Monday, March 22, 2010


I finally have my first steps done for gardening this year. I have a couple hundred seedlings started (sitting on a table in front of some windows in my home until I transfer them to the greenhouse once it's repaired). My brother and I have tilled up the entire garden to prepare the soil. We have also been able to plant; garlic, onions, peas, and some potatoes. We were also pleasantly surprised that some bulb onions which we planted last year were coming up in one of our raised beds. These onions just never took off last year after we planted them (could have been to hot) but are looking good now. We made the decision to plant one raised bed full of potatoes, we know this is awfully early but it has been a warm spring and they should be fine throughout the rest of the chilly weather. I have also been able to tie up some blackberry bushes and replace the handle on a pointed hoe that's probably at least 60 years old passed down from our grandfather. It was a good weeked this past weekend and hopefully in the next week or two we will have more planted and the greenhouse fixed !

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Almost here!

Spring is almost here and the garden centers and home improvement centers finally have put out their gardening supplies. If you live in this region (central pa here) or surrounding states then now is the time to make sure that you have all of your seeds/plants ordered and start hitting you local garden centers for a great selection of asparagus, onions, potatoes, rheubarb, garlic, etc. Get them now and hold them until you are ready to plant. I have learned that it is better to purchase these items a few weeks early then to wait as the seclection dwindles quickly. Also, remember to get those seeds started. I have intended to get my seeds started for the past several weekends but have had not luck yet. Maybe sometime this week I will get all of my tomatoes, cucumbers, strawberries, pumpkins (cooking not carving), zucchini, melons, etc. started !

Also, remember to visit for great articles and check out the helpful planting guide there. Good luck this season!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Some space saving tips!

Don't have a huge space for gardening? No worries, follow some of these space saving techniques to get the most of whatever space you have.

1. Choose your vegetables wisely. You may not need 3 rows of lettuce and 20 tomato plants to feed your family. Only grow what you will actually need for your household. Several plants that are very generous in the amount of produce they give off are; tomatoes, lettuce, beans, summer squash, pumpkins, zucchini, cucumber, etc. I don't think it's a coincidence that these plants are also some of the most space consuming vegetables to grow. Some other space eating plants include; potatoes, sweet potatoes/yams, corn, watermelon, muskemelons, etc. Side note - if you have limited space then plant leaf lettuce not head lettuce. One small section of leaf lettuce gives off more lettuce then a full row or two of head lettuce and will continue to grow after each cutting!

2. Use planters around your patio or deck area. Many plants are easily grown in planters. Tomatoes, peppers, and many types of herbs do great in planter pots. Lettuce, spinach, chard, and even pole beans can do great in window planter boxes. Using these spaces can add color and function to those planter pots around your deck or patio.

3. Plant vegetables close together that "get along" well. This is called companion planting. I have a whole chart at which details companion plants in addition to other vital planting information. Some plants do not get along well because they spread diseases or steal each others nutrients, while other plants play nice and seem to really complement how each other produces and performs.

4. You can plant certain plants intermingled with other plants. For instance; zucchini, summer squash, and cucumbers, along with many members of the "melon" family can be planted so they grow in between the stalks of corn. Also, I like to plant my zucchini, summer squash, and cucumbers very close together (against common wisdom) in tight rows, they really seem to thrive that way and they take up less space.

5. One of the best things anyone with limited space (and those who have unlimited space) can do with their garden is multiple plantings. Starting your seeds and seedlings in the garden as early as possible will allow you to harvest them and plant something else with a short growing span. For instance, we plant peas early in the spring and are done harvesting them by early summer which allows us to plant a crop of something else in their space. Take a look at the planting guide mentioned above in step 3 and plot your garden accordingly. If you plan your garden correctly you can plant and harvest up to 3 different (or the same) plantings of vegetables in the same row in the same season. Multiple plantings are one thing that many gardeners do not take advantage of but if they did they could almost double the output of their garden.

6. Many viney plants including; melons, pumpkins, zucchini squash, cucumber, winter/summer squash, gourds, beans, peas, etc. can be/should be grown on stakes, trellises, fences, or other support systems. Growing these vegetables on support systems not only keeps the fruit off the ground which keeps it from rotting quicker, but it also saves a TON of space!

Friday, February 12, 2010

How to save seeds.

How to save seeds:

Saving seeds is a great way to both save money and ensure that you will have the same great vegetables next year that you enjoyed this year. Some varieties of plants (hybrid) do not do well saving seeds. Seeds should typically be saved from organic or heirloom varieties of plants. You can save seeds from hybrid varieties but your results may not be what you expected if/when they produce fruit. Here are the steps I follow to save seeds.

1. Harvest the seeds from the healthiest most mature fruit/vegetables that you have. Try to find the most blemish free plant with the healthiest produce. Most of the time you will want to get seeds from very mature plants not young ones since the seeds are not fully developed yet. For example, I like to leave one pea plant and one bean bush mature past the point where you would want to eat them, I then pick the over-matured plants to use as seed next year. Also, allow one or two fruit on viney plants like zucchini, cucumbers, and pumpkins to get larger than is recommended to use the seeds from.

2. Wash the seeds in lukewarm water. Try to remove any flesh or stringy materials from the seed. If flesh is left on the seed it can cause the seed to rot and smell. Once the seeds are rinsed, drain them and….

3. Place them on a surface to dry for several days. It is best to use a plate or other surface that the drying seeds will not stick to. This being said, I tend to place my seeds to dry on paper towels or newspaper (turning them occasionally the first day or two so they don’t stick).

4. Place the now dry seeds in envelopes, boxes, or other “dry” materials that will allow the seeds to completely dry out and get a bit of air circulation. I like to store my seeds in toilet paper/paper towel rolls with the ends pinched and taped shut. Be sure to write on the outside of the packet what type of seeds they are. The seeds should be stored in a cool dry area away from any heat or direct sunlight. A wine cooler, dry cabinet, or dry basement should work fine. The seeds will likely be viable to use in a month or two.

One final suggestion I have, is to test the validity of the seeds after a couple of months has passed since saving them. This will allow you to make sure that the seed is valid and you won’t plant a bunch of dud seeds come planting season. Take 8-10 seeds, place them in a very damp paper towel, put them inside a Ziploc bag, and place the bag in a cool area for 10-14 days. The viable seeds will sprout, thereby letting you know how thinly or heavily to sow your seed in the Spring. Good luck. Please see this article and many other articles at our great new gardening site listed below.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Simple composting!

Composting is something that is good for both your garden and the environment. The items that you put in compost will break down (keeping them out of the landfills) into very organically rich materials to re-introduce to your garden. Composting can be as easy or consuming as you make it. Personally my composting method is fairly simple and low maintenance. Here is how to do it.

1. Find a space to compost in. Preferably this area will be away from the home (in case of rodents or smell when you first start your pile). Try to choose a place that will get some sun exposure and exposure to the elements (moisture and sunlight will help the process).

2. Decide what type of compost pile you want. You can have a simple pile where you just continue to heap items to let them break down , you can choose to build your own containment area, or choose to purchase a pre-made composting bin. Each has their own advantages and disadvantages. Just remember, that a compost pile does best when somewhat enclosed and with the ability to cover it if you want (enclosing it will keep everything in one place and the heat condensed, also some moisture is good but too much is really bad for composting).

3. Once you have established where you want the pile placed and what type of composting pile/bin you are using you need to start adding organic material. Here are some ideas of things to add to your compost pile: (for a much larger listing visit my articles at:

Small amounts of cardboard and newspaper, coffee grinds and filters, sawdust, scraps of vegetables and fruits, grass clippings, leaves, pruning cuttings (not from very woody plants). Some things not to place in the bin include: intrusive weeds you pulled, bones and meat (some people say this works fine for them, so it’s up to you), woody plant cuttings, branches, anything that may contain toxic chemicals, dog feces, etc.

Some last tips for you compost pile are:

Remember to watch how wet it stays. It can rain on your pile, however, you do not want the compost soaked day after day and week after week.

If you are having trouble getting your compost pile started, see this article : or go to your local gardening center to purchase compost starter.

Your compost pile should be hot enough to limit the smell of things rotting and to keep rodents away.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Changes to the website!!!

I have recently made several changes to the website. Most noticeably is the changes made to our planting guide page: which make it easier to view our planting guide without disabling any pop up blockers or active x blockers. Also, I have added a new page which will provide you with your local weather . I hope these changes will make our site more useful and helpful!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

It may be snowing but in my mind I'm gardening!

I cannot wait for winter to be over and spring to get here. I love the snow but not as much as I love working the soil and planting the seeds in my garden. I went over what seeds I have for this season and which ones I still need just the other day and realized that I still have a few things that I need. Some things like potatoes and garlic will just have to wait until my local garden center get them in stock (should be another couple of weeks). However, I am preparing to start several types of seed in the next several weeks, namely tomatoes, eggplants, and maybe peppers. I like to start these couple of vegetables very early because they always seem to take a while to get strong and healthy. My viney plants such as cucumbers, zucchini, summer squash, watermelon, etc. I will start probably sometime in mid March since they are fast growers. Check out some of the articles and helpful links at my website:  . I add new articles weekly so there is always new content. Also, the gardening forum on our website is now set up and ready to accept users. Sign up is easy and we will not use your email info to send you any spam or sell it to anyone else. Your information is always kept secure and confidential at our website. Please joine the forum today and suggest a topic or ask a question. I would like to see the forum really take off and grow now that it is up and working.