Growing your own anticipation!

Believe it. Small growing efforts can begin to help your budget and your life! No really! Growing your own herbs and vegetables can not only make an impact on your grocery bill, but it can also provide an entertaining focus for the family. It's easy to grasp the grocery bill-reducer part, you say, but providing entertainment for the family sounds a bit out there!

Hear me out. Watching plants grow and being a part of their care is a fun challenge, stimulates curiosity, and provides daily bonding time for the whole family, even tweens and teens. Plus, there is an energizing “Anticipation Factor.” It happens naturally. Anticipation builds as you begin to look forward to picking and eating your very own herbs, tomatoes, onions, peppers, green beans, zucchini, etc. Not only that, you get to use them to "green-up" and enhance the taste of special homemade recipes, transforming them into fantastic comfort foods! Can you smell the aroma of freshly picked zucchini and tomatoes, sautéed with fresh basil and garlic, coming from the family dinner table?


So, do you want to consider greening up, saving on produce, and boosting the "Anticipation Factor" at your house? Here are a few simple options:

  • In April you can start seeds indoors. Later, plant them outdoors when they are a few inches tall.

  • Buy small herb and vegetable plants.  Either plant them in your garden or in pots in a sunny spot.   For pots use potting soil laced with fertilizer.  Here's the SECRET...ALWAYS water and fertilize your hole before placing the plant in the soil, even if your soil has fertilizer already! It gives the plant roots a terrific jump start!  You will see amazing results.

  • For an interesting arrangement, place three different heights of herb-filled pots on a sunny deck, balcony, patio, or garden bed. It's practical for watering and creates a dramatic focal point anywhere you put it.

  • Place a window box full of herbs near the kitchen door. It will be a snap to pick a few herbs to add to the pot while you are cooking. How fresh is that!

  • You can also mix herbs into flower boxes.  Their leaf shape and color variations will punch up the color plan, add texture, and give a special bonus of tantalizing smells.  What a treat!

  • Take a few minutes to observe your plants daily. WATER EVERY DAY unless it rains. No missing. It's critical. You will be amazed how fast they grow!

Choose one or all of these simple steps to get you started. You may find yourself sharing some fresh pickings with your friends and neighbors after they've tasted those yummy homemade dishes at your house. You may even find yourself trading your herbs and veggies for other varieties from friends doing the same thing. Who knows? You may even go so far as rallying your friends to start a neighborhood plot for next year!

Growing your own can start from a simple step. Need some encouragement? Come to Pickering and we'll help you get started right away. Pickering will be sure to thank you. Your family and friends, and maybe even your community, will thank you too!

How a little gardening know-how can provide a season of joyful bliss and the gratifying results of a beautiful garden.
Written by Tom Rhoads
While there are countless and seemingly dauntless steps involved from the start of any gardening project to the finished landscape, gardening projects can all be made easier by following several basic general rules of thumb. Having a well planned approach is the first and most imperative step for any gardening or landscape project to be a full success. Ask any gardener of any skill level, getting started requires careful planning and the need to keep an envisioned end in mind. Yet another aspect to remember is the importance of selecting plants that are appropriate for the desired location in which you are planning to place them. Remember, plants grow, and placement should not be overlooked as you want to create a well balanced and blended flow throughout the garden bed. Considerations for this should also include combining elements such as the use of color, textures, along with bloom, shapes, and varying sizes at maturity, ultimately bringing together an integrated and spectacular garden. Spacing additionally brings into play determining factors as in the effectiveness of your perceived layout and the specimens to be used in the garden. Based on fundamentals such as the size to which the plant will grow, the tolerable exposure, and the soil content accompanied by the need or lack of water required for the plant specimen to thrive and excel in the environment in which it is to be placed. Other noteworthy considerations of a well designed garden are inclusive of grouping specimens in odd numbers such as threes, fives, sevens, etc., giving a uniformed balanced appearance that is easy on the eyes, but also to give maximum impact and impact to the gardens individualistic desired style.
Spring Gardening
As the snow and ice begin to melt away a great deal is taking place and occurring within your garden before your very eyes! Invisible to the eye, what I am speaking of is the penned up and stored energies coming to life in spring bulbs that have been dormant all winter long. It is now that the returning sun warms the earth, incubating these, the first of the emerging blooms of the season brightening the way for annuals, perennials, and flowering trees alike. Preparations for a spring gardening start well before the first snow has fallen, as it is best to plant bulbs in early fall, allowing for the bulbs to become accustom to the earth in which they will remain entombed over the winter months before making their grand reappearance in the spring. When planting bulb such as popular daffodils, tulips, or crocus one should not overlook the importance of bulb food to aid in their effort for a spectacular spring blooms, but also to help them grow and multiply while underground. Bulbs should only be dug up to be divided every several years. This process will help regenerate more dynamic blooms, as well as allow for propagation and division of young bulb offspring that have come from that single parent bulb. Remember the pointy end of the bulb should always point towards the ski and it is a good idea to layer the bulbs you select for your plantings. Place the taller bulbs in the back of your garden design and shorter ones in front to get full impact with your plantings. By the time spring bulbs begin to recede and go dormant once more, we are fortunate enough to be graced with spring annuals like the spunky and bright faced presence of spring pansies. Pansies can be planted safely generally as early as late March or early April depending on the weather, but let it be known that these are true cool weather bloomers. Cool and cold weather do not phase these tough bloomers of spring and the late fall. When the weather warms up the blooms do start to cease and the green foliage turns brown. But for early brilliant color, pansies make great lively addition to any garden or landscape. Also think about putting this flower in a small bowl on a table or in a nook or corner on a house or walkway as a cheerful impact element. They also make great early season border specimens that can be replaced by warm weather annual flowers that will carry on filling your garden with color for the remainder of the growing season.
Getting started with annuals
Annual flowers are most covenanted for utilizing their uniqueness and dramatic impact. Annuals can be used in a variety of applications in virtually any setting in the garden. Expand their locations not limiting them solely to the garden but; window box gardening, patio gardens, hanging baskets. The opportunities only end where the imagination and creativity stop. As with selecting any plant know the characteristics of the specimen and what it needs to succeed in your yard. A well designed and executed annual garden includes a varying selection and stagger placement of annuals with the criteria of different heights, flower shapes, textures, and a reoccurring element such as once specific usage on one particular plant Several popular and proven successful annuals that have found their way in to the front gardening selection of customers are: Alyssum, Angelonia, Begonias, Cleome, Coleus, Fanflower, Geraniums, Lobelia, Marigolds, Nasturtiums, Nierembergia, Petunias, Portulaca, Salvia, Snapdragon, Vinca, and Zinnia. As is the scenario with any living plant whether you plant them as seedlings or purchase them as started packets, feeding annuals fertilizes is crucial to bolstering new growth and to rejuvenate along with flush out new blooms all season long.
Why Perennials ?

There are many advantages one can gain form creating and planting a perennial garden that make these types of plants far grater appealing to many gardeners over just obtaining an annual landscaped garden. Stating the obvious perennials offer the intrinsic value returning in the garden year after year. While perennials in general cost more then annual flowers, their inherit value is far outreaching in a garden, providing continual riveting blooms and foliage from spring through fall. Perennials make great garden and landscape enhancers as every year you can ad a few more perennials providing an abundance of beauty and color while eliminating the future need to replant annuals year after year. One way to get the most out of your hard worked efforts is to make the majority of landscaped plants perennials and ad annuals throughout the landscape to ad variety and blocks of color. Again, perennials are not a once and done thing. Perennials require maintenance and upkeep. Perennial flowers need pruning, fertilization, deadheading, propagation, and stalking to perform and look their best.