Picking the Perfect Poinsettia

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Today, December 12th is National Poinsettia Day! In Mexico, the poinsettia is called La Flor de la Nochebuena or, Flower of the Holy Night. Decorate for the season with this festive plant!

Everyone wants to know, what makes the perfect poinsettia? How do I know I am buying the perfect poinsettia, and how do I take care of my poinsettia? Carefully. These beautiful Christmas flowers can be finicky and require specific growing needs in order to retain their blooms. If you properly care for your poinsettia, it should continue to bloom and remain attractive for weeks, well past Christmas!

What is a poinsettia? 

Poinsettias are beautiful Christmas flowers, properly known as Euphorbia pulcherrima. Poinsettias come in a variety of colors, from red to pink, white, salmon, burgundy, and more, and have a variety of leaf shapes, including oak shaped leaves and curled leaves. The colored and green leaves on a poinsettia are actually called bracts and the true flower of the poinsettia is actually the yellow in the center of the colored bracts.

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Picking the Perfect Poinsettia

When shopping for a poinsettia, there are a few key things you want to look for to find that perfect poinsettia. Choose a poinsettia that has dark green foliage, a strong central stem with lots of good branching, and look to make sure it is not dropping leaves or that the leaves are not yellowing at the bottom of the flower. You also want to look at the shape of the poinsettia and make sure that it is rounded and full. If you are shopping for a poinsettia at the beginning of the Christmas season, you want a poinsettia that is on the newer side, so that it will last and look beautiful for Christmas. If you are shopping closer to Christmas, the age of the poinsettia will not matter as much as it will continue to bloom and last for weeks. How do you tell the age of a poinsettia? Well, you certainly shouldn’t ask any poinsettia her age, just like a woman!  All kidding aside, if you look at the center flower of the poinsettia, you will be able to tell the age. If the flower is closed and still green-yellow in color, the poinsettia is a newer poinsettia. If the flower is open, with red showing and the stamens sticking out, the poinsettia is an older poinsettia. Of course, you want to make sure that the bracts are bright and colorful! 

How to Care for a Poinsettia

You want to give your poinsettia bright, indirect light. Make sure to keep your poinsettia in area where it will be typically semi-cool. Be sure not to place your poinsettia by a heat source or next to a working fireplace, as these areas will be too hot for your poinsettia and dry it out. On the other hand, make sure your poinsettia is not sitting somewhere drafty or where it will be touching a window, as these areas will be too cold and freeze your poinsettia. An ideal temperature range for your poinsettia is 65-70 degrees.

Be sure to water your poinsettia thoroughly. If there is a foil or tin pot cover on your poinsettia, you will want to remove this when watering your poinsettia so that you can ensure proper drainage. Do not let your poinsettia set in water. Let your poinsettia dry out between waterings.

Now, for the debated question. Are poinsettias poisonous? No. Poinsettias are not poisonous. Yes, if you dog or cat nibbles on your poinsettia, there is a good chance it will make them nausea and/or vomit, but it will not kill them.

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Poinsettias are the perfect addition to any Christmas decor! Ranging in size from 2″ to 10″, the decorating possibilities are endless! Use them as a centerpiece, a hostess gift, a coffee table or end table decoration, or as a festive greeter in your indoor entryway! And have a very festive and bright holiday! 

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How to Care for a Cyclamen

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Cyclamen make great houseplants! Their vibrant flowers in reds, pinks, whites, and purples, and their interesting leaves, make the cyclamen a popular plant to brighten up any space during the cold and colorless winter months! If you want to take proper care of your cyclamen to keep it blooming until February-March, and lasting year after year, here are a few tips!

Light

Cyclamen like bright, indirect light. Make sure your cyclamen is not sitting in direct sunlight, or it could burn the cyclamen.

Watering

It is extremely important to water your cyclamen from the bottom. DO NOT pour water over the top of your cyclamen or you will cause the leaves to rot. Place a saucer or dish under your cyclamen and fill it with water when needed, or pull the leaves back to water at the base of the plant. If your cyclamen is in a tin pot cover, or sitting in a saucer or dish, make sure your cyclamen is not standing in water. Allow your cyclamen to slightly dry out between waterings. If your cyclamen is wilted, DO NOT throw it away. Give it a few good drinks of water and it should come around.

Environment

The ideal temperature for your cyclamen is between 58-68 degrees. Make sure not to set your cyclamen against a window, as it could get too cold and freeze. Cyclamen like humid environments, so to keep your cyclamen happy, you could place a bowl with pebbles and water underneath it to maintain a humid environment.

Faded Flowers

Once a flower has died, you want to trim it back to promote new blooms and keep your cyclamen healthy. Instead of pinching the flower off near the top of the stem, you want to use scissors and cut the dead flower off near the base of the plant.

Cyclamen Care After Blooming

If you want to preserve your cyclamen from year to year after it is finished blooming, there are a few special things that need to be done. After a cyclamen blooms, it will go into a dormant state. When it goes into this dormant state, the leaves will turn yellow and fall off. Allow the leaves to die and stop watering the cyclamen. Place the plant in a cool, dark place and remove any dead foliage. Let the cyclamen sit there for 2 months before bringing it out of its dormant state and out of storage. There may already be some leaf growth, and that is okay. At this point, begin watering it again by completely soaking the soil (You may want to leave it sit in a bowl for an hour or so, or water it several times.Just make sure all excess water drains off.).  Once the leaves start to grow back, just resume normal cyclamen care! You may need to re-pot your cyclamen tuber after a while, as it may outgrow the container.

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Cyclamen make great Christmas flowers, and with their long bloom period, they last right through the New Year and make a great Valentine’s flower as well! Add a little color indoors this holiday season and be amazed at long your cyclamen will remain beautiful and blooming!

Creating a Butterly Garden

“Just living is not enough,” said the butterfly. “One must have sunshine,freedom and a little flower.”
~Hans Christian Andersen 

Gardeners generally agree with this sentiment – all we need is “sunshine, freedom, and a little flower” to bring contentment to our life.  And, many gardeners can add butterflies to this list.  Butterflies are enchanting and alluring.  They flit and flutter from flower to flower, mesmerizing the garden visitor as they go about their day gathering nectar, stopping to warm themselves in the sun, and laying eggs.

To attract butterflies to our garden, we need to understand how the life cycle of the butterfly impacts our garden features and plant choices.  Butterflies require four basic things: food, water, sunshine, and shelter.  Each of these necessities relates to the life-stage of the butterfly in a unique way.  Harkening back to our primary school days, let us recall what we learned about metamorphosis.  A butterfly undergoes a complete transformation beginning with the egg, which becomes a larva (caterpillar), which pupates into a pupa or chrysalis, and, finally, emerges as a butterfly.  To welcome butterflies, the adult insect, we also need to set the stage and roll out the welcome mat for eggs, larvae, and pupae!

Food

Our Grandma’s Rule: “First eat your vegetables and then you can have dessert”. 

Butterfly Grandma’s Rule: “First eat your host plant, and then you can have your nectar.” 

Butterflies can enjoy nectar from any flower.  However, butterflies require specific host plants on which to lay their eggs.  Some butterflies, such as Monarchs, have only one host plant species – Asclepias (also known as Milkweed or Butterfly Weed).  Other butterflies have several host plants.  For example, the Black Swallowtail will lay her eggs on dill, parsley, fennel, rue, and Queen Anne’s Lace.  The important thing to realize about the female butterfly’s choice for where she will lay her eggs is that it is based on the larva’s food requirements.  The larvae of each species of butterfly will only eat the leaves of its particular host plant.  Butterflies that have a restricted number of host plants, such as the Monarch, are threatened when the habitat for those plants are threatened.  Due to loss of habitat, the population of Monarch butterflies has dropped by 970 million, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  So, a garden designed to attract and to provide for butterflies must incorporate the larval host plants for the butterflies that are common to that region.  Understanding the value of larval host plants helps one to know what to include in the garden.  But, we need to take it a step further and realize that the host plants are going to get eaten!  We might need to re-frame our vision of beauty in the garden so that we are excited when we see the leaves disappearing on our host plants.  And, we can position the host plants toward the rear of the garden or situated in some way so that the nectar plants have the spotlight.

While butterflies will enjoy the nectar from a variety of flowers, there are some considerations to help attract them.  Butterflies are attracted to mass plantings of nectar plants – large patches of color rather than a single flower here and there.  They tend to like flat-topped and short-tubed flowers.  They also like composite, daisy-type flowers.  They seem to prefer purple, red, yellow, orange, and pink flowers.  While they are attracted by fragrance, different butterflies are drawn to different fragrances.  Additionally, plants that are “native” to a region grow well in the soil and cultural conditions indigenous to that area.  Native plants will be less stressed, will grow well, and will be less likely to develop diseases and harbor pests.  To create a garden that is welcoming to butterflies, one must accept all of the insects and critters that visit the garden.  Sprays that get rid of the undesired pests are also harmful to the butterfly, in all stages.  And, butterflies that are indigenous to a region derive the most benefit from plants that are also native to that area.

Water

While water is necessary for all living beings, butterflies particularly like muddy or sandy puddles!  Golfers frequently come upon sand traps with large gatherings of butterflies.  It is also common to see large groups of butterflies gathered in puddles in pastures and places where animals frequent.  This practice is actually referred to as “mud-puddling”.  It is the male butterflies which tend to do the “mud-puddling”.  It is believed that the males are gathering salts and amino acids which they pass along to the female when mating.  Gardeners can create a puddle in the butterfly garden by sinking a shallow dish into the soil, filling it with some sand, pebbles, a bit of soil, and water.

Sunshine

Butterflies cannot fly when they are cold, wet, or newly emerged.  They like to warm themselves in nice sunny spots.  A gardener might offer a rock feature or a cement statue that absorbs the sun’s heat for the butterflies to sun themselves.  Additionally, the butterflies will be more likely to visit the flowers located in a garden that gets full sun (sun for six or more hours per day).

Shelter

Butterfly wings are delicate and cannot withstand storms.  Butterflies seek shelter in shrubs and trees.  Some trees and shrubs are larval host plants for certain species of butterflies.  For example, the birch tree is host to the Mourning Cloak butterfly.  The Spicebush Swallowtail larvae depend upon the Sassafras for food.  And, the host plant for the Spring Azure is the Dogwood tree and shrubs.  Some shrubs also offer nectar to butterflies, including azaleas, lilacs, and sweet pepperbush (Clethra alnifolia).  One could include in the garden a nifty-looking butterfly house, with slots that the butterfly can squeeze through.  But, incorporating shrubs and trees along the perimeter of the garden can provide the added value of food and nectar!

Plants at Good Harvest for Butterflies Common to Pennsylvania

At Good Harvest Supply, we are committed to sustainable practices that promote a healthy environment.  We are expanding our efforts to support pollinators, which include butterflies, moths, hummingbirds, bees, and bats, by supplying pollinator plants and providing instruction.  While we already carry many host plants, we will be expanding our selection, with educational displays and informed staff persons who are ready to answer questions.  Here are a few examples of butterflies that are common to our area, listed with the plant on which they lay their eggs.

Butterfly                                                                    Host Plant (Caterpillars)   Baltimore Checkerspot                                       Turtlehead (Chelone lyonii)
Black Swallowtail                                                Dill, Parsley, Fennel, Rue
Buckeye                                                              Snapdragon, Heliotrope,  Verbena
Dainty Sulphur                                                    Sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale)
Gray Hairstreak, Common Checkered Skipper  Hibiscus, Hollyhock, Rose of Sharon
Monarch                                                              Asclepias spp.
Painted Lady, Common Checkered Skipper       Hollyhock. Pearly Everlasting, Artemisia
Pearl Crescent                                                     Aster spp.
Silvery Blue                                                          Lupine

Favorite Nectar Perennials
Aster spp. (especially Aster novae-angliae ‘Harrington’s Pink’)
Bee Balm (Monarda)
Blanket Flower (Gaillardia aristata, Gaillardia x grandiflora)
Butterfly weed, Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa, Asclepias incarnate)
Coreopsis (Coreopsis grandiflora, Coreopsis lanceolata)
Gayfeather (Liatris spp.)
Geranium spp.
Gloriosa Daisy (Rudbeckia hirta)
Goldenrod (Solidago spp.)
Hardy Ageratum (Eupatorium coelestinum)
Heliopsis (Heliopsis helianthoides)
Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis)
Ironweed (Vernonia spp.)
Joe-pye Weed (Eutrochium purpureum)
Phlox (Phlox drummondii, Phlox paniculata)
Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
Stoke’s Aster (Stokesia laevis)
Verbena (Verbena bonariensis)
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

Favorite Nectar Annuals
Cosmos
Lantana
Marigold (Tagetes spp.)
Starcluster (Pentas lanceolata)
Sunflower (Helianthus spp.)
Zinnia

“Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.”
~Nathaniel Hawthorne

For more information, you may visit these sites:

http://www.ansp.org/explore/online-exhibits/butterflies/lifecycle/

http://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/

http://monarchjointventure.org/images/uploads/documents/Oe_fact_sheet.pdf

http://www.naba.org/pubs/bg172/bg172_Butterflybush_Issue.pdf

Sustainable Farming…What is it?

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Nothing beats homegrown, farm fresh produce! And we often get the question, is your produce organic? While it is not certified organic, here at Good Harvest Farms, we are committed to sustainable farming, making our produce naturally delicious! Don’t you appreciate knowing where your produce comes from and how it is grown? Let us tell you how we farm here at Good Harvest Farms! 

What is Sustainable Farming?

When you think of large farms, you are thinking of those farms that practice industrial crop production, which generally relies on monocropping, meaning they only grow one crop in a large area of land.These farms use intensive applications of fertilizers and pesticides, and other inputs, that are damaging to the environment, communities, and to the farm workers.

Sustainable farming is a practice in which produce is grown in an ecologically and ethically responsible way. Sustainable farming allows farmers to feed the world without damaging the environment or threatening human health. Sustainable farming includes adhering to agricultural and food production practices that support and sustain local communities. There are a number of different practices for sustainable farming, including:

  • Mutlicropping: In this method of planting crops, multiple varieties of crops are planted on one piece of land, either during the same growing season or in successive growing seasons. This includes intercropping, meaning two or more crops of different characteristics are planted in close proximity. Intercropping reduces weeds, encourages plant diversity to avoid insect and pest infestation, and provides other nutritional benefits to the plants being grown, all naturally, without the use of chemicals. This also includes crop rotation, changing what is planted in a particular location from season to season.

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  • Minimal to No Pesticide Use: At Good Harvest Supply, we practice Integrated Pest Management (IPM), as well as intercropping and crop rotation, to naturally control pests. Integrated Pest Management is a system that uses principles such as identifying and monitoring pests before they become a threat,  preventing pests before they reach damaging levels, and using plants that are natural insect repellents. IPM includes manual removal, as well, such as weeding or trapping. Sometimes, sustainable farmers will use the release of beneficial insects and organisms as well to, when released, destroy harmful pests. With IPM, pesticides are generally used very sparingly, only when other methods fail. 
  • Additional Practices: There is also the focus on soil health, using organic fertilizer and less to no tilling, plus reducing the use of heavy machinery. Soil health is a critical component, as there is some evidence that sustainably grown plants may be higher in nutrients resulting from increased soil health. At Good Harvest Supply we also choose sustainable seeds and plant varieties, with no GMOs, including heirloom varieties. And practicing water conservation and sustainable irrigation are also important components to practicing sustainable farming.

Hydroponics

Hydroponics literally means “working water” and is an advanced process of growing produce in nutrient packed water. This growing method eliminates dirt particles from the produce since it does not require soil. The hydroponic process also protects produce from environmental pollutants since it is contained in a greenhouse and the constant flow of fresh water provides nourishment and deters insects. Here at Good Harvest Farms, we have a 4,000 square-foot hydroponic greenhouse that supplies you with lush, homegrown lettuce that is handpicked fresh for you! 

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Benefits of Sustainable Farming

So now that you know what sustainable farming is, and the different components of it, you want to know what the benefits are and how sustainable grown produce is different from other produce, right? Well, sustainable farming aims to support local communities by protecting and maintaining the farmland. Eating sustainably grown produce provides numerous health benefits, including decreased exposure to pesticides, antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and unhealthful food additives. It also increases the consumption of certain nutrients and antioxidants. And last, but not least, eating sustainably means that you are supporting a more environmentally and socially responsible food system and keeping the food dollars within the local community. 

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Don’t just “hang” on!

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It’s early May. You walk through the doors of our greenhouse, and you see rows upon rows of beautifully blooming, unbelievably full (and almost perfectly) round hanging baskets perched above you. It is almost impossible to pick just one or two out of the vast selection. Why is it, as gardeners, we feel this is the only time the hanging basket will ever truly look its best? So many of us try to just “hang” on to it for as long as we can, until it looks too sad and overworked, then we throw it out. It doesn’t have to be that tragic! We can help you maintain your hanging basket all summer long, keeping it blooming, full of color and life, looking just as good as the day you brought it home!

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Water!

No surprise, I know! A living plant has to actually be watered, but it is very easy to forget about your hanging baskets. Especially when we have those weeks where it rains every other day, so our container gardens and flower beds don’t need watered, but those hanging baskets that may be sheltered from the rain, they still need watered, and we forget! It happens to all of us! On the other hand, you don’t want to over water though either (I know, I know, make up our minds! But it is not as simple as saying, just water it!). You want the soil to be moist, but not soggy wet, so our advice to you is to water from the top until you have a steady stream flowing out of the bottom of your basket. That allows you to know that the water has reached from the top of the basket, to the bottom, and is soaking in all the water it needs, allowing any excess water to drain off. The size of your hanging basket and where it is hanging will determine how often you need to water it. You may be okay watering it every 2-3 days, or, in the heat of the summer, you may have to water it daily.

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FOOD!

Plants are just like humans. Think how you feel if you miss your lunch break, and the work day runs late, by the end of the day, you are running out of energy. Plants get their nutrients from the soil just like we get nutrients from the food and drinks we consume. If the plant is constantly eating from the same soil, it eventually uses up all of the nutrients and start to suffer. That is why it is extremely important to fertilize your hanging basket. If you are using a water-soluble fertilizer (a powder form, usually blue in color, that you mix with water in your watering can), then you should feed your hanging basket about every 2-4 weeks for the most color and healthy, lush foliage. If you like to do things the easy way, then we suggest the “set it and forget it” slow release fertilizer. Add your slow release fertilizer to your hanging basket at the beginning of the season (how much you add will depend on the size of your hanging basket. The packaging always tells you how much for each size hanging basket.). What’s the next step you ask? Watch your basket grow and bloom beautifully through September! Yes, that simple!

Haircuts Too!

You didn’t know we had so much in common with hanging baskets, did you?! Trimming the ends of trailing plants, such as verbena, bacopa, and petunias, will encourage new growth and new blooms! Just a trim will do, and you will know when it is time. The ends will begin to look “sad” and your basket will seem as though it has stopped growing. Sometimes, just a simple trim is all your basket needs to get it going again!

SING!

No, it is not a proven fact that singing to your plants will benefit them at all- we just wanted to throw it in there for fun!  

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Hanging baskets are perfect for adding quick color, height, and shape to your porch or patio! We have a variety of colors, plants, shapes and sizes to choose from at Good Harvest Supply. The only limit is your imagination (Okay, and maybe your husband saying “No, enough plants already!”).

Creating a Gorgeous Container Garden!

ContainerGardensatGoodHarvestDo you want to create a beautiful, inspiring container garden? Just follow TFS! TFS? Yes!

THRILLERS … FILLERS … SPILLERS!

Before we get ahead of ourselves though, let’s start with the basics!

Container Selection

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We are creating a container garden, which means we need to start with a container, right?! Be sure the container you choose has drainage! Most containers today have predrilled drainage holes, plugs that can be removed to create drainage holes, or allow you the ability to drill your own drainage holes, but there are still some containers out there for water gardens and water features that do not have drainage holes. This is important because the last thing you want is for your plants to have wet feet! If the container you absolutely love and have your heart set on does not have drainage holes, don’t worry! You can fill the bottom with stone, empty plastic water bottles or packing peanuts (just make sure they are not the biodegradable ones, or your planter will start to sink throughout the season!).

Potting Mix

Choosing a potting mix with good moisture retention, but that is also well-draining, and one that includes slow release fertilizer will ensure proper feeding throughout the season!

Environment

Now to think… Where will your container garden sit? Will it be getting full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day) or maybe full shade (less than 4 hours of direct sunlight)? How much do I want to be watering my planter? The amount of watering will change seasonally with the change in weather, but the pot size also dictates how often you water! The smaller the pot, the more often you will have to water because there will be less soil to hold in the moisture. Also consider just how high maintenance you would, or would not, like your container garden to be! Do you enjoy deadheading (believe it or not, some people do! It is like a therapy to us!) or trimming your plants? Once you have taken all of this into consideration, and you feel you are ready…it is time to dive into…

THRILLERS … FILLERS … SPILLERS!

What is a THRILLER?

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A thriller plant is the drama queen, the attention getter! This is the plant that adds height and color to the container! Thriller plants can include grasses, salvia, angelonia, and argyranthemum.

What is a FILLER?

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A filler plant does exactly what its name says! It fills in the space in-between the thriller and spiller plants! The filler plant will give you shape and lots of color and texture! Try using euphorbia, calibrachoa, or petunias as your filler plant.

What is a SPILLER?

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A spiller plant SPILLS out over the container! It is a trailing plant that will add interest to your container garden, and over the edge of your container garden! You can use plants such as sweet potato vines or vinca vines to add texture, or try using bacopa or lobularia to add color.

What about…

There are a few other things to consider. As a good rule of thumb, it is said that the mature plant height should be no more than one and a half times the height of your container. You also have to consider where your container garden will be setting to make sure your container and plants are not too tall or too wide. Will your container garden sit flush against a wall, or will it be seen from all sides? If it is flush against a wall or structure, you can create a “backside” to your planter, where your thriller will start, and working your way front with the fillers and spillers. If the container garden can be seen from all sides, then it is best to put the thriller plant in the middle, and work evenly around the container with the filler and spiller plants. Be sure to pack on lots of colors and textures, and not just in flowers! There are a lot of great plants out there that are considered foliage, but can provide an array of colors and textures! Try sweet potato vines, rex begonias, coleus, and helichrysum (Licorice plant).

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Finally? The fun part! Plant! Get those hands dirty, play in the soil! And when you are finished, water your container, step back, and take it in! It is your masterpiece! Sit back and enjoy it all summer long!

Forgetful Gardener? Get a Succulent!

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Succulents are taking off in popularity and it is easy to understand why! So many times, people begin to talk about that great plant that they used to have years ago, and they wish they knew what it was so they could get another one, describing how it seemed almost indestructible and if they ever forgot to water it, no big deal because it seemed to survive just fine. That is the nature of a succulent! With their low maintenance requirements, and their unique varieties of plant forms and stunning colors, succulents are becoming the plant of today’s gardener– the one that might be a little forgetful, or may just simply run out of time for gardening in their day, but want to enjoy the beauty and benefits of plants!

What is a succulent?

Succulents are plants that store water in their leaves, stems, and roots. Think about the succulents you have seen; many of them have thick leaves, a waxy appearance, because these leaves act as water storage tanks. Due to this, succulents can tolerate dry conditions. While succulents are native all over the world, most are typically found in semi-deserts, areas that are dry in climate but receive slightly more rain than a true desert. Think about one of the best known succulent plants, the cactus! Cacti store water in their stems and are found in hot, dry locations.

How to care for a succulent?

Most varieties of succulents need at least half a day to a full day of sunlight. And surprisingly enough, succulents can tolerate colder temperatures than most people think; succulents can thrive in temperatures down to 40 degrees. When you are planting your succulent in the garden (Yes, succulents can be planted in your flower beds! They are NOT just an indoor plant!), be sure to plant it in a well-drained area. Succulents need good draining soil and do not like to be planted in an area that is a low spot and will stay wet. If you are planting your succulent in a container garden or a decorative pot for indoor gardening, make sure the container you plant it in has a drainage hole or place crushed rock in the bottom for proper drainage. You can even incorporate sand in your potting mix for better drainage. After you plant your succulent, water it in well and then be sure to allow the soil to dry slightly between waterings after that. In the summer, you will find that you have to water your succulent more generously than in the winter, when you really only want to water about once a month, sometimes less. Most succulents do not require much fertilizing, so watering with a fertilizer once a month will be sufficient enough.

How to use succulents?

Succulents are great rock garden plants! Combining different colors, shapes, and textures of succulents in troughs, window boxes, and container gardens make beautiful plantings as well! The possibilities are endless! Check out our Pinterest for more ideas on how to use succulents!

Airplants- The Green Without Dirt!

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A plant that has roots, but doesn’t live in dirt? We know, air plants don’t make sense the first time you see them! But once you get to know air plants, they can be really cool and a lot of fun!

What is an air plant?

Well, air plant is just the common name for the genus Tillandsia (phew! at least I just had to type it and not say it!). They are a member of the Bromeliad family. Air plants are native to the Americas, growing from the southern United States (such as Florida), down to Argentina in South America. They are plants that literally grow IN the air (It is a common misconception that air plants grow ON nothing but air.) , taking all of their nutrients and water through their leaves, not their roots.

How to care for an air plant?

Air plants are easy to care for (In a sense. Don’t get us wrong! Air plants do still require work!), just follow these few rules! Make sure your air plant has constant air circulation – this will keep your plant happy! Don’t let your air plant set somewhere too cold! Anything below 50 degrees will kill your air plant, so be mindful of windowsills and drafty areas. On the other hand, don’t let your air plant sit in direct sunlight. Air plants naturally grow wild on trees, so thinking of that climate, it is best to keep your air plant moist and in partial shade. Bright, filtered light indoors is fine for your air plant, just remember to mist it to keep it moist. It is best to mist your air plaint daily from late spring through mid-fall, and only about once or twice a week during the winter months. You cannot over water your air plant. Let me repeat – you CANNOT over water your air plant (is anyone else rejoicing?)! Air plants actually benefit from occasional soakings. You can soak your air plant overnight in rain water. Just be sure after misting and/or soaking your air plant that there is no standing water in the center of it, because that will cause your air plant to rot and die.  You can fertilizer your air plant monthly in spring and summer, but you want to use a weak mixture using a low-nitrogen liquid fertilizer.

How to use an air plant?

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Glass bubble terrariums! Have you seen them? These terrariums come in teardrop shapes, light bulb shapes, spheres and ovals, and when you hang them with string, ribbon, or twine, with an air plant inside, they look incredible! You can even add colored sand, moss or pebbles for the finishing touch! You can use any type of container to display your air plant, such as old milk bottles, antique bowls or saucers, or any small flower-pot. Or create a hanging display by adding chicken wire to an old wooden frame and hanging your air plants from the chicken wire! The possibilities are endless! Check out our Pinterest for more ideas on how to display an air plant!

So, if you are looking for a new houseplant this year, we suggest you give the air plant a try! A fun, new twist on gardening!

Jump Start Spring!

We are back for the 2015! Join us today for our Welcome Back Party! We are so excited that spring is finally here and we know just how to jump start your spring!

Many of us know the age old adage that you do not plant your summer flowers until Mother’s Day, right? Well, that’s not entirely true. You can start your spring planting right now! No, we are not telling you to go out, buy, and plant all of your geraniums right this second, but we are here to tell you that your spring garden doesn’t have to be empty!

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Pansies and Violas

Pansies and violas are beautiful early spring plants that love the cool weather! Their smiling faces are there to greet the spring sunshine and brighten up your home! And as long as though pansies and violas have been outside for a week or two, you don’t have to worry about them if we get a bit of freezing weather overnight, they will be just fine! What could be better than seeing an array of reds, yellows, white, blues, and purples greeting you every day as you walk by your flower beds?

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A blooming anemone!

A blooming anemone!

 

Cold Tolerant Plants

Our cold tolerant plants have been grown and hardened off right here in our greenhouse so that when you take them home, they can take temperatures down into the 20’s (Brrr!). NOW is the time to plant and enjoy these cold tolerant beauties! Cold tolerant plants are also a perfect way to add spring color to your porch by creating a cold tolerant planter. We all know container gardening is a popular trend right now, but you don’t have to limit it to summer annuals, fall mums and pumpkins, and vegetables. Start your container gardening early! Create gorgeous cold tolerant planters by combining plants such as swiss chard, nemesia, diascia, sweet alyssum, dinosaur kale, parsley, bacopa, anemones and ranunculus (just to name a few!) in a bright and bold, eye-catching container. Stick a few twigs of pussy willow or curly willow in it, and you have a masterpiece! Proudly display it on your front porch and wait to see how long it takes for your neighbors to start talking!

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Primroses

Looking for a houseplant to add a splash of spring color to your indoors? Try a primrose! The lush green leaves are the perfect backdrop to the bright and brilliant colored blooms of a primrose. And their fragrance is a natural scent sure to fill your home and please your senses!

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And what better way to jump start spring then to come into the warmth of our greenhouse, stroll through all of our wonderful cold tolerant flowers, and start dreaming of days full of sunshine, planting, watering, and sitting in our gardens, relaxing and taking in nature’s beauty!

Community Supported Agriculture

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Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA, is a term that is used a lot in the agricultural business, but sometimes we forget that not everyone knows what a CSA is. We are here to provide you with exactly that! What is Community Supported Agriculture, what are the benefits, and why CSA may or may not be for you!

What is Community Supported Agriculture?

Community Supported Agriculture brings together individuals and families, farmers, and agricultural land in a yearly commitment to each other. In our CSA, members purchase a share of our harvest at the beginning of the year for a fee that covers our production cost. In return, the member receives a weekly share of the harvest during our growing season. This partnership between individuals and families in the community, and farmers, creates agriculture-supported communities where CSA members benefit from receiving a variety of produce harvested at its peak for flavor, ripeness, and the best nutritional value!

What are the benefits to being a part of a CSA?

We grow our tomatoes in high tunnels, which allow us to plant them and harvest them much earlier in the season compared to other local sources.

We grow our tomatoes in high tunnels, which allow us to plant them and harvest them much earlier in the season compared to other local sources.

A CSA provides its members with high quality produce, while providing the farm a guaranteed outlet at a fair return. By being a part of our CSA, you are supporting our sustainable farm practices, such as low to no chemical inputs (Find out more about sustainable farming here, and look for a future blog post on how we practice sustainable farming at Good Harvest!). With a CSA, all of the food dollars spent are staying right here, in the local community. As a member, you have the added comfort of knowing exactly where your produce comes from and how it is grown. For many of our members, just visiting the farm, entering our beautiful greenhouse, and chatting with our friendly staff can be a stress reliever and that is a great health benefit as well! It is also a WONDERFUL way to introduce children to eating healthy and teaching them how their food is grown! Many members enjoy the recipes we provide each week as well because it tempts them to try something different and out of the box!

Think a CSA is right for you?

Do you desire natural, locally grown, farm-fresh produce? Then a CSA might be for you! If you and your family enjoy cooking and have to time to prepare dishes from scratch, and are willing to experiment with new ingredients, then we feel confident that you would love to be a part of a CSA! As a CSA member, you have to be willing to eat seasonally, like enjoying a lot of salads in the early spring, because there is not a selection of shipped in produce such as in a grocery store! Also, if you enjoy preserving produce for homegrown goodness during the winter months, a CSA might be exactly what you need!  

Caution: Why a CSA may not be for you…

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If you are a picky eater or not interested in trying new things, a CSA may not be for you. In our CSA, our members receive the produce that is the most plentiful and of the highest quality that week. This may mean receiving uncommon varieties, such as lemon cucumbers, golden beets, or leeks,  or an overabundance of certain produce items such as tomatoes or sweet corn.

How does our CSA work?

Every week, our members come to one of two pick up locations to receive their share. We have both a full share and a half share available and our shares include both vegetables and fruits, when in season. Our program runs from May through October for about 22 weeks. The shares are prepackaged and ready for pick up when you arrive, saving you time! Read more about our CSA program here.

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Community Supported Agriculture is gaining in popularity! We don’t want you to miss out on all the farm-fresh, local produce available to you within your own community! CSA is about family and fun, about learning, about seasons, ecology , and health, and most importantly, CSA is about you and our community! We are proud to serve our community with some of the best produce around! (Our sweet corn receives rave reviews every year!)