Thursday, March 28, 2013

Get a jumpstart on your garden

Even if it's still snowy where you live, plant an indoor window box right now. Now is the time to start so your plants are ready in time!

Start some seedlings
Indoor window box
Get a head start on your outdoor planting by starting vegetable and flower seedlings in a bright windowsill. Broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and collards all grow quickly and easily. Onions and leeks also enjoy a jump start before heading outdoors.
For seedlings destined for the outdoors, use "plug trays," which have 50-100 small cells designed to make transplanting easy. Place 1-3 seeds in each "plug" at a depth equal to 3 times the diameter of the seed. Cover with a light layer of soil mix or use vermiculite (a mineral that helps soil conserve moisture).

Once seedlings have 6-8 leaves (which takes about 6-8 weeks), they're ready for planting outdoors. But wait to transplant seedlings until nighttime temperatures are consistently above 50 degrees. Your local nursery can help you figure out when that'll be for your area, then work backward to decide when to start growing seedlings.

Information in this post taken from Jackman, Lilian. "FILL YOUR WINDOWS WITH Spring." Vegetarian Times 329 (2005): 56-60. Academic Search Complete. Web. 4 Apr. 2013.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Collect & Divide in August

Divide your peonies in late summer/early fall.
Late summer is typically reserved for enjoying the fruits of a spring's labor -- home gardeners can relax and take in the beauty of their landscape. But for those of us who just can't sit still, there are still some productive gardening tasks to be done.

For example, August is a great time to divide certain perennials and collect seeds.

Spring is the best time to divide most perennials, but poppies, peonies, and iris have fleshy roots and are best divided in late summer. If the plant has had a weak flowering season and or has a dead center portion, it should be divided. Another sign is if the plant is spreading rapidly and beginning to invade other plants' growth areas.

To divide your plant, dig up the clump and use a sharp spade or knife to break it apart. Keep the divisions moist while you prepare new planting spots. Make sure the newly planted divisions are well-hydrated.

For seed collection, follow these steps:

-Identify the plants you will be collecting from and research their needs and habits.
-Collect the seeds before they are shed from the parent plant.
-Loosely tie a paper bag around seedheads to collect seeds as they are shed.
-Separate the seeds from other plant parts before putting them in storage.
-Store seeds in airtight containers in a cool location that will not freeze.
-DO NOT collect wild seeds. This will deplete the wild population. Collection of wild seeds is illegal for many plants.

Share the seeds or divisions of your favorite plants with friends and family! Enjoy the rest of the summer!

Information in this post taken from the University of Illinois Extension and William Aldrich and Don Williamson's Gardening Month by Month in Illinois (available at Whispering Hills)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Superb dry-weather plants

A few weeks ago we gave you a list of drought-hardy plants available at Whispering Hills. The University of Illinois Extension recently followed up with a video on the same topic. Since we're still not getting enough rain, we thought it'd be good to re-post it and keep the dry-weather tips coming.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Deer-resistant plants

Deer are everyone's favorite large woodland mammals. Elegant, graceful, and omnipresent in the northern woods, their foraging habits sometimes take them into our backyards to nibble on our plants.

If you're not keen on blowing Bambi's brains out with a shotgun (which we do NOT advocate), try planting one of many deer-resistant plant varieties carried at Whispering Hills.

Below you'll find lists of trees, shrubs, perennials, vines and flowers that DOE'nt attract deer.

Deer-resistant Trees:
  • Deerproof Arborvitae
  • Douglas Fir
  • Scotch & Mugo Pine
  • Colorado Blue & Norway Spruce
  • Blue Star, Mountbatten & 9 other types of Juniper
  • Whitespire Birch
  • Norway Maple

Deer-resistant Shrubs:
  • Chicagoland Green, Green Mountain & 5 other types of Boxwood
  • Weeping Siberian Pea Shrub
  • Common Lilac (Purple & white)
  • Cranberry Viburnum
  • Japanese Barberry
  • Shamrock Inkberry
  • Renaissance Spirea
  • Blizzard & Dwarf Snowflake Mock Orange

Click here for a list of of deer-resistant vines, flowers, and groundcovers.