Thursday, May 5, 2016

Row Covers and Garden Tunnels for Plant Protection

Extend your gardening season and protect your plants from frost, wind and insect damage!  

Guest Author:  Mark Greene

Floating Row Covers

Floating Row Covers protect plants against frost, excessive wind and insects. To choose the right row cover weight for your crops it's necessary to also consider light transmission. For example, a 1 oz./sq.yd. cover provides more protection than a lighter weight cover, but does not allow as much light through to the plants. Choose from three different weights, ranging from a 0.5 oz. to 1.25 oz. to provide your crops both protection and adequate light for healthy growth. For general use, we recommend a 0.5 oz. weight for moderate frost protection and 85% light transmission. Cover individual rows with 6' wide floating row covers or quickly cover larger gardens with 25' x 25" blankets. 


 Easy Fleece Jacket for Plant Protection 
If you are looking to cover individual plants in containers or hanging baskets, Easy Fleece Jackets do the trick. These thick 1.25 oz. polypropylene jackets feature a built in drawstring for easy closure and securing around plants and containers. Jackets are available in three sizes: small 26.5" W x 31.5" H, medium 31.5" W x 39" H, and large 47" W x 70" H.






Garden Tunnels for Plant Protection Gardeners love using Garden Tunnels to provide a simple way to extend the growing season while protecting plants from frost, wind chill, and garden pests. These allow you to plant up to two weeks earlier and in tests, this garden tunnel has been shown to keep growing vegetation up to 25°F warmer than outside temperatures. Here in Rochester NY, we have used them to grow lettuce into December, even after 12" of snow! Easy Fleece Tunnels combine wire hoops with row cover material are easy to install tunnels can even protect tall plants like tomatoes and peppers.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Pick the Right Pots to Get Healthy Plants


Guest Author:  Mark Greene

If you started your transplants in small cells or pellets, you may have to "bump them up" into larger plant pots before they are ready to be transplanted into the garden. Large items like pumpkins and squash can be started in pots, then transferred to the garden. Jiffy peat pots or Dillen plastic pots are top choices for your garden needs.


Jiffy peat pots are excellent for starting plants like vegetables, vine crops and large growing annuals. These pots help encourage vigorous plant growth and a strong root system. When you transplant pot and plant into the garden, the roots are not disturbed and therefore the plant's growth is not stunted. Jiffy 3" pots hold enough soil to sustain large, fast growing plants like squash or pumpkins. Jiffy Pots are also extremely versatile, allowing you to sow what seeds you have without leaving unfilled seeding trays. When you only want one or two of any one variety, Jiffy Pots are a convenient choice- and what's more, they're biodegradable!

 


Dillen plastic pots are great for growing a large selection of plants. Some plants, like geraniums and most perennials, take several months to develop to a size appropriate for transplant. For these plants, plastic containers can have an advantage over peat pots. If a plant is going to be in the pot for more than a couple of months before being planted into a
container or your garden, peat pots that can start to break down. Peat pots get soft over time, letting the roots break   through and grow outwards. If you prefer a more durable pot, transplant your perennial seedlings into Dillen plastic pots in spring, and watch them grow into larger, developed plants ready for the garden.

Keep your containers from drying out by adding a few teaspoons of Soil Moist products to your soil mix. The polymers absorb the water and release it back into the soil when needed.
With the right containers for your flowers and vegetables, your deck and patio will be bursting with color and flavor.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Planting a Bee Friendly Garden


Guest Author:  Daniel Roath  


Gardeners are eager to get their plants in the ground as spring approaches. When planning your garden, consider accommodating honeybees and other beneficial pollinators. In return, the bees will pollinate your flowers, increasing your garden's annual yield. 

Here is a helpful guide as you prepare your bee-friendly garden:


Choose plants that attract honey bees based on bloom shape and scent. Bees are drawn to two kinds of flowers. They like to crawl into the shelter of tubular-shaped flowers, and flatter blooms offer easy access. They draw from a variety of pollen and nectar's to satisfy their dietary needs. Plan for season-round blooms, choosing plants with successive blooms to help sustain the bees with a readily available food supply through as many seasons as possible. Grouping bee-friendly plants together will help attract bees.
Provide a fresh water source. Water is used to dilute and dissolve crystallized honey. It can also be evaporated and fanned throughout the hive to cool it during warm weather. Not to mention water is a refreshing drink for bees on a hot day. If you do not have a natural water source to draw from, consider placing a bird bath or shallow dish in your garden.

Plan your garden this year to aid these beneficial pollinators and consider becoming a beekeeper yourself. Brushy Mountain has all the resources to help you get started. Visit BrushyMountainBeeFarm.com for more details.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Farming is Hard Work



I have great respect for the farmers of America. Much like the veterans of our great nation, many Americans take their efforts for granted without second thought. Out of all the livestock, dairy, grain, vegetable, and flower farmers, none of them can acquire success without putting forth a lot of hard work and many times endure disappointment.




Americans today seem to want everything now, without wait or fuss. Grocery chains prepare food and package meats and vegetables together for an easy meal. Garden centers sell full grown tomato plants with ripening fruit for the customer to take home, place it on the deck, and start picking tomatoes within days. In my mind, the more convenient our lifestyles are, the harder it is to appreciate the hard work and dedication it takes to create and serve the food and products we consume every day. On the other hand, if businesses do not capitalize on the emerging trends, they just might be left behind.

 


With that said, success doesn't come easily for farmers. Dedication and a "roll-up-your-sleeves and get-it-done" attitude is the recipe for success. Perhaps the best and most humbling reward is simply the pride and satisfaction in providing food for American families. Farming is a profession that should be honored with high regard in the USA.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Learn How To Start Seeds Indoors



Seed Starting Instructions. I believe many gardeners today are somewhat reluctant to start their garden plants indoors as they find the process a bit intimidating, and better left to the pros. For me, I find seed starting to be a very rewarding experience. It really is very easy when you follow recommended guidelines. These guidelines require proper heat, light and moisture. If you follow these guidelines to start seeds indoors, you are assured of immediate success.

I tend to be a bit of an impatient person, and the sooner I can get my marigolds in bloom, the faster the rewards flow from my garden. Although some flowers can be direct seeded into the garden, I prefer to start them indoors to get a jump on the season. I use a 3 shelf light stand that allows me to start hundreds of flowers and vegetables indoors. In my post "Seed Starting Indoors While Waiting for Spring" you can see the seeds I've started this year.   


If you have never attempted to start plants indoors, here are a few recommendations:
  • Choose easy-to-start-from-seed species like tomatoes, peppers, marigolds, sunflowers, and zinnias.
  • Start small and expand your efforts the following season.
  • Check out our Seed Starting Video presented by Jeff Werner, our resident farmer and Mark Greene, our in-house horticulturist.
  • If you are new to seed starting, we offer money saving light stand and heat mat combos to insure your success.
  • I encourage you to use the web for information on starting flowers or vegetables indoors. Some species are a little more difficult to start indoors than others.
Good luck and let us know if you need any further assistance.



 

Friday, March 11, 2016

Start Seeds Indoors While Waiting for Spring



Spring lurks while it has not fully arrived according to the calendar the mild winter here in Western New York has us itching to get outdoors to start digging in the soil and tending to our gardens.  For seed starters, now is the time to plant. Over this past week, I have started some varieties in my basement under grow lights, along with the help of a much needed heat mat for good germination. Here are the plants I like to start from seeds and plant in my garden:


 

I started Deep Purple and Coconut, and they will be outstanding in combination plantings. These petunias are wonderful in beds as they will spread 3 to 4 feet across. I add some Worm Power when transplanting and the results were phenomenal last year. If you are not using any of the Wave petunias, I highly recommend that you do.





 

These dwarf snapdragons are absolutely gorgeous in hanging planters or containers. Bushy, compact plants will spread to 16 to 18" across, but only get 6 to 8" tall. These trailing snaps are bright and cheerful…they make my day.










Although you can directly plant zinnia seeds in the garden, I like to start them in my basement to get a jump on the season. Magellan Mix is absolutely the best zinnia for bedding and hedges. Plants grow 12 to 15" tall, and are loaded with large, colorful blooms.






 
 
I grow Zahara Double Fire and Double Cherry. These two varieties are truly knock-outs in garden beds. The intense deep orange and cherry red colors are a sight to behold. The plants will handle extreme weather better than others too.









Primo Red Tomatoes

This tomato variety has only been in the marketplace for a few years, and already it is a grower favorite. Modern hybrid tomatoes are not supposed to have great flavor, compared to older varieties, but not so with Primo Red. It matures very early, producing large, meaty beefsteak size fruit with a wonderful tomato flavor. It is my main tomato variety.





 

I love the bright yellow color of the roma tomato type fruit, and its eating quality for salads is exceptional. Golden Rave is a prolific yielder, so a few of these tomato plants go a long way.







 

Small, flattened round peppers, only 2.5 to 3" across are a true delight. The flesh is thick and very sweet, and I stuff and bake them for hors d'oeuvres or will often serve them as a main meal.   In short…these peppers are absolutely delicious.







 
Gordo Peppers 

I do not understand why more gardeners don't use this pepper variety. It will yield exceptionally large, flattened elongated peppers with very thick walls. Its thick flesh and long flattened shape make it ideal for roasting, and roasted and fried peppers in a tomato sauce are superb. Slice Gordo in half and stuff it for baking or try its very sweet flesh raw in salads.



I can highly recommend any of the above varieties for your garden. They are real winners as far as I am concerned.
 

Monday, March 7, 2016

When Should I Start My Vegetable Plants from Seeds?



At this time of year we are often asked, "When should I sow my seeds to start my vegetable transplants"?  Because our seed catalogs are delivered to all 50 states, and transplanting times arrive earlier in the Southern and Western U.S. than the Northern U.S., we usually answer this question with the number of weeks it takes to grow a transplantable seedling.


The chart below gives you the estimated time that it will take to produce vegetable plants from seed.   To determine the date for your area that it is safe to transplant a specific species to your garden, subtract the number of weeks it takes to grow the transplant, and then subtract the number of days it takes to germinate the seed to figure the date you should sow your seed.

If you don't know the recommended planting time for your region for a specific species, search the web for a
vegetable planting guide specific to your area of the U.S. There are many useful websites that indicate the optimum transplanting time by species, for most every area in the U.S.
DAYS to
GERMINATE

6-10
6-10
6-10
6-10
6-10
6-10
7-14
5-10
6-10
5-10
7-12
6-10
5-10
6-10
7-14
7-12
10-20
6-10
6-10
6-14
4-14
WEEKS to
TRANSPLANT

4-5
4-5
5-6
5-6
4-6
3-4
6-7
5-7
4-6
4-6
6-8
4-5
2-3
4-6
6-8
5-6
6-8
2-3
2-3
5-6
3-5

Not enough time left to start plants from seed? Be sure to check out our garden-ready vegetable transplants!