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Heirloom Vegetable Power: Why Old Seed is New Again

Bean-Diversity3A diverse collection of dried heirloom beans.
 
Every seed has a story.  When it comes to heirloom vegetable seeds, those with great stories have been nurtured for hundreds and thousands of years by diverse peoples worldwide. Many heirlooms have been lost in time, but some have been preserved, bringing with them wonderful traits that tell us something about the people who grew them and the […]

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Salvias for Fall-Migrating Hummingbirds

habitSalvia greggii (autumn sage) (photo by Maureen Gilmer)
Hummingbirds rely on the nectar of many fall-blooming salvias to assist in their late-season migration. The striking beauty, bright colors, and architectural statures of these plants also make them great for the garden. Most cultivated salvias are from Mexico and the Southwest United States, which is why pollinators migrating south are attracted to them. Their relationship is […]

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Succulents: Beware Over Packed Pots!

color-gilmer2This composition of mixed succulents may look pretty, but the gang-potted group will not survive unless transplanted into their own Terracotta pots.
 
Those big, popular succulent collections sold in pots and troughs (otherwise known as “gang pots”) are dying out all over. Each container may be packed with a dozen or more species of succulent plants that often originate from vastly different locations and have different cultural needs.  Many are […]

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One-Pot Herb Garden – Anywhere!

herb boxesRepurposed wood crates become one pot herb gardens featuring thyme, rosemary, cilantro, chives and more
Fresh-from-the-container culinary herbs turn a New York loft, a Chicago studio, or a Los Angeles condo into flavor central.  Nothing is quite like fresh mint in your mojito, just-picked basil on a mozzarella sandwich, or cilantro in your salsa.  No store-bought herb carries this intense flavor, because once cut, the essential oils immediately begin to lose pungency.  Cut and eat […]

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Soil Matters to Lavender

 
english lavenderDistinguished by long thin wand-like flower stems, English lavender is the most hardy of them all.
The Serenity Prayer asks us to “accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, with the wisdom to know the difference.”  If you’ve tried  growing lavender with little success, maybe it’s time to identify what you can change to make this year’s garden a fragrant bee filled blend of drought resistant lavenders for […]

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Three Sisters Garden

ajaxhelperBuffalo Bird Woman of the Hidatsa tribe.
Along the flood plains of America’s rivers, indigenous tribes cultivated crops for centuries.  Before levees, rivers spread out far and wide, yet shallow, with each spring flood depositing yet another layer of rich silt upon those from millennia past.  These tribes grew the three sisters of Native American agriculture: corn, squash and beans.  Growing in the three-sisters style is a great way to teach youngsters or to […]

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Growing Cabbage, Kale, & Collards: Fresh Super Foods

cabbageA single large clay pot easily supports cabbage, parsley and Swiss chard for porch or patio.
Until recently, collard greens were known only in the South and among African Americans who brought this “soul food” into northern cities during the Great Migration a century ago.  Today collards and kales are heralded as “fresh super foods” due to the high nutritional value of these large-leaved members of the cabbage family. These “pot greens” are eaten stewed, steamed, […]

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Summer Vegetable Garden Nutrient Deficiencies

pepperThe yellowing of this formerly green pepper plant is a sign of nitrogen deficiency that often crops up at the end of the growing season when soil is depleted.

Organic gardeners must be readers of signs, which are the silent and often subtle ways plants communicate their needs to us. Summer vegetable garden nutrient deficiencies appear as changes that indicate something isn’t right.  They’ll show up during the heat of midsummer vegetable gardens because plants are […]

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Three Drought Strategies for Tomatoes

irrigationYoung seedlings need only one drip emitter to start, but plan on adding more as plants grow larger and demand more moisture.
With statewide mandatory cutbacks in California water due to drought, we can’t grow vegetables the same way we used to when water was more plentiful.  In the desert, where water is precious and expensive, we’ve learned many ways to help vegetables grow in the heat with minimal irrigation. Since tomatoes are always the […]

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Cool Grasses for Container Garden Simplicity

hair grass2Dynamic pots of Mexican hair grass had a simple yet striking accent to this patio garden.
“In character, in manner, in style, in all things, the supreme excellence is simplicity.”  Longfellow penned this well over a century ago, yet it’s more relevant than ever today.  If the stark white room with its Spartan decor and tactile organic accents seems like heaven to you, then perhaps its time to take it all outside.  Blend the […]

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