Thursday, February 24, 2011

How to order FREE seed catalogs!

So we all know it is still incredibly depressing outside- at least here in zone 5. Nothing will cheer you up more than getting some seed catalogs in the mail so you can start your garden planning! It's still not too late to get on the list to receive many. Here are some links to seed companies that will send you a FREE catalog.

1. Burpee seed Company

2. Gurney Seed Company

3. Mtn. Valley Seed Co.

4. Twilley See Co.

5. Stokes Seeds Inc.

6. Park Seed Co.

7. Irish Eyes seed co.

8. Johnny's Select seeds

I am not endorsed by any of these companies, just found a way to make my planning easier by knowing my options. I really buy most of my seeds from local nurseries but occasionally there is something new or rare that I want to try from a catalog!
Happy Planning!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Top 10 Things To Grow With Kids!

A lot of you like me have some little side-kicks running around and helping you with your yard. I personally love gardening with my kids- and think we have a responsibility as parents/grandparents to teach our kids about nature and how to grow some basic things. The most important thing we can teach them is that growing things is SO MUCH FUN!! And it's magical and really a miracle in an of itself. Really if you think about it-- why does a tiny seed grow into something delicious to eat or beautiful to look at, or sweet to smell? It's a God given miracle!

I hope you enjoy my top 10 things to grow with kids!

1. Cherry Tomatoes- Need I say more, bite size bliss. Just the right size for kids to eat by the handful. They love to pick and eat these and watch them grow from tiny little plants into a tangled mess.

2. Pumpkins- of any size really, giant or tiny- kids love to watch them grow, turn orange, and pick them when they are ready. Some you can eat, paint, carve or just use for decoration. The seeds are big and easy for little hands to plant, and they germinate quickly!

3. Berries- I love anything for kids that they can go out and pick and eat right away. (I keep all of my plants organic so this isn't a problem) Strawberries, raspberries and yes especially thorn-less blackberries are always a hit. If you live where you can grow blueberries I would do it for sure....though they are a little bit of a picky plant to grow.

4. Green beans- What? your kids don't like green beans? It is amazing what they will try and eat by the bucketfuls if they can see it grow themselves. My kids eat green beans out of the garden like crazy- there is nothing quite as good. They are easy to grow and easy to pick kids love them.

5. Squash- there are so many different kinds to choose from and believe me the best thing a kid likes about a garden is picking stuff. Most squash will keep them picking all summer long. And they may even like to eat it if they grew it themselves. So many different shapes and colors from zucchini to eight ball, banana to acorn. We love them all.

6. Sunflowers (Helianthus) - again the seeds are huge, kids can plant them easily and the seedlings are big and easy to care for. You can get so many different varieties but I like the very tall ones for my kids because they like to measure who's grows taller. Get a variety with edible seeds too- kids love them.

7. Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia)- This is a shrub-like perennial that grows very well in almost any full sun location. The reason I like it so much for kids is that it has a gorgeous purple spike-like bloom that attracts butterflies and bees like crazy. Be a little careful not to plant it too close to your house entrance because of the bees, but get ready to sit nearby with your little one and watch the busy little guys at work. (It attracts honey bees which are very docile and harmless NOT like wasps/hornets so don't worry!)

8. Bulbs- I don't know about you but my little people get almost as excited about seeing the first flower of the season as I do. They are much more aware of the earth and most of the time find the first bloom first! Bulbs are so fun for them to watch with their huge flowers and amazing fragrances. Hyacinth is my favorite for kids because it smells so heavenly. I love to pick a few flowers from the bunch and give them to my kids to smell over and over-- heck I do it myself too. It is also fun to grow enough that they can help you pick some to take indoors.

9. Lambs Ear (Stachys byzantina)- You can't forget this kids favorite! The fuzzy leaf is unique and fun for any age to feel and explore. It is great as a border plant and does well in full sun locations. The only thing I don't like about this plant is the bloom, too tall and messy looking for me. I usually cut it off right away, but the fuzziness can't be beat!

10. Salvia (Sage)- This beautiful flowering perennial/annual in some varieties are like magnets to hummingbirds. Last summer I used the annual Cardinal Red Salvia and I was amazed at how many humming birds we saw. Make sure it is a variety with long tube like flowers because that is what the hummingbirds like. The perennial Salvia guaranitica is a good choice or just stick with the annual (Cardinal red)- it blooms all summer instead of only a few months. Sit nearby when you have some blooms and teach your kids about an amazing tiny little bird!

Do you have a favorite you like to grow with your kids? Comment to add to the list!

Friday, February 18, 2011

All About Raspberries...

NOTHING is better on a summer day than picking your own sweet raspberries from your home garden. It is also a fun thing to grow with kids because they love to pick and eat every last one before they even make it into the house. And what could be better for them really? I hope you enjoy learning the best ways to purchase, plant and care for your raspberries before the time is here.

I believe the best way to purchase raspberries is in the early spring as bare root plants. You can usually only get bare root plants in the very early spring months-- which is Right now! You get more for your money and they are ready to plant right away! I never order them in the mail. (you never know the condition the plant will be in when it arrives) I am much more picky about hand picking the healthiest plants I can find at the nursery. Look for small white buds on the roots of the plant- new shoots will grow from these buds AND make sure your plants are CERTIFIED VIRUS FREE.

Raspberries love well drained, organic rich soils and are difficult to grow in heavy soils. For this reason it is ideal to grow them in a raised bed that you have prepared with 2-6 inches of organic material. I have read you can add nitrogen fertilizer to the soil as well to help plant growth- (I lean very organic when it comes to things I eat so make sure it is a fertilizer you can live with) Provide a support system of stakes and wires to keep canes off the ground. Plant canes 2-3 feet apart and allow succors to fill in with time. Plant early in spring in Utah so your plant can get root established before top growth is needed. (be careful not to water before top 3 inches of soil are dry so you don't delay warming of the soil)

There are two main kinds of raspberries June bearing and Ever-bearing (sometimes called fall bearing). June bearing produce heavily June through July; Ever bearing produce two crops one in June and one in the fall. Pruning for each is very different because June bearing fruit on last year's canes, and fall varieties fruit on this year's. You must know which you are dealing with and you must keep them separated so you can prune them correctly.
For more information on pruning I suggest you either visit this site:

Or if you happen to be in Weber County you can go to a free pruning class at the Ogden botanical Garden you can find information on this site:

Water raspberries deep and infrequently 1-2 inches per week. Increase watering to 3-4 inches when fruiting.

Varieties have tried are Anne and Heritage both ever bearing. There are more suggested varieties listed on the Utah State University website.
Don't live in zone 5? Snowflake Arizona is zone 6a - they have an extension website for AZ here:

Wildau Germany is in European Hardiness zone 6 which I am trying to find out if that is the same as the USDA hardiness zone 6 for us here. I will have more info shortly! :)

Happy Gardening!

1. "Grow Fruit" by Alan Buckingham 2010 published by Dorling Kindersley Limited
2. The Utah State University Extension raspberry fact sheet by Jerry Goodspeed.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Building a window box!

So the weather is very unpredictable here in Utah in February so I try to have a few projects that I can do inside or at least in the garage to help me keep getting ready for spring... My newest project is making window boxes! It was incredibly easy and satisfying. I can't wait to hang them up and plant them with tons of color and texture when it warms up.

The benefits of a window box are innumerable! For my house I am wanting them to soften the look of my house and add some color and brightness. They add curb appeal to any house. Later on in the year (probably may) I will talk a little more about what to plant in containers and how to make them amazingly gorgeous like they look in the nurseries. (I finally found out how they do it!) It is easier than you think-although they require a lot of watering!

The first thing I did was measure the windows that I wanted to put the boxes on. Make sure your windows are in the full sun, at least 6 hours a day. That way you will have the best results with the plants. You can also do some boxes in the part shade but they must get at least 4 hours of sun during the day. Then I was lucky enough to find some wood in our back yard wood pile (wood piles in the back yard come with a house in the country I found). You can use what is lying around your house or buy the size you need from a local hardware store. Then I just cut the pieces to size.... three pieces of the same length- (one for the bottom,and two for the sides) and two small pieces for the ends of the box. I used 3 inch long outdoor finishing nails to nail the box together. It is also a good idea to glue the box together with outdoor waterproof wood glue before nailing for a tighter more weatherable fit. It really only takes an afternoon if you have the right tools.

Don't forget to drill a few holes in the bottom of the window box so water can drain out of the box when you water your plants. Paint with primer/sealer first and then paint the color you want to match your home.

The method you use to attach your box to your house really depends on the material your home is made of- mine is brick so I need a pretty powerful drill. I plan to attach a metal piece I found at a hardware store that actually holds the box for me so I don't have to attach the box itself to the wall of my house. This way I can take the box off and on easily for cleaning and planting. YouTube has some great videos on how to attach a box to all kinds of houses.

Here is a picture of my box, although it still needs a pretty good paint job and the holes drilled in the bottom :) I can work on that while the snow is coming down in the next few days.

Don't forget this is the perfect time of year to get some of that black plastic for your garden. It will help warm the temperature of your soil in the early spring and speed up your seedling growth once you plant. I am getting some for the area my peas and lettuce will go into. You can secure it into the ground with long metal staples, or if nothing else big rocks!! Make sure to place the plastic on 7-10 days before planting. Happy Gardening!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Spring has sprung..... well almost!

I have been thinking about starting a gardening blog for a long time! I finally decided to give it a try. My main goal is to keep you updated on what you may want to be doing in certain times of year, and give you some fun managable ideas about all kinds of gardening. I will focus mainly on zone 5 since thats where I live but I will try to incorporate other zone information into my posts as well.

A little about me?
I graduated from BYU in Horticulture and have a huge passion for growing just about anything. I have studied and practiced gardening all my life because I was given great parents that taught me how to garden when I was very young. I have moved on to study more about botany and agriculture after I graduated and now am a Master Gardener in Utah. The emphasis of my degree in horticulture is landscape design so I love to try new things and make things esthetically pleasing. My husband is also a horticulturist and we work together enjoying our one acre plot of land here in Utah. I hope you enjoy learning and experiencing the bounty of the earth as much as I do!!

Ok enough of that now to our first real tip of the season... It is February folks and I am itching to get out in my garden and plant those first seedlings! We have a only a few more weeks till the beginning of March and that is when I gear up to plant my sweet peas. The planting dates for peas in Utah listed on the Utah State University Extension fact sheet says March 15-May 15.... thats right by may 15 you could be eating your first food of the season. Actually there is a whole list of things you can plant in March in Zone 5, Asparagus, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Endive, Garlic (which can also be planted in the fall for best results), Kohlrabi, Leeks, Lettuce, Mustard, Parsnips, Onions, Potato, radishes, Rhubarb, Spinach, Swiss Chard, turnips and even mentioned is peppers (I like to wait on peppers in my area because they are a little more cold sensitive).
With a list like that there is no reason to wait for the last frost date to start planting (which in zone 5 is May 5). All of these vegitables will do well in cooler weather!! Isn't that exciting! So it is time to start planning your vegitable garden, what you want to plant and where you want it. Think about two things when planning locations- what needs the most water, and where you can place it so that it gets what it needs- and planting your rows north to south so you can get the maximum amount of sunlight for your plants. Also thinking about shading will also help (i.e. you don't want to plant anything in the shade of your corn for example or other tall or staked vegitables).
Want to do more than just plan in February? This is a great time to get out and prune rose bushes, fruit trees and deadhead perennials. Rake out your flowerbeds and get ready to see some bulbs peaking out from under the soil. If you need help with proper pruning practices contact your local extension office, they usually have classses that will help you learn how to do it the right way. (it is really worth it to learn the correct way for many many reasons :))