Few pursuits are as rewarding as growing your own organic garden. Not only do you get to enjoy the fruits of your own labor, but you have the satisfaction of knowing that the produce you are eating was grown free of chemicals, pesticides and herbicides. Growing organically produces healthy, more diverse ecosystems which are better able to resist significant pest damage… naturally!
Easy to plant from seed, growing zinnias is very rewarding with their full, rich colors and abundant blooms. Available in a wide variety of sizes, from miniatures to giants, and colors, from white to orange to pink and multicolored, zinnias will satisfy any flower-lover for several months every summer.
Zinnia is an annual warm season plant that likes full sun and a rich, well-drained soil. They are easy to grow, however, and will tolerate average to slightly poor soils. Generous amounts of compost and organic matter will improve the health of your zinnias tremendously. Keep the soil moist, but not wet.
How to Plant:
Zinnias can be started early indoors for transplanting outdoors about six to eight weeks before the last frost date, or they can be seeded directly into the flower bed after all danger of frost has passed. Sow directly into the soil and cover with about 1/4 inch of soil. Water thoroughly. Thin to 6-12 inches apart after they have sprouted. (more…)
A great climber that’s perfect for fences and trellises! Home flower gardeners are growing sweet peas for their fragrant scent and interesting blossoms. Easy to plant from seed, they add a splash of color to any garden, especially in cooler, wet climates.
Sweet peas like a rich, well-drained soil but will tolerate various conditions. Soak seeds in water for 2-6 hours before planting to improve germination. Sow directly into the soil, about 4-6 inches apart and cover with 1/2 inch of soil.
How to Plant:
Sow sweet pea seeds as soon as the soil can be worked for summer bloom. The seed casings are hard, so soak overnight for best germination. Sweet peas like full sun and cool weather, so they can tolerate wet soil and wet climates well. Water regularly during dry conditions to keep them blooming. Fertilize a couple times during the season with an all-purpose fertilizer. (more…)
Remarkably fun and very hardy — perfect for kids! Home gardeners are growing sunflowers for their full, rich sunset colors and large blooms. Easy to plant from seed, they are available in sizes ranging from miniatures at 1-2 feet tall (good for edging) to 20 feet tall with 2 foot diameter blooms. They germinate easily and are fascinating and rewarding to watch, and provide fun seeds to harvest at the end of the summer, making them the ideal seed for children.
Sunflowers like a good, well-drained soil and will thrive in areas with full sun. It is not recommended to plant them in sandy soil, however, as they need a strong soil to support their tall, top-heavy plants.
How to Plant:
Sunflowers are very easy to direct-seed. Sow after danger of frost has passed, about 4-6 inches apart with 1/2 inch of soil covering them. If started indoors, use peat pots or pots made of newspaper that can be planted directly into the soil. (more…)
In ancient times snapdragons (Antirrhinum Majus) were thought to have supernatural powers and offer protection from witchcraft. They were also believed to restore beauty and youthfulness to women. Growing snapdragons provides months of color ranging from pale pastels to vibrant reds and oranges. They are a favorite flower for cutting and fragrance. Native to southern Europe and the Mediterranean. Plants grow 1-3 feet tall. Self-seeding annual.
Snapdragons thrive in the cooler temperatures of late spring and do best in sunny locations with rich, well-drained soil. Plants will not flourish where temperatures are high for long periods of time. Blooms will tolerate some frost. Under favorable conditions, snapdragons will self-sow in the garden.
How to Plant:
May be grown from cuttings or from seed. If planting from seed, sow indoors on the surface of the soil for 8 weeks before last frost. Seeds will germinate in 10-20 days. For best results, sow in vermiculite and water from below. Plant outdoors after last frost. Pinch back young plants after 4-6 leaves have appeared to encourage a bushy habit and apply an all-purpose organic fertilizer for optimum plant health. Spent flowers should be picked often to encourage more blooms. If blooms become scarce, cut back plants drastically, then feed and water generously. Plants may need to be staked when young. (more…)
Home gardeners everywhere are growing daisies. The simple white flowers with yellow button centers are a symbol of purity and are perfect for cutting. Easy to grow, they are a favorite for beginner flower gardeners and are effective when planted in small groups. Perennial, 2-3 feet tall.
Daisies like rich, fast draining soil, ample water and lots of sunshine. However, they are hardy and will tolerate poor soil conditions and partial shade. Work some old animal manure or compost into the soil to help promote abundant blooms.
How to Plant:
Easy to grow from seed, division or nursery stock. Plant directly into the soil 1/8 inch deep when a light frost is still possible. Seeds will germinate in 10-20 days and plants will bloom the following year – after one seasons growth. Apply an all-purpose organic fertilizer early in the season to promote strong, sturdy growth. (more…)
The Queen of Flowers! Home gardeners have been growing roses for well over 2,000 years. Loved for their beauty and fragrance, they are cultivated for a variety of landscape effects or for cutting. The members of the genus Rosa are prickly stemmed shrubs with a wide range of heights and growing habits. There are as many as 150-200 species and thousands of varieties, from miniatures (6 inches to 2 feet tall) to climbers that may grow 20 feet or more. Perennial.
Roses like a good, well-drained soil and will grow best in protected spots with ample water and full sun. Plants require at least 8-10 hours of sunlight per day for optimum growth.
Tip: If you have a choice between morning or afternoon sun, it’s probably best to choose morning. This will help dry morning moisture from foliage quickly and prevent many plant diseases. (more…)
Native to South America, the first petunia (Petunia multiflora) specimen was collected by an explorer at the mouth of the Rio de la Plata and was white in color. The original varieties were hardy plants that had trailing 2-3 inch stems and incredible scents. These scents have been lost in many of the modern-day varieties. Fortunately many of the heirloom varieties are still available to gardeners interested in growing petunias. The trailing types are suitable for growing in hanging baskets. Plants grow 10-18 inches tall. Self-seeding annual.
Petunias require full sunlight to thrive, but will tolerate some shade. The more shade they receive, the fewer flowers they’ll produce. Soil should be average to rich and well-drained. Prior to planting work a shovelful or two of organic matter, such as compost or well-aged manure, into the soil. This helps condition the soil, which improves drainage, and will also increase the ability of lighter soils to hold water and nutrients. (more…)
One of the most widely grown of all garden flowers, pansies (Viola x wittrockiana), also known as violas, will bloom in a variety of colors all summer long and thrives in cool, wet spring time conditions. Excellent in containers, rock gardens, borders or edging. Plants are short lived in hot environments. Self-seeding perennial (grown as an annual in the North), 4-10 inches tall.
Pansies thrive in cool, rich, moist, well-drained soil. They prefer partial shade, but will tolerate full sun where summers are cool. Add plenty of compost, or other organic matter, to the soil prior to planting to help retain moisture, and prevent plants from wilting during the heat of the day. (more…)
A fast growing annual plant that reseeds itself freely. Home gardeners are growing nasturtium (Tropaeolum) for their colorful flowers and attractive foliage. The flowers and leaves are edible and make a peppery addition to salads, pastas or used as a garnish. Hardy annual, 12-14 inches tall.
Nasturtiums prefer full sun and average moist soil, but beware; once established it may be hard to eradicate. In hot climates plant in partial shade.
How to Plant:
Sow outdoors one week after last frost 1/4 inch beneath the surface of the soil. Nasturtium seeds germinate in 7-12 days. Some of the taller climbing varieties will need support. Pinch off the spent blooms to extend the flowering season. (more…)
A favorite! Home flower gardeners are growing morning glory (Ipomoea) for their vibrant colors, including purples, reds, pinks and blues. This vining plant is often found covering old wire fences where their delicate flowers greet you with the morning sun. Reliably self-seeds each year. Plants grow to 15 feet if given proper support. Self-seeding hardy annual.
Choose a planting site that has full sun and moist average soil. Working some compost or old animal manure into the soil will help.
How to Plant:
Morning glory is easy to grow from seed. Plant outdoors 1/2 inch deep after the last frost. Keep moist while germinating. Seeds will germinate in 5-21 days. Seeds can be slightly chipped and soaked in warm water for 24 hours before planting for better results. Thin plants to 4-6 inches apart. Provide support so the plants can climb. If you have trouble getting morning glory started, make sure the planting site is in full sun and that the seedlings never dry out until they become established. Provide organic fertilizer rich in phosphorous two or three times during the growing season. (more…)