Cucumber Growing Guide

by Heather Stone

Boston cucumber on the vine.

photo courtesy of pixabay

Once the warm weather hits it’s time to start thinking about planting cucumbers. Nothing beats a fresh cucumber straight from the vine. Cucumbers are fairly easy to grow and are an excellent choice for the new gardener.

 

How to Grow

Cucumbers are very frost tender so don’t plant seed or transplant starts until two weeks after your last frost date or when soil temperatures reach at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

 

Your soil should be well-drained and fertile. Work 1-2” of compost into the top 4-6” of your soil before planting.

 

Pick an area of your garden that receives at least 6 hours of sunlight. If days regularly reach temperatures of 90 degrees or more provide some afternoon shade.

 

Plant seeds in groups of 4-6, 1/2” below the soil surface in rows or hills 3’ apart. Most cucumber seeds germinate in 4-7 days. Providing a trellis for the plants to climb frees up garden space and improves air flow around the plants reducing fungal and bacterial diseases. Trellising also keeps the fruits off the ground away from moisture and critters and makes them easier to harvest.

 

Cucumbers are themselves 95% water so moisture is of key importance when growing cucumbers.  Cucumbers need at least 1” of water a week.  If plants inadequate moisture the fruit will often develop a bitter taste. To help retain moisture and keep the weeds down place mulch around your plants.

 

Harvesting

Cutting a cucumber off the vine.

photo courtesy of pixabay.

Pick cucumbers when they have reached their mature length, depending on the variety, and before they begin to turn yellow. Cut or gently twist the fruit from the vine using two hands so as not damage the plant. When the weather gets warm, check plants daily for ripe cucumbers. Pick often so plants continue to produce. Pick fruits in the early morning for the best flavor and texture. Cucumbers will keep for 7-14 days in the refrigerator.

 

Varieties

We carry four varieties of cucumber seeds here at BBB Seed. Each is excellent and deserve a place in the vegetable garden.

 

Spacemaster 80

Spacemaster 80 is an excellent compact cucumber variety. At only 18-24 inches this short but hardy cucumber is a great choice for the small garden or for growing in a container. The dark green fruits reach 7-9 inches in length, have great flavor and are never bitter. A heavy yielder this cucumber is also resistant to mildew, scab and cucumber mosaic virus.

 

Boston Pickling

Boston Pickling cucumbers bear small, blocky fruits with firm flesh and tender skin that are ideal for making all types of pickles. This long-standing variety, first available in the 1800s is also great used as a slicing cucumber when allowed to reach full size.

 

Marketmore 76

Marketmore 76 is one of the finest slicing varieties on the market. A standard for the home garden. These vigorous plants produce 8” dark green, delicious fruits.

 

Suyo Long

An heirloom variety from northern China, Suyo Long grows to an amazing 10-18” long. They are almost seedless, burp-less and incredibly heat resistant. They are great for slicing and fresh eating.

 

 

 

 

BRING MORE SWEET SMELLS INTO YOUR LIFE

By Engrid Winslow

Photo courtesy of Joe Winslow

Do gardeners love fragrance because they are gardeners or are they gardening because they enjoy fragrance? It’s sort of a “chicken and the egg” concept, but no gardener can deny that growing plants is a sensory experience. Whether it’s brushing against basil or tomatoes while harvesting or inhaling the smell of a rose, those of us who garden seek out sweet (even unusual) smelling plants. If you enjoy the spicy scent of marigolds or the heady aroma of peonies then you surely want to bring fragrant flowers and plants into your life.

Fragrance can bring back memories or promote relaxation. Lavender is the most well-known fragrance added to various products that help us relax and even fall asleep.  The best way to bring fragrant flowers into your garden is to plant them where the fragrance can be enjoyed when you are outdoors. Place them near walkways, front and back doors, benches and under bedroom windows so the smell can be appreciated. Also, consider the seasons when they bloom for year-round enjoyment.

Fragrance in flowers falls into 4 major categories: Floral, Fresh, Spicy and Woodsy are the primary scents. Floral smells are sweetly fragrant and include flowers such as stock, lilies, sweet pea, alyssum, lily of the valley and phlox. If you like spicy then be sure to include marigolds, sage and carnations. Fresh scents include lavender and mint while you can add the woodsy smell with rosemary and thyme.

There are public gardens, that were designed with fragrance in mind and in honor of the blind, that are worth a visit if they are near you. If not, then just notice what you are smelling as you walk your neighborhood and garden centers. Sometimes a smell will surprise you, require investigation and then add to your home garden.

 

Our Most Popular Pollinator Wildflower Seed mixes ̶  May 2019

 

Honey Bee on yellow blossom.

Pollinators are the magic ingredient that makes our natural world work. They fuel lifecycles of entire ecosystems and are found everywhere flowering plants are. Humans are also incredibly dependent on pollinators. Pollinators come in all shapes and sizes. Honeybees, native bees, bumblebees, butterflies, birds, bats, and other wild critters are all incredibly important pollinators!

Unfortunately, we are losing our pollinators at an alarming rate. Insect pollinators are being hit especially hard. Habitat loss, exposure to pesticides, lack of food, and diseases are all leading factors in the decline of these species. We should all be concerned. One-third of our food, from coffee to strawberries, are dependent on pollinators to produce. We need these animals just as much as they need us.

We take our favorite wildflower seeds and blend them into mixes specially formulated to help create habitat and forage for the pollinators in your backyard. We make sure to use fresh, high quality, open-pollinated, GMO-free seeds because you deserve to have a successful, healthy, and fun planting experience. Our mixes are all seed with none of the fillers that you might find in other mixes because we believe you should get what you’re paying for.

Click here if you have any questions about how to select your site, plant, or care for our wildflower mixes!

Here are our most popular pollinator seed mixes:

 

1.     Monarch Rescue Wildflower Mix

Monarch butterfly on pink blossom.

Monarch Butterflies are some of the most wonderful and strange animals on Earth. Every year, they migrate between the high mountains of Mexico through most of North America. This migration takes four separate generations of butterflies to complete and covers a massive amount of territory. To complete this migration, the Monarchs need plenty of forage and nesting sites along the way.

However, habitat and forage loss has been devastating for the Monarch Butterfly. Milkweed plants are the only plants that Monarch Butterflies will lay their eggs on. These plants have been wiped out of large portions of the United States due to concerns about allergies and their designation as a “weed”. Habitat loss and pesticide use have also reduced the amount of good forage for Monarchs, weakening them too much to complete their journey.

This is why we created our Monarch Rescue Wildflower Mix. This mix of Milkweeds and wildflowers is a Monarch Butterfly booster shot. This mix is full of nutrition and habitat for the butterflies passing through your area. Make your garden a Monarch paradise with this mix.

Find it here.

2.     Bee Rescue Wildflower mix

Honey bees on purple lavender blossoms.

Bees have had a rough time of late. The incredible loss of honey bees in recent years has been well documented and reported on. However, the crisis is much deeper than just honey bees. North America has over 4,000 species of native bees. Most native bees are solitary and are extremely effective pollinators. However, these little bees are little understood and are in even more danger than honey bees because they don’t have beekeepers watching out for them!

This colorful combination of wildflowers will provide nectar and pollen for full season support of native and introduced bee species.  Our “Bee Rescue” Wildflower mix has been designed to include the absolute best species to support the health and vitality for a wide range of native pollinators as well and the honey bee. These are the flowers that attract the most pollinators and will do well over the most growing zones.

Get our Bee Rescue Wildflower Mix here!

3.     Bumblebee Bonanza Wildflower Mix

A pollen covered bumblebee on a pink blossom.

Bumblebee Bonanza Mix is a colorful mix that includes specially selected species of nectar and pollen-rich, annual and perennial flowers that are known to attract bumblebees and other pollinators and will provide quality forage from early spring until late fall.

This mixture of annuals and perennials is designed to provide early, mid and late season blooms to support the life cycle of the bumblebee as well as other pollinators. These flower species will do well in a variety of growing conditions and are recommended for a maintained, home-garden planting or commercial landscape.  The best time for planting this mix is in the early spring, early summer and late fall.

Buy the Bumblebee Bonanza Mix Here!

4.     Hummingbird Wildflower Mix

Green hummingbird in flight.

This mix has been created with the vibrantly colored, nectar-rich species that hummingbirds love.  Consisting of mostly perennials, this mix will continue to provide support to hummingbirds and other important pollinators.  A few annuals are included to provide color the first year while the perennials become established and will bloom the second year.

Get it here and start enjoying your hummingbird garden!

 

5.     Honey Source Wildflower Mix

Honey bees on a honeycomb.

A long blooming mix of beautiful, nectar and pollen-rich annuals and perennials put together just for our Honey Bee friends.  Plant this mix to provide vital nutrition for the European Honey Bees.  These hard-working pollinators are necessary for our agricultural production and are a major contributor to our food supply.  Lack of native nectar and pollen sources between crop rotations can cause stress and starvation that contribute to colony collapse.

Our Honey Source Wildflower Mix can be found here!

One Last Thing

At BBB Seed, we are deeply committed to providing the highest quality grass, wildflower, and grass seeds to empower our customers to get out and grow! This list of our Most Popular Wildflower Seeds is intended to be a useful resource for you to see what products our customers and we are enjoying right now!

We also are incredibly concerned about providing sustainable and environmentally conscious products to you. We source seeds that are non-genetically engineered, tested, and grown sustainably. We hope these products will help you enjoy nature and learn about this wonderful world in the garden. We also strongly encourage you to visit our Pollinator Action Page to learn about the pollinators that make our natural world possible and learn more about what you can do to help them. Thank you!

Grow. Enjoy. Share…the beauty and the bounty!

 

 

7 PLANTS TO KEEP THE MOSQUITOS AWAY

by Heather Stone

Purple lavender flowers attracting honey bees.

photo courtesy of pixabay

 

The long, warm days of summer are meant to be enjoyed. Sitting poolside, bar-b-queuing with friends or just relaxing in the garden. But sometimes pesky mosquitoes have a way of taking the fun right out of our outdoor activities. Instead of dousing yourself and your loved ones in chemical bug sprays try planting some of these mosquito repellant plants around your garden and patio to help keep the bugs at bay.

 

  1. Lemongrass- Lemongrass is an ingredient in citronella oil and its strong lemon scent is a proven mosquito repellant. This tropical grass is best grown in pots as an annual or brought indoors during the winter months.
  2. Marigolds- The strongly scented flowers of marigolds repel mosquitos, flies and even rabbits. These beauties come in an array of colors that will brighten up any spot. Keep pots of marigolds near seating areas and doorways to deter mosquitos. In the vegetable garden, marigolds repel many of the insects that attack tomato plants.

    Bright orange marigold bloom.

    photo courtesy of pixabay

  3. Lavender- The aromatic, purple flower spikes of lavender not only repel mosquitoes but moths, flies and fleas too. Use the fresh or dried flowers directly on the skin or dry them and hang them indoors to repel moths and flies inside. Don’t forget, the bees love lavender!
  4. Basil- Who doesn’t enjoy the smell and taste of fresh basil? Mosquitos, it seems. Unlike many of the other mosquito repellant plants, you don’t have to crush the leaves or flowers of basil to receive the mosquito deterring properties.
  5. Catmint- Catnip and many other plants in the mint family are excellent at keeping the mosquitos at bay with their strong scent. Ticks and biting flies also avoid catmint. You can rub the leaves and flowers directly on your skin for added protection. Catmints are easy to grow plants that do well in sunny and dry spots in the garden. The lavender-blue flowers bloom all season and attract a wide array of pollinators.

    Fuzzy green catmint leaves.

    photo courtesy of pixabay.

  6. Rosemary- Cooking out? Toss a few sprigs of rosemary on the grill and let the aromatic smoke drive the mosquitos away.
  7. Peppermint– the strong scent of peppermint deters flies and mosquitos. Keep a few plants in pots on your patio to deter insects and enjoy the fresh leaves in your iced tea.

    Blue flowering rosemary plant.

    Photo courtesy of pixabay.

All these plants deserve a place in your garden or on your patio not just because they deter pesky insects, but for their beauty, fragrance and attractiveness to our pollinator friends.

 

 

Here is a simple herbal bug spray recipe you can make at home using essential oils (“eo”).

  • ½ white hazel
  • ½ cup of water
  • 20 drops Eucalyptus eo
  • 30 drops Citronella eo
  • 10 drops Rosemary eo
  • 20 drops Lavender eo
  • 20 drops Tea tree eo

If you don’t have one of these simply leave it out or substitute with another. A few other essential oils that will work include lemongrass, catnip, clove, mint and geranium.

 

 

 

Our Most Popular wildflower Seed mixes ̶    May 2019

What is a wildflower? Well, a wildflower is any flowering plant that has not been altered from its wild state. These plants have had no selective breeding, no genetic modification, and are all natural! These little beauties can be found in nearly any environment; from mountains to prairies, swamps to deserts! Wildflowers provide vital habitats and forage for wildlife, like our favorite butterflies and bees, and beautiful sights and scents for us lucky gardeners.

We take our favorite wildflower seeds and blend them into mixes specially formulated for unique regions, conditions, and uses. We make sure to use fresh, high quality, open-pollinated, GMO-free seeds because you deserve to have a successful, healthy, and fun planting experience. Our mixes are all seed with none of the fillers that you might find in other mixes because we believe you should get what you’re paying for.

Click here if you have any questions about how to select your site, plant, or care for our wildflower mixes!

Here are our most popular wildflower seed mixes:

1.     All Annuals Wildflower Mix

All Annuals Wildflower Mix

We love Annuals! This mix brings vibrant and long-lasting color to any site. This mix includes great wildflowers including Scarlet Flax, California Poppy, and Desert Bluebells that will add immediately to any drab or “worn out” spots on your property.  This mix also reseeds well, so you can enjoy these annuals year after year!

Find it here.

2.     Wildflowers for Shade Mix

Wildflowers for partial shade.

Not every spot in your garden is going to replicate the open, sunny meadows most wildflowers are adapted to. We understand and think that every inch of your space deserves to be colorful and wild! That’s why we came up with our Wildflowers for Shade Mix! This mix is a blend of annuals and perennials that are tolerant to partial shade. This mix has over twenty annual and perennial seeds to ensure that you get great color and varied blooms for years after you first planted.

Get the Wildflowers for Shade Mix here!

3.     Low-Growing Wildflower Mix

Low growing wildflower mix.

The Low-growing Wildflower Mix is the perfect mix for people who want the wildflowers but not the wild height! While some wildflowers can get up to three feet tall, this mix is designed to grow low and compact (6-12 inches). We really dig (pun intended) how manageable and controlled this mix grows. It includes poppies, clover, and flax for a great mix of color and shapes that will make your garden the talk of the town (in a good way)!

Buy the Low-Growing Wildflower Mix Here!

4.     Fragrant Wildflower Mix

Fragrant wildflower mix.

What’s better than waking up on a cool summer morning, walking outside, and being greeted by the smell of a field of beautiful wildflowers? How about a field of wildflower that you planted yourself! Sounds perfect to us! Our Fragrant Wildflower Mix is one of our personal favorites. We hand selected the flowers this mix of annuals, perennials, native and introduced wildflowers to grow well in many geographical regions and to smell wonderfully aromatic!  Plant this mix around your patio and walkway and be greeted by its wonderful scent every time you stroll by.

Get it here and start smelling the Primroses!

 

5.     Deer-Resistant Wildflower Mix

Deer Resistant Wildflower Mix

Nothing is more frustrating than toiling in the garden, planting seeds and starts, caring for them, and proudly watching them grow than to come out one morning to see a family of deer happily munching away at your precious plants! We get it. That’s we created the Deer-Resistant Wildflower Mix to include species that deer and elk will usually avoid if another preferred forage is available. This mix includes perennials that will begin blooming during their second year. Now you can enjoy the beautiful deer (and elk) in your area without stressing out about your garden!

The Deer-Resistant Wildflower Mix can be found here.

One Last Thing

At BBB Seed, we are deeply committed to providing the highest quality grass, wildflower, and grass seeds to empower our customers to get out and grow! This list of our Most Popular Wildflower Seeds is intended to be a useful resource for you to see what products our customers and we are enjoying right now!

We also are incredibly concerned about providing sustainable and environmentally conscious products to you. We source seeds that are non-genetically engineered, tested, and grown sustainably. We hope these products will help you enjoy nature and learn about this wonderful world in the garden. We also strongly encourage you to visit our Pollinator Action Page to learn about the pollinators that make our natural world possible and learn more about what you can do to help them. Thank you!

Grow. Enjoy. Share…the beauty and the bounty!

 

OKRA IS NOT AS YUCKY AS SOME MIGHT THINK

By Engrid WinslowA pile of green Okra pods.

If you grew up in the South, as I did, you loved okra as an essential ingredient in gumbo. If you didn’t then you might think it is “slimy” but okay if coated in batter and deep fried. Well, you have been treating this amazing vegetable all wrong. First of all, the plants are really pretty and the flowers are fabulous, looking a lot like a hibiscus bloom, and can be grown as a 3-4 foot tall annual flower.

Okra probably originated somewhere around Ethiopia and was cultivated by the ancient Egyptians around the 12th century B.C. Its cultivation spread throughout North Africa, Arabia and the Middle East. The seed pods were eaten cooked, and the seeds were toasted and ground and used as a coffee substitute.

The plant spread around the shores of the Mediterranean Sea and eastward and was introduced to the Americas by ships plying the Atlantic slave trade in the mid-1600s when its presence was recorded in Brazil. It was further documented in Suriname in 1686. Okra may have been introduced to southeastern North America from Africa in the early 18th century. By 1748, it was being grown as far north as Philadelphia. Thomas Jefferson noted it was well established in Virginia by 1781.

It’s best to grow okra yourself if you can (or purchase them directly from a farmer) to ensure that the pods are fresh, tender and not overly large. Okra pods are best when harvested at 1-2 inches. Any larger than that and they are fibrous and not so tasty. The plants are easy to grow in most climates as long as they are planted after the danger of frost is past. They are prolific, grow quickly, and several plants can produce a handful or two of the pods nearly every day. Store them in the vegetable bin of your refrigerator for up to 4 days until you have enough to prepare one of these great recipes. Okra is especially adept at soaking up surrounding flavors, making great for Indian and Asian dishes. Give okra a second chance and you might just be surprised.

One of the best ways to cook okra is to toss the pods with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and spread on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast at 400 degrees for 12- 15 minutes, shaking pan half-way through until the pods are lightly browned on the edges.

Pan Fried Okra with Indian Spices

(Serves 4 as a side dish)

25-30 medium sized okra pods, sliced                     5 TBL butter

¼ tsp ground ginger                                                        ¼ tsp cumin

¼ tsp ground coriander                                                 salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a skillet, Add okra and spices and sauté until okra is soft, 15-20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper before serving.Okra, Organic Clemson Spineless

Picadilly Okra

                                                                                                                                                (Serves 4-6 as a side dish)

 

2 Qt. fresh okra, chopped                                            1 medium onion, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped                                         1 1 lb. can of crushed or chopped tomatoes

¼ tsp sugar                                                                         ¼ tsp olive oil

Salt and black pepper to taste

Sauté the onion and bell pepper in the olive oil for 4-5 minutes on medium heat, stirring frequently until softened. Add the tomatoes, okra, sugar, salt and pepper and cook, covered, over low heat for 45 minutes. Stir occasionally. Check and correct seasoning before serving. May be frozen.

 

DON’T PASS ON PEAS

by Heather Stone

Green Sugar Snap peas on the vine.

Image by Reginal from Pixabay

Peas are one of the first crops we can plant in the spring. As soon as you can stick your finger into the soil you can plant peas. Whether you plant shelling, snap or snow peas this early crop loves the cool weather of spring, producing tender pods that are hard to resist.  More often than not, they are eaten straight off the vine right there in the garden, very few making it to the kitchen. Every year I always wish I would have planted more.

Plant peas as soon as the soil can be worked, about 4-6 weeks before your average last frost date. For best germination, soil temperatures should be around 50 degrees F. Do be cautious of excess moisture. You don’t want your seeds sitting in wet soil.

Before planting, soak your seeds overnight. This will help speed germination. Plant seeds about 1” deep and 2-3” apart in well-loosened soil in a sunny spot in your garden. Peas will also do well in part shade. Give your peas a trellis, as most peas need something to climb on. Keep the area moist until the seeds germinate, on average between 7-14 days.

Peas are an easy crop to grow. Keep the plants moist, especially once they start producing. When they reach 8-12” tall mulch your vines well to keep the soil cool and help retain moisture. Peas grow best in temperatures below 70 degrees F, so plant your seeds early. Once temperatures reach 80 degrees the vines tend to stop producing.  

When the peas begin to ripen, harvest daily and be sure to use two hands to pick. Use one hand to hold the vine and the other to pick the peas. This way you will avoid damaging the tender vines. For the crispiest peas, pick in the morning after the dew has dried. Peas will last about 5 days in the refrigerator (if they make it there) and any extra freeze well.

Like all legumes, peas fix nitrogen in the soil that other plants can use. When your peas are done for the season, remove the vines but leave the roots in the ground. Plant a nitrogen-loving plant in the area that can benefit from the extra nitrogen in the soil.

Don’t wait! Get out in the garden and plant some peas today! Try one of our tried and true varieties such as Sugar Ann, Oregon Sugar Pod or Green Arrow.

Packet of Oregon Sugar Pod Pea seeds. Pea, Sugar Ann Pea, Green Arrow

 

 

GO BEYOND ICEBERG LETTUCE

By Engrid Winslow

There are many different types of lettuce and perhaps you were wondering how to use these various types. Here’s a general description of some different types which will take you beyond the traditional iceberg followed by a quick tutorial on growing them.

Lettuce, Organic Bibb, Speckles Lettuce, Summer Bibb

  • Butterhead/Buttercrunch/Bibb/Boston – Any of the “B” lettuces form loose heads of large, softly ruffled leaves that range in color from bright yellow-green to magenta-tipped emerald. They have a slight crunch when you bite in, followed by a melt-in-your-mouth silkiness. The leaves are buttery and slightly sweet. They are perfect for use in sandwiches or salads and the largest outer leaves are great as a wrap for various fillings because of their pliability.

 

 

  • Romaine forms a long, straight head of crisp leaves with a prominent center stem. They come in the familiar crisp, tall, green heads to shorter and fluffier versions that range from dark red to lime green with red speckles. They can be harvested when young for a tender and delicate salad. They have a mild crunch from the center stem when mature and are the classic lettuce for a traditional Caesar salad since it’s a perfect contrast to the creamy, cheesy dressing. It can also be used as a scoop for dips and holds up on a burger.

Picture of the Tri-color Romaine lettuce package. Lettuce, Organic Romaine, Freckles Lettuce, Dark Green Romaine

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Oakleaf lettuce has unusually shaped leaves that form a loose cluster with tender, crunchy stems. The flavors can range from sweet when young to slightly bitter if left longer to mature. They come in gorgeous colors of green but the dark red is a version high in anthocyanin

with a powerful punch of antioxidants. They are great in salads and when mixed with other lettuce types or on a sandwich.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • With loose bunches of leaves connected at the base, the loose leaf lettuces are known as bunching or cutting lettuces. They are typically mild, savory to sweet and crisp-tender. They are generally more heat-tolerant and some, such as Black Seeded Simpson, are slower to bolt than other types of lettuces.

Front of the Red Deer Tongue Lettuce seed packet.

Lettuce, Organic Leaf, Tango

 

Lettuce, Black Seeded Simpson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the best ways to use these lettuces is to combine them with other greens, such as arugula or baby kale in a salad and, lucky you, we have two blends that will do that for you.
Picture of a packet of Gourmet Salad Lettuce seeds.Picture of a packet of Heirloom Lettuce Blend seeds.

Lettuce is very easily started from seed, both indoors and out in your vegetable beds. They take about one week to germinate, depending on temperatures. If starting indoors, be sure the seeds stay moist by spraying them gently from a spray bottle or bottom-watering until they germinate and the seedlings are strong enough to handle overhead watering. A plastic dome over the tray really helps with this. The seeds are tiny and should be planted with a very light (no more than ¼ inch) layer of soil.             If planted outdoors in cooler temperatures and cold soil they may take longer to germinate. Thin the seedlings to 3 inches apart and pull every other one for early salads leaving the rest (now 6” apart) to reach full size. Successive sowings every 3 weeks in short rows provide these tasty plants throughout the season. All lettuces will bolt and then become bitter in the heat and long days of summer, but you can delay this by mulching to keep the soil cool.

 

Three Ways to Compost that Will Fit Your Lifestyle

by Sam Doll

Composting seems like all the rage right now! Taking some of your food and paper waste out of the landfill is a great way to reduce your waste, take care of the environment, and create an excellent supplement for your (or a lucky neighbor’s) garden! We’ll show you three ways to compost that will work with your lifestyle.

Composting Basics

 

No matter where or how you are composting, there are some basic guidelines to be aware of.

First off, if you are composting at home, you want to avoid any animal products like meat and dairy (eggshells are fine). These products can create unwanted odors and attract pests like raccoons!

You also want to be aware of how much brown and green material that is going into your compost. Brown material is any dry, carbon-rich material. This includes shredded paper, dried leaves, or old plant material. Green material is nitrogen-rich material like food scraps, eggshells, grass clippings, and coffee grounds.

When composting you want to include equal amounts of brown and green materials. If you are using an outdoor composting system, you’ll want to alternate layering brown and green materials, usually starting with brown.

Finally, you can’t let the compost just sit. Mix it and water it to keep the microbes happy and healthy. Mixing it incorporates oxygen and watering cools the pile and prevents it from drying out.

Indoors

You may have been reading this and thinking, “I have an apartment, I can’t compost!”. Composting inside can be difficult, but it’s not impossible!

The simplest solution is to find a neighbor, community garden, or farmer who would love to add your food scraps to their compost pile. Just store your scraps in a plastic bin with a lid and run over to the pile every few days.

If you don’t have a friend with a compost pile, you can still do it yourself. Many people have found great success in vermiculture, or “worm farming”! Vermiculture is a quick, odorless composting method that is great for those without access to a yard.

Check out this guide for various vermiculture methods and tips!

In-Vessel Composting

Have a little outdoor space, but don’t want to devote half your yard to composting? There are specialized composting bins that can handle all your household waste, speed up the composting time, and stay out of sight.

One of the fastest methods of composting is to use a tumbler. Tumblers are plastic drums that can be rotated to mix the compost easily without getting your hands dirty. They are contained and inconspicuous. We recommend double chambered rotating compost bins like this, which can turn scraps to finished compost in as little as two weeks.

There are also plastic compost bins. These bins are open at the top and bottom. You usually add fresh material to the top and wait for finished compost to be scooped out of the bottom. These bins require little work, just the occasional watering, but can take a while longer than the rotating drum. We recommend this classic Soil Saver from All Green.

These composters are great and beginner friendly, but they have limited capacity. They can handle an average household’s compost, at most, and that doesn’t include yard waste like grass clippings. If you want something that can handle a larger amount of compost, you’ll have to pursue more traditional methods.

 

TOP 10 VEGETABLES FOR PART SHADE

by Heather Stone

Do you have a garden that gets more shade than sun, but you still want to grow vegetables? No problem! There are plenty of vegetables that will grow well with partial sun. We’ve put together a list for you of vegetables that perform well with 6 hours or less of direct sunlight. Read on to find out how to keep yourself in fresh veggies all season by making the most of your shady spots.

 

 

  1. Mesclun Greens (Needs 3 hours of sun)

Mesclun is simply a “mix” of various greens. All of them doing well with just a few hours of sunlight. They germinate quick and reach maturity in a matter of weeks. Try our Mesclun Mix– a great combo of arugula, mustard greens and Chinese cabbage.

  1. Arugula 3-4 hours

This delicious peppery green is easy to grow and loves the cool weather. Plant in early spring about 1 month before the last frost and continue sowing every 20-30 days until mid-summer. Grows well in containers. Try our Wild Arugula!

  1. Lettuce 3-4 hours

Lettuce is a cool-season green that isn’t a big fan of direct sun. The varieties are endless and so easy to grow in the ground or in containers. Plant in early spring and again every two weeks for a continuous supply of lettuce. Make sure to provide shade for the late spring and summer plantings.

  1. Spinach 3-4 hours

The nutrient-packed leaves of spinach love cool weather and protection from the full sun. Spinach is an easy to grow and productive crop that every garden should find a spot for. Like lettuce and arugula plant in early spring and sow successively every 2 weeks for a continuous supply of spinach. Try our Bloomsdale or Nobel Giant varieties.

  1. Kale 3-4 hours

A powerhouse of nutrition, kale is easy to grow in the ground or in containers. The young tender leaves of kale are great in salads. The mature leaves are excellent sauteed or added to soups and stews. Start in early spring and continue you to sow for fresh greens all season long.

  1. Swiss Chard 4-5 hours

Easy to grow from seed and looks fabulous all season long Swiss Chard’s beautiful leaves are easily planted in the perennial garden as well as the vegetable patch.

  1. Radish 4-5 hours

There’s nothing like a fresh spring radish. They are quick to germinate, fast to mature and come in a rainbow of colors. We carry 5 different varieties! No garden should be without radishes.

  1. Peas 4-5 hours

Peas do fine in partial shade in either the garden or the container. They are pretty quick to germinate and prefer cool weather. So get them in the ground early and you’ll have peas to snack on in early summer.

  1. Beets 4-5 hours

Beets can thrive along the shady edge of the garden. The roots might not get quite as big, but if you keep them well watered they will produce excellent tasting greens and sweet, tender roots.

  1. Bok Choy 4 hours

This cool season vegetable germinates in a few days and can be eaten raw or cooked.  Bok Choy is an excellent addition to the part shade garden.