The region's premier landscape contractor & garden center
2389 S. Highway 33, Driggs, ID
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24 Mar 2020

Veggie Garden Basics, part 1:

Veggie gardening is a growing trend for so many reasons: sustainability, stress reduction, wellness, economy, variety, and taste are just some of the benefits of growing vegetables at home. Doing your homework and preparing a plan before you start really pays off in the productivity of your garden. Here is part one of a two-part series intended to guide rookie gardeners and serve as a resource for the seasoned gardeners. Entire books are written about vegetable gardening and this information is only meant to be a starting point and a general guideline.

Site Selection:
A good site is probably the best thing you can do to ensure veggie gardening success. Choose a site with at least 6 hours of direct sunlight and good drainage with no low, wet areas. If possible, choose a site sheltered from the wind. Try to stay away from trees and shrubs that send up shoots such as aspens, cottonwoods or chokecherries. Be sure there is convenient access to water. One of the biggest rookie mistakes is to start too big. Keep your garden small at first and expand as you learn what works for you.
Pro Tip: Position a garden near a south-facing wall or fence for additional radiant heat.

Soil Prep:
Next to site selection, soil quality will determine the productivity of your garden. Loose, well-draining soil rich in organic matter is key. If you are digging up a new site, add lots of organic material (compost, well-aged manure, soil conditioner) to improve soil condition, fertility, drainage, nutrient and water holding ability. If you are filling raised beds, aim for about a fifty-fifty mix of topsoil and organic material (compost, well-aged manure, soil conditioner). Plan to amend the soil in your veggie garden yearly (either in spring or fall) with more organic matter to replenish nutrients lost by cultivation.
If you are planting any heavy feeders such as squash, cucumbers or melons, add a granular fertilizer made for veggies (lots of fertilizer options for organic or conventional gardens, stop in the greenhouse and we can point you in the right direction).
Pro Tip: Soil can be warmed up faster in springtime by placing a layer of clear plastic over top for a few days before planting.

Garden Layout:
If possible, consider building raised beds for gardening. Raised beds offer better drainage, warm up earlier and require is less bending and kneeling. Lining Raised beds with hardware cloth will help keep pesky critters from coming into your garden beds. Keep any paths or walkways between raised beds wide enough to walk through with a wheelbarrow. Don’t plant tall plants or build trellises where they will shade other plants.
Pro Tip: Plant crops in a different spot in the garden each year. Rotating crops like this helps reduce pests and diseases that may linger in the soil.
See example below:

Planting Seeds:
Seeds are amazing wonders of Nature. To germinate and grow, they need soil, water, and light. Certain seeds (such as beans and squash) will only germinate when the soil temperature is warmer, others (peas, carrots) don’t mind getting started in cool soil. Get in the habit of reading the seed packet. The packet will include important information such as when to plant, seed spacing and ‘days to harvest’. It’s best to choose shorter ‘days to harvest’ varieties. Long season crops such as broccoli, cabbage, tomatoes, and peppers can either be started indoors or purchased as seedlings from the garden center.
There are countless varieties of seed to choose from, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed and try to grow too many things. For beginners, start off small and grow something easy (lettuce, radishes, salad greens), grow something you like to eat, and grow something simple (kale, Swiss chard).
Pro tip: Don’t worry if you get started later in the season. As soil temperatures warm up, seeds planted later will often catch up to those planted early because they germinate and grow faster in warmer soil.

Planting Guideline: Here’s a general guideline for the planting of common veggies in the Tetons. Refer to the information provided on the seed package for specific instructions.
Cool Weather Crops (Mid-April & May Planting):
– Spinach
– Peas
– Carrots
– Most lettuces and salad greens
– Radish
– Kale
– Carrots
– Broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower
– Potatoes
– Beets

Warm Weather Crops (first or second week of June):
– Tomatoes
– Beans
– Squash (zucchini, yellow squash, winter squash)
– Cucumbers
Pro tip: In Teton Valley, old-timers wait until the aspens have leafed out halfway up the mountainsides out before planting their first crops.
Bonus Pro Tip: Cheat the season and try planting your warm-weather crops a week early. Sometimes you can get away with it!

22 Jan 2020

Winter Care for Houseplants

Keeping houseplants healthy through the winter months can be a little tricky. Shorter day length, lower humidity and temperature fluctuations can add up to tough growing conditions. Follow these simple tips to keep your houseplants in top form all winter:
• Keep your room as bright as possible. Raise blinds and open the curtains during the day
as often as possible. For sun-loving plants such as succulents, consider moving them to a brighter spot or supplement with a grow light to maximize the light they receive.
• Keep room temperature between 60 and 70. Keep plants away from cold windows or drafty doors. Conversely, keep them away from wood stoves and hot air vents. Night time temperatures on the cooler side are best.
• Dry winter air can stress plants. To increase the humidity, group plants together to create a mini pocket of humid space. Mist frequently or if you have a lot of plants, use a room humidifier. Another trick is to place a layer of pebbles in the saucer underneath the plants and pour water over the pebbles. The evaporation will raise the humidity around your plant. Be careful not to let your plant sit in the water, but over top of the pebbles.
• Water and fertilize less. Plants enjoy a time of rest in the winter months, so fertilizing is not necessary. The potting soil should be completely dry before watering. Use tepid water, and water slowly until it seeps out of the drainage holes in the pot.
• Give them a shower. With plants that can be easily moved, bring them to a sink and hose them off with tepid water. This gets rid of dust and small insects such as spider mites and aphids.
When your houseplants are in good shape, you’ll also improve the air quality in your home for houseplants and for yourself.

12 Nov 2019

November Checklist

Even though our recent temperatures make it feel more like January, there still may be time to complete one or more of these late-season tasks:

• Plant Indoor Bulbs: The outside temperatures won’t foil this plan! November is an excellent time to start paperwhites and amaryllis indoors for holiday gift-giving or for your own enjoyment. Paperwhites take 4-6 weeks to bloom and amaryllis can take 6-12 weeks.
• Spread Wildflower and Grass Seed: Seed will lay dormant until next spring.
All remaining seed is now 50% off.
• Mow, fertilize and protect your lawn: A shorter final cut will reduce the amount of raking next spring. Spread fall fertilizer (we love Espoma ™ organic) and a granular rodent repellant like Molemax™ if voles are a problem in your area.
• Hang and fill bird feeders: We carry a variety of bird feeders and seed to attract a range of wild birds. Feeders placed near trees and shrubs will encourage more visiting birds since they like the protection of nearby branches.

14 Jun 2019

Garden Terminology: tomatoes, berries and fruit

Growing your own food is so satisfying, but the terminology associated with it can get confusing. Here’s a brief look at some common terms and what they mean:

TOMATOES
Determinate: These tomatoes are more compact and bear fruit that will ripen all at the same time. Good for small spaces and people who like to use tomatoes for canning (salsa, tomato sauce, ketchup, etc…)
Indeterminate: These tomatoes grow and grow and grow. They bear fruit that ripens throughout the growing season. These plants will eventually need to be staked or grown in a tomato cage. Good for people who want a continuous, but smaller harvest.

STRAWBERRIES
Everbearing: These allow you to harvest berries all summer long, producing a spring crop and continuing to bear throughout the growing season. Fort Laramie and Ozark Beauty strawberries are everbearing.
Junebearing or Summerbearing: These berries produce one large crop in the month of June. Good for people who want berries for freezing or making jam.

RASPBERRIES
Summerbearing: Will produce one big crop in the summer. Kilarney and Latham are examples.
Fallbearing or Everbearing: These raspberries produce their biggest crop in the late summer. Some varieties also produce earlier in the summer. Fall Gold and Heritage are examples.

APPLES, PEARS, CHERRIES and PLUMS:
Self- sterile: These trees require another variety to pollinate them to bear fruit. Apples, pears and plums are self-sterile.
Self-fruitful: These trees do not require another variety to bear fruit. Cherries are self-fruitful.

22 May 2019

Flower Care 101

The flowers you purchase from our greenhouse are used to a warm and humid environment and receive routine care. For success beyond our care, follow these simple steps for beautiful blooms all summer long:
Note: this guide refers to flowering annuals and hanging baskets.
• Be careful not to cook new plants in your car. Take them home straight away or if you have to make stops, park in the shade and keep some windows cracked. At home, keep new plants in a sheltered, shady spot and give them some water if they’re dry or wilted.
• Gradually expose newly purchased plants to the outdoors on a covered porch or in a shady spot out of the wind. This is called hardening off.
• Watch the weather. A few annuals, such as pansies will tolerate freezing temperatures, but most will need to be covered or moved inside if a frost is predicted.
• Plant in high-quality potting mix in a container with drainage holes. If the plants are to be planted in last year’s container, remove all former plant material and refresh with new soil. Adding granular fertilizer to the soil prior to planting will promote continual blooming and healthy root formation. We love Osmocote™ slow release fertilizer.
• Water needs will vary depending on the size and type of container, sun and wind exposure. The soil should never be allowed to dry out. Feel the soil daily to check if it’s dry. Water thoroughly until you can see water coming out of the drainage holes. Depending on sun and wind exposure, annuals may need water up to twice a day.
• Routine removal of spent flowers will encourage more blooming. This is called deadheading. Be sure to remove the entire flower and stem.
• Additional liquid fertilizer (such as Fertilome™ brand Blooming & Rooting) beginning midsummer will maintain lush foliage and continuous blooming.

06 May 2019

De-mystifying Fertilizers:

Routine applications of fertilizer promote healthy growth in lawns, trees, shrubs, veggie gardens and flower beds. A stop at our garden center reveals many choices and brands of fertilizers. Why so many choices, what do they all do? Here are some fertilizer basics and guidelines to help make an informed choice.

What’s in Fertilizer?
Three main chemical elements are found in all mixed fertilizers:
N = Nitrogen promotes healthy leaf growth by stimulating the production of chlorophyll (the main chemical involved in photosynthesis).
P = Phosphorus helps with the development of roots, stems, blossoms, and fruits.
K = Potassium for overall health and vigor, helps plants digest and manufacture their foods.
These elements are listed in this sequence on the label of all fertilizers. Complete fertilizers will have some of each element, for example, 5-10-5. A balanced fertilizer will have about the same portion of each, for example, 15-15-15. Specialty fertilizers may have a greater portion of one of these elements, to support a specific kind of growth. Lawn fertilizers, for example, will be high in Nitrogen (N) for lush, leafy growth. Fertilizers for flowers or fruiting plants like veggies will have a higher middle number (P) like 10-15-10.
There are also a variety of minerals in fertilizers such as iron, calcium, copper, and magnesium that may be part of a given fertilizer’s composition. These will be listed on the label.

Liquid vs Granular Fertilizer:
Each has its own uses depending on the plants’ needs. Liquid fertilizers provide immediate nutrition to a plant. Liquids are perfect for plants that need a quick pick-up.
Granular Fertilizers provide nutrients that take longer to be absorbed into the plants’ tissues. These are great for spring applications to last well into the growing season.
Organic vs Conventional: The main difference between organics and conventional fertilizer is the source of the nutrients. Organics are derived from animal and plant waste. The N-P-K ratio of organics will be much lower than that of synthetic fertilizers and are slower acting. For this reason, it is less likely to ‘burn’ plants using organic fertilizer. Organics often benefit the soil as well as the plants. Conventional fertilizers are manufactured synthetically using chemical processes. Synthetic fertilizers are faster acting, less expensive and generally have higher N-P-K ratios.

When to fertilize:
There’s no point fertilizing plants unless they’re actively growing. Veggies, trees, shrubs and flowers will all reward you with lush, healthy growth for feeding them a balanced granular fertilizer in the spring. Lawns benefit from spring fertilizer as well as summer and late fall for continued green, leafy growth. Hanging baskets and flowering annuals like the regular addition of liquid fertilizer mid- July through September. Bulbs need fertilizer at planting time in the fall.
How to apply: Liquid fertilizers can be mixed in a large bucket or watering can and applied all over the plant, including the foliage and root zone.
Granular fertilizers can be placed in a spreader for larger areas like lawns and flower beds or can be measured out and sprinkled around the base of each individual plant. Brush any granular fertilizer from the leaves so they don’t burn.

More is not better in the case of fertilizer. Over-applying can lead to spindly growth or can burn the plants. Avoid applying fertilizer in the heat of the day and water thoroughly after applying granular fertilizer.
It is up to the user to read the product instructions and follow them precisely.

08 Apr 2019

Vole Damage in Lawns: what can I do?

The winter snowpack is melting and we are left with a mess covering our lawns. Voles have enjoyed had a nice long winter under a protective snow layer. Tunnels, dirt piles, grass clippings and droppings are all unsightly remains of vole damage. Voles do not hibernate but are active year-round, living between the soil surface and snow during the winter. They feed on bark, roots and grass. The damage has been done, now what?

Control the population:
There is no magic bullet here, but a combination of tactics seems work the best.
-Traps: Cheap and very effective, simple mouse traps placed perpendicular to active tunnels can do a lot to control the population. They work well without bait as the voles are habituated to run along their tunnels. Keep trapping (and emptying your traps-yuck!) until you notice fewer voles being caught.
-Habitat Reduction: Mow tall grasses or weedy areas in the fall. These areas are perfect cover for voles.
-Baits: A few are available to the homeowner. Always follow instructions carefully and be cautious when using in areas with kids or pets.
-Repellents: There are many commercially available repellents with varying formulas. They can be helpful, but need to be applied in intervals. Be sure to do a final application late fall for a longer effect through the winter.

Fix the damage:
It may be overwhelming at first, but lawns and grassy areas can bounce back from vole damage quite well. Once the snow has melted and the damaged area is no longer sodden, begin with raking up dead grass. Tamp down any raised dirt tunneling and reseed bare dirt with a lawn mix. Feed with lawn food and keep any newly-seeded areas damp. As the days lengthen and warm, existing grass will spread into damaged areas and new seed will germinate.

Vole populations are always changing. Natural predators such as hawks, skunks, foxes and owls are our allies against voles. Domestic dogs and cats can also help control vole populations. Our beautiful western landscape with its fields and meadows is home to voles. They will continue to be the bane of the rural homeowner and gardener, but it’s better than living in the city, right?

01 Mar 2019

Quick and Dirty Gardening Basics

Volumes of books have been written about gardening. But what do you really need to know to be successful? Here’s our version of the basics:

– Location: Most veggie and fruiting plants will need at least 6 hours of full sun daily. Perennials and annuals are more adaptable.
– Soil: Healthy soil equates to healthy plants. Adding compost will feed your soil and in turn feed your plants. Do this yearly in veggie gardens and at planting time for perennials, shrubs and trees. Choose a quality potting mix for planters.
-Seed and Plant Selection: For seeds, pick those with a shorter ‘days to harvest’ on the label. Plant fresh seed that is labeled for the current year each season. Select perennials, shrubs and trees known to grow well in our area and that are the correct USDA zones (zones 2-4).
– Watering: Watering needs will vary depending on your plant selection, stage and location. Generally, the larger the roots (trees) the less frequent watering they will need. A tiny root system (a germinating seed) will need more frequent watering. Water early in the morning to allow the foliage to dry during the day and for less waste from evaporation.
-Feeding: A yearly application of fertilizer in spring will help keep plants vigorous and healthy. Some veggies like beans, squash, corn and tomatoes are heavy feeders and may need additional fertilizer throughout the growing season.
-Be watchful: A quick check every few days for bugs or other issues will help spot trouble before it gets out of control. Keep an eye on the weather and be ready to cover up any tender plants with frost cloth when a temperature dip is predicted.

No two gardens are alike and no two seasons are alike. Learn as you go and enjoy!

15 Feb 2019

Three Sisters Garden

Early Native Americans traditionally planted corn, squash and beans together. These crops grew so well together that they became known as the Three Sisters. Here is a classic example of companion gardening where each plant helps another. The corn stalks provide a trellis for the beans to climb, the beans provide nitrogen for the corn and squash. The squash in turn provides protection for the beans and corn by shading the soil and discouraging pests with their spiny stems. Growing a Three Sisters garden would be an excellent lesson for kids about co-dependence and growing food.
This garden theme is fun with kids because the plants grow fast and they grow big. The seeds themselves are relatively large and easier for little hands to handle and plant. These veggies all like to grow in warm soil, so wait until the first or second week of June to start. This garden needs its own spot with good soil and full sun. To begin, build up a gently sloping mound of soil. Incorporate a granular vegetable fertilizer into the soil. Plant the corn seeds in the center. Wait a couple of weeks until the corn has grown up about 6 inches then surround the corn with bean seeds. Plant the squash seeds surrounding the corn and beans, on the sloping edge of the mound.
– Corn: Choose any short season variety or buy starts from a garden center.
– Beans: Pole beans are traditionally grown in this garden, but bush beans would be fine too. Sow seed directly into the prepared area.
– Squash: Zucchini and yellow summer squash are the easiest bets for our region. Sow from seed or buy starts from a garden center.