it in place. I tend to go all around the wreath adding moss where needed and winding the string around as I go. Don’t cut your string until you are satisfied with the wreath shape. Tie in the end of the string to the wreath base.

How to Create a Living Wreath

Place your finished wreath on a flat surface for a few days to let the plants get established. You can use an ‘S’ hook or chain to hang up your wreath. Place on the fence of gate to greet your guests as they arrive.

How to Create a Living Wreath

You could also place your wreath on a clear plant saucer and place a hurricane shade in the center for a table display. I love having it on the table. I may have to make another wreath to go on the fence. You are probably wondering how to water the living wreath. I take the lid from a  garbage can and flip it over and fill it with water. I lay the wreath in the water for about 15 minute and then prop the wreath up to let excess water drain away. In warmer months you may have to water more than once per day. Luckily Impatiens love the shade so they don’t dry out as quickly. If you are going to be away, leave your wreath in a bin of a couple of inches of water to ensure it doesn’t dry out. You can also add some fertilizer once a month to help feed your plants by adding it to the water when you water your wreath.

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day-April 2016

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day-April 2016

Its Garden Bloggers Bloom Day on the 15th of the month so I am sharing  my flower garden with you today. I post a lot about growing food but I love flowers as well.  I have been laid up for a few days and was excited to see so much in bloom today. The weather is warming and fragrance is in the air. Above the Viburnum davidii is heavenly. The fragrance lingers as you enter our driveway.
Garden Bloggers Bloom Day-April 2016

The Azaleas are all in bloom. This one is a dwarf variety that grows to about 2′ high and as wide. Its covered in flowers. May is the usual month for Rhododendrons and Azaleas to bloom here but climate change has bumped it up by a couple of weeks.

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day-April 2016

I planted species tulips throughout the garden. I love the way they open up fully in the sun and close up at night. When this one closes orange striping adorns the outer side of the petals.

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day-April 2016

Tulip saxatilis ‘Lilac Wonder’ with its pink and yellow petals peeks out from the foliage of Centaurea montana.

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day-April 2016

As I walk under the rose arbor on the far side of the property Doronicum or Leopard’s Bane is in full bloom. I started with one plant along the driveway and now I have it everywhere. It’s so easy to divide and plant where needed. The pollinating insects love this flower.

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day-April 2016

I am pretty excited to see results from the wallflower I grew from seed last year. Most perennials don’t flower in the first year when grown from seed. They bloom in the second year so it’s a real sense of accomplishment when they flower.

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day-April 2016

Aubretia is doing better this year. It tends to look ragged in early spring but its worth the wait. Masses of bright purple flowers cover this plant. If I could only get the morning glory away from it, sigh.

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day-April 2016

Apricot coloured flowers have just opened on this Azalea. It went through some hard pruning to rejuvenate it a few years ago and its looking much fuller now.

Garden Blogger Bloom Day-April 2016

We were discussing how weedy bluebells are the other day. I literally have thousands in the garden from the traditional blue to pink and whites. In this area they are lovely while in bloom. Later on I remove all the foliage and let the shade loving plants take the stage. Remember those fall leaves I left on the garden. They are still there. The garden is now so thick with plants, the leaves can’t be seen.

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day-April 2016

A few days ago we had a ten minute hail storm, just small hail stones mixed with cherry blossoms. It was like watching winter and spring at the same time, so weird. I am totally loving the lawn this week. Its pretty in pink.

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day-April 2016

Pink tulips and bluebells grace the front walk now and will be followed by Allium in a few weeks. Narcissus are finished and I have cut the flowering stems back. In a  few weeks the annuals will go out once the nights warm up.

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day-April 2016

The Rhododendrons are opening this week. This one has dark pink buds that open to a lighter pink. There are about forty Rhododendrons and Azaleas in the garden, maybe more. They are pretty easy care shrubs. I don’t fertilize the flower garden at all. Some of the gardens may get a top dressing of new soil once in a while but that’s it.

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day-April 2016

That’s about it for this week in the garden. I am busy focusing on the vegetable plants in the greenhouse and getting ready to harden the plants off. After all my plant sale is only two weeks away.   Today I am linking over at May Dreams Gardens with bloggers from all over the world.