Flowers and fruit are only the beginning.
In the seed lies the life and the future.

- Marion Zimmer Bradley

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Purple sprouting broccoli in the garden, primary sprouts already harvested.

The transplants were placed in the garden last autumn.
Being a little behind on garden tasks this year, I especially appreciate these wintered-over crops.

These sprouts are sweet and delicious, raw or lightly steamed.
If you didn't plan ahead last year to have this harvest,
Tara Pattinson's class offers an alternative:
Edible Wild Plants - Resources in the Library of Congress.
Always educate yourself before foraging for wild food plants. Some plants are poisonous!
Purple sprouting broccoli

Many thanks to Tara Pattinson's class members who also sent to me this link which offers general information on berries.
Berry Fruit Guide

I have in my own garden 'Summit' red raspberries, a wide variety of blueberries, and lingonberries.

This "How to Grow Raspberries" article from Fine Gardening details growing the same variety that I have which provides a long and delicious picking season for me and my neighbors.

Below see my raspberry patch in April.

'Summit' raspberries in April 2012

At right is the same raspberry patch in August last year.

Starting seeds

13 steps to healthy seedlings

Causes of weak, spindly seedlings

When to sow seeds

seed sources

Dolichos Lab Lab seedling

snowflakeWeather watch


Freeze/Frost Maps National Climate Data Center (USA)

Average first & last frost dates:
USA Canada

more weather links

'Summit' raspberries in August 2011


Mossy flats, seeds not germinating

Hi,  New to your website but really like what I see.  Maybe you can help me.   I have searched and can't find an answer.  I have a greenhouse with gas heat, fan, etc.  I am bottom watering my flats but now they have moss.  If I don't water as often, they dry out and won't germinate.  HELP!!!!  What am I doing wrong?  My seeds won't germinate and I'm having a family reunion this summer!

--Thanks Brenda H.

Hello, Brenda! Thank you for visiting my website.

I find bottom watering to be fine for young plants, but not for seeds. Seeds want moisture, but not to the exclusion of air!

Are you using a potting mix that drains well but still retains moisture? The right balance of ingredients such as peat (moisture retentive) and perlite (drainage and air) makes a difference. Seeds prefer a light mix. Try combining 4 parts peat, 2 parts fine perlite, and 2 parts fine vermiculite, OR try just using vermiculite (fine grade) alone. Remember that your little seedlings will need some weak fertilizer as soon as they show true leaves, as there is no food for them in perlite or vermiculite.

I water my potting mix with warm water, plant the seeds, then COVER THE FLAT with one of those clear dome covers. Most flats I place on a heat mat. I check the flats daily and water only where needed using a bottled water bottle with a squirt top (usually the cells on the edge dry out a bit first. Using the dome is important-- it retains the original moisture longer. You could also just use a plastic bag and support it above the flat with small sticks or wire arches (so any sprouts don't touch the plastic directly).

IMPORTANT: As soon as the seeds sprout, prop up one edge of the dome (or open the end of the plastic bag) to let some air circulate; otherwise you will have trouble with damping off fungus.

As soon as the seedlings are large enough to handle (having 2 true leaves-- just enough to hang on to as you transfer the seedling), you can pot them up in regular potting mix and continue to feed a weak fertilizer solution often.

timer for controlling lights

Use a timer to control your lights, which should be on over your seedlings no more than 18 hours a day.


More places to look for planting inspiration:

New vegetable varieties for 2012 from the Mail Tribune.

Don't be concerned that the page header says "Curcurbit Breeding", this list from North Carolina state university contains links to hundreds of "Vegetable Cultivar Descriptions for North America".

All America Selections

In Pictures: 10 of the best new vegetables for 2012
from The Telegraph

Plans for cutting gardens
from Gardener's Supply Company

National Garden Bureau
New varieties of flowers 2012.

Plan a salad garden
from The Oregonian

A salad garden to last all summer
from Charlie Dimmock, The Early Show, CBS News.

From Eat Drink Better
Grow a salad.

Greenhouses in Antarctica - "The McMurdo greenhouse has no glass. In a continent with only one long summer day and one long winter night in a year, the greenhouse's artificial lights create night and day every 24 hours for the plants."


Build your own greenhouse!
Links to free resources
Constructing and operating a greenhouse in USDA zone 4. Stuart Culp's photographs of construction, extensive text, links to drawings and details of a wood frame, triple wall polycarbonate-glazed greenhouse.
Building a passive solar greenhouse. Photos and text of construction and management of a greenhouse in northern New Mexico.
Uraniborg greenhouse, a greenhouse and workshop. Modelled after Margaret Simpson's Taj Majal greenhouse.
more links...


The Door Garden $50 greenhouse

From The Door Garden: How to build my $50 greenhouse.
Detailed instructions, photos, and materials list.


You can use this link to the old website to access its contents.


35 uses for plastic milk jugs
Make soil scoops, watering cans, markers, or use them as weights to hold down row covers.


Mother Earth News

You can build your own add-on greenhouse.
An earth-sheltered greenhouse.
How to build a greenhouse from used windows or storm doors.
Raised garden bed inexpensive min-greenhouse.
DIY, low cost and multipurpose greenhouses.
Build a greenhouse: the amazing, low-cost, multipurpose, solar-heated greenhouse/guesthouse.



The Plants Database

You'll find this site very useful.Typing in a plant name (I looked up Tomato 'Juliet') brings up its entry and a thumbnail image. Clicking on either brings up more detail such as height, spacing, days to maturity, reviews from other gardeners, and more images that you can click on and enlarge to get a really good look.

Nonmembers may only search 10 times, but membership is free. Perhaps you could join and add to the database.

The Plants Database currently contains 62,053 plants, 34,154 photos, 15,467 comments, representing 356 families, 2,416 genera, and 5,407 species.

This database was collaboratively developed by gardeners around the world. It is the result of the efforts of 4,718 individuals. It is the largest of its kind in existence.

You may search for entries in several ways: by name (common or botanical); by characteristics (height, hardiness, etc.) or browse the database by category."

Build a potting bench

Your back will thank you for building this bench, and potting plants up to the next size will be a pleasure. (My own bench even doubles as a buffet table during the summer. A smooth finish makes it easy to clean off.)

Many thanks to Mike McClure for his contribution of this bench design, detailed and fully illustrated instructions, and parts list.

potting bench

Bessie & Alice, SHERRY'S GREENHOUSE  "chicks in residence"

Bessie (left) and little Alice exploring their tiny grass park.

Hollyhock seeds won't grow

Hi IM new to this gardening and I love hollyhock's but the problem with that is I have not been able to get them to come up. I have planted them in the spring around last year and they didn't do anything. So my question is when is the best time to plant Hollyhocks? Thank you for all the information you have all ready post to us. ---Summer.

Hollyhocks (aka Althaea) should be easy to grow. If you plant them outside, do so after the last frost.
If that has not been working for you, I would try planting them indoors. You will then have more control over the environment. Althaea seeds need light to germinate, so just press the seeds into the soil-- don't bury them. They will germinate best at 60 to 70 degrees Farenheit soil temperature in about 10 to 14 days.
Go to the seed starting page for planting instructions:

Worldflower Garden DomesYou may prefer a different shape for your greenhouse. Geodesic domes offer another possibility. From Ernie Aiken of Worldflower Garden Domes, connector kits are available --cut your own lumber and save money, or purchase a complete ready-to-assemble garden dome kit. Worldflower Garden Domes are not free, as the above resources are, but are certainly interesting. You can easily make a paper model from Ernie's website graphics to preview any of the dome models, or just look through the extensive photos in the site.


Build a garden cloche & raised bed

For those plants you've set out early and want to protect from frost, eartheasy offers plans for building a portable garden cloche. Very clear instructions and drawings.

Make a cloche to their specifications, or make one to fit over a raised garden bed (more good info. from eartheasy).

By the way, I highly recommend raised beds. I put in 8 small (about 4 feet square) raised beds last year. Of course, I was staining, installing, and leveling them during a particularly rainy period, but it was well worth it. I did not use treated lumber, just deck stain on plain fir lumber.

My near urban lot is hilly, small, and just about solid clay soil. The raised bed structure takes care of the terracing necessary to get any flat ground around here. In the beds I have perfectly drained fluffy soil at all times. In our cool soggy winter and spring, the soil temperature in the raised beds is significantly higher. All to the good.

Vegetable production last year was far beyond what I had ever gotten in a traditional ground level garden. It helped to have a definite edge to everything also.

Producing transplants in the greenhouse is so much more satisfying when you know they will continue to thrive when set out into the raised beds.

Spider mites in the greenhouse

We enjoy your site! We are new to the greenhouse world and have ordered seeds and started some greenhouse tomato recently.  We struggle with temperature, but maintain about 50 at night. We have noticed “mites”.  What should we do?  I have heard we need to strip the greenhouse, spray with bleach?  Any advise would be great. 

The tomatos I am growing are only costing me about $40 per month in electric… haha.   I hope they are worth it.  Please provide your thoughts and keep the information on the site coming.  
Daryl L.

Hello, Daryl! Thank you for visiting my website.

If you have a spider mite problem, your greenhouse atmosphere is TOO DRY. Damage caused by spider mites shows as numerous tiny white or yellow speckles on leaves, progressing (in severe infestations) to fine "silk" or webs on leaves which collects dust, and so many mites on the plants that they are easily spotted.

The first thing to do is spray your plants with jets of water. Be sure to get the undersides of the leaves also. It would indeed be a good idea to clean up the greenhouse. I would not use bleach, however. Bleach is a very harsh chemical and will kill everything. Good bugs have an important place in a greenhouse. I especially appreciate the good work that my greenhouse spiders do. Use mild soap and warm water and scrub a little. (This reminds me that I need to do just that in my own greenhouse.)

The second thing I would do is get some neem oil or horticultural oil (Ultra Fine), mix with water and spray on all plant surfaces. These work by smothering insects and their eggs, but are not toxic to beneficials such as spiders, ladybugs and bees. Be sure to spray the undersides of the leaves. This will get any spider mites that were not destroyed by the jets of water. These are available at Charley's Greenhouse You may need to repeat applications to maintain control. (Follow instructions provided with the oil.)

Third, if you have a really bad infestation, get some predatory mites such as Phytoseiulus persimilis to release in your greenhouse. BioControl Network and are a couple of possible sources. (Also they are available at Charley's Greenhouse.)

Finally, since I installed a mist system in my greenhouse, I have not once had a spider mite problem, plants thrive, and my orchids bloom abundantly.

Hope this helps!
- Sherry

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