Author Archives: Barbara Rogers

Rain Barrels

You’ve heard it said, “When it rains, it pours.” In gardening terms, this could easily refer to the amount of rain on the roof going through the gutters and downspouts, and then out to the storm drains and pouring away from your garden. With the unpredictability of rain and the cost of water, don’t you wish you could keep some of that rain and put it to better use? You can, by installing a rain barrel, or two, or three or more. Rain barrels don’t have to be expensive or an eyesore.

The Best Rain Barrels

By diverting the gutter downspout to the rain barrel, rainwater is collected during a storm and stored. A fine mesh screen across the top prevents rocks and debris from entering the barrel and mosquitoes from laying their eggs. It’s a good idea to use a small amount of algaecide to prevent algae from building up in the barrel as well. Some barrels even have a solid cover with an opening to fit the downspout into, and the darkness inside the barrel helps inhibit algae growth.

Most rain barrels have two spigots, one at the top and one by the bottom. Attaching a hose to the top spigot redirects excess water when the barrel is full. You may use this to connect to another rain barrel that stores the overflow from the first, or you may position the overflow hose to direct excess rain to a nearby flowerbed, tree, garden or other plantings that can benefit from a good soaking.

A hose attached to the bottom spigot allows the stored water to flow for use. Incidentally, the water pressure increases if the rain barrel is elevated even just a few inches, allowing gravity to assist getting every drop of precious water out of the barrel so it can be put to use.

Value of a Rain Barrel

Is it worth it? According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), a rainstorm measured at 1/10th of an inch, over a 20’x30′ roof, would more than fill a 32-gallon rain barrel if all the water is properly directed. Multiply this amount by your water charge per gallon and you’ll see it won’t take long to pay back the small investment made in a few barrels.

Furthermore, rainwater is often better for watering garden plots, containers, flowerbeds and new plantings, and is even better for many houseplants. Rainwater does not contain the same chemical treatments or compounds found in tap water, so collecting rainwater is a healthier alternative for keeping all your plants well hydrated.

Not sure which rain barrels will suit your style or how to set them up effectively? Stop in to see our collection and consult with our experts to choose exactly the barrel that will help meet all your watering needs.

Watering Tomato Plants

Proper watering plays a significant role in producing a healthy tomato plant with tasty, meaty, juicy fruit. So, what’s the secret, and how can you be sure you are watering your tomatoes the right way?

Watering Location

Always water tomatoes at the root zone; never overhead water your tomato plant. Watering directly at the soil level will strengthen the plant’s root system and ensure the maximum amount of moisture reaches the roots. When you overhead water, much of the water will not make it to the roots as it evaporates before reaching the soil. Water droplets on plant leaves act as a magnifying glass and can burn tender plant tissue, damaging foliage that is essential to keep the plant healthy. Water dripping from leaf to leaf can also spread disease, infecting an entire crop. To be sure tomatoes are not being watered inappropriately, keep plants out of reach of lawn sprinkler systems or other inadvertent watering.

Watering Speed

Slow watering is essential to properly distribute moisture to a tomato plant. Allow the water to drip slowly into the soil, giving the plant roots time to absorb the moisture. A drip system is best and will also help with water conservation. Avoid using a hand held hose, as it is easy to either underwater or overwater using this method. Water to a depth of 8 inches to ensure all roots have access to adequate moisture. You can also use a watering reservoir, such as a gallon jug with several small holes in its bottom, to slowly and carefully water the plants without flooding the root zone.

Watering Frequency

A regular watering schedule is essential for the healthiest, most productive tomato plants. Water consistently to produce larger fruits and to avoid split and cracked fruit and blossom end rot. Tomato plants should be watered 2-3 times a week in the height of summer or when natural rain is lacking. A deep soaking rain counts and supplemental watering should be adjusted whenever Mother Nature lends a hand with watering chores. The top inch or two of soil should dry out between watering to be sure the plant is not getting too much moisture.

Watering Adjustments

There are several times when it may be necessary to adjust where, when and how much you water your tomatoes. Changes in local rainfall – increasing spring or summer rains, a sudden storm, an unexpected drought – can require changes in supplemental watering to keep the moisture to your tomatoes consistent. As plants grow and more fruit appears, more water may be needed to meet the plant’s watering needs and keep it lush and healthy.

By understanding the basics of watering tomatoes, you can keep your plants well hydrated without risk of either overwatering or underwatering, both of which could be disastrous for your tomato crop.

Grow Your Own Grilling Herbs

There’s nothing that tastes more like summer than anything grilled – from a prime cut steak to a juicy chicken breast to all your favorite burgers, bratwurst, and garden veggies. But to bring out the fullest flavor of a grilled menu, you need the very best herbs. Why not grow your own herbs for the richest, freshest flavors right from your garden?

Flavoring with Herbs

Smoking is the most common and familiar flavoring technique for grilling, using different types of wood with subtle notes of maple, hickory, and apple to enhance meat and vegetables. Grilling with herbs can be even tastier and infuses grilled food with rich flavors and earthy freshness. This can also be a very healthy option for seasoning food, as there is no need for heavy sauces filled with salt and preservatives. Different combinations of herbs can also add many different flavor notes to beef, chicken, and fish, as well as creating more flavor depth for all types of vegetables.

Why Grow Your Own Herbs?

Herbs are at their most flavorful with the most seasoning power as soon as they are picked. The oils and flavonoids that add aroma and taste to herbs begin to evaporate and fade as soon as a sprig is snipped, and if you purchase herbs you have no way to know how long ago they were picked before they arrived at a store or farmer’s market and made it to your grill. If you grow your own grilling herbs in containers or right in your garden, however, you can snip, pick, pluck, and chop the herbs just seconds before they’re added to your grill, ensuring the most robust flavor and biggest impact on every dish you grill.

Best Herbs for Grilling

All different herbs can be used while grilling, though hardier plants with stronger flavors are typically preferred because they will stand up to the heat of the grill more easily, giving foods the best infusion of flavor. Popular herbs that are versatile for all types of grilling include:

  • Chives
  • Dill
  • Mint
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Rosemary
  • Tarragon
  • Thyme

Choose different varieties of these great grilling herbs or your other favorite herbs to experiment with different subtle flavors, and combine herbs in different ways for amazing flavor profiles.

Grilling with Your Herbs

There are two different ways to grill with fresh herbs. Finely chopped fresh herbs can be sprinkled directly onto coals that have ashed over, and will add subtle aromatic flavors to any food being grilled. For stronger, more direct flavoring or for use in a gas grill without coals, use whole sprigs of herbs to create a mat or bed on the grill’s grate. Place the meat or vegetables directly on the herbs, similar to plank grilling, for direct infusion. To help release the herb flavors even more, soak the sprigs briefly before adding them to the grill for either cooking method.

Indirect heat is best for grilling with herbs, as it will give the meat more time to absorb the subtle flavors of the herbs, and the herbs will not burn or char, which could taint their flavor. Close the lid and allow the herbs to work their magic, and you’ll be rewarded with grilled meats and vegetables that are more amazingly seasoned and flavorful than you could have imagined.

More Flavorful Summer Foods with Herbs

Grilling with herbs can make meat the centerpiece of your summer dining experience, but there are many other ways to use your garden-fresh herbs in tasty dishes to accompany a grilled extravaganza. Add herbs to…

  • Marinades to give meats even more flavoring before they’re grilled.
  • Salads for more flavor notes that pair well with vegetables from your garden.
  • Drinks for a unique flavor profile in summer teas and lemonades.

With so many uses for grilling herbs – both on the grill and off – you’ll want to be sure to add plenty of these flavorful plants to your garden for a full menu of delicious summer options.

Soil 101

How well do you understand your soil? It’s more than just dirt, and the more you learn about soil, the better you’ll be able to care for it to ensure a stunning landscape, healthy lawn and productive garden.

All About Soil

The four elements of soil are minerals, water, air and organic matter. Different combinations of the four elements create the four main categories of soil: sand, silt, clay and loam. Of course, we all want loam – that rich, vibrant soil thriving with beneficial bacteria and with a smooth but crumbly texture ideal for root growth. Unfortunately, true loam soils are rare, especially around homes where topsoil was removed and heavy machines compacted the remaining soil during construction or renovation. Most of us have clay soil, which has finer particles that compact easily into a dense mass. Clay soils also retain more water and can easily become too soggy or waterlogged for healthy plants. But just because your soil may be clay, it doesn’t have to stay that way!

Improving Soil

Improving soil is actually quite easy. All soils are improved by adding minerals and organic material that help balance out the overall components of the soil’s structure.

Before adding minerals, test the soil to determine its pH (acidity or alkalinity) and determine any mineral deficiencies. Lime decreases soil acidity, gypsum adds calcium and helps break up heavy clay and sulfur increases acidity. Other soil amendments to add to a clay soil include sand, cottonseed meal and peat moss, all of which will help improve the drainage and structure.

Organic matter refers to plant or animal materials decomposed into compost or “humus.” This residue comes from leaves and other plant materials, as well as certain animal wastes. Grass clippings, paper and certain types of decomposing food can also be ideal compost. The quality depends on the origin of the original biodegradable matter. Many people make their own compost using bins in which materials are mixed until they decompose. Others purchase finished compost. When compost is added to soil, it releases nutrients that are vital for healthy plants, and healthy bacteria and microbes will thrive in organically-rich soil.

The Magic of Mulch

Mulching is a simple way to add biodegradable materials to the soil. Evergreen needles, tree leaves, lawn clippings, chicken manure, etc., can be worked into the soil to decompose. This process improves the air spaces between the soil particles and rearranges the sand, silt and clay to produce optimum soil structure, improving the water retention and drainage balance and making nutrients available to plants.

When soil has proper structure and sufficient nutrients for healthy plants, optimum health has been achieved, and great soil will lead to great landscaping, turf and gardens. Congratulations and keep on growing!

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Dividing Hybrid Hellebores

Hybrid hellebores bring us all sorts of happiness. These are one of the first plants to bloom in the late winter and early spring and are available in flower colors of chartreuse, cream, white, pink, red and deep purple. Hybrid hellebores are also those rare and treasured perennials that provide year-round interest, giving you the most bang for your buck and brightening your landscape in every season. As evergreens, they never lose their luster, and their flower shapes and textures are quite varied for even more interest, with a cultivar to suit any gardener’s taste. What’s not to be happy about?

A Love Divided

To keep these plants healthy and thriving, and to increase your quantity, division is a necessity. It is important to divide these plants carefully, however, or else you risk sadness with fewer blooms, lopsided plants or even losing these gems. Fortunately, it’s possible for even a novice hellebore lover to divide their plants with confidence.

  1. Divide hybrid hellebores in the spring when it is in bloom. This will also let you see how the blooms are positioned on the plant so you can divide shapes appropriately.
  2. Choose a plant that has at least 5 flower stems. Each one represents a division and will give you great new plants to bloom.
  3. Dig your hellebores up with a garden spade by inserting it deeply into the soil around the perimeter of the plant about 6 inches away from the outer stems of the clump. This will keep the root system largely intact and uninjured.
  4. Lift the clump and shake off loose soil or any trapped rocks or ensnared mulch. You can gently loosen clumps with your fingers, but take care not to damage the roots.
  5. With a garden hose, wash away any additional soil from the clump so the plant roots are exposed. This will help them get established in their new location more quickly.
  6. Divide the clump by cutting through the roots with a heavy-duty serrated knife. Make your root cuts where you see obvious natural divisions between the flower stalks.
  7. Replant your divisions at their original depth, in a shady location. Include plenty of compost in the planting hole for good nourishment. Water well and continue to keep soil from drying out until your new plants are well established.

Before you know it, you’ll have many more hybrid hellebores to enjoy! If you have a few too many, be sure to share the happiness by giving them to family members, friends, neighbors and anyone else who can fall in love with these beauties.

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How To Succeed At Seed-Starting

It’s easy to buy seedlings, but there are many reasons why you may wish to start your own plants. By starting your own seeds, you have a much greater selection of flowers, vegetables and herbs to choose from. For example, old favorites like hollyhocks and less common varieties of herbs and perennials as well as heirloom vegetables might not be available as plants, or stocks may be limited. Plants with fine seeds should also be started indoors because they can easily wash away in the rain and they may have a difficult time competing with weeds. Starting your own seeds can also help you extend the growing season so you can enjoy a longer, more productive harvest. So why not get started today?

Containers for Starting Seeds

Traditionally, seeds are started in flats or peat pots. There are various sizes of plastic trays, cedar flats, peat pots and the popular Jiffy-7, a flat, peat-moss wafer, available. When moistened, the Jiffy-7 expands to form a small, self-contained pot of soil into which a seed is sown directly. This is an excellent choice when sowing seed of plants that do not like their roots disturbed during transplanting. You might also use eggshells or folded newspaper pots to start your seeds.

Seed-Friendly Soil

It is best to use a light, soilless mix when starting seeds. These mixes are sterile, meaning young seeds do not have any weed seeds to compete with, and there are no harmful bacteria, insects or other pests in the soil right away. Good seed mixes also contain adequate nutrients to carry seedlings through until transplanting. Do not use garden soil, as seeds will not germinate well in the heavy soil, and a fungus disease called damping off is common.

Temperatures for Seeds

Most seeds require warm soil in order to germinate. You will need to heat the soil of the seedling flats with a heat mat, heat tray or heating cable. Seed trays can also be placed on top the refrigerator or hot water heater. Do not put seed-starting trays on a windowsill; nighttime temperatures are too cool to allow for good germination. Seeds need consistent warm temperatures of 75 degrees or warmer for optimum germination.

Seed Watering Needs

Seeds need to be kept constantly moist in order to germinate. Moisten the soil thoroughly before planting. Water when the surface is dry with a misting nozzle or plastic spray bottle until the soil is saturated. The medium should be constantly moist, but not soggy. It is important not to overwater, which could drown the seeds and tender seedlings, but also not to permit the flat to dry out.

Sowing Seeds

Seeds should be sown 2-10 weeks before the last spring frost date. Your seed packet will provide this information as sowing dates can vary for different plant varieties or even cultivars of the same plants. Fill your containers almost to the top with moist growing mix. Tamp it down gently and smooth it out. Gently press the seeds into the mix or simply set them on the surface of the soil and place milled sphagnum moss over the top to prevent damping off. Cover the container loosely with plastic wrap or a clear dome, which will help preserve moisture and warmth. Be sure to label your containers with plastic or wood plant stakes and write the plant name and the date sowed. Set trays in a warm spot and check daily to keep evenly moist.

Seedling Care

Once seedlings have grown a half-inch or so, you should water less frequently. Let the soil dry slightly between watering, which will help the seedlings stretch and develop a strong root system. Seedlings will also need light and the best method is to use the traditional fluorescent fixtures or the new energy-saving LEDs. Suspend lights just an inch or two away from the plants. Lights must be on at least 14-16 hours a day. As your seedlings grow, raise the lights accordingly so they do not bump into the lighting fixture. If your seedlings do not get enough light, they will become weak and spindly. Fertilize seedlings weekly with half-strength, balanced, organic fertilizer. A fish and seaweed blend works well. Thin seedlings if they become overcrowded, choosing the healthiest, strongest seedlings to save.

Hardening Off and Planting Out

When the weather is warm, move your seed trays outside gradually over a 5-7 day period. Start by putting them out just for a few hours during the late morning to mid-afternoon, and then gradually increase until they are left out all day and night. Keep them in a lightly shaded, protected spot during the day to prevent sunburn. After a week or two of this transition, gently transplant seedlings into the garden. Try not to handle the root ball too much, as they are quite fragile. Water thoroughly after transplanting and again every day for about a week. Newly set out plants will look sparse at first, but they will grow and fill in quickly, leading to bumper crops and a lush, delicious harvest!

Holiday Open House & Cocoa with Santa – Nov 26

Saturday November 26 10a – 3p   Holiday Open House and Cocoa With Santa

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Celebrate the season at our annual Holiday Open House:

  • Meet Santa Claus!
  • Kids Crafts
  • Pony Rides & Activities
  • Carolyn’s Farm Kitchen
  • Christmas Carols
  • Joe’s On A Roll Food Truck
  • Annual Toy Drive! Bring an unwrapped toy for our Salvation Army Toy Drive and be entered to win a $100 Rogers Gift Card!
  • Kids can “Ring the Bell” for the Salvation Army.  Color and decorate a bell to hang on our Christmas tree for a $1 donation.
  • Enter to win a Rogers gift basket of goodies!
    And Much More!

Get all your Christmas decorating needs right here! We have fresh cut Fraser Fir and Balsam trees, living Christmas trees, beautiful poinsettias, garland, greens and more!

We will custom decorate your wreaths for any decor or style!

Bring the kids for a fun celebration with Santa — while you shop they can make their own Grinch decoration (pre-registration required) and enjoy storytime!

Remember to Shop Local this holiday season!

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