Late to garden, but not behind

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With two seeds to each cell of a sixpack container, I was able to space these climbing beans at the best distance.

With two seeds to each cell of a sixpack container, I was able to space these climbing beans at the best distance.

We were so late to get the vegetable garden planted this year. What with lots of rain and cold temperatures well into spring, it just didn’t happen. But we are not behind at all!

About four weeks ago I started almost everything in flats and sixpacks, so that when we finally got the soil cultivated and the support systems and electric fence installed, we could hit the ground running. Or rather our vegetable plants could. I figured that since I’ve seen everything from bush beans, to lettuce, to tomatoes (of course), to zucchini available to purchase in small pots or sixpacks, there was no reason I couldn’t start my own. And so I did.

Start your own vegetable plants four to six weeks before you expect to plant, using a good-quality potting soil and your stash of small pots and sixpack cells. I did that with practically everything but the tomatoes which I bought as seedlings, and then repotted in large pots to give them a leg up on the season. The only thing I planted as seeds in the garden were the radishes and the sweet corn. However I have seen sixpacks of corn offered for sale too. So I suppose there’s no reason not to jump-start that too. Something to file for next year’s garden.

Most everything went into the garden today. I have already started additional small containers — small batches are the best so that you don’t waste plants and seeds because of lack of planting space — of lettuce and spinach for succession planting. It was almost like an instant garden.

And there’s another good reason to pre-plant, a few years ago I discovered that chipmunks were “harvesting” the sunflower seeds I had planted in the garden before they ever got an opportunity to germinate. The pre-planting in containers is the perfect way to combat such thievery and ensure that what you plant has already sprouted. Just wait until seedlings have secondary leaves and have established a good root system before putting them into the ground in your garden.

We have found the combination of climbing beans on one side of a fence support, and cucumbers and VanGogh sunflowers (find seeds from Renee’s Garden Seeds) make perfect companions in the vegetable garden. The cukes climb the sunflowers which grow to about five feet tall and have incredibly sturdy stalks.

By removing tomato seedlings from their sixpacks and planting them in larger pots with good soil, they get a jumpstart on the growing season before they are ever planted in the garden.

By removing tomato seedlings from their sixpacks and planting them in larger pots with good soil, they get a jumpstart on the growing season before they are ever planted in the garden.

Combine cucumbers and VanGogh sunflowers for optimum results.

Combine cucumbers and VanGogh sunflowers for optimum results.

Proven Winners shrubs are here!

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PW 2013 shrubsTalk about a box full of potential. That’s what this garden writer recently received when a shipment of shrubs from Proven Winners arrived at my doorstep. The shrubs were sent to me so that I could try them out, and report to you on their merits.

Let’s see what the box contained: First there was a pair (not exactly matched, but appropriate for good pollination and fruit production) of Arrowwood Viburnums, ‘All That Glows’ with white spring flowers and fruit for wildlife and ‘All That Glitters’ also fruiting for birds. Both display glossy-green foliage and booth are good deer-resistant shrubs. (Zones 5-8)

We’re very excited about the petite Arborvitae ‘Filip’s Magic Moment,’ a compact (and did I mention the petite part?) alternative to those dwarf spruces. Topping out at six to eight feet tall, this compact evergreen displays stunning golden foliage. Just imagine the things you can do with this selection! Use it for flanking formal entryways in the ground or in large containers for spectacular results. (Zones 3-7)

For a reblooming hydrangea, ‘Let’s Dance®’ Rhapsody Blue is sure to wow you. Rich mophead blooms simply packed with distinctively geometric florets are a vibrant blue. Need I say more? (Zones 5-9)

Try it alongside a birch-leaf spirea ‘Glow Girl’ that not only has white spring flowers, but its luscious lemon-lime foliage holds its color all season to provide a stunning focal point and contrast too. But wait, there’s more. This spirea has compact form and habit, at about three to four feet. (Zones 3-9)

Want to know about these shrubs and others from Proven Winners Color Choice flowering shrubs? Visit the website at: http://www.provenwinners.com/plants/shrubs/proven-winners-colorchoice-flowering-shrub-zones