Plant Fashionistas Need These for Gardening

Sex and the City 2 may feature “fashion’s fab four”,  but their haute couture has nothing on Hort Couture, the high-fashion plant brand for discriminating gardeners.

This season, my garden will be flaunting some of the most sophisticated plants on the market today.

These cool new styles will feature vibrant color combinations and dynamic new forms perfect for gardening.

Thanks to the sample package I received from the upscale Hort Couture ( plant brand, I’ll be growing Calibrachoa ‘Ready to Wear-Paris’, three Hemigraphis ‘Black Waffle’ plants, some Sage ‘La Crema’, a few ‘Black Krim’ tomatoes and the new ‘Tomaccio’ tomato meant for drying.

The plants are from C. Raker & Sons, Inc., in partnership with Hort Couture, which is making its third trip down the plant fashion runway. C. Raker & Sons is a wholesale plant propagation specialist based in Litchfield, Mich.

Gardening With SEEDS is Close to Home

This week’s Gardens Around the Globe feature is set close to home in the gardens of the SEEDS program in Durham, North Carolina. This urban farming leadership development program helps teenagers make healthy food choices, practice organic gardening and learn a variety of business practices.

SEEDS stands for “South Eastern Efforts Developing Sustainable Spaces” and is one of three community gardens in the U.S. honored with a 2010 Nature Hills Nursery Green America Award for making a difference in the Durham community. SEEDS was selected for the First Place Award out of more than 200 applications submitted by community groups, nonprofit organizations and gardening programs across the country. SEEDS will receive $1500 in plants to use in the gardens.

I had the chance to visit SEEDS last September and was able to see groups of teens getting hands-on experience gardening, growing food and learning to respect the land and each other. SEEDS mission is to “help individuals, neighborhoods and communities grow together through gardening, gathering and education.”

Organic Gardening with Manure Tea

Today’s Workshop Wednesday is for gardeners who want to make the switch from liquid  synthetic chemical fertilizers to nature’s best all-natural soil conditioner.

If my early-season planting experiment is a success, I’ll owe it all to Authentic Haven Brand manure tea.

I planted two tomatoes, a ‘Roma’ and an ‘Early Girl’ on April 4, watered them in with manure tea and placed Wall of Water plant protectors around them. They survived several spring snowstorms, freezing overnight temperatures, severe wind gusts and a sudden 90-degree day.

Last week I finally removed the plastic protectors, staked them and gave them both another manure tea party. They look extremely healthy and, if the weather cooperates, I hope the ‘Early Girl’ will live up to her name.

I thought I’d use today’s Workshop Wednesday post as a “How To” for using manure tea in the garden. I’ve written about Authentic Haven Brand premium soil conditioners before and I’m proud to have this product as an advertiser on my site.

The Great Potato Gardening Experiment

I dream of a dish of home-grown, home-made mashed potatoes and took the first steps toward making that dream come true on Sunday when I began the Great Potato Experiment in my garden.

I’ve read all about growing potatoes, I’ve interviewed farmers about growing potatoes and I’ve written their tips for growing potatoes, but this is my first attempt at growing my own.

Because potatoes are supposed to be one of the easiest root crops to grow, I decided to plant a few varieties in my garden this season.

There’s not much room in the vegetable bed for a big crop, so I used some of the planting alternatives I’ve heard about from others: growing potatoes in a trash bag and growing them in a compost bin.

I thought I could improve my chances for success if I ordered Colorado Certified seed potatoes and placed my order with the Potato Garden for 1 pound of organic Caribe and 1 pound of Adora potatoes.

Ample Harvest is Way for Gardeners to Give

Gardeners certainly understand the connection between growing a vegetable garden and sharing the fruits of their efforts with others. In addition to the Plant a Row for the Hungry campaign, there are other organizations working to help gardeners provide food for their communities.

My Plant a Row for the Hungry volunteer efforts started in November when I met with representatives from the Food Bank of the Rockies to gain their support for the annual campaign.

Just recently I learned about a similar year-round “gardening for good” program called Ample Harvest.

According to information on its website, “ gives food pantries the opportunity to be listed in a central nationwide directory so that gardeners can share their fresh produce and, garden-by-garden, help diminish hunger in America.”

I first heard from Gary Oppenheimer, founder of, when he wrote to ask permission to use a photo he found on this site.

A Gardening Ode to Okra Guest Post

As part of the May WordCount Blogathon, today’s special event is a blog post swap with another Blogathon Blogger. I’ve swapped blogging duties with Nancy Mann Jackson, a freelance writer who gardens with her husband and two young sons in Alabama.

Nancy blogs about gardening, harvesting, cooking and preserving with kids in tow at You can find more of Nancy’s writing on her website at or connect with her on Twitter @nmjackson. (Blog post and photo by Nancy Mann Jackson)

Oh, Okra!

Growing okra is a lot like having babies; there is some discomfort, even pain, involved. But the end result is worth it all.

Gardening Fun at Denver Plant a Row Kickoff

Denver’s Plant a Row for the Hungry campaign had a successful launch on Saturday at the CSU Extension Plant-A-Palooza Plant Sale. The weather cooperated as shoppers enjoyed browsing and buying vegetable plants, annuals, perennials, master gardener-grown containers and many other interesting items for the garden.

Over 100 gardeners, including these three future gardeners, enjoyed getting their free Plant a Row garden starter kits at the Saturday kickoff event.

Many others promised to plant extra vegetables in their gardens this summer and donate the produce to a food bank in their neighborhood and everyone agreed Plant a Row is an important effort to help feed the hungry in our community.

It was great to hear so many gardeners tell me that for years they’ve been growing vegetables and donating the produce on their own, in conjunction with another nonprofit agency or through their church.

Plant a Row for the Hungry Reminder

Note: Yesterday’s Name That Plant contest had many gardeners stumped, but there were three who correctly identified the berry-bearing shrub as a Goji. The pictures of the Goji were taken in my mother-in-law’s garden located in the southern part of Colorado.

Just a reminder that Denver’s Plant a Row for the Hungry campaign kickoff is tomorrow, May 15, from 8-3 at the Colorado State University Extension-Denver office at 888 E. Iliff Ave.

I’d like to thank all of the sponsors of the event, who were generous with their donations of seeds and gardening items for the garden starter kits we’re giving away tomorrow:

Food Bank of the Rockies
Botanical Interests seed company
Whole Foods
Osmocote Plus
plant food
Echter’s Nursery & Greenhouse
Tagawa Gardens

Even if you don’t live in this neck of the woods, I hope you’ll keep the Plant a Row for the Hungry effort in mind throughout the gardening season. Simply plant more than you need in your garden and then deliver the fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs to a nearby food agency.

New Green Gardening Show Premieres Soon

A new PBS television series is set to premiere in major markets on Saturday, May 15. Growing a Greener World is what happens when you combine one part eco-friendly living with one part gardening know-how and then mix in recipes for cooking up the harvest.

I’ve been looking forward to seeing the premiere of a new PBS tv show called Growing a Greener World since I first heard about it last year.

This new show is hosted by Joe Gardener (Joe Lamp’l) and Garden Girl Patti Moreno with help from celebrity chef  Nathan Lyon.

I think it’s the right show at the right time for the right audience.

I met both Joe and Patti at a symposium last September and have a feeling they’re going to be terrific, down-to-earth hosts for this series.

Vegetable Gardening for the Hungry

Rows of vegetable plants, including these hanging tomato planters at Echter’s Nursery and Greenhouse, are ready for gardeners who want to participate in Denver’s Plant a Row for the Hungry effort. Echter’s, located in Arvada, Colo., is one of the sponsors of Denver’s Plant a Row campaign.

Denver’s Plant a Row for the Hungry campaign kicks off Saturday, May 15, and garden centers across the Metro area are ready.

Gardeners here–and everywhere–are encouraged to plant extra fruit, vegetables and herbs while gardening to donate to their local food pantries and soup kitchens.

Yesterday I was out and about picking up supplies for the free garden starter kits for the kickoff.

First, I stopped by Echter’s Nursery and Greenhouse, met Krystal Keistler, annuals manager, who gave me a stack of special vegetable plant coupons for the starter kits.

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