10 Tips For Growing Roses in Upstate New York

How to Grow Roses

Appreciated for both their beauty and fragrance, roses are often a popular choice for home and estate gardeners alike. While they don’t take much more care to grow than other flowers, there are a few things you should know to help ensure their success in your garden.

  1. Bareroot vs. potted roses – You can purchase roses in two different forms: bareroot or potted. Which option you choose depends on your gardening expertise. Experienced gardeners may prefer bareroot roses, since there are generally more varieties to choose from, but more care is needed after planting. Potted roses are perfect for beginners since they are already well-established and easy to plant.
  2. Start with only a few varieties – There are over 150 species and 20,000 hybrid varieties of roses available, so it’s tempting to go all out and plant lots of different varieties. Starting with just a small assortment, however, will help you better match their colors and sizes to the space you have available.
  3. Prime location – Roses love sunshine, so be sure to plant them where they can get 6-8 hours of sunlight daily. Since NY winters can be harsh, planting your roses along a south-facing fence or wall can help minimize winter damage from freezing temperatures.
  4. Proper timing – Planting roses early in the spring, after the last frost, is ideal for giving them enough time to get established before the heat of the summer. Similarly, rose planting in the fall should be done several weeks before the anticipated first frost date to give them time to root before winter arrives.
  5. Soil and spacing – Roses like to be planted in holes deep enough to fully cover their roots, and in soils that drain well. In areas where multiple rose bushes will be installed, make sure to plant them far enough apart to allow for future growth.
  6. Fertilization – As with most plants, roses like to be fed well. This includes regular fertilization with compost and other natural fertilizers. Follow application instructions carefully and you will enjoy impressive blooms!
  7. Consistent water – Roses like to have water, but not stay too wet. They grow best when the water levels are consistent throughout the growing season. This means automatic watering, such as an irrigation system, may need to be adjusted during times of excess rainfall. Watering should also be done directly to the roots, avoiding the foliage whenever possible.
  8. Pruning – Regular pruning every spring is helpful to remove dead or damaged canes and promote plant health. For specific pruning questions, feel free to ask one of our garden center associates or have the pruning done by our landscape maintenance division.
  9. Prevent disease – Choose disease-resistant varieties and your work to keep them healthy will be much easier. Avoid diseases such as powdery mildew by watering at the roots and also keeping plants pruned back to allow for sufficient air flow around the foliage.
  10. Display your results – Gardening isn’t any fun unless you have something to show for it. When your roses are blooming, don’t be afraid to cut some flowers to put in a vase or share with a friend. After all, they’re the flowers of love!

Deer‐Resistant Perennials and Useful Tips for Planting in the Northeast

You take pride in your landscaping and we take pride in ensuring you, our valued  customers, have a positive experience in creating beautiful areas on your property.

We also know that in this area, we experience issues with deer feeding on our plants and flowers. We have compiled a list of deer‐resistant perennials, as well as some useful tips and options for keeping deer away. A deer‐resistant perennial is defined as a perennial plant or flower that deer may overlook and not eat in favor of a more preferred plant. Some deer‐resistant perennials are:

Broom (Genista tinctoria ) ‐ 3′ tall and wide, zones 3‐8, full sun. Conical‐shaped panicles up to 3″ long of golden yellow flowers adorn this deciduous shrub from spring to early summer. Adapts to poor soil.

Siberian Iris (Iris siberica) ‐ 28″ tall, zones 4‐9, full sun. Beautiful, grassy foliage makes a good contrast in any garden. Drought resistant but also does well in moist soil. Once established, there’s no weeding these expanding clumps.

Juniper (Juniperus sp.) ‐ Grows to a height of 3 to 10 feet with an equal spread. Form can be variable from low and spreading to an erect shrub. Cones are berry‐like. Leaves are evergreen needles but can turn light brown during the winter. Tolerant of a wide variety of soils. Grows best with full sun. Zones 2‐6. Native.

Peony (Paeonia sp.) ‐ 30‐36″ tall, zones 3‐8, full sun to part shade. Variety of colors, bloom times range from spring to early summer. Stunning cut flower. Avoid planting your peony too deeply and be patient with it as it can take a few years to settle in before it begins to flower ‐ the blooms are well worth the wait!

Oriental Poppy (Papaver Orientale) ‐ 30″ tall, zones 3‐7, full sun. Make your neighbors jealous with this superbly beautiful flower. Deeply cupped satiny petals, each with a pure black center, are borne above toothed, hairy foliage. Oriental poppies love to be planted in the fall for bloom the following spring. They love rich soil, feeding, and regular watering.

Potentilla (Potentilla cinquefoil) ‐ 2‐3′ tall, 5′ wide, zones 3‐7, full sun. White, pink, or yellow flowers throughout the summer. Blue‐green foliage, spreading habit. The name comes from the Greek word “potens,” meaning powerful, from reputed medicinal qualities. Enjoy the summer‐long flowering qualities of these selections and your deer will leave the taste testing to the drug companies. These tough, deciduous shrubs thrive in almost any soil.

Spiraea (Spirea sp.) ‐ Grows 2 feet high with 3 to 4 feet spread. Early bloomer with luxurious shows of white flowers. Yellow‐red new growth makes this spirea attractive all season. Best in full sun, tolerates shade, but will flower less. Moist soil. Zones 4 –8.

Ornamental Chives (Allium sp.) ‐ 6‐12” tall, zones 4‐9, full sun. Globe‐shaped flowers fascinate folks with their gravity‐defying structure. Even though many Alliums are all under a foot tall, they will catch your eye, accenting shrubs or borders. Foliage has enough onion smell to keep those deer at bay.

Northern Bayberry (Myrica pensylvanica) ‐ Typically grows from 5 to 6 feet high but can reach 10 feet. Spreads easily and forms colonies. Foliage is semi evergreen, aromatic. Will grow well in dry, infertile, sandy, acidic soils. Grows best in full sun but will tolerate partial shade. Zones 2‐6. Native.

Other options include deer fencing, noisemakers, and deer repellents. Fencing seems to be the surest option, but selecting deer‐resistant perennials is highly recommended. Visit the Garden Center and our staff will help you pick the right perennial for the right place.

Beautiful Blooming Bulbs

Flowering BulbsThere’s nothing more exciting after a long winter than seeing little shoots of green popping up through the ground and new flowers showing their faces soon after. In order to have spring blooms, however, there’s some planning ahead that is required. Here are some of our favorite tips for choosing and planting bulbs that will make your spring yard a blooming paradise:

Choose quality bulbs

Beautiful blooms start with high quality bulbs. Be sure to check them for firmness and freshness (you want them firm and full, not mushy and moldy). In general, the larger the bulb the larger the bloom. Purchasing bulbs locally from the garden center will allow you to personally inspect them before you buy.

Pick the right planting area

Like any plant, bulbs require proper conditions in order to survive and thrive. Most prefer full sun and soil that drains well, both of which will help prevent bulb rot, but be sure to ask us if you are unsure of the ideal planting area for the bulbs you have chosen.

Plant at the proper time

What time of year you plant the bulbs is determined by when you want to see blooms. For early spring flowers, bulbs should be planted in the fall when the soil is cooler. For summer blooms, plant bulbs in the spring after the last frost date.

Plant at the right depth and position

One of the most common concerns regarding bulb planting is how deep and in which direction to plant them. In general, they should be planted in a hole that is two or three times the height of the bulb. Not every bulb is exactly the same, however, so be sure to read instructions carefully or ask us for help. If the bulb has a pointed end, plant it with that end up; otherwise, look for roots and they should be planted down.

Soil, water, and mulch

To ensure that your bulbs get the nutrients they need, add compost to the soil and make sure that the soil drains well. Furthermore, bulbs require watering, just like any other plant- just make sure they don’t stay too wet. Adding several inches of mulch on top of the planting area will help keep weeds at bay and won’t prevent the bulbs from poking through.

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.    

Basic Rules of Pruning

Tree PruningEarly spring is by far the best time to prune your shrubs and trees. Dormant pruning (shortly before the spring growth starts) minimizes the amount of time fresh wounds are exposed. Also, pruning before there are leaves allows you to make better decisions because the structure of the plant is not obscured by leaves.

However, trees and shrubs that bloom early in the growing season on last year’s growth should be pruned immediately after they finish blooming. Some examples include azalea, chokeberry, forsythia, magnolia, or early blooming spirea.

Shrubs grown primarily for their foliage should be pruned prior to when their spring growth begins and some examples include barberry, burning bush, and honeysuckle.

Some trees such as maples, butternuts, walnuts, and birch trees have free flowing sap in the late winter or early spring. While this is generally not a major concern, unless you are into syrup making, pruning of these species can be done in late spring or early summer to avoid the loss of sap.

Rules for Pruning Trees

According to the Arbor Day Foundation, you should follow these steps when pruning your trees.
  1. Begin visual inspection at the top of the tree and work downward.
  2. Use The ⅓ and ¼ Rules of Pruning
    • Never remove more than ¼ of a tree’s crown in a season
    • Ideally, main side branches should be at least ⅓ smaller than the diameter of the trunk.
    • For most deciduous (broadleaf) trees, don’t prune up from the bottom any more than ⅓ of the tree’s total height.
    • Where possible, try to encourage side branches that form angles that are ⅓ off vertical that form “10 o’clock” or “2 o’clock” angles with the trunk.
  3. For most species, the tree should have a single trunk. Identify the best leader and lateral branches before you begin pruning and remove defective parts before pruning for form.
  4. Don’t worry about protecting pruning cuts. For aesthetics, you may feel better painting large wounds but it doesn’t prevent or reduce decay.
  5. Keep tools sharp. One-hand pruning shears with curved blades work best on young trees.
  6. For high branches use a pole pruner. A major job on a big tree should be done by a professional arborist.
  7. For larger branches, cut outside the branch bark and ridge collar (swollen area). Do not leave a protruding stub. If the limb is too small to have formed a collar cut close.
  8. When simply shortening a small branch, make the cut at a lateral bud or another lateral branch. Favor a bud that will produce a branch that will grow in desired direction (usually outward). The cut should be sharp and clean and made at a slight angle about ¼ inch beyond the bud.

Many homeowners are leery of pruning around their yard and we understand! It can be scary to cut something back and hope you did it right and aren’t killing your tree or bush. However, pruning is vital for maintaining healthy growth. If you are unsure, feel free to give us a call and our Landscape Maintenance team would be more than happy to come out and take care of the pruning for you.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Bloomerang
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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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
Asparagus
Tomatoes, parsley, basil
Beans
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
Carrots
Peas, leaf lettuce, chives, onions, leeks,
rosemary, sage, tomatoes
Dill
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
PepperOnion
PumpkinsCornPotatoes
RadishesPeas, nasturtiums, lettuce, melons, cucumbersHyssop
SoybeansGrows with anything, helps everything
SpinachStrawberries, eggplant
SquashNasturtiums, cornPotatoes
StrawberriesBush beans, spinach, borage, lettuce (as a border), onionsCabbage
SunflowersCucumbersPotatoes
TomatoesChives, onions, parsley, asparagus, marigolds, nasturtiums, carrotsCorn, Kohlrabi
TurnipsPeas

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.

Best Perennial Ground Covers for Zone 5a

Best Perennial Ground CoverFew gardening areas are as daunting as U.S. Department of Agriculture Zone 5a, with its winter lows reaching -20 to -15 degrees Fahrenheit and short growing season. Even Zone 4 has specific needs and techniques for successful gardening. When looking for the best perennials for these zones, you typically want to look for plants that can handle low temperatures and extreme weather.

Virginia Creeper

Hardy in zones 3-9, this great plant has five-leaflet leaves, and displays a bright scarlet-red fall color. It attaches itself to any vertical support and climbs quickly, but on flat surfaces makes a dense ground cover that discourages weeds. It grows in sun or shade, and puts out greenish-white flowers in midsummer that are followed by ornamental but poisonous blue berries.

Snow-in-Summer

This ground cover grows 6-12 inches tall, and looks like a carpet of grayish-green foliage covered with white flowers in midsummer. It thrives in zones 3-7 in full sun and can tolerate both dry and moist soil.

Stonecrops

This beautiful little plant grows well in zones 4-9, forming a 1-2 inch mat of foliage in sun or light-shade, and has golden yellow flowers in spring.

Common bearberry

It’s a hardy, prostrate shrub with intricate branching that often forms mats up to 3 feet wide, by runners. Fragrant, white bell-shaped flowers tinged with pink are borne in May and followed later in the season by red berries. The common bearberry’s stunning red stems are studded with small, glossy, evergreen leaves.

Northern maidenhair fern

Northern maidenhair fern’s curved fronds have wiry black stems that wave in the wind. This plant spreads slowly (by branching rhizomes) and eventually forms large colonies. Its delicate texture looks most beautiful when paired with broad-leaved plants.

Lily of the Valley

Lily of the valley’s bell-shaped, sweetly scented flowers bloom in early spring. It likes partial to full shade and is perfect for a woodland garden. It may not be the best choice for your beds and borders because it tends to spread, but it is a perfect ground cover if you have a large shady spot under some trees.