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 Gardener's Network Garden Blog 2020

 


Welcome to the newest gardening section of The Gardener's Network... our Garden Blog! We're talking gardening of all kinds. Our garden blog strives to offer you the latest garden information and tips on a timely, seasonal basis.

 

Harvesting More than Flowers, Vegetables, Herbs and Fruit

The harvest in you backyard garden is in full swing. Flowers are in full bloom. We're cutting them for our indoor arrangements, and to give to family and friends. They're fresh and beautiful, brightening up any room where you display them. As for our vegetable gardens, we can't eat the harvest fast enough. If you're like me, you're canning, freezing, and giving vegetables away to family and friends as fast as you can. Neighbors run, when they see you heading up the driveway with an armful of zucchini. If you're a herb gardener, and we hope you are, every morning or two you can be found picking herbs at their freshest and strongest, to dry or freeze. And, there's no scurvy among your friends, who receive ample amounts of fresh fruits.

Yes, this is a great time to be a gardener, as you're harvesting all sorts of goodies. But wait!! Haven't you forgotten something!? There's one more thing you should be gathering up with the rest of the harvest. If you're not harvesting and drying seeds for next year's crop, you're certainly missing out on some of the fun. You are also missing the opportunity to save a few bucks on the cost of next year's seeds. Sure, a single packet of seeds is just a couple bucks. But, chances are, you buy a couple dozen seed packet each year, and that adds up.

In addition to saving money, there's another big reason to save seeds. If you liked the particular variety of plant and how it produced in your garden, you can save the seeds and produce the exact same plant next year. If the seeds you used to produce the desired plant came from a fellow grower, you don't want to keep asking them for new seeds each year. Saving seeds works great, as long as you aren't saving seeds from a hybrid plant, and there has been no cross pollination going on in your garden.   

If you have never saved seeds before, you don't know how easy it is to collect most types of seeds. When you carve a pumpkin, there's hundreds of seeds, just waiting to be dried and stored away until next spring. Let the pods of a few peas and beans dry on the plants. There' no shortage of pepper seeds, when cutting up a ripe pepper in your kitchen. Dried marigolds seeds will come out of the spent flower pods, with a just light pull. Many other flower seeds can be harvested in a similar manner. The key to harvesting seeds, is to know when to collect them. Like everything else in the gardening world, it take a little learning and experience, that's all.   

  When your seeds are all properly dried and packed away, you will be all the more anxious for next spring to arrive. Sometime mid-winter, when your garden is covered in  couple feet of snow, you will have fun performing a seed germination test, to assure they will sprout later in the spring. We will talk abut that during the winter months.

So, every time you harvest just about anything from your garden, take a few minutes to also harvest a few seeds for next year. If it is a particularly special plant, save a few seeds for your garden buddies. You'll be glad you did. 

    

Related Topics:

How to save seeds

Drying Herbs

 

Author: Bob Matthews

Posted August 18, 2020

 

 

The Right Way to Water Your Plants

sprinkler watering lawns

The Fourth of July is in the rear view window. July's promise of dry, blazingly hot weather is already upon us. The forecast for most of the country this weeks is for highs in the 90's, with little or no rain. Your not the only thing wilting under the sun's rays. Your plants are, too. 

  Every plant in your yard and garden could use a drink right now. Your grass is turning brown. That's your lawn's way of screaming for a good dose of water. Your flower and vegetable plants may be wilting before your very eyes. Without sufficient water, the plants lose vigor and flower production slows. Production in your vegetable garden slows too, as the size and quality is reduced. Keeping your plants well hydrated may not be all that they need right now. But until the hot and dry weather breaks, it's most likely the most important thing you can do for them. 

People write to us every day of the year. The questions tend to be very oriented to where we are in the gardening season. Right now, the most common questions are: "How often do I water my plants?" and "When do I water my plants?" A third, very important question that is seldom asked is: "How do I water my plants?".

 How often you water your plants, depends upon the soil, type of plant, and weather conditions. The obvious answer for most plants, is to water your plants when the soil is dry..... down to 2" to 3" for established plants, and down to an inch or less, for new seedlings with shallow roots. In addition, if the plants are wilting, turning dry, or growth is slowing, it's time to give them a drink. You don't need to (and probably shouldn't), water every day. In the hottest, driest part of summer, we recommend no more than every 2-3 days. It is healthy to encourage the roots to go deeply in search of moisture.

 When you water plants is another important issue. The number one "no no" is watering near or after dark. Water on the plant's leaves in the evening, is an open invitation to plant disease. You'd be amazed at how many people don't know this, or ignore it. About a decade ago, a commercial pumpkin farmer friend of mine complained how powdery mildew on his plants was getting worse and worse. I asked him about his watering practices. He replied "I water at night with overhead sprinklers. There is much less loss from evaporation at night".  The water was causing powdery mildew to explode on his farm. The next year he switched to early morning irrigation, and the problem with powdery mildew was solved. I might add that while many homeowners water their lawns in the evening, lawn grasses are not immune to mildew problems from this practice. It is uncommon, but it does happen.

Now for the seldom asked question: "How do I water my Plants?". The answer to this question is simple..... water them at ground level whenever possible. As previously stated, water on the leaves in the evening invites plant disease. Although less common, water on the leaves during the daytime in warm, humid weather can also encourage plant disease, especially on bushy plants. The leaves don't absorb water, the roots do. So, why waste water on the leaves? It is also interesting to know, that watering before, during, or after a rain, is sometimes a good idea. Often summer rains are too light to water down into the soil to a depth where it is accessible to all of the roots. So, next time it rains during a drought, consider watering soon after the storm has passed.

 

More on....

 How to Water Your Garden Plants

Watering Your Lawn the Right Way

 

Author: Bob Matthews

Posted July 8, 2020

 

 

Fastest to Harvest Little Vegetable

 

You wait for months for sweet corn and tomatoes to grow and ripen. Take a look at the the "days to harvest" aon the seed packets you bought, and you will discover the vast majority of them take at least 60 days before they are ready to eat. There's one speedy little guy, that you can grow from seed, that will be ready for your salad in as little as 30 days. You guessed it, zippy little radishes can be ready to eat faster than any other vegetable in your garden.

radishes

 

There are so many reasons to grow radishes. Most importantly they taste good, adding a little "zip" to garden salads, macaroni salad, as a garnish, and for vegetable trays. Even if you don't like them yourself, radish rosettes offer a touch of class to any food display.

 

Radishes are easy to grow. In rich or average garden soil, you can grow them without adding additional fertilizer. Keep them well watered, to help speed their growth. Properly space plants 1 1/2 to 2 inches apart, and keep them well weeded. Radishes do not like crowding, and won't grow bulbs, if planted too close. In about 30 days, they will be ready to pick and enjoy! Space constrained? Radish plants only take up a small amount of space. Try growing them in containers and window boxes.

 

Radishes are a great candidate for succession planting. Plant small rows at about two week intervals. They do not grow well in hot, dry weather. As hot summer weather arrives, stop growing them. Resume succession planting as the weather as fall approaches and the weather begins to cool. 

 

Radishes were first cultivated in India, China and Central Asia thousands of years ago. Over many centuries, their popularity spread to gardens and kitchens all over the world. Americans consume over 400 million pounds of these zesty little roots each year. While Americans mostly eat the raw, in other parts of the world they are cooked or baked in recipes.

 

Don't let anything keep you from heading out to your vegetable garden, and planting a row of radishes today!

 

More on Growing Radishes:

  How to Grow Radishes

  Growing Radishes by Garden Hobbies

 

Author: Bob Matthews

Posted June 12,  2020

 

 

 

World Plant a Vegetable Garden Day

Romaine lettce in garden

Author: Bob Matthews

Posted May 19, 2020

You know the old saying: " Give a man some vegetables and you feed him for a day. Teach a man how to grow a vegetable garden, and you feed him for life!"

Okay, maybe that's not quite word for word the old saying. But, World Plant a Vegetable Garden Day is May 19th. It could not have come at a better time. Millions of people have lost their jobs and struggle to feed their families. The country's food supply is under stress. There's shortages at the grocery store. Foodlink and other relief agencies are running out of food. Food prices are rising. There is no better time than now, to start or enlarge a vegetable garden.

A vegetable garden can supplement your food supply, and be a major source of produce all summer long. Canning and freezing a portion of your crop, can help to feed your family long after the gardening season is over. Reducing your dependency on the grocery store or farm market, takes away a little of the worry about how to feed yourself and your family. In addition, gardening is a therapeutic stress reliever. The food you grow will be healthier than store bought, and a whole lot fresher. While you may hear people say "I don't garden to save money", you do indeed save money.

Almost anyone can grow some type of vegetable or herb, even if you live in a apartment. All it takes is a sunny window. Perhaps you can't grow corn or cucumbers. But, a window box or an indoor planter is a great place to test your green thumb, growing loose leaf lettuce, radishes, chives and other smaller sized vegetable plants. If you have a patio or deck, you can use larger planters and grow peppers and even shorter varieties of tomatoes.

Now, if I can only figure out how to grow hamburger and eggs.........

 

Have a Happy World Plant a Vegetable Garden Day!

  For more on how to grow your favorite veggies at The Gardener's Network.

Buy Seeds Safely Online

 

 

Now More than Ever

Vagetable Gardens 

Author: Bob Matthews

Posted April 17, 2020

Do you feel like you just have to grow a garden this year, maybe for the first time? You are in excellent company. Millions of us right now, feel exactly like you do. The urge to grow a vegetable garden has never felt stronger for new and experienced gardeners alike. The exponential increase in the number of new gardeners, is the normal result of any crisis. Now more than ever, you should grow a vegetable garden.

As the effects of the pandemic reach deeper and deeper into just about every nook and cranny of our lives, millions of people are turning to growing vegetables as one positive step they can make. There are many good and logical reasons to grow vegetables, and herbs, too. Experienced gardeners, are making plans to enlarge their vegetable gardens. They are also studying and Learning ways to make their garden more productive, and how to extend the harvest. Flower gardeners are thinking about how to grow a few vegetable plants among the flowers. Some may even be exploring the list of edible flowers, as they make selections for their flower beds.

There are several reasons people are turning to vegetable gardens, to ease the crisis in their own lives:

It makes you feel better. After all, doing something is better than doing nothing. And, gardening is something you can do. In rural towns and villages, you have the space for a sizable garden. In the city, a porch or roof top garden (if allowed) in pots and containers, may be the perfect solution. With a sunny, south facing  window, you can grow a variety of container plants. Gro-lights also offer an opportunity to grow vegetables. 

Supply chain uncertainty is a new term in America's vocabulary. Just a month ago, who would have thought these three words would ever pass our lips!? Your vegetable garden can feed you and your family from today, and up to the first frost and beyond. We're now hearing about meat packing facilities shutting down. Milk is being dumped and vegetables are either rotting on the vine or in a warehouse, as some processing facilities are temporarily closed. You can be certain there is enough food in America, but the supply chain is upended. Until it straightens out, growing your own vegetables, assures you will have ample supply.     

High demand for food is the result of panic buying. Stocking food stuffs at home, has literally emptied store shelves. Coupled with supply chain problems, shelves are slow to refill. Vegetables have a limited shelf life. You can extend the storage life, by canning or freezing most fruit and vegetables. For new gardeners, freezing vegetables is the easiest approach.     

Saving money has always been a top reason to grow a garden. Now, it's even more important. During tough times, every penny saved is vitally important. The money you save on groceries, will help to pay the rent and other expenses. Got extra vegetables? Some of us might be able to sell the excess. Just make sure to know the local laws and permit requirements for selling them. 

Freshness and quality is an increasingly important issue today. If you've been to your local supermarket, you know what I mean. Scarce supplies translates into more low quality produce making its way onto store shelves. Gardeners know that the freshest, best quality vegetables, are those that you pick from your garden just before dinner.

Gardening is therapeutic. The first time you work in your garden, you will discover just how truthful this is. Work in your garden and let your troubles melt away. It's peaceful, and relaxing. The warm sunshine lifts your sprits. Outdoors with your hands in the dirt, you're mind is relieved of the troubles and worries of the day. It's so relaxing, you will look forward to spending more and more time in your garden.   

It's a wonderful feeling to grow enough vegetables to feed your family, neighbors, and friends!

 

So what are you waiting for? Let's get growing!!

More Resources:

 

 

They're Called Snow Peas for a Reason

Garden Snow Peas

Author: Bob Matthews

Posted March 23, 2020

Are sweet and tasty garden snow peas one of the vegetables you are planning to grow this year? Also called sweet peas, they are one of the earliest vegetable crops of the season. Many home gardeners plant them much later than they should be, resulting in a less than optimum, and sometimes disappointing harvest.

They call them snow peas for a reason. Peas are a cold weather crop. Snow peas germinate in lower soil temperatures. The plants thrive in cooler temperatures. Young plants survive frost and freeze. The plants will be fine, even after being covered by a surprise, late season snowfall.  Hot, humid weather brings plant disease, which can kill your plants just as the pods appear and begin to get plump.

This means, you should be planting garden peas now in just about any part of the country. In more northerly areas of the country, a first week of April planting may be ideal. Warmer areas of the country, could have snow peas up and growing by now.

Peas can and should be planted as soon as the ground can be worked in the spring. At 60 F, they sprout in about 9 days. We do recommend that you hill your sweet pea plants. Raised rows work just fine. This helps to drain off excess water from heavy spring rains. Soggy, wet soils can result in rotting the seeds before they sprout. It will also warm the soil, aiding in plant germination.

Planting your sweet peas now has another advantage. The crop will be harvested in time for you to clean up and reuse the space for a second season or fall crop. To grow and harvest  snow peas in time to plant a second crop, it is especially important for more northerly areas to plant snow peas early. A second crop can be just about any plant that will produce a harvest before the first frost this fall. With an early start, you double the size of your garden's productivity!

 Read more on

 

 

Important Garden Alert

Romaine Lettuce garden

Author: Bob Matthews

Posted March 13, 2020

Like so many other things, the coronavirus will have an impact on this year's garden season. The information you are about to read is very important to gardeners. Equally important, the information should not cause you to panic. It is not life and death. It should not cause you to drop everything else. Read on, to see why it is so important for you to get your garden seeds now. This article will also help you to identify what seeds will be impacted and how.

Like many other things right now, the coronavirus will ultimately cause some disruption in the availability of garden seeds, at a time when gardeners are getting ready to acquire their seeds. Any time there is  a recession, floods, earthquakes, disease, or calamities of any type, the demand for home garden seeds rises dramatically. The availability of home garden seeds is no exception. The coronavirus coupled with the stock market downturn and the resulting economic impact, will cause some disruption to the availability of seeds.

The perfect example is the Great Recession in 2008-2009. When the great recession arrived, it brought out doomsayers, pessimists and survivalists in great numbers. (aka the sky is falling). People lost their jobs. Many started gardens for the first time, to help pinch pennies and feed the family. Existing gardeners enlarged the size of their gardens. Even people who felt somewhat secure, turned to gardening. The doomsayers and especially survivalists came out in droves, buying hundreds of seed packets apiece. More than one survivalist bought over a thousand packets! 

 As you absorb this information, I repeat, do not panic. Handle you higher, most important priorities first. Buy ample toilet paper. Get your cleaning and sanitizing supplies. Stock up on some groceries. And, don't forget to acquire your favorite beverages, to help see you past this crisis. Then, and only then, calmly turn your attention to garden seeds.

Like in the Great Recession, in the next several weeks their will be some shortages of vegetable seeds. To some extent, herb seeds will be impacted, too. But, there WILL NOT be an outright run on vegetable seeds. Remember, seeds have a limited shelf life. You can only use so many seeds this year. By this time next year, supply will be back to normal. As you might guess, there will be no significant impact on flower seeds. Back in the Great Recession, seed manufacturers assured retailers that there would be ample supply. That did not prove to be the case. As the weeks progressed, there were shortages, one by one some varieties went out of stock for the season. It was not a problem for those who didn't care about what kind of tomatoes or beans they wanted. Most times, gardeners simply turned to another tomato or bean variety or brand. There were a few types of vegetable seeds that did indeed become quite scarce. Most notably was Kale, which at the time was just becoming the latest health food rage. By late April, Kale seeds were not available anywhere.  As we progressed through the planting season, more and more types of seeds ran out of stock for the season, far more than normal and far earlier. Late in the spring planting season, many gardeners could not get the seeds they wanted. For gardeners who normally plant a second crop in the summer, second season seeds were simply not available for most varieties.

By now, you should realize what a gardener should do. First, don't panic. Second, don't over buy, as next year's seed supply will be just fine. Finally, don't wait. Calmly buy now, to assure you get the seeds you want. But, it doesn't make sense to buy more than you normally do.

 

Related Imformation:

Garden Seeds and Supplies

Seed Companies

 

  Please share this important article with your gardening friends.

 

 

The Best Garden Begins with a Plan

onions in garden 

Author: Bob Matthews

Posted March 5, 2020

March is a good time to make plans for your flower, vegetable and herb gardens. A successful garden begins with a good plan. Sure, you can have a good garden without one. But, the very best gardens, are those that used and followed a plan of what to do. Importantly, a plan should include a timetable, to help remind you when things need to be done. For example, snow peas, a cool weather crop, are best planted as soon as the garden can be worked in the spring. Planting them too late, and hot weather arrives before the harvest, negatively affecting the crop. Indoor plant start times vary. Tomato plants started indoors too early, can result in overgrown, root bound seedlings. Mark target dates in your plan. Your plan also leads to efficiency in all of your gardening activities. 

Your plan should include these key, early steps:

  • Determine what you are going to plant this year. Will it be same-o, same-o? Or, will you be adventuresome, and try something new, something challenging?

  • Buy the seeds you need. Don't wait until later, when stores begin to run out of variety. March is peak time for seed sales. Find seeds now.

  •  Perform a soil test, to make certain the pH level is ideal for the plants you have decided to grow. See Soil pH.

  • Determine what will you add to the soil, to improve it. Will it be compost, manure, fertilizers, or some of each? How to improve garden soil.

  • Right now, it's a great time to review the basic "how to's" of growing your favorite plants. along with searching out new tips on how to grow a bigger and better garden. Make sure to surf through our many How To Grow pages.

  • Identify when to start or transplant tender, cold and frost sensitive plants. Know your local last frost date. Then, consult the back of the seed packet, to determine when to start your indoor transplants.

The above key dates are just a few of the items for the early days of your garden plan. Focus upon the early steps for the new gardening  season. You can always add or amend the plan as the season goes by. Whatever you do, keep it simple. Don't let the task of planning become a chore.

The result of your advance planning? Healthier plants. A bigger, healthier crop. And, a garden season filled with success!

 

 

It Doesn't Have to Be Red!!

White Rose

Author: Bob Matthews

Posted February 12, 2020

 It's Valentine's Day, a day that is all about love. It can be a romantic love, a love of a child or family member, or even to express our feelings to a friend. As we all know, nothing expresses that love more than roses, specifically red roses.

But, wait just a minute!! Stop and think about the meaning of each color of roses. It doesn't have to be red. Each rose color has its own specific and special meaning. It sends an unspoken message, to express what you want to say.

You can bet the house, that she knows what each color represents. You can bet your bottom dollar, she hopes to receive red roses. If your intent is to express your love this Valentine's Day, nothing sends the message of love more clearly than red roses. The only exception we can think of, is if she doesn't like the color red. I don't know about you, but I am certain when it comes to roses on Valentine's Day, she absolutely loves the color red. And, it pretty much has to be roses. Even if she is allergic to roses, chances are she still wants red roses from you on this day. She will enjoy looking at them, even if she can't get close enough to touch or smell them.

There are plenty of situations where red roses just might not be the right thing to give. Perhaps, you are not ready to signal the word "love" in your relationship. Or, maybe you are sending the gift of roses to a friend in a non-romantic situation this Valentine's Day. If this is your intent, you're in luck. You have a wide choice of colors.     

Before you decide, first check out The Meaning of Each Rose Color.

 For those of you who received roses on Valentines Day, Learn Ho to Make Roses Last Longer.

 

It's All About the Seeds

Garden seed packets, seeds for plants.

Author: Bob Matthews

Posted January 1, 2020

As the new year and a new decade arrives, it doesn't take a sage prognosticator to know what's on the minds of each and every home gardener. That's right, seeds. For the next several weeks, it's the most important thing we think about. The experienced gardener knows a great garden always begins with the seeds he or she acquires. If you are one of the very few of us who will have a small garden, and you will grow the same variety of plants every year, you can skip the rest of this article. For the other 99.9% of gardeners, read on. The more you read and learn about the plants you will grow, and the seeds you will use in this year's garden, the better prepared you will be to produce a garden overflowing with prize winning plants.

 

Without a doubt, there is much to think about, when pondering your seed options and choices. The first thing to consider, is how good your garden plants were last year. If your bean crop was less than bountiful, or the beans were a little stringy, then perhaps your seed selection should lean towards a different variety. Were your zinnia plants too tall or too short? Look for a variety of zinnias that fits the desired height for your flower bed. What about the color selection for your flower bed? Many varieties of flowers offer a wide range of colors and blends, affording you endless possibilities. Will you go with the same brand of seeds? It might be a good time to change brands, a time to acquire higher quality seeds, as you seek better results than in previous years. Fortunately for you, the internet has opened up our options to dozens of brands.

 

If you're expanding your garden or ready to change what you grow, you've got a lot of fun ahead of you, as you make plans and procure the seeds you will need. Larger gardens translate into so many more options. You can now grow early, mid and late varieties of plants. This will allow you to harvest fresh, homegrown corn or lettuces over an extended period of time. Will you grow a wider range of vegetables? Just imagine how great your homemade soup will taste with a little okra in it. Your fresh garden salads will taste so much better, and look more appealing, with some mustard greens or endive included in the mix. When it comes to flowers, expanding or altering your flower beds offers endless possibilities. Will you go with annuals or perennials? May we suggest something a little different from what you've usually grown, like flowering kale, coral bells, or nasturtium which is an edible flower.

 

I don't know about you, but to me one of the best things about gardening is experimenting with plants I've never grown. The challenge and reward is a real thrill. Are you equal to the task? Of course you are! Have you ever grown Pumpkin on a Stick, or Cotton? Both plants are guaranteed to catch the eye of anyone who sees your victory garden. Last year, I grew Hops just for fun. I was rewarded with a very successful crop, large enough to offer them to a friend of mine who brews beer. Wow, writing this article makes me wonder what new plant I will try this year......

 

Did we give you enough to think about? ....good. Now your mission, is to grab another cup of hot chocolate, sit by the fireside and begin to make those garden plans. Once you've decided, don't wait too long to get the seeds you need. Get those seeds while they are still in stock. For those of you who have been with us for a long time, you know we shut down our online store last year as we headed to retirement. We were one of the largest online seed sellers. Many of you reported that our absence left a gap in your search for seeds. Here's a link that may help you ....  Find your garden seeds now.

     



About the Author

Bob Matthews is an avid life time gardener, and a recognized garden authority on the Internet since the 1990s. Residing in Rochester, NY, Bob is the author and owner of The Gardener's Network, Pumpkin Nook , Garden Hobbies, and other websites. Bob proudly authored every page of the over 1,000 pages of garden information and tips on these websites.

About some of Bob's other gardening websites:

The Gardener's Network - One of the finest, most popular sites on the internet to read, learn and have gardening fun. The Gardener's Network is the perfect place for you and your plants, the perfect source for how to grow just about any garden plant!

Garden Hobbies - Looking for "How to Grow" gardening information? It's the perfect place for you and your plants.

Pumpkin Nook - By far the biggest, most comprehensive site on the Internet for pumpkins. Information and fun abounds, including: how to grow pumpkins, Halloween, one of the largest collections of pumpkin recipes and much more.

 


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