Author Archives: admin

Growing Under Black Walnut

If you have a black walnut tree on your property, you know how difficult it can be to find anything that will grow anywhere near this plant.

Black walnuts release a substance called juglone into the soil, which is toxic to many ornamental and edible plants and can stunt their growth significantly – in fact, juglone is used as a herbicide in some areas! A mature black walnut tree can have a toxic zone with up to an 80-foot radius, depending on the tree’s size and age. Every part of the walnut tree contains juglone and this substance remains in the soil long after the tree is cut down, continuing to inhibit anything that may be planted in its place.

Fortunately, there is a wide variety of plants that are less affected by juglone and can still thrive in contaminated soil. When choosing to plant in an area where a black walnut is located or where one once stood, it is safe to make your selection from the lists below.

Vegetables

  • Beans
  • Corn
  • Carrots
  • Melons
  • Squash

Fruit

  • Black Raspberry
  • Cherry
  • Nectarine
  • Peach
  • Pear
  • Plum

Annuals

  • Pot-marigold, Calendula officinalis
  • Begonia, fibrous cultivars
  • Morning Glory, Ipomoea
  • Pansy, Viola
  • Zinnia species

Perennials

  • Bugleweed, Ajuga reptans
  • Hollyhock, Alcea rosea
  • European Wild Ginger, Asarum europaeum
  • Astilbe species
  • Bellflower, Campanula latifolia
  • Leopard’s-Bane, Doronicum species
  • Sweet Woodruff, Galium odoratum
  • Cranesbill, Geranium sanguineum
  • Common Daylily, Hemerocallis
  • Coral Bells, Heuchera
  • Plantain-lily, Hosta
  • Siberian Iris, Iris sibirica
  • Balm, Monarda didyma
  • Sundrops, Oenothera fruticosa
  • Summer Phlox, Phlox paniculata
  • Polyanthus Primrose, Primula x polyantha
  • Lungwort, Pulmonaria species
  • Showy Sedum, Sedum spectabile
  • Lamb’s-Ear, Stachys byzantina
  • Spiderwort, Tradescantia virginiana
  • Horned Violet, Viola cornuta

Ferns

  • Crested Wood Fern, Dryopteris cristata
  • Senstitive Fern, Onoclea sensibilis
  • Cinnamon Fern, Osmunda cinnamomea

Bulbs

  • Glory-of-the-Snow, Chionodoxa luciliae
  • Crocus species
  • Winter Aconite, Eranthis hyemalis
  • Snowdrop, Galanthus nivalis
  • Spanish Bluebell, Hyacinthoides hispanica
  • Grape Hyacinth, Muscari botryoides
  • Siberian Squill, Scilla sibirica

Trees

  • Japanese Maples, Acer palmatum
  • Eastern Redbud, Cercis canadensis
  • Canadian Hemlock, Tsuga canadensis

Vines and Shrubs

  • Euonymus species
  • Rose of Sharon, Hibiscus syriacus
  • Honeysuckle, Lonicera species
  • Virginia Creeper, Parthenocissus quinquefolia
  • Arborvitaes, Thuja species

Black walnut can be a challenging plant to have in your landscape, but if you understand the unique characteristics of this tree you can easily pair it with other plants that don’t mind its toxic effects.

Walnut_2Walnut_1

Please note: Our Garden Center might not carry all items listed in the above article!

Dianthus ‘Firewitch’

Are you looking for new perennials to add to your landscape but are tired of the same old plants with dull blooms, predictable foliage and raggedy forms? Dianthus ‘Firewitch’ can be the answer that will bring unique texture, brilliant color and clean lines to your flowerbeds.

About the Plant

Dianthus plants – also called sweet williams or pinks – are well known in landscaping, but ‘Firewitch’ is even more spectacular than most of these familiar perennials.

Dianthus ‘Firewitch’ (sometimes called cheddar pink) is a low growing, mat-forming plant with evergreen, narrow, bluish-gray foliage with a spikey texture that adds a bold statement to the landscape. Growing 3-4 inches tall, this perennial forms a mature clump at 6-12 inches wide. Brilliant purplish-pink flowers reach 6-8 inches high and cover the plant at bloom time. The petals are also spiked, which gives this plant an even more stunning, sharp appearance.

Described as hot pink, purple red or magenta, the flowers provide a striking contrast with the foliage during peak bloom in early spring. The flowers perfume the air with a spicy, clove-like fragrance that is even more noticeable in large beds or borders. ‘Firewitch’ is also tops in offering a re-bloom throughout the season, bringing brilliant color to the landscape for far longer than many other cultivars, even into mid-summer.

Growing Dianthus ‘Firewitch’

This perennial does best in full sun in well-drained, slightly alkaline soils, and can even thrive in sandy soils and is tolerant of moderate humidity as well as occasional drought conditions. Dianthus ‘Firewitch’ is excellent as a border edger, in a rock garden, planted in wall crevices or as a ground cover on a sunny slope. It is at home in the herb garden, a formal border or a cottage garden, where butterflies will also welcome the beautiful blooms. Because this plant is deer-resistant, it is also a good option for landscapes that may be visited by unwelcome wildlife. Deadheading the plant after blooms fade will help encourage reblooming, and blooms may be produced up to 4-5 weeks in optimal conditions. ‘Firewitch’ is not typically plagued by pests or diseases, but crown rot can be a problem if the plants are too moist or planted in poorly-drained areas.

Low maintenance, easy-to-grow and brilliantly colorful, what’s not to love about Dianthus ‘Firewitch’? Add some to your landscape today and you’ll love the sparkle it brings to your yard!

Close up of Dianthus Plant Background

Please note: Our Garden Center might not carry all items listed in the above article!

Plants for Wet Soil

More water is always good for plants, right? Wrong! When water stands in the soil, air is displaced, which in turn smothers the plant roots. Once the roots are damaged many symptoms appear on leaves and shoots including wilting, marginal and inter-veinal browning of leaves (scorch), poor color and stunted growth. But the excess water isn’t always coming from overwatering, it may be the result of poor draining soil.

Poor drainage is often produced in disturbed sites when heavy clay soil is compacted by construction machinery or other excessive use, such as yards where several children are often playing. Areas cultivated for plantings, such as flowerbed or borders, then collect water running off the compacted ground – this is called the teacup effect. Wet areas may also be the result of swales, drain spout runoff and low areas even when soil percolation is adequate in most of the site but when general moisture levels are routinely high.

To check for a potential drainage problem, dig a hole at least 2 feet deep, fill it with water and note how long the water remains. If it doesn’t drain completely away within 24 hours a severe drainage problem exists.

Fortunately, you can correct drainage problems in different ways. Easy options include…

  • Divert water past plantings using drainage pipes, splash blocks or rain chains.
  • Plant in mounds or raised beds so water will run off and away from the plants.
  • Install drain tiles in saturated areas or use French drains to contain excess water.
  • Amend the soil with organic matter such as compost to improve its structure.

An even easier solution is to simply select plants that tolerate wet sites. The following trees and shrubs tolerate wet sites and flooding better than most. Few tolerate standing water for long periods (those that grow in truly swampy conditions are marked *), but all will do better in wet areas.

Shade Trees

  • *Acer rubrum/Red Maple
  • *Betula nigra/River Birch
  • Liquidambar styraciflua/Sweet Gum
  • Alyssa sylvatica/Sour Gum
  • Platanus occidentalis/Sycamore
  • Quercus phellos/Willow Oak
  • *Salix spp./Willow
  • *Taxodium distichum/Bald Cypress

Flowering Trees

  • Amelanchier Canadensis/Serviceberry
  • Magnolia virginiana/Sweetbay Magnolia

Evergreen Trees

  • Calocedrus decurrens/Incense Cedar
  • Ilex opaca/American Holly
  • Thuja occidentalis/Pyramidal Arborvitae

Deciduous Shrubs

  • *Aronia arbutifolia/Chokeberry
  • Clethra alnifolia/Summersweet
  • *Cornus spp./Twig Dogwoods
  • Enkianthus campanulatus/Enkianthus
  • Ilex verticillata/Winterberry
  • *ltea virginica/Virginia Sweetspire
  • Lindera benzoin/Spicebush
  • Myrica pennsylvanica/Bayberry
  • *Rhododendron viscosum/Swamp Azalea
  • *Salix spp./Pussy Willow
  • Viburnum spp./Viburnums

Evergreen Shrubs

  • *Andromeda polifolia/Bog Rosemary
  • *Chamaecyparis thyoides/White Atlantic Cedar
  • *llex glabra/Inkberry
  • Kalmia atifolia/Mountain Laurel
  • Leucothoe spp./Leucothoe

Perennials

  • *Arundo donax/Giant Reed Grass
  • Aster nova-angliae/Asters
  • Astilbe spp./Astilbe
  • Chelone/Turtlehead
  • Cimicifuga racemose/Snakeroot
  • Helenium autumnale/Helen’s Flower
  • Hibiscus moscheutos/Hardy Hisbiscus
  • *Iris kaempferi/Japanese Iris
  • Iris siberica/Siberian Iris
  • *Lobelia cardinalis/Cardinal Flower
  • Lobelia syphilitca/Blue Lobelia
  • Monarda didyma/Bee Balm
  • Myosotis scorpiodes/Forget-me-nots
  • Tiarella cordifolia/Foam Flower
  • Trollius europaeus/Globe Flowers
  • Viola spp./Violets

Ground Covers

  • Gallium odoratum/Sweet Woodruff
  • Gaultheria procumbers/Wintergreen
  • Hosta spp./Hosta
  • Mentha spp./Mint
  • Parthenocissus quinquifolia/Virginia Creeper

Annuals

  • Cleome hosslerana/Spider Flower
  • Myosotis sylvatica/Forget-me-nots
  • Torenia fournien/Wishbone Flower
  • Viola wittrockiana/Pansies

Not sure which water-loving plants to choose? We’d be happy to help you evaluate your landscape moisture and other conditions to help you choose the very best plants for your yard!

Two feet wearing rain boots standing in the mud

Please note: Our Garden Center might not carry all items listed in the above article!

Azaleas – An American Favorite

Azaleas are true garden favorite and are popular in all types of landscape designs. To keep them blooming prolifically and as beautiful as they can be, however, you will need to follow a few special directions for their best care.

Planting Azaleas

Azaleas need a well-drained location, as they will not thrive in an area that stays overly wet. They prefer afternoon shade, and too much sun can harm their leaves and fade the flowers, depleting their beauty. For their best growth, it is important to shelter azaleas from drying winds. The best locations in the landscape will be along the north, northeast or east side of a building or stand of evergreens or in the filtered shade under tall trees.

Azaleas may be planted any time of the year, even when in full bloom. Spring and early fall are ideal planting times so the plants are not stressed by the heaviest summer heat. Before planting, loosen the matted roots with a hand cultivator so they can spread and establish more easily.

To give azaleas the excellent drainage they require, they should be planted high, with half the root ball above the existing ground level in a hole at least twice as wide as the root ball. Amend the planting soil to provide good nutrition for these hungry plants. Once the plant is set in the planting hole, fill in around it with the planting mix, packing firmly to eliminate air pockets. Mound soil up to top of root ball. Water shrubs thoroughly with a diluted plant starter fertilizer to encourage root growth and help them establish more quickly. Mulch 2-3 inches deep over the planting hole, with mulch pulled away from plant stem to avoid insect infestations and rotting.

Watering Azaleas

Spring and summer plantings should be watered 2-3 times per week until fall the year they are planted, then once a week until Christmas. Plants may need to be watered as often as once a day if they are small or the weather is hot. Always check the soil moisture level before watering. It should be lightly moist several inches down, but if it is drying out more frequent watering may be needed. In following years you will need to water your azaleas about once a week unless there is a good soaking rain. Plants will need more water in hot summers and while in flower to keep their growth and form lush.

The Need for Mulch

Mulching around azaleas is always a good idea, and can help them thrive. A 2-4″ layer of mulch should be maintained at all times over the root area of the plant, but pulled away from the stems. This keeps the soil cool and moist, helps control weeds and protects roots in winter.

Pruning Azaleas

Azaleas rarely need to be pruned. When pruning is required it should be done immediately after blooming, since if you wait to prune until summer you may cut off next year’s blooms and miss an entire flowering season. Azaleas may be sheared, as they will send out new shoots anywhere on a branch, or you may choose hand-pruning to create a neater form.

With a bit of considerate care, azaleas can be a showstopper in your landscape. Stop by today for help choosing the best azaleas and learning all you need to know to keep them gorgeous year after year!

azaleas

Please note: Our Garden Center might not carry all items listed in the above article!

Mowing. Do It Right

If you have a lawn then you need to mow. If you need to mow then you may as well do it right, or else you risk weak, thin turf that is more susceptible to weeds, insect infestations and diseases. Fortunately, it’s easy to mow your lawn the right way!

8 Simple Steps for a Well-Mowed Lawn

  1. Put Your Mower to Bed in Fall
    Service your lawn mower in the fall, after your last cut, so that you start the next mowing season right. For a gas mower, this means change the oil, drain the gas, replace the spark plug, change the air filter and lubricate the throttle cord. Maintenance is similar for electric and battery-powered mowers – be sure all the moving parts are properly lubricated, batteries are operating efficiently and cords are in good condition without snags, rips or bare wires. All types of mowers should have their blades sharpened in fall so they are ready for swift spring cuts.
  2. Know How High to Cut Your Spring Grass
    Before your first cut of the spring season, fill your tank with gas (or fully charge batteries) and adjust your wheel height. Cool-season grasses should generally be cut at a height of 3 to 3 ½ inches. Never remove more than 1/3 of the plant. This longer height will require that you mow more frequently but it will ensure a stronger root system, help maintain soil moisture and will greatly reduce weed competition.
  3. Only Mow When Dry
    Mowing a wet lawn is a sure way to spread disease and tear grass blades for a ragged look, plus wet clippings will clog blades and make mowers less efficient. The best time of day to mow is in the evening. Early in the morning, after the dew has dried is the second best time. Mowing in the heat of the day will cause your turf grass to go into shock.
  4. Clear the Lawn
    Before you start your mower, clear all objects from the lawn. This includes toys, lawn furniture, trash, fallen branches, stones and anything that would cause you to stop and restart the mower. Keep your eye out for anything that is a hazard, including items that may get jammed in the mower or thrown by the mower.
  5. Keep the Clippings
    Grass clippings are loaded with nitrogen, just what your lawn needs to stay healthy. Leaving the clippings on the lawn can reduce your fertilizer use by as much as 25 percent or more. Spread them out so that they don’t become anaerobic. Using a mulching mower will ensure the clippings are finely chopped and will decay more quickly, releasing their nutrition back into the lawn.
  6. Stay Sharp
    Always keep your mower blades sharp. You may need to resharpen your blades during the growing season. Unsharpened blades rip and tear at the grass. This creates an environment conducive to the spread of turf disease. Dull blades will also cut unevenly, creating a ragged look even on a newly mowed lawn.
  7. Change Directions
    Change directions each time you mow. Mowing causes the grass to lie over. Alternating your direction each time you mow will correct this problem and help strengthen your turf. You might even use multiple directions, including diagonal rows, and rotate through the pattern with each successive mowing.
  8. Clean Up Afterwards
    Dirt and debris are the main causes of lawn mower engine failure. Always take a few moments after mowing for some preventative maintenance. Grab an old rag and wipe down your mower including air vent grates, blades and wheels to be sure your mower is ready to go each time you need it.

With the proper care, preparation and techniques, you can mow your lawn the right way every time, and you’ll be amazed at the different proper mowing can make to the healthy and vigorousness of your turf.

mowing_2mowing_1

Please note: Our Garden Center might not carry all items listed in the above article!

Spring Lawn Renovation

Spring is the ideal time to spruce up your lawn. After a long winter, you can easily see where any bald, bare or thin patches exist, as well as where weeds or fungus may be taking over the lawn. Fortunately, there are easy ways to set your lawn to rights!

Seeding

If you are planning to seed a new lawn or overseed an existing lawn, it is best to seed as early as possible. It is important to get seed germinated and growing before trees begin to leaf out, when the trees will be usurping more of the soil’s moisture and nutrition and new leaves will block sunlight from the grass seed. This is especially true in more heavily shaded areas. Keep the area moist at all times until the roots of grass seed become established, then you can gradually decrease the frequency of watering. The new grass can be mowed when it reaches a height of about three inches.

Rejuvenating a Weak Lawn

Your lawn cannot live without air, water and nutrients, but decaying material matted down between grass blades can smother even the healthiest-looking lawn. This decaying material is called thatch, and when a thick layer of thatch builds up, water and fertilizer may run off instead of penetrating the soil. Aerating and dethatching can help rejuvenate a lawn by restoring passageways to the soil. Late spring is an excellent time to dethatch cool-season grasses. Thatching rakes can be used, or you can use a metal rake to remove thatch by hand.

Adusting pH 

The pH of your soil has a direct impact on the health of your lawn. Test your soil to determine the pH (simple kits are available to do this). We recommend a small handful of soil taken from a depth of 3 inches to get the most accurate reading. At a pH of 6.8-7.0 nutrients are most readily available to turf grasses, and beneficial microorganisms are more active to decompose thatch and keep the soil structure healthy. If your pH is too low or too high, consider amending the soil as needed to help bring it to a more desirable level.

Crabgrass Control

On established lawns that you are not overseeding, apply a fertilizer with crabgrass control in early to mid-April. Straight Team products can be applied with separate fertilizers like Espoma Organic 18-8-6 or similar fertilizers. Reapply Team in early to mid-June for the second germination of crabgrass. Remember, crabgrass seeds start to germinate when the soil temperature reaches 50-58 degrees. Use corn gluten as an organic alternative for crabgrass control on an established lawn.

On newly seeded lawns and those seeded in late fall or during the winter months, use a starter fertilizer with crabgrass control. You will need to reapply in four weeks or however the manufacturer’s instructions indicate. Proper applications will keep your new lawn crabgrass-free.

Maintaining your lawn at a higher level, 4 inches, throughout the growing season will allow you to control crabgrass without the use of chemicals. Taller grass will shade out the crabgrass seed preventing it from germinating.

Insect Controls

An early season application of Merit or a similar insecticide will provide effective white grub control for the growing season. This preventative method tends to give better results than applying insecticides when you notice damage as it then may be too late. If you have routinely had problems with other insects, opt for products specifically targeted for those pests to ensure effective control.

A lot goes into having a lush, healthy lawn, but if you take the appropriate steps to rejuvenate your lawn in spring, you’ll be rewarded with thick, healthy, resilient turf to enjoy from early spring until snow flies again.

spring_lawn_3

spring_lawn_1

Grass sprinkler

Please note: Our Garden Center might not carry all items listed in the above article!

Damping Off Disease

Arguably the most common, and certainly the most frustrating, seedling disease has to be damping off. Damping off is a common term used for several fungal diseases that cause sudden seedling death. Seedlings get very thin where the stem meets the soil. Young seedlings will then fall over, shrivel up and die. The loss of an entire seedling crop can devastate your gardening plans and set you back several weeks. If the infection is severe enough, you may lose entire types of seedlings because there will not be enough time left in the growing season for new seedlings to reach maturity.

Protecting Seedlings From Damping Off

The wisdom of Ben Franklin applies well to protecting seedlings: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” The more steps you take to minimize the risk of damping off, the better you will be able to protect all your delicate seedlings. Popular and effective techniques to prevent damping off include…

  • Sterilizing all seedling containers with a 1:10 bleach solution between every use, and sterilizing them again if they’ve gone unused for a long period of time.
  • Use a sterile seed starting mix so there are no fungal spores or other contaminants in the initial soil.
  • Plant seeds on the soil surface and top with vermiculite, milled sphagnum peat moss, chicken grit or sand to minimize fungal invasions.
  • A one-time sprinkling of cinnamon or charcoal on the soil surface will act as an anti-fungal agent. This should be applied after seeds are planted.
  • Water containers from below allowing the surface of the soil to dry slightly between watering. This prevents moisture on tender leaves and stems that can lead to rot.
  • Provide good air circulation around seedlings with a fan on a low setting. This will help leaves and stems stay dry and firm.
  • Spray seedlings with a cooled ounce of strongly brewed chamomile tea added to a quart of water. This is a mild anti-fungal home remedy.

If you notice seedlings start to succumb to damping off, it may be best to quickly thin them out or sacrifice the infected part of a tray rather than attempt to save the seedlings and risk spreading the disease to more young plants. While this will reduce your crops somewhat, it is better than risking the loss of an entire flat of seedlings. If you catch the symptoms quickly enough, it may be possible to sterilize the planting containers and start again to regrow the seedlings you have lost.

iStock_000028335442Medium-200x300

Please note: Our Garden Center might not carry all items listed in the above article!

Hurry Up the Harvest — Ways to Extend the Growing Season

Have a hankering for homegrown tomatoes? Eager to see the signs of ripening in your garden without waiting weeks and weeks? Even though it’s early spring, you can extend the growing season and hurry up your harvest by trying some of these tips and products:

  • Gain three weeks on the growing season by pre-warming the soil with Weed Shield, a black, porous plastic landscape fabric. Weed shield can be laid over your prepared garden soil and secured with landscape pins. Allow at least five days of sunny weather to warm the soil. Once the soil has warmed, cut X’s in the plastic and plant through them, keeping the edges of the fabric over seed holes or against seedlings to continue warming. As the season progresses and the air and the soil temperatures increase, remove Weed Shield and replace it with salt hay. Be mindful that if you plant seedlings, you may need to take additional steps to protect the delicate shoots and leaves above the soil as well.
  • Warm the soil around your plants with floating row covers (Plant & Seed Blanket or remay fabric) or cloches (mini greenhouses). Lay remay fabric over your newly planted seedlings to hold in the heat. Anchor with landscape pins to guard against unwanted chilly breezes. Remember to pin the blanket loosely so the plants have room to grow – or use hoops if preferred. Cloches like the Wall O’ Water store the heat in plastic tubes of water that absorb heat from the sun in the day and radiate it back to plants at night. This will protect plants to temperatures as low as 19 degrees. Hot caps can also be placed over plants to hold in warm air.
  • Cold frames can be used to warm the soil, grow plants as in a mini greenhouse or protect plants like a large cloche. They’re also good for transitioning seedlings you’ve started indoors until they are ready to be planted directly into the garden. This is called ‘hardening off’ seedlings. When using this technique, place your cold frame near the wall of a heated building if possible to take advantage of heat radiation. Manure may be used to warm the soil. If warming the soil, place the cold frame in the garden 10 days before you want to plant. Orient the frame so it runs east to west so more sun will reach the plants. Then, plant directly into the frame. Remove the cold frame when temperatures are no longer a threat to young plants. In all situations, be sure to vent the cold frame to keep it from getting too hot and be sure to water with water that’s at least as warm as the soil.
  • Automator Tomato Trays are 12” square black plastic trays that will warm the soil around your vegetable plants. These trays have attached spikes to anchor them into the ground and holes in the plastic that allow water and oxygen to reach the roots of your plants. Because the Automator Tomato Trays cover such a small area around the plant, they may be left in place all season without difficulty.

With these different options, there are always ways to get a head start on your gardening this spring!

harvest_3

harvest_4

Please note: Our Garden Center might not carry all items listed in the above article!

Keeping Cats Out of the Garden

Do you love cats but don’t love them in your garden? Outdoor cats will seek out a nice patch of soil to do their business or to roll around and play. Cats will mark their territories on sheds, fences or plants, and may even raise a new litter under a deck or in an open shed. Fortunately, there are a number of safe yet effective ways to keep our furry friends, or those of our neighbors, from messing up the garden.

Discouraging Cats

Whether the cats visiting your garden are prowling pets, lost strays or wild-bred feral cats, the same techniques can be used to make your garden and landscape less cat-friendly. Popular options include…

  • Commercial Repellents
    There are a many effective odor and taste repellents on the market. Seek out a product that is safe for humans and animals made from botanical oils. You will need to reapply this type of repellent after a heavy rain but usage will decrease once the cat is retrained to go elsewhere.
  • Citrus Smells
    Cats don’t like the sharp, tangy smell of citrus. Instead of composting them, throw the peels of oranges, lemons, limes and grapefruit on the ground where cats tend to visit.
  • Heavily Scented Plants
    Some plants are known to repel cats by their scent, particularly plants with strong odors that will irritate sensitive feline noses. Try planting Coleus canina, otherwise known as scaredy cat plant, along with pennyroyal, rue, lemon-thyme, geranium or lavender throughout the yard and garden.
  • Uncomfortable Ground
    Use stones instead of mulch as a ground cover to prevent cats from digging. Sharper, larger stones are best and will be uncomfortable for cats to walk across or lay on as well. You can also lay chicken wire on top of the mulch to make it less comfortable for cats and to prevent digging.
  • Opt for Thorns
    Plant low growing, thorny plants such as carpet roses, barberry or prickly pear at the base of your bird feeder to protect your feathered friends from predatory cats. Use thorny plants in borders or alongside fences to help keep cats away as well. Even plants with sharp, stiff foliage, such as holly, can be effective.
  • Sprinklers
    Install a motion-activated sprinkler. This method is used to frighten cats away, not to soak them. As the cat is retrained to go elsewhere its use eventually becomes unnecessary.
  • Sound Deterrents
    Install an ultrasound device containing a motion sensor which, when triggered, gives off a high-pitched sound that is imperceptible to humans but bothersome to cats. With their sensitive ears, cats may avoid any area where the sound is strongest.
  • Remove Food
    Be sure there are no food sources for outdoor cats in your yard. Do not feed your own pets outside, and keep trash cans tightly covered or inside a garage where cats cannot reach them. Keep compost piles behind a fence and under a mesh cover as well so cats cannot forage for scraps.

Using several techniques simultaneously will have the best effect at discouraging cats. These are clever, intelligent creatures that can easily overcome one obstacle, but when you have used several tactics at once, the cats will take the easier route of simply staying away.

What You Should Never Do

While there are many ways to keep cats out of your yard, you should never take steps that could deliberately injure or kill the animals. Avoid harmful traps, toxic poisons or setting your dogs on outdoor cats, as these methods can easily backfire and hurt local wildlife instead. With patience and perseverance, it is possible to keep cats out of your garden safely.

Please note: Our Garden Center might not carry all items listed in the above article!

Growing Veggies in Containers

Do you dream of a delicious, homegrown harvest but don’t have the land to use? No longer should a shortage of garden space prevent you from growing your own fresh vegetables. As long as you have a sunny location you can have your own mini-farm on your porch, patio, deck, balcony, roof-top or doorstep!

Why Use Containers?

The benefits of growing containerized vegetables go beyond the issue of space. There are plenty of other compelling reasons to plant your veggies in pots, including…

  1. Vegetables are amazingly ornamental and can be just as decorative as any other container plants or flowers.
  2. There are fewer problems with pests such as groundhogs, deer and rabbits and soil borne diseases.
  3. The soil in pots warms up more quickly in the spring allowing for earlier planting and an extended growing season.
  4. Less bending, squatting and kneeling is required for gardeners with limited mobility.

Vegetables can be grown in any vessel that can hold soil, has adequate drainage and is large enough to hold a plant. There are endless options available on the market or you may recycle items that you already have as long as they meet these requirements. Use your imagination – try a wheelbarrow, wine barrel or just a plastic bin, and you’re ready to plant!

Best Vegetables for Containers

While all veggies can be grown in containers, some are better suited than others. Plants that grow particularly large, that sprawl or that must be grown in large numbers to ensure an adequate yield may take more effort and careful site planning with an adequate container. Similarly, vining plants need not be avoided. Trellis these plants up against a wall or fence or allow them to cascade down from a taller pot or a container placed up high like on a stone wall. For smaller selections, a hanging basket or window box may be used. Many sprawling and vining vegetables are now available by seed in dwarf, compact or bush varieties. These are bred specifically for small spaces and containers and are worth seeking out.

Tips for Container Vegetable Gardens

Growing vegetables in containers does take some unique thought and isn’t quite the same as planting in a traditional garden. When planning your delicious container garden, consider…

  • Containers: Size matters when planting in containers. The bigger the container, the more soil it can hold. More soil more and more moisture means less watering. Take note that porous containers like terra cotta dry out more quickly and will therefore require more frequent watering.
  • Soil: When planting, choose a good quality potting mix. Soil from the ground may contain insects or disease or may be too heavy. Add an all-purpose balanced fertilizer at time of planting. It is also good idea to mix water absorbing polymers into the soil. These granules can hold up to 400 times their weight in water and help reduce watering from 30-50 percent.
  • Plants: Some of the vegetables that you select may be directly seeded into your container; these would include peas, beans, radishes and corn. With most vegetables you may wish to transplant seedlings into your container, either home-grown or garden center purchased. You will generally find a wider selection of vegetable varieties and unique options available in seed as opposed to purchased seedlings, if you want to use your containers experimentally.
  • Supports: Supports should be placed at time of planting for large or vining plants. This will ensure the young plants are not disturbed or damaged with supports added at a later time. If the supports are outside the container, however, they can be added only when they are needed.
  • Location: Your vegetables will require at least 6 hours of direct sun a day. If this is not possible you may try placing your pots on dollies or carts and moving them to a sunnier location as the sun moves throughout the day. Note that good air circulation is important for disease control.
  • Watering: Test soil frequently for water to make sure that you keep it evenly moist. Water the soil, not the plants, to avoid the spread of disease. Check soil moisture more frequently during the summer months when evaporation is faster. Mulching your containers with salt hay or grass clippings will help keep soil cool during the summer months and reduce the frequency of watering. If possible, a drip system can be a great option for keeping containers watered.
  • Fertilization: Fertilizer leaches through pots quickly. Fertilize containerized vegetables at least once a week with a water soluble fertilizer. Always be careful to follow the directions on the fertilizer package and follow the recommended rate. Too much fertilizer may burn or kill your plants, but too little will result in undernourished, underperforming plants.

With appropriate care that caters to the needs of containers, your small-scale vegetable garden can be just as lush and productive as any larger, more intensive space, and you’ll soon have a bountiful harvest to enjoy.

Please note: Our Garden Center might not carry all items listed in the above article!