Celebrate Memorial Weekend

hibiscus_org_pink13The calendar insists that the first day of summer is June 21, but all of us know that summer actually begins on Memorial Day! Swimming pools are open and outdoor furniture is cleaned up and ready to use for the first big barbecue or back yard cook out. If the cooler temperatures keep you out of the pool, they are certainly perfect temperatures for gardening.

Patio tropics and container gardens will give you just the color you need to put the finishing touches on your outdoor entertaining areas. For larger areas consider using shrubs or a small tree in a container with annual color spilling over the edges for instant beauty. Always take notice of the sun conditions before buying, and be sure to choose appropriate plants.

During this weekend, take the time to remember that on Memorial Day we recognize the sacrifice of thousands of men and women who gave their lives for our country and our freedom. Remember as well that many are still in harm’s way as they serve in the military around the world. We owe them our gratitude and support!

Enjoy this first summer holiday with friends and family. If you are in the area, be sure to check out our fantastic weekend sales!

 

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Invite Spring Indoors this Easter

easter_cg_03_13Invite spring indoors this year with Easter bulbs and beautiful bulb gardens. Whether you choose a more formal theme with understated color or a garden with the all the shades of the rainbow, we have just what you are looking for. Our expert designers have been busy creating dish gardens in many sizes with different types of containers and spring accents. Bulb gardens are a thoughtful addition to an Easter table or any Easter décor, bringing fresh color and amazing fragrance into your home.

Please come in today and throughout the weekend. Visit our gift department as well as the greenhouse for the perfect gift for family and friends that entertain. You will also find the perfect ingredients for a fabulous Easter basket sure to delight the little ones in your life!

Don’t forget to mark your calendar for April 6th at 2:00 p.m. when our own ‘Plant Doctor’ Bob will give you all the information you need to move your bulbs and other Easter plants from indoors and incorporate them outside in your garden. Spring plants can be “the gift that keeps on giving” if you know how and Bob will share his knowledge with you.

Enjoy the celebration of rebirth and a fresh beginning this weekend!

Terrariums and Dish Gardens

terrarium_violet12-06Of all the many ways there are to enjoy indoor plants, terrariums and dish gardens are among the most interesting. They have both been around for literally hundreds of years and are more easily grown today with so many plants and types of containers available.

Traditionally, dish gardens are collections of plants with similar cultural needs that are grown in a container without drainage. Terrariums are the same, except grown in glass sometimes with a top to the container and often without. Your options of glass and pottery containers are limited only by your imagination, and many other containers of various materials can be used.

Dish gardens and terrariums make an outstanding gift any time of the year but especially on Valentine’s Day when plants and flowers are so appreciated by the ones we love. At Waterloo Gardens we carry a large variety of dish gardens and terrariums in many sizes and shapes. If you do not see exactly what you have in mind, our experts will help you choose the container and plants for a unique gift which will last far longer than the last minute bouquet of flowers or box of chocolates.

You can even bring in a container of your own that you would like planted up with your choices. Come in soon and we will have what you need ready for pickup in just a couple of days.

Many other great gift ideas are available throughout Waterloo Gardens. We look forward to seeing you soon and helping you with unique gift ideas for everyone you love!

Tomato Growing Part 1

Well, we have reached May, with May temperatures – high 60’s to mid 70’s during the day and mostly 50’s at night. 

There are now soooo many things to write about with regard to spring gardening.  Where to start…where to start?  I am going to start with tomatoes.  So many people have been picking up their plants and this may help answer some questions and get things off to a good start.

There are a couple of terms floating around out there: indeterminate, determinate, and heirloom.

Indeterminate varieties set tomatoes over several months, while determinate varieties product their fruits heavily over a very short period of time.  Heirloom varieties are tomatoes that have not been hybridized and have been cultivated for at least 50 years or more.  A good example of an heirloom variety is the Brandywine tomato, an Amish tomato that dates back to 1885.

Generally there are different types of tomatoes: bush tomatoes, cherry & grape tomatoes, plum tomatoes, vining tomatoes, and even intermediate bush/vining.

Where to plant:  In a full sun area, and in a spot where you haven’t grown tomatoes in the previous two years.  This type of crop rotation prevents plants from falling prey to any build up of tomato diseases in the soil.  Be sure to give your plants plenty of space to grow.  They may be small when you bring them home but boy do they get big pretty quickly.  It is best to follow the spacing instructions listed on the plant tag.

Plant your tomatoes by digging a hole about two times bigger than the root ball and about 12″ deep.This loosens the soil and allows for quicker root development.  With the soil, mix in well-rotted compost, manure, or some type of higher phosphorous fertilizer, (Espoma’s Triple Phosphate is a great choice).  Water your plants thoroughly but from that point further, it is best to water little and often, ensuring that the soil and roots never dry out.  ****Be careful to not get into the habit of flooding them when you water.  Do not begin to fertilize the tomatoes until flowers begin to form on the plants.  Use a tomato/vegetable fertilizer to be sure that they are getting the right formulation, (again, Espoma Tomato-Tone or Garden-Tone are two reliable choices).

If you are planting your tomatoes in containers, choose a pot that has drainage and is at least 14″ in diameter – larger is even better.  Follow the care instructions previously discussed but as for a potting mix, use soil that states that it is suitable for vegetable potting.

Tomato Growing Part 2 will be following, as I add my own garden additions.

Planting Cool Season Crops

I decided to try something this year that I have always thought about in the past…planting some cool season crops.  Cool season crops are just that – vegetables that prefer the cool days of spring, (and fall for that matter), and are adapted to withstand frost.  I must mention though that small, newly planted selections can still use protection from hard frosts.

Because my garden is smaller, I only chose a few selections to try,(although I will provide a list of available veggies to choose from).  I also decided to try two methods.  I planted a few seeds and plants into containers and a few directly into my garden bed.

Containers ready to go

I decided to try cauliflower, broccoli, baby carrots, radishes, and lettuces. (I plan to add spinach as soon as it is available).  For my cauliflower, broccoli, and some of the lettuce I used starter plants and my radishes, carrots, and other lettuces were planted by seed.

I planted my containers first – making sure that they were at least 12″ in-depth.  The broccoli and cauliflower plants are spindly at the bottom so I had to remove the bottom two leaves and plant them deeply into the soil.  The carrot and radish seeds were sown in a circle with two seeds in the middle, (10 plants per container).

Two leaves removed - ready to plant

In my garden, I just planted straight rows, following the spacing guidelines for the plants, and planting depth guidelines for the seeds.  In both my containers and my bed, I made sure to mark the vegetables with identification tags.

I am experimenting with lettuce hanging baskets this year…just what it sounds like.  I bought two 4.5″ pots of lettuce mixtures and planted them into empty hanging basket containers…I will keep you posted as to my success.

So, my early garden is planted, (although my little “cool season corner” does not look like much at this point), and now I will monitor it and report on the success of my endeavors!

Cool Season Veggies:

  • Artichoke
  • beets
  • broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • cabbage
  • carrots
  • chard
  • garlic
  • kohlrabi
  • lettuce
  • collard & mustard greens
  • onions
  • peas
  • potatoes
  • radish
  • spinach
  • turnips

Not Just a Cool Herb Garden but a DROP-IN

I always wonder why more people don’t do this…I already had a pot of my own…don’t really care to get another…so I make this rockin’ herb garden in a plain old pot and then just drop it into my container…voila!!

As far as the herb container goes, I added chives, rosemary, purple sage, silver thyme, parsley, and spearmint.  I plan to keep this garden outside from now on to monitor it’s reaction and growing habit with the fluctuating temperatures.  This, unfortunately, means NO basil.  Basil can not tolerate the cold.  It is definitely a warm-season plant…the only reason that I don’t have oregano in there is because – well – I just didn’t have any to plant and I was too impatient to wait another day.

I did not add fertilizer because herbs actually grow best – with better flavor and oil content – when an organic feed of fish emulsion is used in the spring.  Fish emulsion is just what it sounds like – liquid fish-stuff.  In the spring you use it every two weeks to keep your herbs growing strong.

Oh – and by the way – the container garden that I made is WAY too crammed to keep it this way all season.  The pot just isn’t big enough.  As the plants really take off, I will either replant them into my garden – directly, or I will break them out into other containers.  A few I may give a pot of their own (like the rosemary and the mint) but others I may keep together in duos or trios.

Anticipation!

Today I am going to create my garden journal for 2012.  It is important to keep notes not only about what worked and what didn’t but to keep a running log of photographs throughout the season as your plants develop.  Right now, it is also a great way to make to-do lists.  You may think this is a bit odd but I walk around my yard almost every day, looking for those first bits of growth that begin to pop through the soil.  So far all I am seeing are snowdrops and early daffodil greens.  I also walk to my currently ugly vegetable garden and think about what I would like to see this year vs the fiasco I created last year…let’s just say that my eyes were bigger than my garden plot.

The warm temperatures this winter have really given me the gardening bug but I know that the ground is still too cold to plant. (If the soil temperature is too cold, the plants will just sit there because the roots won’t grow enough to support a big colorful show.)  This doesn’t mean that there aren’t plenty of things that I can do in the meantime.

I was lazy this past fall and I have a mountain of containers to clean up before I use them again.  I should really get this started because, even though the ground is too cold to directly plant into just yet, I plan to start making my early March container gardens as soon as the pots of pansies start to color up.  I like recycling old containers because I already have plenty of planters that I own so I create “slip-ins”.  I make gardens out of my left over plastic pots and simply sit them inside of my decorative ceramics.  Win-win situation!

One other thing that I am doing right now is reading through my gardening books and magazines, taking notes for projects to come.