Vertical Gardening & ‘Living Walls’

This new and trendy way of gardening is becoming more popular by the day. It’s a convenient and practical way to garden for those that don’t have the horizontal space that traditional gardening requires or even any kind of outdoor plot like those living in high rise apartments, condominiums etc. It’s also a great way to add individuality to a plain and boring wall in your home. This one-of-a-kind garden can be an enticing next step for those with limited space options or looking for a conversation piece. Vertical gardening is a new trend that’s been talked a lot about in magazines, gardening blogs, books and more. Instead of keeping gardening on a strictly horizontal plane, vertical gardening involves growing plants up in various ways. Not only is it appealing to the eye and extremely fascinating, but it also has a practical application for those needing a way to be able to garden in the limited space they have. There are a number of different types of vertical gardening. Traditional vertical gardening is recognized by climbing vines growing on structures like walls or trellises. Tiered gardening is a different practice that’s used to grow plants effectively on hills to prevent erosion. The newest addition to the vertical gardening world most talked about lately involves planting all the way up or using a portion of vertical space called “green or living walls”. These types of walls seem to defy gravity and are similar to green roofs except the plants are grown on wall-type structures. Any number of plants can work for vertical gardening. We find this extremely fascinating, so let’s talk about building a ‘living wall’ or ‘vertical garden’.

What kind of Plants Can I Choose:

There are many varieties to choose from but here are a few suggestions;

Hydrangeas, Daisies, Dianthus, Thyme, Lilies, Begonias, Clematis, Grasses, Hostas, Vinca, Spiderwort, Lily of the Valley, Helleborus, Ferns, Lavender, Sedum, Violets, Coneflower, Valerian, Bee Balm, Hibiscus, Crimson Clover, Iris, Daylilies, Nasturtium, Sempervivium, Yarrow and so much more.

How Do I Do It?

-Choose a “theme” for the wall, either a particular site condition (full sun, full shade, windy, sea exposure…) or an idea (edible, herbs, springtime, fall color, etc.).
Define the colors, starting with a dominant color or two and then some secondary colors to complement or contrast.  Pick one or two colors to avoid.
Select at least two varieties from the following catagories: Draping, Eye-Catching and Fillers
- Use the “Draping” plants, which should drape down to cover the edges of the Pockets, as a “frame” along the side edges, and mixed into the bottom edge
Next add the “Eye-Catching” plants as focal points and to create dynamic visuals
- Finally, use the “Fillers” to fill in and cover the Pockets between the other plants. Use big, full plants!  The wall should look as full and lush as possible immediately upon planting, with as little Pocket showing as possible.

What Are the Benefits:

  • Substantially improves indoor air quality naturally
  • Increases indoor oxygen levels
  • Reduces energy consumption
  • Significant cost savings
  • Unique and beautiful addition to décor
  • The look and feel of a green, lush garden in a vertical space

Where do I get the Materials such as pockets, watering supplies and more to build my wall? For Supplies Contact Us for More Information 855.846.9453 – We will have all sorts of supplies Available to Order Online in April 2012!!

For Plants or Seeds (if you wish to start the seeds and move them into your wall) – Visit Our Perennial Plants or Seed Sections on our Website!

 

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Starting Vegetable & Herb Seeds Indoors

There are some really good reasons to start your vegetables & herbs indoors from seed and many folks purchase now to do just that.

WHY START SEEDS INDOORS?

Starting your seeds indoors you are approx. 4-6 weeks ahead of crops started by seed in spring directly sown into the ground. It’s great if you live in areas where summer heat comes fast or you have short growing seasons like those in the Northeast and Midwest. Where it heats up fast, this can mean the difference between a good crop of spring vegetables that like the cool temps such as peas, head lettuces, cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower and not getting a good crop. If you live in areas like those of us in Vermont that have short summers, heat-loving plants like tomatoes will get in the ground sooner from the seedlings you have started indoors and you’ll be able to harvest before the cool weather sets back in and enjoy them. The plants that you have sown indoors will be heartier and able to withstand summer temps better. Sowing from seed in or outdoors also allows you better varieties to choose from than picking up young plants at local nurseries or garden centers. You can try all kinds of different veggies, herbs etc. It is also less expensive to grow your own vegetables and herbs from seed than to buy already established plants. Finally, you have more control because you don’t have to wait until all chance of frost has passed and for the ground to warm up sufficiently and you don’t have to worry about any seeds rotting in cool, damp soil. Of course, there are some reasons not to start from seed and just buy the plants – its less times consuming and getting the young plants already established from garden centers even though you’re paying a much higher cost is just plain easier. Be bold and try it yourself, it is a great satisfaction to know you started ahead of time and a great winter project!!

THINGS YOU WILL NEED:

Here is the list of things you will need, you don’t need to buy anything fancy or costly.

1. – Potting mix that is light and airy with a loose texture. Purchasing a germinating mix specifically to aid in seed germination is also a good idea. Just make sure that whatever you purchase is a good blend. Seeds don’t like a heavy soil.

2. –   A south facing or sunny window.

3. -   Sticks or small garden markers – popsicle sticks are perfect and cheap.

4. – Waterproof pen or pencil

5. – Clear plastic wrap or bags.

6. – Fertilizer – soluble like 15.15.15.

7. – Containers that are approx. 2-3 inches wide and 2-3 inches deep. We use plastic trays but you can also use peat pots, cut off milk or juice cartons (make sure you wash them out) or even something like Dixie cups or small pots. Just make sure that whatever container you choose it has holes or you can make holes in it for drainage.

NOTE: whatever container you choose, according to our tried and true methods, you will not have to transplant into larger containers but directly to your garden. We do not do transplanting such as this because by keeping them in their starter containers the plants root balls stay compact and intact which allows for healthier, sturdier plants, plus crops that grow on vines don’t like their roots disturbed. Just make sure that the growing container you choose is not too small. Also, if using trays you can grow your whole garden in that tray. You don’t need a separate tray for each species. A tray with a maximum of 30 individual cells is perfect.

 LET’S GET STARTED

 First, your seedlings are going to be inside 6-10 weeks or approx. 2 months before your final frost date so that’s when you will begin your seed indoors. Our average final date of frost is usually between Mother’s Day and Memorial Day weekend so we start our seed indoors at the end of March. It’s not an exact science so just adjust if you need to and if you have your plants indoors a bit longer than expected, don’t worry, you’ll just have bigger and heartier plants when the time comes to move them outside.

Planting Steps:

-       Fill your containers with the potting mix you purchased and make sure it is pre-moistened. To do this, put your soil in a larger container and wet it through – not soggy, just moist.

-       Level out the soil in the containers, using your hand is just fine.

-       Sow your seed into the mix. If using a tray 1-2 seeds per unit are enough. If using bigger pots or containers then use 3-4 seeds. If sown too thickly you can always thin out one or two but you don’t want to have too many and we don’t like to transplant, so better to start out on the lower side.

-       Press the seeds for a good seed to soil contact and then sprinkle a bit more soil on top, just enough to cover the seeds. Usually seeds should be planted 4 times their diameter. Just read the seed packet for each species you are planting for specific depth.

-       Use your sticks and a waterproof pen and note the variety of each vegetable or herb you have planted and the date you planted and stick it in the unit. It’s good to do this when you are growing multiple varieties so you can remember what you planted for when you move them outside.

-       Place the planted container inside a plastic bag and close it or if using a tray cover with the plastic wrap making sure that the plastic does not hit the soil surface. You won’t water again until germination/sprouts occur.

Note: Make sure that you don’t put your new plantings in cool or drafty areas or even one that is too warm like directly on the window sill. You don’t put anything on the windowsill until your new seeding has germinated and sprouted. While waiting for germination you want a nice, evenly warm spot. Placing in direct sun is too dehydrating or can cause too much moisture which make the seeds rot. We like to put ours on top of the refrigerator, table or other large surface.

-       As soon as your seeds sprout or have broken through the surface, remove the plastic bags or wrap.

-       Seedlings usually appear within 10 -14 days. If, by chance, they do not, don’t fret. Sometimes a few varieties can take up to 3 weeks. This happens with too much moisture, cold or drafts.  If they don’t appear at all, just remove the dirt, put in new and start again and make sure you improve the planting conditions. Gardening is not an exact science and sometimes trial and error is needed.

-       Once your new seedlings have sprouted they will now need full sun. You can move them to the window sill or if you don’t have a sunny window to put them by you will have to have the proper lighting equipment.

-       Make sure that wherever you put them there are not great temperature fluctuations and if there are,  just move them back from the windows at night.

 CARING FOR YOUR NEW SEEDLINGS:

 -       Start watering your new plants. Check daily to judge how fast your plantings dry out. You can check this by putting your finger in the soil to check for moisture. Water with room temperature water so you don’t shock the new seedlings.

-       Make sure you don’t over water and wash away your seeds. You can water from the bottom by filling the drain saucers and letting the water soak its way to the surface of your plantings. Once the top is moist, remove the water at the bottom. You can also water by using a spray bottle and misting them with a fine spray. Make sure if using this method you get the soil too!

-       3-4 weeks after your plants are established you can add some completely soluble fertilizer to the water. Only fertilize once or twice before moving them outside to your garden. You don’t want fast growth, just a bit of food to keep them healthy.

-       Once your seedlings have been indoors for 6-8 weeks you will want to start getting them acclimated to the outdoors. You can do this by putting them outside for 2-3 hours on a sunny day in full sun and then bring them back inside. Repeat this process once during the same day. Do this for a week or so and then start leaving them outside all day and night providing that it doesn’t freeze.

PLANTING IN THE GARDEN:

Once it’s time to plant outside in your garden take a few steps to insure success.

- Transplant in the late afternoon or when the sun is low. This keeps them from drying out.

- Make sure they are watered sufficiently before you plant.

- Make sure the soil you are planting them in is moist as well.

- Plant the top of the root ball evenly with the top of your hole.

- Don’t disturb the root ball or try to as little as possible.

- Water them well after you have planted to make sure the soil settles properly.

- Keep them well watered the first couple of days to make sure they establish properly, after that treat them like any other plants.

There is nothing very complicated about doing this and you will have success. It’s cheap, gratifying and well worth the wait when those delicious homegrown veggies and herbs are ready to harvest.

Eat, Enjoy and Be Healthy!

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January May Be A Boring Gardening Month – So, Spice It UP!

Lots of folks ask us what is the most boring garden month or what do you guys do in January? We’d agree that for getting outside and gardening, January can be a boring month. As for ourselves, we are very busy planning for spring for both our store and website but we can recommend some things you can do too. January is the quietest month for gardening in the north and for most of the rest of the country, but you can spice it up and be productive, as it is the best time to assess your gardens, make plans for expansion, add new species, remove those no longer desired and more. So, curl up on a cold winter’s day and make your plans. While not all catalogs are out, as many like us send in early March, browse through the ones you have received and keep the ones you like something in and discard the ones you don’t while you wait for the rest to arrive. It is also a good time to make a list of chores, a shopping list and an outline of your plan of attack for spring. So, really there are many things you can do both inside and outside, depending on the day, to get a big head start on all your spring and summer garden chores.

Here are a few suggestions:

Outside on Perfect Winter Days (If you’re not out skiing, fishing, sledding or enjoying the outdoors).

If you find that perfect winter day, you know, the kind of day with not-too-deep snow, bright and sunny, get out and prune. Fruit trees, like older apple and pear trees, benefit from a cleanup, even in winter.

Feed The Birds and Other Animals, get out some feeders or if you don’t have any buy some feed/seed and clear an area and throw some out for them. Those beautiful birds and other creatures that don’t hibernate and grace your summer gardens are hungry!!

Take a Walk around your property and look for dead, damaged, diseased wood in trees and shrubs and prune them as you find them. This is especially important in winter, with its harsher weather, where weaknesses left in place will invite tearing and do unnecessary extra damage.

Do A Mole Patrol – get out and survey smaller garden areas for moles. Those creatures are out doing dandy work at this time of year! Moles produce two types of runways (tunnels): sub-surface runways and deep runways. While you can’t do anything in winter about the deeper runways you can take some steps to stop the sub-surface ones in smaller gardens . These are the ones that cause unsightly surface appearances. We take a natural route by finding the active tunnels in smaller garden areas. (you can do this by collapsing the tunnel with a stick and then waiting a day or two to see if it is rebuilt) Once you find an active tunnel, dig a small hole and place mothballs in strategic places along the tunnel. It is a time consuming job and yes, the mole will tunnel in a different direction but if you are diligent for a few weeks, you can direct them lower to the deeper runways or direct them out of the garden completely. We don’t think you’ll want to try the larger areas during winter; you will have to use other methods of eradication in spring.

Look for beetle egg cases on bare viburnum twigs now through April. Remove the cases by pruning the affected wood which will help to reduce larvae and beetle issues. The cases are usually on the underside of young branches. This will give you a head start with this issue, but in late April-June, check again and wipe off with a warm soapy rag any you may have missed.

Indoors on Winter Days

Inventory any seeds you may have collected from your gardens to see which you want to keep and those that are viable. Try doing a couple of tests for germination by planting a few of those seeds in a sunny window. Throw those not viable and keep the others in a cool, dry place with no humidity or temperature variations to plant in spring.

Start a Journal outlining ideas for this year’s gardens. Get an inexpensive journal, notebook or similar item and start making a list of what you want to accomplish this year. Write down the names of sources and items you wish to purchase. Draw out a garden plan to show where everything will be placed (you don’t have to be an artist). Make some calls to those sources you wish to purchase from with any questions you may have.

Check drawers, boxes and anywhere else you have stored old seeds or thrown half-used packets etc. that may be more than a few years old. Write down a list of those you wish to get again and throw the rest. Veggie and Herb seeds packets have ‘use by’ dates so you can discard those if the date has gone by. For wildflower seeds purchased from us, we guarantee our seed as long as they have been stored properly for quite a few years. So, even if you don’t remember when you bought them, sow the left over seed if it still looks viable and see what happens.

Check your houseplants for signs of pests like spider mites, mealy bugs and other insects. If tackled before they get out of control, non-chemical methods are usually successful: a simple shower with insecticidal soap spray or with the more tenacious (like mealy bugs) sometimes an alcohol swab and Q-tip. Sometimes just washing the leaves with a soapy water does the trick.  Overwatering is the biggest no-no to houseplants during winter…so take it easy. Start some pots of flowers like begonias, violets, cyclamen or other house plants or try your hand at a Bonsai. It’s always fun to add to your collection. Trim or re-pot existing plants that need it.  

That’s a good start and as we get closer to February we’ll be listing lots of new items for you to browse. We’ve already put out 9 new Wildflower Discount Combos and don’t forget our Perennial Plants and Spring Bulbs are on Advance Sale at 50% off! Think spring and stay warm!

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Gardening With Us – Welcome!

Welcome to The Vermont Wildflower Farm’s New ‘Gardening With Us’ Blog, an exciting online forum designed to share our wildflower gardening experiences, tips, how-to articles, advice and answer any questions you may have. Like the Vermont Wildflower Farm itself, our blog is a place for discovery, insight, and fun! As an enhancement to your overall experience with both our Retail & Garden location and Website – we’ve gathered stories, observations, photos, extensive gardening tips on all the subjects you could possibly want and more which we hope will give you complete access to everything we offer as well as everything we know (which is ‘wildly’ overwhelming!)

Visit us often to read notes from the field, browse our photos and videos, hear the latest gardening trends, and keep up on ‘what’s new’ at the Vermont Wildflower Farm. Blog postings will be made primarily by us but we also have several guest writers lined up who will share articles and stories about their passion for gardening. And of course, we want to hear your comments, stories, inspirational garden journeys, favorite gardening stories, tips, photos, and more. We hope you’ll enjoy our new community designed to promote gardening and pique your curiosity for the beautiful world of flowers and all that it brings.

Very Truly Yours,

Chris and Diana Borie, Owners – Vermont Wildflower Farm

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