Tuesday, May 26, 2009

5 Seeds to Direct Sow After Last Frost

As promised in last week's blog posting, here's a list of seeds you can direct sow after your last frost date. If you need to know when the last frost date in your area is click here.

1. Melons
Minnesota Midget (shown above)

Melons are the sweetest of all fast growing fruit. For best results, grow in full sun and reasonably fertile soil with good drainage. Melon 'Minnesota Midget' has compact vines (3-3½ft), so it's a real space saver.

2. Cosmos
Daydream (shown above)

Cosmos are easy to grow, freely flowering from mid summer until fall, adding height to your garden. They make a superb cut flower. Will also attract butterflies.

3. Mina lobata

Mina lobata is an excellent climber, growing upwards of 4-6 feet with several
hundred stems of flowers. Be sure to soak the seed & chip a corner of it before
sowing this Half Hardy Annual.

4. Cucumbers
Spacemaster (shown above)

Cucumbers are 96% water, low in calories and rich in potassium.
Avoid peeling these as the dark green skin is rich in antioxidants.

5. Sunflowers
Valentine (shown above)

Sunflowers are easy and fun to grow. They're ideal for adding height to borders.
Try growing dwarf varieties in containers or as a quick-growing annual hedge.

But let's not just stop there! Amaranthus, Asters, Candytuft, Gaillardia, Lupin, Marigolds, Morning Glories, Nasturtiums, Scabiosa as well as Beans & Corn can also be direct sown once your last frost date has passed.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Chelsea Flower Show

Photo courtesy of RHS/Chelsea Flower Show

The world famous Chelsea Flower Show is in full swing this week and as always, it's a sold out event. Claire (our resident Brit) says Chelsea is the event for celebrities to been seen at. Think the Kentucky Derby minus mint juleps & horses.

For the week, members of the press,
horticultural experts and gardeners of all skill levels blanket the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea to witness show gardens designed by the crème de la crème of the industry. Some highlights include an urban garden display & a garden created by our friends at QVC.

Thompson & Morgan is also at Chelsea. We are introducing an exclusive variety that will be available in the 2010 season -
Digitalis 'Pam's Split'. Since we can't hop on a plane & see it in person, here's a sneak peek.
This interesting and unusual digitalis features white blooms with speckled throats and an intriguing split lower lip. Digitalis ‘Pam's Split’ also produces multi stems from the basal crown of foliage, giving a longer, more impressive border display.

But it seems the talk of the show has revolved over a little friend that's probably in many of our gardens right now. Presenting....'Gnome Gate'.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Tomato Troubles & the Herb Bandit

I'm a holdout when it comes to buying a digital camera. (Call me a traditionalist.)

Anyway, when these beauties made their appearance in my backyard a few weeks ago, I couldn't help but photograph them.

In other gardening news, I had to say goodbye to 2 tomato plants. (Boo!) However, the remaining two plants (one Ramapo, one Heirloom Mortgage Lifter) are going strong in the EarthBox . (Yay!)

I suspect it was due to the cold temperatures we've been having in New Jersey the past few days. They were kept inside as long as I could, but in typical Spring weather fashion, we had a week of warm weather followed by a few days/nights of coolness. That's what I get for not covering them! Next time, break out the horticultural fleece.

My spinach seeds are starting to sprout, along with Garden Pea Meteor and the Morning Glories. I did notice my neighbor snipping off a bit from the mint and basil plants, but he let me borrow a wheel barrel last week. Let's chalk it up to neighborly good cheer, shall we?

Until next time - Happy Gardening!

PS. Be on the lookout for our post next week. We'll be blogging about seeds you can direct sow after your last frost date. (If you need to find when that is, check here.) We get calls & e mails from people quite often who are concerned their particular packet of seed shouldn't be planted right now because it isn't the right time. Don't fret - we'll provide a varied list of flowers & vegetable seeds !

Monday, May 11, 2009

Not Just Your Ordinary Muffin

Here's another recipe from the T&M kitchen.

Yields 12 muffins
  • 3/4 CUP MILK
  • 1/2 TSP SALT
  • 4 TBS. HONEY
  • 1 EGG

Heat milk to boiling, then add Marigold petals. In a separate bowl sift flour, baking powder and salt. Add oil to milk; stir and let cool, then add honey and egg. Combine this wet mixture with the dry mixture. Fill greased muffin tins (or line them with those handy paper muffin cups) at least 2/3 rds full. Bake in a 400F oven about 20 minutes.

These would go well with a bit of fruit preserves and a cup of tea!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Tales of the Plant Sale

The plant sale proved to be a fruitful event. However I must remember for next year that the early bird does indeed get the worm. By the time I showed up at 9:30 (the event started at 9), most of the plants were wiped out!

I did manage to fill my Tubtrug with some goodies including:
  • 'Ramapo' tomato plants

Developed in 1968 by Dr. Bernard Pollack at Rutgers University, Ramapo is usually referred to as the traditional Jersey tomato. However, the Rutgers NJ Farm Fresh website says that there's no such thing. Chalk it up to the soil and climate in the Garden State that gives tomatoes their juicy flavor. See, there's more to New Jersey than just the Sopranos!

I also visited my local organic farmer and purchased a final tomato plant (otherwise I'll be giving away many tomatoes this season - or making a ton of spaghetti sauce.) It's a common heirloom variety - Mortgage Lifter. It's still a little bit cool outside here, so for now my tomato plants are living in the guest bedroom.

Also purchased:
Last year I planted Rosemary in a container and it was huge. Unfortunately, we had a very dry winter and didn't survive so I'm back to square one. The elderly gentlemen I met at the farmstand had his Rosemary plant for 5 years before it met the same fate!
At my home we always seem to be cooking with Thyme & Rosemary, especially when you know you can walk outside and snip a fresh bit off. Basil is also a staple, but I wanted to try something different. Hence the decision to go with the Indian Basil. I'm also using an All Purpose Fertilizer by Perfectly Natural to make sure they're well fed too!

When it gets a little warmer, I'll be busy sowing Morning Glories (Dark Knight , Scarlet O' Hara ) and Sunflowers (Double Shine, Prado Yellow) as well. So slowly but surely the garden is coming together. How's yours doing?

Friday, May 1, 2009

Paul James & My Weekend Wish List

A gardening friend to many and a familiar face on TV, Paul James has launched a new website Gardener Guy.com

It's chock full of funny and helpful advice, frequently asked questions, a tip of the week, Paul's blog as well as a forum to chat with other gardeners. Show him some love and check it out!

This weekend, our local cooperative extension here in New Jersey is having their Master Gardener plant sale. Although the weatherman is calling for overcast skies and rain, I'm more than prepared to dig out the Wellies and trug through the mud.

On my wish list - tomatoes & peppers. Since I live so close to the ocean, most homes have a sandy soil mix. Thank goodness for container gardening! Last year, I had a less than stellar tomato crop. A tall plant with few fruits and a lot of flowers. After a nice chat with Susan, our horticularist, she put me on the right path. I'm a somewhat new gardener (the irony of working at a seed company is not lost on this) so let's chalk it up to a rookie mistake shall we?

Whatever you choose to do this weekend, here's to a good one!