Author Archives: Garden Decor

Caterpillar climbing on lettuce

All About Leafy Greens: Common Leafy Green Insect Issues

Caterpillar climbing on lettuceThe delicate, edible leaves of leafy green vegetables, as one might imagine, are particularly susceptible to damage from insects. Keep an eye out for these common pests. Continue reading

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All About Leafy Greens: Common Leafy Green Diseases

Leafy Green Diseases (800x533)Disease is a particularly important consideration when growing leafy greens because – as their name indicates – the delicate leaves are the part of the vegetable you’ll most likely want to eat.

Keep an eye out for any of these common diseases affecting your leafy green crop. Continue reading

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All About Leafy Greens: Kale Types and How To Grow Them

Types of Kale (800x533)If there can be a “hipster” vegetable of the moment, kale is certainly it these days. It’s hard to look over a menu in any upscale restaurant these days without seeing kale appearing as a side dish or “bed” for a couple of entrees. Continue reading

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All About Leafy Greens: Planting, Harvesting and Storing Leafy Greens

Harvesting (534x800)Planting leafy greens is exceptionally easy and for many variety results in both an ongoing harvest, as well as the opportunity for a second planting. Continue reading

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All About Leafy Greens: Types of Leafy Greens for Your Garden

Types of Greens (534x800)“Leafy greens” is in fact a pretty generic term for a wide variety of vegetables. Depending on how you’re planning to grow, store and cook them, here are a number of factors about each to consider. Continue reading

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How To: Time Out Your Leafy Green Harvest

Time Your Harvest (531x800)Planting leafy greens is exceptionally easy and for many variety results in both an ongoing harvest, as well as the opportunity for a second harvest in the same season. Some of the hardier varieties can be effectively overwintered, as well. Continue reading

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All About Leafy Greens: Growing Leafy Greens in Your Hardiness Zone

Hardiness Zone (800x533)Though leafy greens might seem too fragile for cooler temperatures, fall is in fact the best time to plant them in most United States hardiness zones as many varieties prefer cooler weather. Continue reading

Coral Honeysuckle

Plant These Flowers Now to Bring Birds, Bees, Butterflies (and Bats!)

This post was written and provided by Michelle Z. Donahue from the Plough & Furrow blog.

Though the flower shows are mostly done for the year, fall is a great time to get some planting done to bring your favorite fauna to the yard next year.

You’vbee on sedume probably read up on the different flowers that bring butterflies flocking, or the best types of plants to build a hummingbird garden.

But knowing why your winged visitors are drawn to these plants is important, and can help you bring even more activity to your garden.

 

The Science

Over millions of years, flowering plants and their pollinators changed shape and features together for their mutual benefit, a term biologists call co-evolution. (Kind of like what happens when people are married for a long time!)Agastache

To get their friends to come and take a closer look—and ensure its reproductive success—plants had to get creative with their flowers.

It’s one reason why hummingbird plants tend to have long, pipe-like flowers. The design is just as much to bring the bird in for a nectar snack as it is to enlist her in pollination efforts. A hummingbird’s head is the perfect shape to collect pollen, which she’ll take to the next flower in line—completing the pollination cycle.

A flower’s shape and color, as well as whether or not it has a nice aroma, are tip-offs to what kind of pollinator tends to seek out that plant. Pick your pollinator by choosing the right kind of plant!

Penstemon 'dark towers' For The Birds

Our feathered friends can see really well, but have awful sniffers, so plants attractive to birds are often bright red or orange. Anything with a tube-shaped flower almost guarantees a visit from a hummer.

Recommended Plants for Birds:

agastache, native columbine, coral honeysuckle, hibiscus, lobelia, penstemon, tall phlox, salvia.

 

Bees See in UV

Beesperceive flowers in a completely different spectrum: ultraviolet (UV) light. To them, blue, purple and yellow blooms pop like a neon sign. Many bee-friendly flowers also have soft, delicate scents.

Bee-friendly flowers also often feature “landing strips,” or platforms wPenstemon Attracts Beeshere bees can alight, along with patterns of lines that act to guide their visitors in for a landing.

Recommended Plants for Bees:

blanket flower, borage, bee balm, butterfly bush,  coneflower, fall asters, goldenrod, hosta, native passionflower, sedum.

 

 Butterflies Love Nectar

Monarch butterfly on BuddleiaLike hummingbirds, butterflies often target flowers in red, orange and purple, but color is really less of a factor than the flower’s overall shape—butterflies probe deep wells for nectar. This keeps other insects out, and the butterfly’s foraging also passes on pollen to neighboring plants.

Recommended Plants for Butterflies: aster, blazing star (Liatris), coneflower, goldenrod, milkweed, joe-pye weed, garden phlox, sedum. 

Feed the Night-Flying Moths

Indulge in a moon garden by planting white-flowered, night-blooming plants to feed moths, which are mainly active at night. Lucky gardeners who visit their bloomers by the light of a full moon will be rewarded with a garden full of strong, sweet smells, and perhaps a chance encounter with the huge, ethereal luna moth.

Datura at Brookside GardensBonus! Most moth plants also attract butterflies.

Recommended Plants for Moths:

angels’ trumpet, hosta, lavender, lily, nicotania, thyme, valerian, yucca.

 

 

Send Out the Bat-Signal

Bats are known for eating tons of bugs during their nighttime outings, but in warm, tropical areasGarden Plox they’re important pollinators. If you like tequila, you’ll be especially interested to know that agave, the plant source of the tipple, is almost wholly pollinated by bats.

In temperate areas, bats follow their food to night-scented flowers, so moon gardens also encourage bats to visit.

Recommended Plants for Bats:

Agave, banana, cocoa, guava, nicotania, phlox.

Bowls for Beetles

Though bees have been in the spotlight lately as an uber-important pollinator, beetles actually do a majority of the pollinating work in the plant kingdom. They’re thought to pollinate 88 percent of all flowering plants—there are over 30,000 species in North America alone!

Beetles love wide, bowl-shaped flowers or large, tightly clustered flowerheads, which tend to be deeply aromatic and pale yellow or white.

 

CalycanthusRecommended Plants for Beetles:

goldenrod, magnolia, poppies, sweet shrub, pond lily.

 

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All About Overwintering: What is it and why do we do it?

Overwintering is defined as the process by which you keep plants alive through a season in which they’d otherwise die whether it is due to weather or geographical placement. Why overwinter? Gardeners like to overwinter annuals to keep them growing and flowering season after season, but organic food movements are encouraging overwintering fruits and vegetable plants, too.

There are many benefits to using overwintering techniques. Overwintering vegetable plants causes them to develop earlier in the spring and offer a harvest well before the plants typically would. Plants like spinach, onions, and beans overwinter well and offer a delightful first taste of gardening season come March.

Fruit plants like blueberries, lemons, and fig trees overwinter well indoors and provide year-round fresh fruit at a low cost. Citrus trees like meyer lemons can be grown in a pot indoors in the winter and placed outdoors in full sun in the summer. Gardeners always benefit from having a touch of summer indoors during cooler months.

Bringing flowering and green plants indoors to overwinter increases the oxygen and humidity in your home. Pops of color, growing life during months of dormancy, and fresh smells are all added benefits to your home when you choose to overwinter.

If you’re a new gardener, the easiest way to get started is with potted plants. Explore steps to begin by checking out the Avant Garden guide to overwintering.

Overwintering Spinach

All About Overwintering: Spinach

Spinach is a pretty cold-tolerant plant and is perfect for overwintering. When overwintering spinach choose varieties like Giant Winter, Tyee, and Viroflay that handle low temperatures and are more resistant to harsher conditions. Start these seeds about six weeks before the average first frost so that you can use plants about three to four inches wide in size. Use soil that is cooler when starting these seeds to avoid spotty germination caused by dry, warm, late summer soil.

When you choose where you will place your polytunnel or burlap shields, sow the young spinach plants about 1 inch apart. After two frosts you can cover the spinach beds with a combination of compost and straw and then lay the outer layer protective structure. If you live in a more mild winter climate you can forgo the protective structure but use additional straw to shield the spinach plants.

Check moisture levels throughout the winter and keep soil slightly moist. Be cognizant of overwatering to avoid root rot. Root rot causes oxygen deprivation from the plants’ roots, which will stunt growth or kill your crop. As days become longer and temperatures increase you can begin to remove little layers of straw every few weeks.

After all straw has been removed, your spinach crop is just weeks away. Encourage growth by spraying a fish emulsion mixture on your spinach bed. As leaves grow, pluck or cut them from plants and continue to do so as they replenish themselves. Be sure to thoroughly wash spinach leaves before using them in your cooking to avoid ingesting any germs or bacteria.

Cook your spinach with olive oil and garlic in a skillet for a delicious side dish. You can even use your own overwintered garlic (link to overwintering garlic post) for a delightful garden to table snack!