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Seed-ordering tips every gardener should know

While I do believe that good gardening practices will matter more than what type of seed you purchase, there are a few guidelines every gardener should know. This advice mainly refers to annual garden seeds (vegetable, herbs, fruits, etc.). Most seed companies will send you free catalogs at your request. 

Days to maturity 

Simply put, this means how many days it takes from the time the seed germinates to the time you can use a part of the plant, i.e. pick the beans or cut the flower. The number of days given is only a general guideline. Some seed companies will list seeds as days to maturity “from transplant.” This means that the seed is started indoors and “days to maturity” time is counted from when the seedling, not the seed itself, is actually put in the ground.

If the days to maturity is from transplant, then you will need to consider the extra time it takes for the seed to get to the transplant state when starting your seeds.

For example, one seed company lists Early Girl tomato as 52 days from transplant and Beefsteak as 90 days from transplant. A 90-day tomato will probably end up being at least 120 days altogether when considering starting it from seed.

So, you would need to start this 90-day tomato much earlier than the 52-day tomato, or pray for a long hot year, if you want it to ripen. If you are not sure about how seed companies are determining this number, ask them. 

Treated vs. untreated seed

Treated seed means that the seeds have been treated with a chemical that helps guard against fungus, bacteria and insect damage, or to assist in the initial growth of the plant.

This treatment is aimed to promote a higher germination rate, specifically in less than ideal planting conditions. I do not prefer to use chemicals and always order untreated seed.

If you follow the planting instructions for your seed carefully, you should be pleased with the germination of untreated seed. Remember, soil temperature and structure, improper planting depth, and old seed could all impair germination. If you are concerned about low germination, plant extra seeds and thin the seedlings later if too many germinate. It should also be noted that there are organic seed treatments as well. 

Hybrid vs. open pollinated vs. heirloom

Heirloom: A seed variety that has been passed down from generation to generation.

Open-pollinated: A seed variety that is pollinated by natural means such as insects, birds or wind. 

Hybrid: A controlled cross-pollination of two or more species of plant by humans. The cross is done to achieve and stabilize a desirable characteristic.

All of these options are fine, but your values will determine what type of seed to choose. By definition, all heirloom seeds must be open-pollinated. Heirloom and open-pollinated seeds can be saved and replanted the following year, which is more economical in the long run. Whereas, hybrid plants will produce a seed that will not grow consistently true to its own traits but will revert back to one of its parent’s genes.

Hybrids, however, offer some characteristics, that are hard to find in open-pollinated plants, such as disease resistance, color traits, or high production. Hybrid seeds are usually more expensive since humans must do the annual work of cross-pollinating. 

A short note on GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) seed

The GMO seed has been forced to take on a gene from another organism. GMOs are, in my opinion, untested and unnatural, and leaves serious questions as to the long-term effects of such scientific work. Seed companies that have signed the Safe Seed Pledge do not knowingly carry any Genetically Modified (GMO) seed.  

There are many companies that offer good seed and a few that I have worked with and am happy with are: Fedco (Maine), Seed Savers Exchange (Iowa), Johnny’s Selected Seeds (Maine), Jungs (Wisconsin), High Mowing (Vermont), Pinetree (Maine), Territorial Seed (Oregon). For more info, please visit Nourish’s website https://nourishfarms.org, email them at info@nourishfarms.org, and/or call them at (920) 627-4769.

Jake Lambrecht is the Urban Farm Manager Culinary Coordinator at Nourish in Sheboygan. 

Article source: http://www.wisfarmer.com/story/news/2018/02/19/seed-ordering-tips-every-gardener-should-know/353595002/

Eight tips to avoid damping off diseases on seedlings

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Article source: http://wcfcourier.com/gallery-of-homes/garden/eight-tips-to-avoid-damping-off-diseases-on-seedlings/article_1a7ae934-e066-5f9a-9a94-e6f1c765e058.html

GARDENING COLUMN: Tips for successful gardening

Gardening can be serious business, so it’s understandable it can be disappointing when things don’t always go as planned. To help eliminate some of that disappointment and ensure gardening efforts go smoothly, here are some tips you can follow to help thwart common gardening problems.

It’s easy to get a little over ambitious when it comes to the size of your garden. Many people think the bigger, the better. However, it’s a good idea to keep the garden small enough to make sure it’s easy to establish and maintain. In fact, smaller gardens tend to be more productive than large ones because they typically get better care.

When planting, space plants appropriately. Planting too closely complicates walking or working in the garden.

Learn more about U.S. Department of Agriculture Plant Hardiness Zones to determine which plants will grow well in your area. Use recommended plant varieties for your area’s rainfall, soil type, available shade/sun and soil drainage.

Generally, a north-to-south orientation of rows is preferred because this allows crops to take full advantage of available sunlight. Be cognizant of trees and other structures in the landscape that could potentially block sunlight. To limit shading in the garden, place the tallest plants toward the north end of the garden.

As you design and lay out your garden, group plants together that have similar management practices such as common watering requirements or pesticide needs.

We all know how hot Oklahoma can be in the summer. To help conserve water in the landscape, use some type of mulch. There are plenty of options available. Not only will this help with water usage, but mulch also helps control weeds, cools the soil and reduces fruit rots.

Obviously, plants need plenty of water, but don’t water too often. You don’t want to constantly have wet, soggy soil. Squeeze a handful of soil in your palm. The resulting ball should break up easily. Don’t work garden soil when it’s too wet because it will become compacted simply by walking on it.

While some gardeners enjoy weeding, it may not be your favorite gardening activity. It’s important to tackle this task in a timely manner so weeds don’t get too big, flower and set seeds.

If you need to apply pesticides, be sure to read the label and follow all directions for mixing and application. Also, make sure you’re using the right product for the task you’re trying to accomplish. In addition, read the label to ensure the product is recommended for garden crops.

When it comes to garden tools, it’s important to use the right tool for the job. If you have a small garden, you’ll do well with a spade, shovel or spading fork; a rake for finish work; and a hoe for weeding. If you have a larger garden, and your budget allows, a powered rototiller will come in handy. When purchasing tools, consider the garden size, the jobs to complete and the amount of money available to purchase equipment. Good quality tools will give better results, stay sharp longer and, if cared for properly, can last a lifetime.

So, while it may be helpful to have a green thumb, following these tips can help ensure you have a successful gardening season.

David Hillock is a consumer horticulturist with Oklahoma State University cooperative extension.

Article source: http://www.theadanews.com/oklahoma/news/gardening-column-tips-for-successful-gardening/article_29f2149d-eb33-54ea-833b-2941fc06ec83.html

Garden docs: Tips and tricks for sowing seeds – Press Democrat

Patti S. of Petaluma asks: Is it OK to spread ashes from the fireplace on the beds and borders in my garden where I plant annuals every year, and where I have established perennials? We use the fireplace quite often and accumulate quite a bit of ash. We don’t want to throw it in the garbage if it can be used as a fertilizer.

Many gardeners add fireplace ash to their garden. If you sprinkle the ashes on top of the ground, especially if it is dry, they will be gone with the first good wind. If rain is predicted then go ahead and sprinkle away! If the soil is damp from previous rains, then sprinkle the ashes on lightly so they soak up some of the moisture and stay put.

The best time to apply ash is in the spring or fall, when you can work it into the top 6 inches of the soil. Be mindful of how much you’re using. Wood ashes do not contain any nitrogen, just a little bit of phosphorus and a good amount of potassium.

If you overdo it on the ashes, you will send your soil pH through the roof, and then it will take a long time to get it back to normal (around 6.5-7.0). Do a test on your soil first, to determine the pH level before adding any ash. A light dusting is fine and won’t do any harm. In fact, you could save some ashes and lightly dust your vegetable plants to keep insects at bay. Save ash in a metal garbage can with a lid in a covered area for use later in the year.

hhhhhh

Kathy R. of Santa Rosa asks: I am starting eggplant, pepper and tomato seeds indoors. My friend told me I should use warm water to water them. Does it matter if the water is warm or cold?

If you can keep the soil temperature at around 75 degrees or warmer, your vegetable seeds will germinate faster than if you continually use cold water.

If you have the trays on heating mats, the soil will warm up sooner, quickly seed germination. But if you have them in a cool room with no heating mats and you water them with cold water, it will delay germination. So consider watering with warm water.

hhhhhh

Robert H. of Windsor asks: I sowed a mix of legume seeds in the fall as a cover crop. When is the best time to turn the plants into the soil for maximum benefit?

If you planted the legumes as a cover crop for the nitrogen you should incorporate the plants into the soil when the nitrogen is at its peak, which is about the time they start to flower. So keep a watchful eye. The smaller you can chop up the plants, the faster it will break down in the soil and turn into organic matter.

hhhhhh

Jill O. of Sebastopol asks: I don’t have very many seeds of this particular tomato variety that my grandmother gave me, so I want to be careful when sowing. What can I do to ensure success?

If you can’t afford to lose a single seed, then try sprouting them in-between damp paper towels instead of starting them in soil. Take a moist paper towel and carefully space each seed on top of the towel. Put another moist paper towel on top of them and pat it down. Slide the whole thing into a Ziploc plastic bag and lightly flatten it down to take out any air pockets. Place it in a warm place where the temperature is about 75 degrees and not in direct sunlight. Take a peak every so often to see if they are starting to sprout.

Article source: http://www.pressdemocrat.com/lifestyle/7990044-181/garden-docs-tips-and-tricks

Garden Tips: Cold Weather Damage To Plants? – Tri

The recent cold weather that followed our late-winter, record-breaking warm spell has gardeners anxious about potential damage to their plants. Before getting too stressed, let us talk a little about winter hardiness.

As the days become shorter and the weather starts to cool in late summer, the growth of woody plants slows to a stop and they gradually acclimate or become ready for winter’s cold temperatures. Acclimation is a physiological process that takes place within plant tissues. As temperatures decline, the process continues until a plant achieves its full dormancy and maximum hardiness in mid-winter. Due to their genetically dictated tolerance to cold, different species and even varieties of plants vary in their maximum potential hardiness.

Periods of warm weather during winter can cause a plant to de-acclimate, making it more vulnerable to damage from severely cold temperatures. However, plants can re-acclimate and reclaim their hardy condition if the decline in cold temperatures is gradual.

Near the end of winter when the days start to lengthen and temperatures start to rise, plants begin the process of de-acclimating and start losing their tolerance to freezing temperatures. If unseasonably warm weather occurs during late winter, plants will become increasingly less hardy and more vulnerable to freeze damage. While they can reclaim some cold hardiness with cooler weather, they will not revert to their full mid-winter hardiness.

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Our mild winter and recent warm spell appear to have area gardeners and plants ready for spring. How can we protect plants with swelling buds that seem ready to open? Here are a few things that might help.

▪ Check the soil for moisture. One gardener told me this week that the soil beneath the evergreen hedge that divides her yard and the neighbor’s is bone dry. I recommend watering, even though it means getting a hose out to do the job. Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott, WSU Extension horticulturist, points out that while the top of your tree and shrub may be dormant, the roots are not dormant. She adds that a moist soil provides better insulation from cold temperatures than dry soil does and can help protect the smaller roots from damage by cold temperatures.

While not related to cold weather concerns, keeping soil moist when it is not frozen is important to overall plant health. Drought conditions lead to the death of fine roots and impair the plant’s ability to take up water and nutrients to support top growth in the spring.

▪ On frosty nights, small plants or flowering perennials that have started to grow can be covered at dusk with a blanket or burlap to hold in heat radiating from the soil. The fabric should completely cover the plants down to the ground. Any openings will let heat escape. A frame or some type of support can help keep a heavy blanket from damaging plants. One or more five gallon buckets filled with hot water placed underneath the covering will provide additional heat. Remove any coverings in the morning after it warms up.

Some spring flowering bulbs are already peeking out of the soil. Depending on the situation, cover these at night with a blanket or use inverted five-gallon buckets to cover individual plants or clumps. Remove them during the day. This can be tedious if your bulbs get a very early start, so an alternative is to cover them with some extra wood chips, shredded bark or compost mulch that will need to be removed when spring arrives.

Hopefully, our plants will be OK.

Marianne C. Ophardt is a retired horticulturist for Washington State University Benton County Extension.

Article source: http://www.tri-cityherald.com/living/home-garden/marianne-ophardt/article200416004.html

5 garden tips for this week, Feb. 17-23



1 Harvest time: Fall-planted carrots ought to be at their peak for harvesting now. Warm weather makes leafy vegetables bolt (go to seed), so pick lettuces, cabbages and spinach as soon as they are ready unless we get a significant dip in temperatures for several weeks. If you planted onion sets an inch apart, harvest green onions as needed, leaving one every 4 inches to develop into globes. Continue picking peas, because the more you pick, the longer they will keep producing.

2 Ready to eat: Snails will soon be awakening with hearty appetites. They love to chomp away on tender spring growth and can seriously shred foliage and damage developing flowers and fruits over night. Apply snail bait regularly, either the meal or granule form. And replenish it every 10 days or so to stop newly emerging hatchlings, as well as travelers that slither in from elsewhere in the neighborhood. Or, look up recipes for escargot on the internet and get back at them that way.

3 Prep work: Prepare the garden area for summer vegetables. Remove weeds and debris. Loosen soil and add organic matter, tilling it in as deeply as possible. Aged, composted steer manure works great in the garden.

4 Tree care: To help prevent borers from attacking your deciduous fruit trees, paint exposed trunks, large branches, limbs and larger cuts with interior latex paint — preferably off-white matte — diluted half and half with water. Doing this every year could save your trees from these devastating beasts.

5 Sharpen the clippers: Cut back leggy fuchsias the latter part of February. Leave at least two or three healthy leaf buds on each branch. Frequently pinch the tips of the branches during the spring and summer to force side growth, making the fuchsia bushier, and pick off flowers as they fade to promote more blooming. While you are in the garden with your clippers, be sure to prune your ginger, cannas, asparagus ferns, ivy and pyracantha, too.

— Jack E. Christensen

Article source: http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/article/NE/20180216/FEATURES/180219762

Secrets of growing from seed: 10 tips to get your garden going

If I had a euro for every time I’ve been asked to share the secrets of raising plants from seed, I’d be . . . well, not exactly rich, but certainly possessed of a tidy little nest egg. Similarly, “I have no luck with seeds” is an expression that I hear a lot.

Yet the simple truth is that it’s got very little to do with luck and instead a whole lot more to do with dodging some common pitfalls and following a few immutable rules of horticulture.

So if you’ve spent the past few weeks staring with increasing frustration at your freshly-sown seed trays/pots for any tiny sign of life, then this column is for you. Because I know all too well that bitter sense of disappointment when nothing – nothing! – emerges, as well as the pure, delicious delight when it does. Here’s what I’ve learned . . .

Newly emerged seedlings sown under cover in early spring. Photograph: Richard Johnston

Timing matters

At this time of year it’s too cold and wet to sow anything outdoors, so from February to the end of April I sow most seeds under cover, for pricking out into modular trays and then transplanting outdoors in late spring. The only exceptions are some vegetables (for example, radish, turnips, early peas, seed potatoes, garlic and onion sets) which I direct sow into well-prepared soil.

Temperature matters

As a rule, the seed of most (but not all) species germinates best in gentle heat. In short, invest in an electric propagator. These come in all shapes and sizes, from the very affordable windowsill–sized kinds to the large, high-tech types. But once your seedlings emerge, always move them to a bright, slightly cooler spot to accustom them to more normal growing conditions.

Sometimes, however, it’s not that simple. Sometimes seeds of certain plants – examples include delphinium and bupleurum – require prolonged exposure to cold, then heat, to germinate, a process known as stratification. You can provide this artificially by storing the seed packet/freshly-sown seed in a fridge, or by leaving it outdoors over winter before moving it to a heated propagator in spring.

Freshness matters

To germinate, seed must be viable, meaning it must be alive/respiring. But as seeds age, their viability dwindles, especially if poorly stored (the best place to keep them is in an airtight container placed in the vegetable tray of the fridge). For this reason, even the “sow by” date on the packet isn’t always an accurate guide. Confusingly, the seed of some species can remain viable for many years while others quickly deteriorate. There are also plants – for example primula, astrantia, hellebore – whose seed must be sown freshly harvested.

Without naming names, different seed suppliers vary greatly in terms of the freshness/quality of the seed supplied, so stick with the ones that give you good results.

Moisture matters

As a rule, most seeds’ germination and growth depends on a growing medium that’s kept just slightly damp to the touch.

Infrequent watering and overwatering are both classic causes of poor germination and seedling damage or death. So is heavy-handed watering, which can also sluice tinier seeds off the surface of the compost so that they fail to germinate. So always sow using pre-dampened compost and place the pots/seed trays into a shallow tray filled with water when required to allow the compost to gently wick up moisture.

If you do have to water, do it gently, close to the surface of the compost, using an old teapot filled with tepid water.

Getting ready for sowing seed. Photograph: Richard Johnston

Humidity matters

Covering freshly-sown seed trays/pots with a clear plastic lid or sealing them in a transparent freezer bag increases humidity, creating a miniature biodome that greatly improves the rate of successful germination. But once you spot signs of germination, immediately start lowering humidity levels to avoid those freshly-hatched baby seedlings succumbing to disease. Begin by propping open the plastic lids and gently untying the plastic bags to allow a little fresh air to circulate, gradually increasing air levels before eventually removing the lids and bags.

Light levels matter

As a general rule, seeds of most plant species require the darkness provided by a shallow covering of seed compost or vermiculite for successful germination. But some (usually the tiniest seeds) need exposure to light to trigger germination so should be surface-sown. Examples include the seed of foxgloves, nicotiana and antirrhinum. Once they germinate, all seedlings require high levels of natural light for strong healthy growth – a very good reason not to sow too early.

Depth and spacing matter

Sowing seed too deeply is a classic beginner’s mistake, as is sowing too densely, which results in spindly seedlings competing for space and light. So try to space seeds evenly, thinly and to the depth recommended on the packet.

The growing medium matters

A good quality, fine-grade seed compost makes a huge difference. Klasmann does an excellent peat-free option (available from fruithillfarm.com), or, if you can’t get your hands on that, try Westland’s Seed and Cutting Compost.

Patience matters

Seed of some species can take a long time to germinate – often weeks, sometimes months, or (sigh) even years. So don’t give up too quickly.

Pricking out young seedlings into modular trays. Photograph: Richard Johnston

Be very gentle

Once your seedlings develop their first true set of leaves, it’s time to prick them out by very gently holding them by their leaves and using a pencil to tease them very gently out of the compost, roots intact, before transplanting them immediately into a modular tray or small pot, followed by a – yes, I am going to say it again – very gentle watering.

All of which brings me to my last piece of advice, one often ignored: read the instructions on the back of the packet. Obvious or what . . .

This week in the garden

Late February is a good time to sow the seeds of many hardy annuals under cover and with gentle heat, for moving to a glasshouse or polytunnel for the next few months and then transplanting out into the garden in late spring.

Examples of suitable kinds include Ammi majus and Ammi visnaga, Orlaya grandiflora, varieties of Scabiosa grandiflora, Nigella and sweet pea. Recommended seed suppliers include all good garden centres, as well as the Galway-based online specialist seed suppliers Seedaholic (seedaholic.com).

Close-up of the flower of Ammi visnaga. Photograph: Richard Johnston

Late February is also a good time to sow the seeds of broad beans (spring varieties such as Witkeim, Express and the compact The Sutton) and leeks (varieties such as Hannibal) into trays/modules under cover for transplanting outdoors later in the year. It’s also a good time to plant certain varieties of garlic, including Cristo and Solent Wight, directly outdoors.

Another job for this time of year is checking any dahlia tubers that you’re overwintering in a cool shed or basement for signs of rot/decay. Any that you find showing obvious signs of bruising/softening/rotting should be added to the compost heap to prevent decay from gradually spreading to the rest of the fleshy tubers and rendering them unusable.

It’s also a good time to order stock of new varieties of dahlias while there’s still wide availability. Recommended suppliers include all good garden centres as well as Tullamore–based Beechill Bulbs, Halls of Heddon and Rose Cottage Plants.

Dates for your diary

Thursday, February 22nd (8pm), National Botanic Gardens visitor centre, Glasnevin, Dublin 9 To the Mountains of Myanmar – A Burmese Adventure: a talk by horticulturist, award-winning author, plant-hunter and head gardener Seamus O’Brien, of the National Botanic Gardens Kilmacurragh, on his recent travels to Myanmar in the footsteps of Lady Charlotte Wheeler-Cuffe and Captain Frank Kingdon-Ward. See botanicgardens.ie

Saturday, February 24th (10am-4pm) and Sunday, February 25th (1pm-4pm), Mount Venus Nursery, Mutton Lane, Tibradden, Dublin 16 Hellebore Weekend, a celebration of this valuable genus of highly ornamental, late winter-early spring flowering plants, including plant sales. See mountvenus.com

Article source: https://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/homes-and-property/gardens/secrets-of-growing-from-seed-10-tips-to-get-your-garden-going-1.3390958

Proctor’s Garden: Tips on getting seeds started

Every gardeners needs to learn how to start seeds. This skill can save you hundreds of dollars.

Start with your recycled plastic trays and four packs. Wash them out with hot water and soap.

Use a seed starting soil mix, filling the cells in the four packs almost to the top. Sow seeds as directed on the packets. Generally, you’ll want to sow two or three seeds in each cell, cover with just a bit more soil, and press them in with your fingers.

Water from the bottom to avoid washing the seeds around. About three quarters of an inch of water in the bottom of the tray is about right; the soil will absorb the water. Cover the seed tray with a clear plastic dome to create a humid mini greenhouse.

A heating mat under the tray will keep the soil evenly warm and aid in germination. Place the trays in a sunny window or under lights. Remove the heating mat and plastic dome after the seeds have germinated.

The seed packet will tell you when to start each variety. If it says “Start inside 6 to 8 weeks before the average frost free date,” count back from May 10 (the average last frost along the Front Range). If you’ve never tried your hand at sowing seeds, try a practice batch of lettuce. It’s easy, quick and delicious.

Article source: http://www.9news.com/article/life/home-garden/proctors-tips/proctors-garden-tips-on-getting-seeds-started/73-519156650

Garden docs: Tips and tricks for sowing seeds

Patti S. of Petaluma asks: Is it OK to spread ashes from the fireplace on the beds and borders in my garden where I plant annuals every year, and where I have established perennials? We use the fireplace quite often and accumulate quite a bit of ash. We don’t want to throw it in the garbage if it can be used as a fertilizer.

Many gardeners add fireplace ash to their garden. If you sprinkle the ashes on top of the ground, especially if it is dry, they will be gone with the first good wind. If rain is predicted then go ahead and sprinkle away! If the soil is damp from previous rains, then sprinkle the ashes on lightly so they soak up some of the moisture and stay put.

The best time to apply ash is in the spring or fall, when you can work it into the top 6 inches of the soil. Be mindful of how much you’re using. Wood ashes do not contain any nitrogen, just a little bit of phosphorus and a good amount of potassium.

If you overdo it on the ashes, you will send your soil pH through the roof, and then it will take a long time to get it back to normal (around 6.5-7.0). Do a test on your soil first, to determine the pH level before adding any ash. A light dusting is fine and won’t do any harm. In fact, you could save some ashes and lightly dust your vegetable plants to keep insects at bay. Save ash in a metal garbage can with a lid in a covered area for use later in the year.

hhhhhh

Kathy R. of Santa Rosa asks: I am starting eggplant, pepper and tomato seeds indoors. My friend told me I should use warm water to water them. Does it matter if the water is warm or cold?

If you can keep the soil temperature at around 75 degrees or warmer, your vegetable seeds will germinate faster than if you continually use cold water.

If you have the trays on heating mats, the soil will warm up sooner, quickly seed germination. But if you have them in a cool room with no heating mats and you water them with cold water, it will delay germination. So consider watering with warm water.

hhhhhh

Robert H. of Windsor asks: I sowed a mix of legume seeds in the fall as a cover crop. When is the best time to turn the plants into the soil for maximum benefit?

If you planted the legumes as a cover crop for the nitrogen you should incorporate the plants into the soil when the nitrogen is at its peak, which is about the time they start to flower. So keep a watchful eye. The smaller you can chop up the plants, the faster it will break down in the soil and turn into organic matter.

hhhhhh

Jill O. of Sebastopol asks: I don’t have very many seeds of this particular tomato variety that my grandmother gave me, so I want to be careful when sowing. What can I do to ensure success?

If you can’t afford to lose a single seed, then try sprouting them in-between damp paper towels instead of starting them in soil. Take a moist paper towel and carefully space each seed on top of the towel. Put another moist paper towel on top of them and pat it down. Slide the whole thing into a Ziploc plastic bag and lightly flatten it down to take out any air pockets. Place it in a warm place where the temperature is about 75 degrees and not in direct sunlight. Take a peak every so often to see if they are starting to sprout.

Article source: http://www.pressdemocrat.com/lifestyle/7990044-181/garden-docs-tips-and-tricks

The Modern Domestic Woman: Five tips to plan an extraordinary yard

Attracting winged friends [such as] butterflies and hummingbirds calls for specific blooms, and Meagan Provencher, senior landscape designer of Wasco Nursery and Garden Center in St. Charles, suggests looking at often overlooked plants native to Illinois to furnish your garden.

It’s hard to imagine a blossoming garden in February, yet “The Modern Domestic Woman” has a knack for creative planning no matter what the season. Don’t be disheartened by the snow as Meagan Provencher, senior landscape designer of Wasco Nursery and Garden Center in St. Charles, knows exactly how to turn your cabin fever into a pleasantly hopeful exercise in expectation.

I spoke with Provencher over coffee at Moveable Feast in Geneva, which was a joy to discuss all things flowery as the snow swirled around the cafe’s black steel trimmed windows.

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A 24-year veteran of landscape design, [Provencher] has called Wasco Nursery and Garden Center her home for the past 11 years. [She] is the kind of connection you want for anything gardening related, plus her witty sense of humor and realistic approach to creating a stunning garden soothes any self-doubt if you yourself aren’t a trained professional.

“Around February, we’re bored and upset and daily question why we live in Chicago,” Provencher joked. “Gardening and planning a future landscape is therapy this time of year.”

As the senior landscape designer of the 160-acre retail garden center just west of Randall Road on Route 64, Provencher is immediately welcoming and a refreshing guide to everything green. The idea of cultivating an impressive garden is quite intimidating, yet this simple conversation with Wasco’s head gardening virtuoso put me at ease that even though I lack a green thumb, I can still have a beautiful yard.

Here are five invaluable tips Provencher gave to plan an extraordinary yard that attracts fluttery friends and will be relatively easy to keep alive:

1. List five things you hate about your yard. Provencher also suggested (when the snow melts) taking pictures of your landscape. Rather than seeing this time as “ugly,” change your mindset and visualize a blank canvas full of opportunities. I intend on bringing my notes and pictures to the nursery for a brainstorming session with Provencher once everything starts to turn green.

2. Nurseries are not an exclusive club for gardening pros. It can be intimidating to walk into a nursery and think it’s only for serious gardeners who know all the scientific names of plants by heart. An hour with Provencher made me feel extremely confident in my ability to plan a garden this year.

3. Want instant gratification? Have a perennial garden.

4. Buy what’s blooming. Provencher said, “Shop every two weeks and see what’s blooming.” Wasco Nursery is a living art institute of sorts here in the western suburbs, making a trip to the acreage a soothing and inspiring place to visit, even if you’re simply window shopping.

5. Don’t force Mother Nature. Provencher stresses the sense of urgency by big box stores makes people itchy to buy and start planting early. Way too early.

“Gardening and landscaping is about slowing down,” Provencher said. “There is a science behind the flowers we cultivate, buy and present at the nursery. It’s about Mother Nature’s timing.”

Attracting winged friends [such as] butterflies and hummingbirds calls for specific blooms, and Provencher suggested looking at often overlooked plants native to Illinois to furnish your garden.

“The Lobelia cardinalis, or the cardinal flower, is a truly red flowering plant, and hummingbirds absolutely love them,” Provencher said. “If you’re looking to attract butterflies, we love to suggest the prairie gayfeather, which makes a beautiful cut flower for your table and has a long bloom time. Butterflies really gather on it for the great nectar source.”

Another plant Provencher likes to call a butterfly landing pad is the Joe Pye weed, or the Eupatorium purpureum.

“It’s not a weed and is 100 percent native to the area,” Provencher said of the Midwestern plant. “The Joe Pye weed and the butterfly weed are two of my favorites because they provide a wonderful source of nectar for the monarch butterfly – plus, the butterflies like to hang on to the Pye Weed during windy days.”

Provencher also spoke fondly of preserving the pollinators by way of the seven-son flower tree, Heptacodium miconioides. This deciduous shrub has several interesting characteristics to observe through the seasons.

“This tree blooms in September and is something to look forward to at the end of summer and beginning of fall,” Provencher said. “Humming with bees, the seven-son flower tree also sheds its bark and helps area birds stock their nests.”

After the white flowers bloom on the tree, bright red calyx appear in fall for one last hurrah.

Wasco Nursery’s mission is to provide high-quality, locally grown plant and landscape material, expert advice and professional installation and design services. Provencher’s overall mantra of “there’s a plant for anything and everything” can make even the newbie gardener feel empowered.

“Spring often becomes overwhelming,” Provencher said. “But it doesn’t have to be. We’ve got solutions and inspiration for every type of garden and landscape project.”

Wasco Nursery and Garden Center is located at 41W781 Route 64, St. Charles, 6 miles west of Randall Road. Winter hours are from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. For information, go to wasconursery.com or email Meagan Provencher at design@wasconursery.com.

Smitten with domestic life but not to the point of unhealthy obsession, “The Modern Domestic Woman” author and St. Charles resident, Elizabeth Rago, is a freelance writer. You can visit her blog at thecircularhome.com or connect with Rago on Facebook at facebook.com/TheModernDomesticWoman. Feedback can be sent to editorial@kcchronicle.com.

Article source: http://www.kcchronicle.com/2018/02/09/the-modern-domestic-woman-five-tips-to-plan-an-extraordinary-yard/arow6mo/