Native Wildflower Plantings Step-by-Step!

Native Wildflower Planting

If you’re thinking of adding a field of native wildflowers to your property there are a few steps to take that will help your efforts to succeed! Since Autumn is a great time to plant for spring flowers, it’s the perfect time to begin planning.

  1. Prepare your site. You wouldn’t simply scatter lettuce seeds in a field of weeds and expect a good harvest, would you? Any kind of planting will require some preparation, including wildflowers. If the area you’ve chosen to plant is mostly level, a rototiller will do a great job. If you till again after two weeks you’ll kill any weeds that may have sprouted, giving your seeds a better chance of thriving. If you’re swapping out lawn for wildflowers, a sod cutter will make swift work of getting you to ground level.
  2. Determine your Soil type. The three basic types of soil are sand, silt, and clay. Sand drains very fast and dries out quickly. If your soil is mostly sand, you’ll want to select a wildflower mix labeled “dry”. Silt (also called loam) has plenty of organic matter to hold moisture without being too soggy. Mixes labeled “medium” or “mesic” will do well in this soil. Clay is very dense and drains slowly. Since it holds water that can quickly rot some species, you’ll want to select a mix labeled “wet” for wildflowers that will thrive.

    Lewis Flax grows well in Medium soil
  3. How much Light will there be? Is the area shaded by nearby trees, or is it in the open sun? If the spot gets less than 2 hours of full sun in a day, you’ll need a mix designed for “woodland” areas. Partial sun means there’s shade for just part of the day. This is considered a “savanna” setting. Full sun is also called a “prairie” setting, and you’ll find the most variety of species available for this one.

    Purple Prairie Clover grows in zones 3-9
  4. Decide when to plant. Some people like to rototill their field in late May or early June to kill the first batch of weeds before planting. However, this means the seeds won’t have a cold wet period to help them germinate, and you’ll need to use stratification first. (See this post explaining how to stratify your seeds.) Fall is the best time to plant wildflowers since it mimics the conditions they need in the wild. The cold winter months will stratify the seeds for you, improving germination. You can plant right after the first hard frost, up until there’s snow cover. The seeds can be scattered right over the frozen ground, and the frost action will help them work into the soil over winter.
  5. Select your seeds. It will be helpful to know exactly which wildflowers will thrive in your area. Since you already determined your soil and light conditions, one easy way to narrow down your options is to visit Everwilde.com and hover over the Wildflower Seeds tab. Select your growing region from the window that opens. Then you’ll be able to scroll down and select your soil type, USDA zone, and how much light you have. You can even choose blooming time, flower color, plant height and other factors to narrow your options further. To choose mixes that are a blend of varieties that will thrive in your region, type “wildflower mixes” into the search bar.

    Colorful Wildflower Mix
  6. Start Planting! Smooth the area by raking or dragging. Add some filler to your seeds to help them spread evenly. Damp sand, vermiculite, and sawdust are good choices. If your seed mix covers 1,000 square feet, use about 5 gallons of filler. Spread the mixture by the handful, trying to scatter as evenly as possible. Try using half the mixture first, walking back and forth in one direction. Then go over it again perpendicular to the first pass. Rake again to cover the seeds (if the ground isn’t frozen). To ensure good contact with the soil, you can use a yard roller to press the seeds in place. Or just walk all over the area. To prevent erosion and hold in moisture, a light layer of mulch is helpful. This can be as simple as weed-free grass clippings.

Following these steps will increase your chances of a successful wildflower planting and hundreds of blooms for years to come! Remember that perennials planted from seed will usually bloom the second year, so some patience is required. Purchasing a few plants from your local nursery that will bloom the first year can help add color while you wait for the seed planting to burst into bloom.

For even more helpful information, take a look at our FAQ page HERE.

 

Copyright 2018 Everwilde Farms

Planting A Fall Garden in Summer

One of the best ways to extend your harvest is by planting a second crop to harvest at the very end of the growing season.  Many vegetables thrive in the cooler temperatures of early Fall and will perform even better than if they had been planted in the Spring.

Fall Vegetables

What are the best choices for a Fall crop? Salad greens and spinach plants are fast-growing and thrive in cooler temperatures. You can even try planting these well into Fall, protected by a plastic tunnel. Spinach is so hardy it may produce well into winter!

Spinach

Turnips and radishes will be ready in less than a month and are another great choice for second plantings. Beets, carrots, green onions, Chinese cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower are all ideal candidates. They will tolerate a light frost, which actually makes them even sweeter!

Broccoli

How will you know when to plant a Fall crop? The easiest method to use is to figure out your region’s first frost date. Then check the back of the seed packet to see how many days that plant will take to reach maturity. Subtract that many days from the first frost date, and then subtract another 2 weeks just to be safe. That’s the date you should plant your Fall crop.

For example, Bloomsdale Spinach takes 45 days to harvest. If your last frost date is September 15th, you’ll count back 45 days to August 1st. If you add a 2-week buffer, that gives you a planting date of July 22nd.

Fall crops will make the most of your growing space by giving you two harvesting seasons. After your tomatoes, peas and other summer crops have finished producing, you can pull them out and use the same space for the next planting of Fall crops. Don’t forget to mulch and water as needed, and you’ll enjoy a bounty of fresh produce when your neighbor’s garden is long gone!

 

Copyright 2018, Everwilde Farms

5 Ways to Care For Your Summer Garden

You made it through the spring garden season! All your plants are thriving, you may even be harvesting early crops by now. But even though spring seeding and planning felt busy, summer is actually the busiest time of year for the gardener. Here are five simple tips to help you stay on track.

Late Summer Vegetables and Flowers

Mulching. Adding a couple inches of mulch over the soil will help it retain moisture and stay cooler in the hot months. Grass clippings, straw, shredded wood or leaves will all work just fine.

Hundreds of Weed Seeds!

Weeding. You’ve heard the expression “growing like a weed”, and summer is when that phrase comes to life! It’s easiest to pull weeds while they’re small and when the soil is moist. Early morning before the heat of the day can be a refreshing time to pull weeds. A good thick layer of mulch will help keep the weeds down, too.

Zinnias attract Pollinators!

Flower Care. Your spring-blooming flowers have faded by now, so go ahead and pull out any dead annuals. Remove faded blooms from any perennials that you don’t want to self-seed. Now is the time for heat-loving flower varieties to take center stage. If you planned ahead for summer color, you may already have some of these ready to burst into bloom. Salvia,  ZinniaCalendula, Blue Sage, and Candytuft are all great choices. Summer-blooming bulbs are planted in spring and are another great option for summer color. Canna, Calla lily, and Dahlias are a stunning addition to the garden.

To learn more about planning your flower garden, see This Blog Post on attracting pollinators.

Unwanted Garden Pest

Watch for Pests. Like weeding, this is an all-year chore. But during the heat of summer, pests seem to thrive and multiply almost as fast as the weeds. Not all insects are harmful, in fact, we want to encourage the beneficial pollinators like bees and butterflies. Ladybugs, praying mantis and dragonflies are also helpful, as they prey on other harmful insects.

There are natural methods we can employ to keep many pests at bay. Some gardeners use homemade insecticides like salt spray, mineral oil, or garlic spray. These will fight off pests without harming you or your plants. Row covers can keep bugs off while still letting in sunlight. Hand picking slugs and hornworms may be unpleasant, but removing any harmful bugs you find will make a big difference.

Fall Lettuce Crop

Start Your Fall Garden. Your warm-season vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and cucumbers are all going strong. But when the cool temperatures of fall begin, these plants will stop producing. You can extend the harvest season by planting fall crops now! Cool-season vegetables include broccoli, carrots, lettuce, kohlrabi, and spinach. Learn more about Fall Vegetable Gardening Here!

As we move toward fall and an abundant harvest, keep your garden healthy and thriving with these five tips!

 

Copyright 2018 Everwilde Farms

Grow Heirloom Flowers from Seed

Grow Heirloom Flowers from Seed

Heirloom flowers are not easy to define precisely, but you know them when you see them. Flashy spikes of Hollyhock rule the early summer garden; fragrant Four O’Clocks bring a smile at day’s end; the glorious spires of Larkspur blossoms light up the spring garden.

Good from seed Larkspur

Some call heirloom flower “pass-along plants,” because they are open-pollinated and you can save their seed, so once you have established a population in your garden, it’s a pleasure to save and package there seeds in pretty envelopes to pass along to gardening friends.

Treat yourself to these pleasures from the past. Although harder to find, as started plants in garden centers, Bachelor’s Buttons, and their various and sundry aptly named co-horts are easily grown from seed. For the price of a packet of seeds, these lovely, easily grown and often fragrant flowers will make your garden reign supreme
like regal plumes of foxgloves on a brilliant June morning.

Foxglove

These Time-honored Beauties will make your Garden Glow

Bachelors Buttons

Bachelors Buttons (Centaurea cyanus), traditionally
blue, come in a range of cool colors, and are dazzling in
a bouquet. Sow seed directly in a sunny spot in early
spring, or in fall, and thin the seedlings so they stand
about 6 inches apart. Plants can reach 3 feet in height
and are most effective in a mass. Stake them early on to
prevent flopping.

Balsam Impatiens (Impatiens balsamina) was a
popular garden flower 100 years ago, but the 18-inch
beauty is an unusual garden sight today. It grows easily
from seed sown in spring, adapts to sun or shade, and
attracts butterflies. And it has an interesting feature,
which makes it a great choice for children’s gardens:
when you squeeze mature seedpods, they explode!

Cleome (Cleome hassleriana) is a dramatic summer
presence. Seed can be sown in the spring or fall garden,
in sun or light shade. As the weather heats up, plants
zoom to 4 feet or more in height, and the characteristic
spidery seedpods appear. Hummingbirds love them!

Four O’Clocks (Mirabilis jalapa) got their name
because the flowers open in the evening, and close
sometime the next morning. Plant the seed in spring in
sun or part shade, then just sit back and let them grow
into shrub-like 2- to 3-foot plants. Flowers are lightly
scented and attract hummingbirds

Larkspur (Delphinium Consolida), an annual version of the 

famously finicky delphinium, is easy to grow and even
easier to love. Sow in a sunny spot in early spring, or in
fall, and thin to suit as seedlings appear. The colorful
spires reach 4 feet in height, and mix beautifully with
rose campion, another easy-from-seed beauty.

Love in a Mist (Nigella damascena) is romantically
beautiful at every stage of its growth. It is ethereal in
bud, elegant when the delicate purple flowers appear,
and interesting when flowers develop into striped,
balloon-like pods. Sprinkle the seed among perennial
flowers in spring or fall, and enjoy the combinations.
Plants grow to about 2 feet in height.

Sweet William

Sweet William (Dianthus barbatus) symbolizes
gallantry in the Victorian Language of Flowers. In the
garden it offers beauty and an intoxicating fragrance.
Sow this biennial directly in the garden in summer, in
sun or part shade, and it will bloom the following spring
and summer. Plants range in height from 1 to 3 feet.

‘Luminosa’ Zinnia

Zinnias (Zinnia elegans) are readily available in tall and
short forms, with many-shaped flowers. But the
heirloom variety ‘Lillyput’, with its small beehiveshaped
blooms, is a rare garden center sighting.
Introduced in the late 19th century, the disease-resistant
2-foot plants produce a profusion of perky pom-poms,
and perform as well as or better than modern hybrids.

 

Thanks to the Homegardenseedassiociation.com

Compost Basics: Garden Recycling

Compost at it’s simplest is decayed organic matter, known to gardeners as “Black Gold”. It makes a wonderful fertilizer and can be made from things you’d normally throw away. Starting your own compost pile may sound intimidating, but it’s really very simple!

Compost bins in the Garden

There are many compost bins and containers for sale, but they can be expensive. If you’re looking for a do-it-yourself option, you’ll find it’s not complicated to make your own. It can be as simple as taking a 32-gallon plastic garbage can with a lid, and drilling lots of holes in the sides, lid and bottom. Use a large drill bit so plenty of air can circulate. Start off your compost by filling the can about 1/3 full with straw, grass, and leaves, spray with a little water, then add kitchen waste.

Secure the lid with bungee cords, then every once and a while just tip the can over and roll it around in your yard for a while to mix the compost. This can be a fun job for kids! See how easy it is?

You only need four ingredients to make successful compost: air, water, brown material and green material. Green materials are nitrogen-rich, and brown materials are carbon-based. Here’s a quick explanation of each ingredient:

Air: Every couple of weeks or so you should aerate the pile by turning it with a shovel or pitchfork. Or if you’re using the garbage can method, roll it around. This lets air into the material so the microbes that break it all down can have oxygen to do their job. If there’s not enough air, the pile will start to smell bad.

Water: The pile should be kept moist, but not wet. It should be as damp as a wrung-out sponge. If you don’t get enough rain, just give it a spray with the hose now and then. Just don’t let it get soggy! If it’s not wet enough, it will take much longer to break down into compost.

Green Materials (Nitrogen): grass clippings, eggshells, feathers, tea bags, coffee grounds, fruit and veggie scraps. If your compost is damp and smells sweet but isn’t producing heat, you’ll need to work in more green stuff.

Brown Materials (Carbon): dry leaves, wood chips, shredded paper, sawdust, cardboard, straw, and hay.

With the right combination, your compost pile will get hot inside as those microbes work on decomposing the organic matter. This results in finished compost within 1-3 months. If you don’t get it right, that’s ok! It will all still break down in 6-12 months. So what is the right combination? A ratio of 2 parts brown to 1 part green material seems to be best. Simply add a thicker layer of dry leaves or straw before adding a layer of grass or food waste.

Tumbling bin system

Some gardeners recommend sprinkling a thin layer of soil in between layers, to provide a helpful environment for the microbes. You’ll want to locate your pile in full sun or partial shade.

Now that you know the basics, you probably can’t wait to start making your own compost! Just remember there are some “ingredients” that should never go into the compost pile:  bones, meat, dairy, cooking oils, magazine paper or plastic. And of course, no chemicals or feces.

When your compost has a warm brown color, crumbly texture, and a pleasant earthy odor, you’ll know it’s ready. So what do you do with it? You can use it like you would any fertilizer or potting soil. The structure of compost makes it the perfect environment for plant roots, providing good air and water space needed for strong root growth. It also contains beneficial microorganisms and helps to balance the pH of your soil.

Compost is Ready!

Compost can also be used as a mulch around your plants to hold in moisture. Try it as a top dressing on your yard too! Just rake an inch or so of compost into your grass and you’ll soon have the healthiest lawn in town! For a liquid fertilizer or “compost tea”, steep a shovel-full of compost in a 5-gallon bucket of water for a few days. Then pour it on your plants and flowers.

Creating your own compost from house and garden waste is so rewarding! When you have your first pile of “black gold” ready to use, we know you’ll be thrilled, and your garden will thank you!

Everwilde.com

Please visit our website for more great tips along with our Heirloom and Organic seeds!

Copyright 2018 Everwilde Farms

Grow Your Own Salad Mix: Lettuce and More!

We’ve all purchased those handy bags of salad mix at the grocery store, with the usual blend of iceberg lettuce, carrot shreds, and red cabbage. There’s something to be said for convenience and time-saving, but what if you could step right outside your door and find a perfect blend of salad greens that taste even better than any packaged mix?

Freshly Picked Greens

A lot of gardeners hesitate to try new greens, not sure which ones will taste best together.  Thankfully there are seed mixtures available that make choosing the varieties a breeze! There are mild mixes of lettuce, tangy blends with mustard greens, and gourmet combinations including herbs like chervil and cilantro.

But if you know what the different greens taste like, you can pick your favorites to grow individually. Creating your own salad garden is easy! Use a half barrel or a 15 to 18-inch planter filled with potting soil. Sprinkle the seeds over the surface, trying to keep them 1/2 to 1-inch apart. Cover with 1/4-inch of soil and water gently. Keep evenly moist. In just 4 weeks, your greens should be ready for their first cutting!

To properly harvest your salad greens, hold a cluster of leaves in one hand and cut them 1/2-inch above the soil with a sharp knife or scissors. The plant will begin to grow new leaves right away. In 2 weeks there will be another harvest! You should get 4 cuttings from the same planting.

Creating your own signature salad combination can be easy when you use this guide to help select the greens that you’ll love!

To purchase seeds or learn more about each variety, click on the underlined link!

Arugula This variety is very well known, and makes a wonderful base for any salad. The leaves are more peppery than bitter, and can also be harvested quite small for baby greens.

Baby Beet Greens When thinning your rows of beets, don’t toss those tops! Immature beet greens are tender and slightly spicy. The bright red veining makes a colorful addition to salads.

Beet Greens

Baby Kale – When picked very small, baby kale leaves are tender and sweet.

Butterhead Lettuce – Boston and Bibb lettuce are two common types. The leaves are soft and smooth textured.

Cilantro – An herb that’s well known to many, cilantro is a member of the dill family and has a pungent flavor.

Cilantro Leaves

Chervil – This herb has a mild, sweet, licorice-like flavor.

Cress Watercress is the most popular variety of cress in the US. It has a peppery taste.

Endive – These leaves have an oval shape and satiny texture, and make a great addition to a salad. Their scooped spoon-like shape also makes the leaves perfect edible servers.

Endive

Escarole Related to Frisee, this mildly bitter leaf is large and crisp. Often used in Italian cuisine with beans and in soup.

Frisee – (Also known as chicory or curly endive.) These curled leaves are slightly bitter with a crunchy stem. For baby greens, simply harvest individual leaves once they’re big enough to eat.

Looseleaf Lettuce – Leaf lettuce has a very mild flavor, and its uneven ruffled surface adds lots of texture to a salad.

Mache (Also called corn salad or lamb’s lettuce) This plant has small leaves and adds a mild, slightly sweet flavor to a salad.

Mibuna (also called Japanese Greens). This exotic green has a more pungent flavor than your typical greens, but the flavor won’t overpower a dish. The leaves have a pretty scalloped edge similar to oak leaves.

Oakleaf Lettuce – This loose-leaf lettuce has a shape similar to oak leaves. It has a delicate, tender flavor.

Radicchio – This deep reddish-purple vegetable can be a compact head similar to cabbage, or a more elongated shape like its cousin, endive. It can be served cooked as well, making it much sweeter.

Romaine This large leafy lettuce has a nice crunch and is the type originally used when the Ceasar Salad was invented. The red variety adds a punch of color to salads!

Red Romaine

Tatsoi – Another Asian green, the small rounded leaves have a mild flavor. The texture is similar to baby spinach.

 

Copyright 2018 Everwilde Farms

 

Tasty Blooms! Edible Flower Garden Tips and Recipes

We’ve all seen the trending posts and photos of brightly colored blooms as garnishes, in salads and piled on top of cakes. It might seem like a new thing to do, but people have been eating flowers for over 2,000 years!

If you look for edible flowers in specialty markets, they’re very expensive. They don’t stay fresh for very long, so the cost of transporting them is high. But growing an edible flower garden yourself will have three benefits: very low cost, delicious and chemical-free blossoms, and the bonus of having extra beauty in your yard!

Flower-topped cupcakes

Some flowers are delicious eaten fresh, others like squash blossoms are often served fried. Delicate blooms like Johnny Jump-up and other violas can be candied and used to decorate fancy desserts. Consider trying one or two of the recipes below in the next meal you serve and watch the delight and surprise on the faces of your family and guests!

To harvest flowers for eating, pick them in the morning so they’ll have the highest water content. Remember to remove the stamens before you use them since their pollen can detract from the flavor.

To bring that color from the garden and onto your plate, here’s a handy list of edible blooms along with what they taste like and how to best use them. (Click on the underlined plant names to learn more!) Scroll all the way down to find recipes!

Anise Hyssop – light licorice flavor is fantastic fresh or dried and made into tea.

Bachelor’s Buttons – have a mild, slightly sweet and spicy flavor. Great as a garnish or sprinkled on a  salad.

Borage – very delicate, sweet flavor like cucumber. These bright blue flowers are lovely frozen in ice cubes or added to salads.

Borage Flowers

Calendula – also know as “poor man’s saffron”.  When sauteed in olive oil the saffron flavor is released.

Chives (and Garlic Chives) – The pretty pompom blooms are oniony and flavorful.

Johnny-Jump-Up (Viola) these have a mild, pea-like flavor. Beautiful when used fresh in a salad. Try making candied blooms to use on sugar cookies or on tea cakes.

Johnny-Jump-Up

Lavender – these have a floral, perfume flavor that is quite intense. When used sparingly they add amazing flavor to baked goods and add a fun unexpected color to lemonade. Try the simple recipe at the bottom of the page!

Nasturtium – These colorful blooms have a radishy, peppery bite. The leaves and green seed pods are also edible. Most often used in salad, where their flavor pairs perfectly with greens.

Okra – These stunning flowers are very mild in flavor, and can be served cooked or fresh.

Okra Flower

Pansy – Their slightly grassy, minty flavor is delicious in fruit salad, or as a garnish atop a cracker with cream cheese.

Pea Flowers (Edible peas, NOT sweet peas) – The flowers on pea plants taste like…well, peas. 🙂 Perfect for green salads, and garnish on cucumber tea sandwiches.

 

Squash blossoms – Do you always have too much zucchini? Limit your harvest by gathering the huge blooms (both male and female are edible) and serve a gourmet meal of deep fried flowers. See recipe below!

Zucchini Blossoms

RECIPES:

Lavender Lemonade  –  Serves 8

2 cups boiling water, 1 cup lavender flowers, 2 cups cold water, 1 cup lemon juice, 1 cup sugar.        Place lavender in your pitcher and pour boiling water over it. Cover with plastic wrap and let steep for 10 minutes. Strain and discard lavender, return liquid to pitcher. Add cold water, lemon juice, and sugar and stir to dissolve. Pour over ice to serve.

Candied Violas  –  Serves 12

Take a large bunch of Johnny-jump-up, violas or pansies. (Not African violets!) It’s easier if you keep the stems on. Beat 2 large egg whites until frothy. Hold each flower by the stem and dip in egg white. Then dip in sugar (superfine works best, but regular will do.) Make sure all the petal surfaces are covered. Place on baking sheets lined with waxed paper and snip off stems. Use a toothpick to open up the blooms, so they’re in their original shape. Sprinkle sugar on any uncoated areas. Place in 200* oven for 30-40 minutes until the sugar crystalizes.  Remove carefully to a wire rack with a spatula. Sprinkle with more sugar if they appear syrupy. Let cool, and store in airtight container with waxed paper between layers.

Fried Squash Blossoms  –  Serves 4-6 as an appetizer

1- 1/3 cups of flour, 1/4 tsp salt, 12oz can of cold plain seltzer, 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil, 10-12 squash blossoms with stamens removed.   Place oven rack in the middle position and heat to 200*. In a bowl combine flour with salt.  Add seltzer and stir to blend. Heat oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat.  When a drop of batter sizzles in the pan it’s ready. Holding the stem, dip a blossom in the batter and swirl to coat.  Drag the blossom over the edge of the bowl to remove excess batter. Gently lay in pan. Repeat with 4-5 more, without overcrowding the pan. Cook about 2 minutes, until they’re light golden brown on the bottom. Turn with tongs and cook 2 minutes more. Remove to paper towels, sprinkle with a little more salt and place in oven to keep warm. Repeat with the remaining blossoms.

 

Copyright 2018 Everwilde Farms

Grow Up! Creative Vertical Gardening Ideas

Not all of us have lots of space for a large garden, but when your vegetable plants grow upward instead of outward the sky’s the limit! Not only does it free up space but growing vertically can actually increase your yield. Here are some great ideas for do-it-yourself garden supports, and the right vegetables for each kind.

Pole Beans

The first type of support is the tripod. Just three sticks (saplings or bamboo) tied together at the top, it’s super simple to make by yourself. This shape will support peas, tomatoes, peppers, nasturtiums, and hops.

If you use five or more long sticks in a large circle and make a teepee support, you can grow pole beans. If you leave an opening, imagine how much fun kids would have playing hide and seek inside a teepee of morning glories!

We’ve all seen tomatoes growing in the common tomato cage, but what about using that simple support for other vegetables? Try a tomato cage over zucchini plants to reduce sprawl and keep the ripe produce off the ground.

You can grow climbing vines around the base of your garden fence, or use that concept in the middle of the garden by adding a trellis. A piece of purchased lattice or even a network of sturdy netting between two poles will support cucumbers, squash, grapes, and even melons. 

To create a tunnel shape, you can purchase a livestock fence panel and secure the short ends in the ground. This gives a welcoming entrance to any garden. Pole beans will climb up to the top, and make harvesting a breeze!

Harvesting Pole Beans

If you have an exterior wall near the garden, try securing wood crates or shelving against the wall and planting smaller vegetables or herbs in pots. Or try vegetables instead of flowers in hanging baskets around the patio. Some great options are cherry tomatoes, strawberries, cucumbers, and peas.

Adding vertical growing to any garden can add visual interest, even if you have plenty of room on the ground!

 

Copyright 2018 Everwilde Farms

Plant an Herb Garden in 5 Easy Steps

There’s nothing like fresh herbs to add amazing flavor to your favorite dishes! Imagine how delightful it would be to have herbs growing right outside your door, so you can step out and snip off a few sprigs whenever you needed them.

Herbs in a Container

 

  1.  Choose a location close to the house. You don’t want to have too far to walk, or you’ll find yourself avoiding trips to the herb garden. It doesn’t have to be a large space, you can grow a lot of herbs in a small area. You’ll want the place you choose to have sun for at least half the day. Containers work great too and can be placed right outside the door.
  2. Select the herbs you use the most. You may love the idea of growing seven varieties of mint, but if space is limited you’ll want to stick with the herbs you know you’ll use. For most of us that includes basil, oregano, mint, thyme, and chives.

    Small Herb Garden
  3. Give each plant enough room to grow. Some herbs get quite large and will need plenty of space. Others can comfortably squeeze together in tighter spots. Here’s a good rule of thumb: allow 3-4 feet for rosemary, sage, mint, and oregano. Give 2 feet for basil, thyme, tarragon, and savory. And cilantro, chives, dill, and parsley will do fine in 1 foot of space.
  4. Prepare the soil. Most herbs are pretty easy going and will do well in any type of soil. But to give them a great start, add an inch or two of compost and work it into the soil. This will improve drainage and add a boost of fertilizer. Be sure to water your plants regularly, as soon as the top couple inches of soil is dry to the touch. Avoid over-watering!
  5. Harvest properly. When your herbs reach 6-8 inches tall, you can use garden shears to snip off about 1/3 of the plant. If you cut close to a leaf intersection your plants will regrow more quickly. It’s best to use shears instead of ripping leaves off with your hands, to avoid damaging the plant.

    Basil Ready to Harvest

Now you can prepare the perfect batch of spaghetti sauce, or flavor a gallon of herbal iced tea for your summer gatherings! Choose any of the varieties below, and start your herb garden soon! (Click the herb in bold type for more info!)

Basil – Snip off flowering tops to keep the leaves growing. Always add fresh basil at the end of the recipe, to retain the best flavor. Genovese is the recommended variety for cooking.

Chives – These like to be trimmed regularly to encourage growth. Divide the clump every couple years to keep it healthy. The flowers are edible as well as the stems, so toss some in salads for a fun splash of color and mild onion flavor. Try garlic chives for a bolder flavor!

Cilantro – one of the easiest herbs to grow from seed, cilantro is a fast-growing annual. The entire plant is edible: the leaves, seeds (also called coriander) and the roots (for use in soups and stir-fries). The flower heads are pretty in salads.

Mint – this hardy perennial is known for its invasive tendencies. We recommend keeping it in a container! Mint is versatile and can be used fresh or dried.

Mint Flowers

Oregano – another herb that’s easy to grow from seed, oregano (and the similar marjoram) come in a variety of sizes and flavors. If you dig it up and place it in a pot in your garage, it will last through the winter. The leaves have their best flavor in summer, and the blooms can be added to soups and roasted veggies. Try Greek oregano for the best flavor, or Italian oregano for a delicious oregano/marjoram cross.

Sage – This is a hardy perennial with a multitude of uses. Dry your extra sage leaves for use through winter. The tiny flowers are sweet and can be used as a garnish.

ThymeCut back any blooming branches to encourage new growth. It pairs beautifully with meat and vegetable dishes and actually aids in the digestion of fatty foods.

Copyright 2018 Everwilde Farms

Bringing Back the Kitchen Garden – Companion Planting

We’ve all seen and fallen in love with those pictures of old-fashioned kitchen gardens: vegetables and flowers and herbs all mixed together in a glorious mix of color and textures. It turns out that those early gardeners were on to something! Not only are these combinations of different plants a delight to look at, but they make the best use of nature’s power to repel pests and increase the yield of your harvest.

 

Flowers and Vegetables in a Garden

There are certain plants that will help boost yield, improve the soil and share their strengths with their neighboring plants. For example vegetables in the cabbage family (like broccoli and kale) love to grow next to beets and leafy greens. Mint will actually improve the flavor of cabbage!

 

However, some plants don’t make for good neighbors, and should not be planted near each other. They may attract the same pests, or even make the soil toxic for the other.

For the best combinations to give you a bountiful harvest, here’s a list that gives the best companions for vegetables (and the ones to avoid). To see a list that’s organized by flower/herb type for companion planting check out this blog post.

Click on any vegetable that’s underlined, to see more information on each kind.

Asparagus – Companions: Tomatoes, Basil, Marigold, and Parsley. Avoid: None

Beans (bush or pole) – Companions: Cabbage, Chard, Celery, Cucumbers, Eggplant, Radish, Corn, Strawberries. Avoid: Garlic, Shallots, and Onions.

Beets – Companions: Cabbage family, Lettuce, Onion, and Garlic. Avoid: Pole Beans

Detroit Dark Red Beets

Cabbage family (Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Kale, Kohlrabi)- Companions: Beets, Catnip, Celery, Chamomile, Cucumber, Dill, Garlic, Hyssop, Swiss chard, Lettuce, Mint, Nasturtium, Rosemary, Sage, Spinach, Thyme, Onions, Potatoes. Avoid: Pole beans, Tomato

Carrots – Companions: Beans, Lettuce, Onion, Peas, Peppers, Radish, and Tomatoes. Avoid: Dill

Celery – Companions: Beans, Tomatoes, Cabbage. Avoid: none

Chard – Companions: Beans, Cabbage, Onion. Avoid: none

Rainbow Swiss Chard

Corn – Companions: Cucumber, Melons, Parsley, Peas, Potatoes, Squash, Beans, Pumpkin. Avoid: Tomatoes

Cucumber – Companions: Peas, Corn, Beans, Cabbage, Radish, Tomato. Avoid: Sage

Eggplant – Companions: Beans, Marigold, and Peppers. Avoid: none

Lettuce – Companions: Beets, Cabbage, Carrots, Onion, Radish, Strawberry, Chives, Garlic.  Avoid: none

Melons – Companions: Corn, Pumpkin, Radish, Squash, Marigold, Nasturtium, Oregano. Avoid: none

Hearts of Gold Melon

Onions – Companions: Beets, Cabbage, Carrots, Swiss chard, Lettuce, Peppers, Strawberry, Tomato, Chamomile, Summer Savory. Avoid: all Beans and Peas

Peas – Companions: Beans, Carrots, Corn, Cucumbers, Radish, Turnip, Chives, and Mint. Avoid: Garlic and Onions

Peppers – Companions: Carrot, Eggplant, Onion, Tomato. Avoid: none

Potatoes – Companions: Beans, Cabbage, Corn, Eggplant, Horseradish, Marigold, Peas. Avoid: Tomatoes

Pumpkin – Companions: Corn, Melon, and Squash, Marigold, Nasturtium, Oregano. Avoid: none

Radishes – Companions: Beans, Carrots, Cucumber, Lettuce, Melon, Peas, Chervil, Nasturtium. Avoid: Hyssop

Easter Egg Radish

Spinach – Companions: Cabbage and Strawberries. Avoid: none

Squash – Companions: Corn, Melon, Pumpkins, Borage, Marigold, Nasturtium, Oregano. Avoid: none

Strawberry – Companions: Beans, Cabbage, Lettuce, Onions, Spinach, Thyme. Avoid: none

Tomatoes – Companions: Asparagus, Carrots, Celery, Cucumbers, Onion, Parsley, Peppers, Basil, Bee Balm, Chives, Mint, Borage, Marigold. Avoid: Corn, Potatoes, Kohlrabi.

 

Copyright 2018 Everwilde Farms