WHEN SHOULD I PLANT MY SEEDS?
The back of the packet tells you what is the best time to plant the seeds in that packet. Planting time varies for every different flower, herb and vegetable depending on where you live. On the packet you'll see a small U.S. map with four zones, each in a different color. Find your zone area on this map. IT IS APPROXIMATE. Now look at the chart next to the map. Find your zone, and you'll see there is a range given for the best planting time for the seeds in that packet (say March-June). This time range indicates you can plant your seeds any time during the months of March through June, and have fine results. If you call us, we're probably going to be looking at the same packet you have in your hand.
TWO OTHER IMPORTANT THINGS:
1. If you live in the northern zones, please read on the packet about whether you should wait to plant until after spring frost. This means waiting until the soil has begun to warm up. Planting seeds too early can result in failure.
2. The single most common mistake in planting seeds is planting them too deep.
Please follow the planting depth suggestion on the seed packet for best results. We really do wish our customers would take a few minutes to read the information on the back of the packet. That's why we take the time to write them for you! But we'd rather have you call us than to be confused!
ABOUT SEED PACKETS
The humble seed packet, though small, contains a great deal of garden information about the seeds inside. PLEASE READ IT! The packet describes the variety, usually has an illustration, tells when to plant, how to plant, how deep to plant, when to expect seedlings, and how to handle and care for them. Let me assure you -- seed packets are written by real people at seed companies, who are gardeners themselves!
BY SEASON: SPRING
WHEN'S THE BEST TIME TO START TOMATO SEEDS?
Unless you are in Zone 10, don’t start your tomatoes until about March 1st, later if you live in the far North. Many folks start tomatoes too early, in anticipation of spring, but because plants can’t go outside until all frost is past, they end up getting too large indoors and may become potbound. Young plants set out in mid to late May will produce just as quickly as overly-large, older plants held over in the house since January.
IN MY SHORT-SEASON GARDEN, WHICH TOMATO IS BEST?
Select from these early-maturity varieties to have tasty tomatoes before frost gets them: 52 days: Early Girl, 4-6 oz. red fruits; 65 days: Supersweet 100, 1"" red fruits; 68 days: Husky Gold, golden orange fruits to 8 oz. each; 70 days: Celebrity, 8 oz. red fruits; 70 days: Patio, medium red fruits; 72 days: Spitfire, large red fruits. Please keep in mind that the days to maturity are counted from the time the plants are set outside in the garden. The number of days is approximate.
AFTER THE DAFFODILS FINISH BLOOMING, CAN I CUT THE LEAVES OFF?
For best results, let leaves die off naturally. Right after plants bloom, fertilize around them and water in. These two actions will help the bulbs bloom better the following year.
I'D LIKE TO GROW A HANGING BACKET ON MY SHADY PORCH. WHAT WILL GROW BEST?
Among the best for hanging baskets are pendula begonias, a shade-loving bulb which cascades beautifully over a basket rim and blooms until frost. In a large basket, you can also add some annual flowers such as ageratum, coleus, lobelia and impatiens around the outside of the basket to fill in around the begonias. All these can be started by seed in early spring. When you hang your basket outdoors, make yourself a note to hang by the kitchen sink that reads: ""Don’t Forget To Water."" If your basket has drainage holes, which it should, it’s IMPOSSIBLE to overwater a hanging basket. Water is quickly evaporated from a basket, so water every day after plants start to cascade over the sides.
WHAT FLOWERS CAN I GROW IN MY YARD FOR AN OUTDOOR JUNE WEDDING?
In spring (no later than early April), loosen and smooth your garden soil. Then plant seeds of some, any, or all of these annual flowers. They’ll be just coming into bloom in early June. The earlier you can plant them, the sooner they’ll bloom. Try these: Calendula, Candytuft, Coreopsis, Larkspur, Nasturtium, Pansy, Shirley Poppy, Snapdragon, Stock, and Sweet Peas.
DO I NEED TO ADD LIME TO MY GARDEN?
Only a soil test can provide the correct answer for YOUR garden. Many soils in the East are naturally very acid and gardens there may have to be routinely limed once a year. To be sure if this step is required, do your own soil test or have the county agricultural extension office perform a soil analysis for you.
THE TULIPS I PLANTED IN MY FLORIDA GARDEN ARE SO DISAPPOINTING! WHAT'S WRONG?
The secret to growing tulips is a cold winter! Without a period of cold in which the bulbs can form roots and ""rest"", they will not perform well for you. Suggest you grow tender bulbs which cannot succeed in the North, such as amaryllis, freesia, calla, caladium.
BY SEASON: SUMMER
IS IT TOO LATE TO START AN HERB GARDEN?
No. Annual herbs such as basil and dill grow quickly in warm summer weather. You can also start any perennial herbs now, and you’ll still be able to harvest some this year. The next year, the plants will have grown into large clumps for harvesting from spring onwards.
WILL CUCUMBERS AND CANTALOUPE CROSS-POLLINATE?
No -- A though they are related to the other vegetables in the Cucurbit Family (squash, watermelon and pumpkins), they are not similar enough to cross-pollinate with each other. Cucumbers may self-pollinate or be pollinated by other cucumber plants in your garden or your neighbor’s garden; likewise cantaloupe. But wherever the pollen comes from, you’ll still enjoy the expected tasty flavor.
WHAT SEEDS CAN I PLANT THIS LATE AND STILL HAVE GOOD RESULTS?
Annual flower seeds grow and bloom quickly in warm summer weather. For a ""patch"" of color, scatter marigold, zinnia, phlox, baby’s breath, cosmos, four o’clock, sunflowers or bachelor button seed (or mix them all up and scatter them together) in a bare area. One day you’ll come home to see some flowers blooming in that forgotten patch. You won’t forget the thrill! Or if you’re interested in perennial flowers, this is an excellent time to plant seeds of perennials and biennials (also pansy seed) for bloom next year. There’s plenty of time to plant beans, cucumbers, summer squash, basil, dill, cilantro, chamomile, new zealand spinach, swiss chard, bunching onions, lettuce, okra, and early varieties of sweet corn. Summer’s also a great time to start seeds indoors or in a cold frame for fall crops such as cabbage, brussels sprouts, cauliflower; or directly in the garden, carrots, beets, lettuce, turnip, other greens, and radishes for fall. If you can’t find seeds at your local garden center, we still have them for you by mail-order.
ARE THERE ANY ""TRICKS"" TO GROWING BIG DAHLIAS?
If you want one really big flower on each stem (for flower show competition or arrangements), the way to do it is to remove all flower buds below the flower bud at the very tip of each stem. Then the plant puts all its energy into making one really BIG flower.
THE PERENNIALS I PLANTED THIS SPRING HAVEN'T COME UP. WHAT'S WRONG?
Newly-planted bulbs and perennial plants (which are dormant when planted) may come up later than those very same plants in your neighbor’s yard which were planted years ago. That’s because the first thing newly-planted bulbs and plants do is to establish a strong root system before they start growing upwards. Please be patient and keep soil evenly moist until your plants appear. In years to come, they will bloom at the same time as everyone else’s in your neighborhood!
ALL OF A SUDDEN MY TOMATO PLANT WILTED AND TURNED BROWN! WHAT'S WRONG?
Sounds like Verticillium or Fusarium wilt, a bacterial disease which lives over in the garden soil. Suggest you plant tomatoes elsewhere next year and each year thereafter. Grow varieties which have ""VF"" after their names, which indicates that the plants have some level of tolerance or resistance to these soil diseases. By the way, if the plants have fruit, the fruits are perfectly edible. Pick them all. Then pull out the plant and don’t compost it.
MY CORN PLANTS HAVE FUNNY ROOTS COMING OUT OF THEIR SIDES. IS THIS NORMAL?
These large roots are called adventitious roots. They grow out of the lower stems as a sort of prop for the plant. Some gardeners hill the soil up around the base of their corn plants to prevent wind damage by summer storms. . You can cover them with soil but it’s not necessary.
IS IT SAFE TO FREEZE TOMATOES WHOLE?
Some people do this, but it’s better to blanch and freeze; better yet to boiling-water bath can them. Check with your county extension home economist for the latest information about safe food preservation.
BY SEASON: FALL
WHAT CAN I PLANT NOW?
Well, it depends. Don't you just hate that answer? But it really does depend on where you are, zone-wise. In Zones 9 & 10, plant roses, shrubs, trees, greens, root crops and hardy annual flowers. All Zones can plant spring-flowering bulbs and dormant perennial plants up until the soil freezes solid. If you do this, please water well until ground freezes. Indoors, start seeds of cactus, coleus and impatiens, and parsley, chives, oregano and spearmint, for indoor growing during the winter and spring.
WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WINTER AND SUMMER SQUASH?
This can be a little confusing because the terms ""winter"" and ""summer"" here refer to when you eat the squash, not when they are harvested or grown. All squash varieties are tender, needing to be planted after all frost is past in spring. Squash grows through the summer, blooming and producing fruits. ""Summer"" squash is harvested when the fruits are small and still have tender skins. They are consumed right away, raw or cooked. Examples of summer squash are zucchini and crookneck. ""Winter"" squash fruits develop more slowly and form a hard shell. They are picked just before frost hits them in late fall. Winter squash will store well for several months in a cool place. They are baked or steamed. Examples of winter squash are butternut and vegetable spaghetti.
WHEN'S THE BEST TIME TO RESEED A LAWN TO GET THICK, EVEN COVERAGE?
For cool-season areas, late summer to early fall is the best time to overseed with fescue, ryegrass or bluegrass seed. For Southern lawns made up of Bermuda Grass, overseed with annual ryegrass to enjoy immediate coverage and to hold the soil until next summer when your Bermuda grass greens up.
ARE SPRING-FLOWERING BULBS EASY FOR A NEW GARDENER TO GROW?
How does ""no experience needed"" and "" foolproof"" sound? When you’ve planted bulbs for spring bloom, you can sit by the fire and laugh at the blanket of snow outside, knowing that soon your treasure will dazzle the eye when spring comes! Some bulbs get better every year -- creating smaller baby bulbs which add to the color and size of the clump every year. Daffodils are one of the best for yearly increase. The minor bulbs, too, offer a delightful range of color and delicate size, for a planting investment which simply gets better and better each spring.
WHAT IS ""FORCING""?
Forcing bulbs means to get them to bloom (""fool"" them) at a different or earlier time than they would naturally. Pot the bulbs up in fall, keep inside in dark cool place for about 6 weeks to allow for root development. Then bring out to a warmer room (but not too warm, for the longest flower life) and allow the bulb to develop further and bloom. Forced bulbs don’t perform in the garden later, so discard when finished blooming.
WHAT SHOULD I DO WITH MY DAHLIA ROOTS FOR THE WINTER? I LIVE IN ZONE 5.
Dahlias will be killed by your winter temperatures unless you dig and store them. If you want to do this, dig before frost and spread out on newspaper in a dry place indoors for several week. When thoroughly dry, place in shallow layers covered with dry peat moss or wood shavings and put in a cool, dry place until spring.
SHOULD I PRUNE FORSYTHIA NOW?
No, hold those shears until spring! The best time to prune any blooming shrub or vine is just after they bloom. If you prune now, you will cut off flower buds and you may encourage soft growth late in the season which could be damaged by winter weather.
BY SEASON: WINTER
WHAT FLOWERS DO BUTTERFLIES PREFER?
For caterpillars: Carrot, Parsley, Angelica, Queen Anne’s Lace.
For nectar: Thyme, Sweet Alyssum, Butterfly Weed, Liatris, Asters, Lythrum, Chives, Bee Balm, Bachelor Button, Cosmos, Clover, Shasta Daisy, Purple Coneflower, Daylily, Lavender, Rudbeckia, Salvia and Stonecrops (sedum); Butterfly Bush (Buddleia), Privet, Lilac, Honeysuckle; and flowers of red, orange and bright yellow.
CAN I GROW HERBS INDOORS AT THIS TIME OF YEAR?
Sure -- any time of year! We suggest parsley, chives, basil, sage, oregano and thyme. Plant seeds in 4 to 6 inch pots filled with growing medium, and place in a sunny window. Clip off small sprigs as needed. Plants will thrive for a year or more indoors; then replant.
I PLANTED HOLLYHOCKS BUT THEY DIDN'T BLOOM LAST YEAR. WHY?
Hollyhocks, like most perennial flowers, don’t bloom until their second year. Your plants formed a clump of leaves their first year and strengthened themselves to send up flower stalks this year.
ARE SPRING-FLOWERING BULBS EASY FOR A NEW GARDENER TO GROW?
Yes, they’re practically fool-proof. The bulbs have already formed next year’s flower buds. Plant in fall, mulch and water. In spring, you’ll be thrilled by the beautiful blooms. Bulbs are perfect for new gardeners, and for gardening with children.