Fall Decorating Essentials For Home and Garden

Fall … goodbye hot summer days and hello crisp mornings and falling leaves. With the change in seasons, it’s time to also change the decorations, both in your home and in the garden. Here are some of our autumn favorites and maybe you’ll “fall” in love with them too!

Pumpkins and Gourds

pumpkins and gourds displayIt just wouldn’t feel like fall without these traditional mainstays. From tiny Jack Be Little to Dill’s Atlantic Giant that can grow to over 1,000 pounds, pumpkins come in every shape and size, making it easy to spice up your fall display. Add different colors by including white Baby Boo and blue Jaradale with your traditional orange pumpkins. Shapes can be varied too, with the square-like Blue Doll and flattened Cinderella that looks like a cheese wheel. With harder shells than pumpkins, and less “meat” inside, gourds often outlast pumpkins in a display and can last for months if cured properly. From the warty looking skins of some ornamental gourds to the mottled, long necks of the Speckled Swan variety, gourds are sure to add unique colors and textures to any fall arrangement.


This vine-like plant sports orange-red berries and has a woody stem, adding some more of Fall’s color palette to your autumn display. It can be mixed in with other decorations, used on its own, or made into wreaths- use your imagination!

Cornstalks and Hay Bales

Cornstalks are great for adding height to fall displays, especially when the display is next to a vertical feature such as a lamp post or tall mailbox. Although hay bales are similar in color, they are more useful for creating layers, providing “seats” for other decorations such as pumpkins, and allowing your arrangement to have multiple levels.


decorating with mumsWe would be remiss if we didn’t include mums, fall’s flower of choice. Either planted in a garden bed or simply in a pot on the porch steps, these beauties can provide long lasting color that’s still around when the trees drop their leaves and the landscape becomes drab. Mix and match colors or plant all the same, the choice is yours! If you’re like us, you’ll find it fun to experiment with all of these seasonal elements until you get the arrangement you’re looking for. If you need help to make it all come together, talk to our friendly Garden Center staff, or even better, let our Retail Services division do all the work for you … just sit back, relax, and enjoy the season!

10 Simple Tips for How to Garden in Small Spaces

If you live in an urban area, don’t want the maintenance of a big garden, or simply don’t have the space for very many plants, your green thumb might need a little help growing the garden of your dreams in the space that you have. With the right design and the proper planning, however, you can do a lot with small space gardening. Here are some helpful tips to get you growing:

1. Decide what to grow

Choose appropriate plants for where you are going to plant them. Some plants must be planted side by side, while others, such as climbing vines, can be planted vertically, giving you color and texture and saving space at the same time.

2. Decide where to grow

If you live in a city apartment, you may only be able to grow plants on your porch or balcony, but if you have a small yard, you may be able to plant directly in the ground. Growing can be successful in either place but location does affect what varieties of plants you can grow.

3. Watering considerations

All plants need water so determine where you will get it from before you plant. Ideally, choose a growing place that is close to an outside water source or not too far from your door if you have to water with a watering can.

4. Decide how to grow

Some plants take a long time to produce either flowers or fruit, while others take less. Decide ahead of time whether you want to plant something that will grow and produce all season, or whether you want to rotate crops. This is true for both flowers and vegetables.

5. Planting budget

Determine how much you want to spend and then find the best price. Sales around holidays such as Memorial Day, Father’s Day, or July 4th are great for saving you a little money.

6. Time and maintenance

If you’re short on time as well as space, choose plants that require less for daily maintenance, are drought and disease tolerant, and can be planted in pots where weeding will be less of a concern.

7. Function or beauty

Before shopping, decide whether you want plants that provide function, beauty, or both. For example, some lilies are beautiful to look at but can also be put on top of salads so you get two-for-one in the same space.

8. Plan for sunshine or shade

Pay close attention to how much sun your chosen garden spot gets every day and at what time of day it gets it. This will help you choose whether you need to buy full-sun plants or ones that are shade tolerant.

9. Use existing structures

Look at how you can add to or enhance existing landscape features. Planting vines that grow up a wall or annuals around an existing lawn statue can provide more color and texture without taking up a lot of space.

10. Have fun

Gardening should be enjoyable so have fun with it! Remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect the first time- evaluate what works and what doesn’t and soon you’ll be gardening like a pro!

Now, it’s time to get to work! Following these simple tips will get you growing in the right direction but if you still need a little help, give us a call or stop in to the garden center.    

Choosing Your Lilac

There’s nothing quite like the sight and smell of lilacs in the spring! Along with their beauty and fragrance, they are a low maintenance shrub and really thrive here in upstate NY. With proper maintenance and care, they can last for years in your garden.

Spring or fall is the best time for planting lilac bushes. When planting, you will need to make your hole deep enough and wide enough to accomodate the roots spread out vertically in the ground. You can plant multiple bushes together to create a nice hedgerow, just make sure to space them at least 5 feet apart to prevent overcrowding.

Lilacs need an area with plenty of afternoon sun and good drainage. They do especially well when planted in a slightly elevated area since the drainage tends to be better. Once planted, make sure to water them thoroughly and add a layer of loose mulch for protection. The mulch should be thick enough to prevent weed growth and maintain adequate moisture but not so thick that it holds too much moisture.

The flowers of lilacs range in color from pink to purple; however, white and yellow varieties are also available. Their size can also range from dwarf varieties up to 8 feet tall to much larger varieties reaching up to 30 feet tall. Check out our listing of lilacs to see which one is right for your space.

Agincourt Beauty
Height:  10­-12 ft.
Spacing: 8­-10 ft.

The Agincourt Beauty has deep purple fragrant flowers that are single, and each floret is very large; has the largest florets of all  lilacs. It is one of the best purples available today.

Albert F. Holden
Height:  8­-10 ft.
Spacing: 8­-10 ft.

The deep‐purple buds open to deep‐violet flowers with a silvery blush on the back side,  creating a striking two‐tone effect. The unusual blossoms of “Albert F. Holden” also have an unforgettable fragrance.

Beauty of Moscow
Height:  10-­12 ft.
Spacing: 8 ft.

Beauty of Moscow is one of the finest lilacs with fragrant, double, delicate pink flowers. It is excellent as a cut flower and provides years of satisfaction.

Height:  4-­6 ft.
Spacing: 5­-6 ft.

Enjoy classic lilac fragrance for months instead of weeks! A revolutionary new kind of lilac, Bloomerang blooms in spring and then again throughout the summer. It  does go through a rest period in the heat of the summer, then flowers.

Charles Joly
Height:  10­-12 ft.
Spacing: 8­-10 ft.

Charles Joly is a French Hybrid with shiny purple buds opening into double, magenta flowers that are very fragrant and excellent for cutting. It is considered to be the best in its color class.

Common Purple
Height:  8-­10 ft.
Spacing: 8-10 ft.

One of the most popular lilacs is the Common Purple. This shrub has been a favorite for decades because you can essentially ignore it and it will give you a fantastic spring color show full of fabulous fragrance every single year, without fail. Lovely lavender flower clusters sit against dark‐green, heart‐shaped leaves, and the fragrance is just captivating.

Common White
Height: 12-15 ft.
Spacing: 8-12 ft.

The Common White is well‐known and loved by gardeners all over the world for its beauty and fragrance; one of the most powerful fragrances emitted by a plant. It has white flowers occurring in clusters amid the dark‐green heart‐shaped leaves.

Donald Wyman
Height:  10 ft.
Spacing: 8 ft.

Deep pink to almost reddish single flowers that bloom in early June. Sturdy, dense and upright growth. Blooms  2 weeks later than other lilacs. Yellow fall color.

Dwarf Korean
Height:  4-­5 ft.
Spacing: 8­-10 ft.

The Dwarf Korean Lilac is known as a compact but spreading, small-foliaged Lilac with showy May lavender purple flowers that are spread over the entire shrub canopy.

Ivory Silk
Height:  20-­25 ft.
Spacing: 20-­25 ft.

The Japanese Ivory Silk Tree Lilac produces  ravishingly fragrant, creamy‐white panicles.  Landscapers love this plant for its interesting  spreading branches and vase shaped crown, its long June through July blooming season and easy care. Ruddy, cherry like bark and neat, dark green leaves contrast nicely with the creaminess of the flowers.

James MacFarlane
Height:  8 ft.
Spacing: 6-­10 ft.

The James Macfarlane blooms two weeks later than Syringa vulgaris types. The single true pink flowers bloom freely. It is extremely hardy and adaptable, withstanding moisture conditions fatal to vulgaris hybrids.

Katherine Havermeyer
Height:  10-­12 ft.
Spacing: 8­-10 ft.

Katherine Havemeyer is an early blooming French Hybrid that produces abundant clusters of double, lavender‐pink, fragrant flowers among dark green, disease resistant foliage.

Ludwig Spaeth
Height:  10­-12 ft.
Spacing: 6-­8 ft.

Ludwig Spaeth is a French Hybrid with single dark purple flowers in early June that are excellent as cut flowers because of their very fine fragrance.

Meyeri Palibin
Height:  4­-6 ft.
Spacing: 6­-8 ft.

A true slow growing dwarf. It is a small  leafed cultivar with deep purple buds opening into fragrant violet‐purple flowers in abundance early in the season.

How to Attract Birds in the Winter

Have you ever spent any time trying to attract birds to your garden? It’s an entertaining pastime, and can even be quite rewarding, to tally up the various species that visit the feeders and bird friendly landscaping in the garden. While many homeowners look for their birds during the spring and summer months, there is actually a great need to help our fine feathered friends during the long cold days of winter.

During the winter months, birds spend most of their time and energy seeking out food, water and shelter. It can be a desperate time for them, especially here in Upstate New York when the temperatures plummet and snow blankets most of their feeding grounds. With a little bit of planning, however, you can transform your garden into a prime location for birds to find both shelter and sustenance.

The selection of trees, plants and shrubs you choose for your landscaping can offer birds both the food and shelter they need to survive. Not only will you be providing a refuge for them, you will be able to enjoy seeing and hearing them all year long. You will also be providing some much-needed color and contrast into your winter landscape as well!

Plant in Layers

Some birds prefer higher trees for shelter and food, while others prefer to be closer to the grounds. So when you look around your yard, consider the differing layers – a canopy of tall trees, an under-canopy of smaller trees, a shrub layer, and various ground covers and/or vines. The more variety your offer, the greater the variety of birds you’re likely to attract.

Provide Adequate Food Sources

Food is the single most important thing you can provide for your feathered friends. Food can be rather scarce during the winter months and trying to find enough food consumes most of their time. By providing a source of seed and nut bearing trees to your yard, you make their hunt much easier.

Consider adding evergreens, junipers, firs, hemlock and spruces to your yard, which will provide both shelter and food. These trees provide a great food source for birds such as chickadees, woodpeckers and grosbeaks.

Trees such as oaks, walnuts and hickories won’t necessarily provide much in the way of shelter, but the nuts they provide are an excellent source of food for many different birds.

Don’t forget about fruit-bearing trees and shrubs as well. There are varieties that hold onto their fruit throughout the winter months. Winterberry, holly, bayberry, viburnum and photinia will provide food all winter long. Flowering crabapple trees and dogwoods are also a winter favorite of birds. As an added bonus, they all provide some amazing color and interest in your garden as well.

Go WILD with your Landscape

What we mean by this is don’t immediately cut everything back in the fall. Sure, it will look nice and give you that well-manicured look, but you will be taking away a fantastic source of food and shelter. Native grasses that emerge later in the season will provide flower seeds for your birds to feast on as well as good coverage for them. Many of them also put on a beautiful show of color during the fall and winter months as well. Hair grass, switch glass and bluestem are all great choices.

You can also leave your perennials as is throughout the winter months. Just like the native grasses, perennial flowers produce seeds that provide much needed nutrients. If you can refrain from snipping their seed heads back until springtime, the birds will thank you! Birds love Coneflowers, sunflowers, Black-eyed Susans and Coreopsis for their abundant seeds.

Offer Plenty of Water

It might seem like birds would have plenty of access to water during the winter, but they really don’t. Having access to a clean source of water is critical for survival during the winter. Make sure your birdbath is still accessible during the winter months and that the water doesn’t stay frozen.

There are portable warming devices you can utilize that will de-ice your birdbath during the cold months. You might also want to consider investing in a heated birdbath. As long as they have access to fresh water daily they have a much greater chance of survival.

Even the smallest changes in your landscaping can make a huge impact for the birds in your area. By just adding a few bird friendly shrubs or trees, your garden will soon become a valuable resource for your feathered friends.

Why Should I Hire a Landscaper?

Do you ever look out your kitchen window and wish you could make your yard new and improved but don’t know where to start? Landscaping your yard can be quite an overwhelming and daunting task. This is where a professional landscaper can really come in handy.

  Check out these 9 reasons why hiring a landscaper is not only smart, but the first step in upgrading your yard.

1. Dealing with the Professionals

If you hire a landscaper, you’re going to be guaranteed quality work because you are dealing with professionals. Landscape designers have studied and became experts when it comes to digging in the mud. You will also be ensured that the outcome you are looking for is just as beautiful as what you pictured in your mind.

2. Done Lickity Split

Let’s be honest, we are all busy-bees, and life seems to constantly keep throwing things our way. Landscaping is a time consuming and demanding task and if you are not highly skilled in this field, doing it yourself can become a nightmare. However, if you hire a professional landscaper, not only can it be completed in a fraction of the time, you can sit back and watch the wonderful transformation of your yard unfold right before your eyes.

3. Purchasing the Goods

You might have an idea of what you would like your yard to look like, but might not know where to purchase all the materials. A landscaper can help you make sure you purchase the right materials for your design. Oftentimes, they can get you a better rate than if you are purchasing outright. You can also save on transporting all the items from the business to your home because the landscapers take care of all of that.

4. Less Chaos and Problems

Most of us become very excited when starting a new project, but if it’s not going as planned,the stress can become overwhelming. If you are not an expert in landscaping, the chances of you making more messes than necessary, and feeling the need to pull out your hair at every turn, can become quite high.

5. Choosing the Right Plants

It’s super easy to pick out plants you like and are appealing to the eyes, but landscapers can help you choose the right plants for your area. There’s so much thought and consideration that goes into choosing plants, rather than just the beauty; having the right soil, getting too much sun, too much shade, etc…

6. Plan of Attack

Planning is crucial when it comes to landscaping. You don’t want to lay a bunch a stone work only to realize that it’s in the wrong area and needs to be moved. Professional landscape designers are experts on planning. They know where to begin and what each consecutive step needs to be. Following a well thought out plan will save you time, money and a whole lot of stress.

7. Sticking to Your Budget

Knowing your budget is HUGE. A professional landscaper knows what each element of your landscape design will cost. They will be able to give you an accurate estimate that isn’t going to leave you half done in the end when the money’s all gone. They can discuss what you can afford in your budget and they will be sure to follow it. And if there’s a remaining value, you can go over what more you’d like to add.

8. Advice from the Experts

Once the project is completed, you will be surprised that there is still a lot to learn about maintaining your new space. Landscapers can give you advice on how to keep your new plants healthy, teach you about possible soil erosion if you’re located on a steep hill, and they can also give you tips on how to keep your yard safe and functional for years to come.

9. Working with the Best of the Best

When you hire a professional landscape designer, they know their reputation is on the line – which is good news for you. They will work hard to provide the best work possible. They want to have a good reputation, repeat customers and good word of mouth referrals, which is all to your benefit.

So before you grab the shovel and start digging yourself, consider how much more you will gain by hiring a professional landscaper.

How to Design Dog Friendly Landscaping

There’s not much cuter than a dog romping around in the yard – they are just so full of life and fun to have around. That being said however, they can sure wreak havoc on your landscaping, if they have a mind to! Fortunately, there are a few tips and tricks we have compiled over the years to help you and your dog coexist in harmony with your landscape. We want your pets to enjoy their outdoor space as much as you do.

Chose the right landscape materials

The first order of business is to make sure the materials you are using in your yard are not only dog friendly, but dog proof.
  • Mulch
    • Gravel, hardwood or woodchip mulches are the best options for pets. They won’t stick to your dog’s coat and they shouldn’t harm your pet if a small amount gets eaten.
    • Do not use cocoa mulch – it can contain theobromine which is the ingredient in chocolate that is poisonous to dogs.
  • Plants
    • It is a good idea to plant sturdy plants around the perimeter of your beds since they are the most likely to get trampled down or run into. The following plants can stand some wear and tear: barberry, chain fern, Carolina cherry, chameleon plant, New Zealand flax, most ornamental grasses and daylilies
    • Consider planting plants that will deter fleas such as lavender, mint and rosemary
    • If your pet is intent on eating plants in the yard, why not plant some that are good for him, consider wheat grass, oat grass or even some strawberries and blueberries
    • ALWAYS check to see if a plant is toxic to your pet before buying and planting it. Stay away from irises, monkshood, lily of the valley and foxglove. For a complete list of plants that can be harmful to your pet check out the ASPCA website.
  • Grass
    • We love a lush green lawn, but keeping it that way with a canine companion running around can be a bit tricky. If you are just installing your lawn, you might want to consider 100% perennial rye – it is a great choice for dog owners. It can take a good amount of traffic on it and still continue to send up new growth.
    • Be careful with fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. Stick with organic ones as much as possible. According to one study by the National Institute of Health, there was a 70% higher risk of canine malignant lymphoma in canines exposed to professionally applied pesticides
    • Keeping your lawn watered regularly will not only help to keep it lush and green, but it will also dilute the nitrogen found in dog’s urine, which can cause brown spots. You can also help neutralize your pet’s urine with some additives in their food. Your vet or local pet store will have some recommendations for you.
    • Some homeowners choose to install a marking post for their male dogs (think a decorative fire hydrant or post) – it gives them their own spot to mark their territory, and as a bonus, will discourage them from peeing on your more delicate plants and grasses.

Design Considerations

When considering a dog friendly landscape design, you need to think like your canine companion and try and accommodate his / her particular traits. Do they like to dig? Run the border? Pee on everything? If you know their habits, it is easier to design around them.
  • Boundaries
    • For the safety of your pet and others, your pet should be confined. That doesn’t mean that you have to install an unsightly chain link fence, in fact they are banned in some neighborhoods. Other options are invisible fences or decorative fencing. They not only serve to keep your pet confined, but can also enhance the appearance of your yard.
    • Consider using hedges or thick shrubs as barriers for your pet within the yard. Hardscaping with rock walls and borders is also a good option for creating effective boundaries.
    • If you have a digger on your hands, it helps to plant your beds thickly. This won’t allow them much open room to dig. We have also installed digging areas for homeowners pets to give them a safe and enjoyable digging experience. It’s like a sandbox for dogs! It takes a bit of training to get them to just dig there, but once they realize that it is “ok” to dig there, most dogs absolutely love it.
  • Pathways
      • Dogs feel that it is their sacred duty to patrol the perimeter of their space, so be prepared for that. Installing pathways throughout your yard is a great option to keep them from trampling the grass. If that isn’t an option however, and your pet has taken to running the same path back and forth, effectively killing the grass in that area, break up their running line. Plant a few “road blocks” along their pathway – some sturdy plant clusters planted along the way will help keep them from running the same path over and over.
  • Garden Features
    • Dogs can easily get overheated in the summer, so installing a water feature is not only a beautiful addition, it can also be a functional addition by allowing your furbaby to cool off when needed.
    • On the flip side, offering a place that is protected from the elements is also a good idea. Think about a pergola, arbor or even a decorative doghouse for them to escape the rain or snow. Check out these adorable doghouses on Pinterest

Hire a Landscape Designer

Professional landscape designers have extensive experience creating cohesive designs incorporating natural beauty, while accommodating your family pet. You should tap into that knowledge when you are planning your landscape design. Their wealth of knowledge can help make sure you and your pet get the most enjoyment from your outdoor space.

Caring for your Air Plant: A Brown Thumb’s Best Friend

Air plants are the best friends of those plant enthusiasts who don’t exactly have green thumbs. These low-maintenance beauties add a little life to your home, without taking away from yours. Air plants (tillandsia), also known as tilly or till, are native from the southern US states to northern Argentina, and are typically found on tree branches, roofs, and even power lines. They are called air plants because unlike most others, these plants do not live in soil. It is their root system that keeps them attached to their home, and the leaves have the task of absorbing moisture. You may see different looking air plants, some being smooth and some hairy. The difference between them lies in the scales that lines the leaves, the trichomes. These scales are the part of the plant that absorb food and water. You can find these plants in various native habitats, as well as your own home. When you bring them in, however, there are certain things these plants need to survive. Be sure to put these plants where they can receive as much sunlight as possible, but it has to be filtered light. Near a window or outside under a porch or lanai are great places to keep your tilly. Some people may have heard that keeping these plants in the bathroom to absorb the humidity from a shower is the way to go, but keeping them in sunlight trumps the benefits of a steamy bathroom. Speaking of water, many owners of air plants struggle with underwatering, as they have heard that these plants absorb water from the air. While this is true in their natural habitats, bringing them into heated and air-conditioned homes doesn’t provide them the necessary moisture they need. Another mistake many owners makes is misting their air plants to water them. Misting however, can lead to moisture build-up where the leaves spring from, which could lead to the death of your air plant. The best way to water your tilly is to submerge the entire plant in water for 12 hours every 10-14 days. No need to worry about overwatering your plant, as they only absorb what they need to survive. When submerging the plants in water, make sure you use rain or bottled water. Soft or hard water can be damaging to the plant, as soft water contains too much salt, and hard water can clog the trichomes on the leaves, preventing proper hydration. When you are removing the air plant from the water, be sure to carefully shake it upside down a couple times to get rid of the water that collects in the middle of the leaves. To figure out when your plant is in need of another water bath, be sure to monitor for signs of dehydration. If your plant leaves seem to curl, the ends turn brown, or if the color seems to be dull compared to when it was freshly watered, it’s time to submerge it again. As for fertilization and planting, be sure to pick up a product that is water-soluble and specific for air plants, ephiphytes, or bromeliads. Planting these beauties is simple, as they don’t need soil. Pick up any cool planter at our garden center and instantly spruce up your home.

Garden Planning in Upstate New York

Gardening can be a means to produce food for your family, produce to sell, or a personal hobby that you just enjoy. No matter what your purpose, gardening takes planning in order to experience success.  There are not many homeowners out there who have the perfect garden location or all of the necessary knowledge to perfect the art of gardening, but we have put together some of the most critical information to help you make the most out of your plants and enjoy the many benefits that growing vegetables and feeding your family with healthy foods can bring.

The perfect location is not always possible, but there are a few important things to remember when planning the area you will use.

  • Sunlight is important and your garden will do best if it gets full sun
  • 6 hours a day of direct sun is the minimum needed by most vegetable plants for optimum growth
  • Leafy crops like lettuce and spinach produce reasonably well in a partly shaded location
  • Root crops such as carrots and beets need more light than leafy vegetables, but may do well in a garden that receives only morning sun
  • Fruiting plants such as peppers, tomatoes, and beans are sun worshipers and will yield poorly, if at all, with less than 6 hours of direct sun
  • If your garden is shaded, experiment with the more shade‐tolerant vegetables to see which do best and put the full‐sun plants in containers that can be placed in a sunny area of your yard.

Just like some farm animals, there are also some vegetables that when planted next to one another, do not grow well. Companion planning is something that many amateur gardeners overlook but it could mean the difference between producing crops or not. Certain plants love each other and certain plants hate each other. This system of planning can be complex and even overwhelming, but planning and preparation can often alleviate that. As you gain more knowledge and experience as a gardener, companion planting will become clearer. Some planting techniques are related to health, nutrition, physical compliments, weeds, insect and animal relationships.

Companion Planting Chart for Vegetables

Plant (Vegetable)
Good Companions
Bad Companions
Tomatoes, parsley, basil
Potatoes, carrots, cucumbers, cauliflower,
cabbage, eggplant, summer savory, most
other vegetables and herbs
Onions, garlic, gladiolus, chives
Beans, bushPotatoes, cucumbers, corn, strawberries, celery, summer savoryOnions
Beans, poleCorn, summer savory, sunflowerOnions, beets, kohlrabi, cabbage
BeetsOnions, KohlrabiPole beans
Cabbage family (cabbage, cauliflower, kale, kohlrabi, broccoli)Aromatic plants, potatoes, celery, dill, hyssop, chamomile, sage, peppermint, rosemary, beets, onionsStrawberries, tomatoes, pole beans
Peas, leaf lettuce, chives, onions, leeks,
rosemary, sage, tomatoes
CeleryLeeks, tomatoes, bush beans, cauliflower,cabbage
ChivesCarrots, tomatoesPeas, beans
CornPotatoes, peas, beans, cucumbers, melons, pumpkins, squashTomato
CucumbersBeans, corn, peas, radishes, sunflowers, lettucePotatoes, aromatic herbs
EggplantBeans, potatoes, spinach
LeeksOnions, celery, carrots
LettuceCarrots and radishes (lettuce, carrots, and radishes make a strong team grown together), strawberries, cucumbers, onions
MelonsCorn, Nasturtium, Radish
Onions(garlic)Beets, strawberries, tomatoes, lettuce, summer savory, leeks, chamomile (sparsely), pepperPeas, beans
ParsleyTomatoes, asparagus
PeasCarrots, turnips, radishes, cucumbers, corn, beans, most vegetables and herbsonions, garlic, gladiolus, potatoes, chives
PotatoesBeans, corn, cabbage, horseradish (should be planted at the corners of the patch), marigolds, eggplant (as a lure for the Colorado potato beetle)Pumpkins, squash, cucumbers, sunflowers, tomatoes, raspberries
RadishesPeas, nasturtiums, lettuce, melons, cucumbersHyssop
SoybeansGrows with anything, helps everything
SpinachStrawberries, eggplant
SquashNasturtiums, cornPotatoes
StrawberriesBush beans, spinach, borage, lettuce (as a border), onionsCabbage
TomatoesChives, onions, parsley, asparagus, marigolds, nasturtiums, carrotsCorn, Kohlrabi

Table courtesy of http://www.thevegetablegarden.info/companion‐plants

Knowing your hardy zones can also help give you an idea of when to plant vegetables. While many factors such as temperatures, weather patterns and your specific area can determine more details about your planting, it is still helpful for all gardeners to know what to expect and when. Our particular area in South Glens Falls is categorized as a 5A zone.

Each USDA planting zone has its own schedule for sowing seeds. If you’re new to vegetable gardening, you’ll want to know that there is a right time to sow each variety of vegetable seed. By following the rules for both cool and warm season vegetables, you’ll be sure to sow your seeds in the correct window of time, enabling optimum sprouting and yield.

Where and when you plant is vital, but it is also important for gardeners to understand other environmental factors that could hinder crops. Most insects found in gardens are not pests. Many are beneficial, preying on pests or performing other useful tasks.  Many experts agree that gardeners should know the strategies for dealing with insects. This begins with learning about insect life cycles, behaviors, habitats, and diets, and to recognize which are pests and which are actually lending you a helping hand. Experts also suggest the following gardening tips to damage caused by insect pests without harming beneficial insects or drowning your food in harsh chemicals.

  • Grow vigorous, healthy plants.
  • Rotate crops.
  • Choose varieties carefully.
  • Use proper sanitation practices.
  • Check over transplants.
  • Time your plantings carefully according to season and growing patterns.
  • Pick out pests and remove by hand when possible.
  • Use barriers.
  • Consider the use of row covers.
  • Mulch with aluminum foil for small area.
  • Take advantage of natural enemies.
  • Consider natural pesticides when all else fails.
Remember, however, that when managing pests, beneficial insects will move elsewhere if there aren’t enough pests to feed on. Also keep in mind that most pesticides don’t discriminate between beneficial insects and pests. Follow all label directions carefully!

Sometimes, vegetables also get sick and gardeners need to know how to fend off disease‐causing bacteria, viruses, and fungi. But if conditions favor the disease and your plants are weak, the disease sometimes gains the upper hand, often leading to early death of the plants. To minimize the effects of plant diseases on your garden by keeping plants as strong and healthy as you can and to minimize the conditions that favor disease and make it easy to spread.

Vegetables need room to eat and grow and flourish amongst your garden. Square foot gardening is one technique and one way to plant your vegetables. One way to ensure a constant harvest of vegetables is to plant using the square foot method. Select a 4‐foot‐by‐4‐foot section of your garden and divide it into 16 squares (each section is 1 square foot). Each square will have a different number of plants, depending on what you’re growing. Gardening author Charlie Nardozzi suggests:

  • 1 plant per square: Tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, eggplant, corn, melon, squash
  • 4 plants per square: Lettuce, garlic, Swiss chard
  • 8 plants per square: Pole beans, peas, spinach
  • 16 plants per square: Beets, carrots, radishes, onions

Unless you have a large area for gardening, you are probably confined to a smaller space like most people. The best way to keep a successful garden with organically grown produce on your dining room table is to grow as much as you can, and preserve plenty to eat for when your garden isn’t producing. Consider growing vegetables in 3‐ to 4‐foot‐wide beds with paths in between instead of just creating one large area for your garden. This will maximize space and still give you an opportunity to grow your favorite variety of vegetables.

Grow what you can and grow what you love, but have fun doing it and know that you are doing something healthy and positive for your family when you can put homegrown, fresh vegetables on the table straight from your own garden. When you find vegetables that excel in your garden, growing as much of them as your family can eat will take you a huge step closer to food self‐sufficiency. At the same time, think about what you and your family really like to eat before planning your garden. Vegetables will go to waste if what you grow doesn’t match what you eat. Organic, homegrown produce is more nutritious, delicious and sustainable than the typical store‐bought fare. As you attempt to grow more organic food, be realistic about the time you have to maintain your garden and manage its harvest, and don’t bite off more than you can chew.

Enjoy your garden and reap the benefits by preparing ahead of time, learning as you grow, and finding the little successes when helping your garden reach its potential.