Tag Archives: Burpee

July Vegetables

My spring vegetables really took a beating from the rabbits and the weather. Even though I had shored up the rabbit fence around the yard, all it took was a couple of holes and I had a nice happy family of rabbits devouring almost everything I planted. Radishes, swiss chard, spinach, lettuce, kale, beets and carrots were all gone. The last straw was when my bean plants were each bitten cleanly off at the base.

Since this spring was a loss, I put up a rabbit fence around these two beds to protect what was left.

By now the weather has turned too warm to replant any cool weather seeds, so I’ll have to put my focus into what’s remaining and plan for some fall planting.

The Gourmet Gold Hybrid Summer Squash (Burpee) is truly a beautiful bright yellow summer squash and seems to be an early and heavy producer. A great addition when trying to eat a “rainbow of colors”. The Emerald Delight Zucchini has just started producing and so far I’m liking what I’m harvesting. Both are wonderful on a fresh veggie platter!

The garlic was ready to harvest last week and it’s now curing on the porch! I’m so spoiled by the amazing taste of homegrown garlic, that come late spring I dread having to buy garlic.

I planted the hardneck varieties Music and Purple Glazer, and the softneck Early California from Botanical Interests this year. My WI garlic is a little bit behind and probably won’t be ready for a couple more weeks. Want to know more about growing and harvesting garlic? Check out my previous garlic posts or search for the tag “growing garlic” on the right sidebar.

The Early Girl tomatoes have lived up to their name and already been producing tasty tomatoes perfect for salads and sandwiches, and the Better Boys aren’t too far behind. The Super Sweet 100’s cherry tomatoes are just starting to ripen as well. Tomato season is here!

Last but not least are my potatoes. I planted a lot of Yukon Gold and Dark Red Norland potatoes. Even had to buy more potato bags to plant them all. They look really healthy this year since they’ve had plenty of rain. Want to grow your own next year? It’s really easy to do and fun to find all those potatoes in the fall. Check out my how-to’s on planting, growing and harvesting potatoes.

How are your vegetables doing? Have weather or creatures been a problem for you?

Maybe since it’s been cooler in WI, and the garden fenced in better, I’ll have better luck with the mid-summer harvests of my spring planted seeds that I planted there. I’ll be checking on that soon.







What Am I Growing-2017

It’s always fun to spend time in January and February going through all the seed and garden catalogs to see what I am going to grow this year.

It’s also during that time, I wish I had bigger gardens and more sun to really plant huge vegetable and flower gardens. But I have what I have, so I’m limited in what I can plant and can honestly barely take care of that. After many years of experimenting, I’ve settled into growing particular vegetables we like best, but often changing up the varieties, and then throwing in a few new things for fun.

Now’s the time to get started with any indoor sowing that needs to be done to give plants a head start in my northern climate. As in prior years, I’ve printed out my very handy planting guides from Botanical Interests and noted the sowing dates by counting the weeks backwards from my average last frost date.

If you don’t know your average last frost date, you can find it easily on Dave’s Garden.

Like usual, I’ll get my tomatoes and sweet peppers from a local nursery (shout out to Vern Goers Greenhouse) who grows multiple varieties of both. Pretty much any variety I want I can get from them, and they’ll be stronger and healthier than anything I’d grow.

So what am I growing this year? I usually get my seeds from Botanical Interests and Burpee, depending on who has my favorite varieties. This year, I have also ordered some seeds from Johnny’s Selected Seeds since I was already ordering leek plant sets and seed potatoes from them.

Inside, I will be starting:

Vegetables that I will starting outdoors directly:

I’m also trying something new this year, seed tapes. Seed tapes are supposed to make it easier to plant small seeds and reduce the need for thinning. It’s biodegradable and can be cut to fit your space. Looks handy! I’m going to try it for spinach and radishes this year.

Since we don’t have any spring parties scheduled, I’m going to grow more of my own annuals from seed.   As always, I’m growing marigolds and plenty of my new favorite cosmos.

I’ve described how I start seeds using the Gardener’s Supply Company APS System (which has been replaced by the GrowEase System) in “Time to Sow Seeds Indoors“. This year I’m also adding some new recycled paper pots from Botanical Interests which look perfect for the plants that don’t like to transplant so well.

Plants can be grown right from seed and when time to transplant, the bottom tears off and the remaining pot and plant go right in the ground.  Sounds great for my cucumbers and squashes.

I’m also finally investing in a grow light. I tend to grow very leggy seedlings that do ok, but a grow light is going to help the seedlings grow faster, healthier and better for transplanting. My mom Peggy bought the Hydrofarm JumpStart JSV2 2-Foot T5 Grow Light System a couple of years ago and had great luck with it. Her plants looked great when I was visiting last week, so I just ordered the same light set. Looking forward to not having a leggy, tangled mess of plants 🙂



My Raspberry and Strawberry Plants are Here!

My mom grows the best raspberries in her garden.  There is nothing better than going out in her yard and picking a handful of just the most delicious ripe berries or having some of her homemade raspberry jam.  So I decided it was time to try and grow some myself.  I ordered them earlier this winter from Burpee and they just arrived, ready to plant.  Of course, while I was ordering them I was tempted by the strawberries as well and ordered some of them too.

Now I don’t have nearly the space she does, so I hope I’m not creating a monster by planting plants that like to spread like berry plants do.  But, it’s worth a try to get those fresh berries in my own yard.

The plants arrived as bare-root stock, which mostly means they look dead.  I’ve had plants before come this way, so I’m not worried.


Much to my surprise, my new plants came from my old stomping grounds, Erie County NY!


Because I was indecisive, I order 2 different everbearing varieties:  Heritage and Caroline.  Everbearing varieties will produce two crops, one in July and the other in the fall.  Both of these varieties seem to work well in my area so we’ll see if one is better than the other.

I spread them out in a couple of different garden areas that get a fair amount of sun.  Right now, they look like dead sticks, but in the next few weeks they should start to grow.


While I was shopping for the raspberries, the strawberry ads caught my eye.  I had grown a couple of plants last year that put out a few tasty strawberries, so I thought more would be better.

garden strawberry

After a little research, I added 25 Evie-2 plants to my order.  I probably don’t need so many plants, but that’s how they came.  Unfortunately, before they came Burpee sent me a note that their vendor had a production problem and they wouldn’t be able to send them to me so they were issuing a refund.  But, for my inconvenience they were sending complimentary Seascape Strawberry plants which I very much appreciated.

Both Evie-2 and Seascape are day-neutral strawberries that produce flowers and fruit all season, as long as the temperatures are between 40°F and 85°F, regardless of day length.  Unlike everbearing varieties that produce 2 or 3 distinct crops per season, day-neutral produce continuously.  A summer full of strawberries sounds good to me.

The plants come as bare-root stock and are sent at the right time for my planting area.   Once they arrive they need to be planted as soon as possible.

Seascape Strawberries

Before planting, it’s recommended that they be soaked for two hours.


Once good and soaked they are ready to plant.  I don’t really have a great place for them, so I decided to plant them in a bit of a no-man’s land garden area that I’ve been putting some iris’s (that never seem to bloom but just take up space) and extra grasses in.


I dug a small hole for each and spread out the roots in the hole.  Cover with soil and water them in.


A couple of days later, we had an unusually late freeze so I covered the tender new plants with a sheet to protect them from the very cold overnight temperatures.  We got down to 29°F, which hopefully hasn’t done any damage to any of my emerging plants.


The plants look just fine the next morning.  Can’t wait for those berries!


But, while the strawberries looked great, I had bought a basil plant at a local store  a few days before.  I knew it was too early to plant and moved it into the screen porch that night.  But alas, still too cold and it is now a very sorry looking basil plant 🙁  I will try to give it some TLC in the house before taking it back out to plant.  


Have you grown berries successfully?  Did they overgrow everything or was it ok? Peggy says the trick is to just mow over any stray raspberry shoots.

Hopefully the cold spring isn’t hurting your gardens this spring.

Time to Sow Seeds Indoors

After my last post where I realized that spring was indeed coming, I figured I’d better open my boxes from Botanical Interests and Burpee that were still sitting by the front door and see what I had bought.  I know I’m still ok with timing since I usually don’t start anything until after spring break.  Oops, forgot I was going grow my own peppers this year rather than buying them and they need 8-10 weeks in the house before going outside!  Better get a move on!

Stephi gardens

Seeds to be started indoors

I found this great Seed Sowing Guide on the Botanical Interests website that very clearly lays out when seeds need to be started, both indoors and out.  I printed off my sheets and started calculating.

botanical Interests

Even though my last frost date is April 22nd, I’m generally not comfortable assuming I can plant tender seedlings before Mother’s Day Weekend.  So using that as my planting weekend, I calculated back when I needed to get things started.

First up is the peppers ASAP since I’m behind a week or so, then in a couple of weeks I’ll start the cucumbers and squash.  I’m not growing as many flowers myself this year because we’ll be having a high school graduation party the end of May for my twin boys.  I am going to splurge and go for some instant color this year.  But, I will start some cosmos and sunflowers for me to enjoy later in the summer.

As I described in my earlier posts, Starting My Seeds Indoors and Starting Seeds Indoors, I really like the APS system from Gardeners Supply Company (recently replaced by the GrowEase system)  So I hauled the box of seed starting supplies from the basement, bought a new bag of seed starting soil and got planting.

APS seed starting system

My fancy storage container for my seed starting supplies

APS seed starting system

Moisten the seed starting mix. Make it damp, not sopping. Also, use seed starting mix, not potting or garden soil.

APS seed starting system

Should feel moist and be able to form a loose ball

APS seed starting system

Moisten thoroughly the capillary mat and set up the APS tray system.

APS seed starting system

Fill the cells with soil. Tamp down the soil to compress it. Forms a better root ball for transplanting.

And here’s my new “trick” this year.  I always have trouble knowing what seeds are planted in which cell.  I usually use popsicle sticks, but they just get in the way of the lid and sometime the writing fades.  This year I marked off a grid like a map and made a log to go with it.  So simple, not sure why I didn’t think of it before!

APS seed starting system

Now I just need to be sure I don’t lose my paper log!

pepper seeds

Plant the seeds, 2-3 to a cell (you’ll thin later).  Cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil so they are at the right depth according to the seed package directions.

APS seed starting system

Peppers are ready, looking forward to seeing them sprout.  In a couple of weeks, I’ll start the rest of the indoor seeds, and I’ll also get the cold weather seeds sowed outside.  It’s always iffy as to whether I get anything to grow this early outside, but I keep trying.

Starting My Seeds Indoors

This weekend I finally had time to get my seeds and seed starting materials out to get them started indoors.  I usually try and plant vegetables like cucumbers and summer squash that I have trouble finding in stores,  but I buy my tomatoes and pepper plants from a local nursery who has a great selection.

Seed starting trays

I hauled out all the seed starter kits I had (see Starting Seeds Indoors), plus I bought some new trays to expand what I can grow.  I also bought a great new mini greenhouse to set all the trays on and set it up on the porch.  I’m hoping this will work better then the tray tables in front of a bedroom window!

mini greenhouse

mini greenhouse

I first started with my APS-24 systems (see Starting Seeds Indoors for more thorough instructions)  I like this size for starting vegetables and larger flowers.  Be sure to thoroughly wet the capillary mat and pre-moisten the sterile germinating mix used to fill the holes.

APS Seed Starter Tray

Then add the seeds according to directions as to how many per grouping and how deep (you’ll thin them later).  Be sure to label them so you know what you’ve planted!

APS Seed Starter Tray

Since I have my new shelf and have space for more trays, I added to my collection of seed starting trays.  I bought a couple of different kinds to try, a 72 cell Ultimate Growing System from Burpee to replace my missing APS one, and some smaller Jiffy 12 cell kits.

Burpee seed tray

Jiffy seed starters

Both of these use soil pellets that you add water to and they expand.   Like the instructions say, warm water does work better.  After setting up all three kinds of soil cells, I think I prefer the old fashioned germinating mix that I pack myself.  I found the pellets a bit difficult to get to rise evenly and needed to still fluff the mix in the Burpee kit.

Burpee Seed Starter kit

I’ll see what I think after everything gets going as to which system I prefer for ease of use, and which holds up better for use year after year.  For anyone who noticed the chunk missing from the styrofoam APS system, that was my fault.  I’m not sure why I decided it what a good idea to pick up the full tray with one hand to move it.  That missing piece would be where my thumb was.  Otherwise, I’ve had these for years without any problems.  Best to move all these trays with two hands!

Most of the germination instructions say plant inside 4-6 weeks prior to the last frost date.  I’m about 3 weeks prior, although I usually wait a couple more weeks until mid-May before putting them in the ground.  They should be fine starting this week. Here’s what I planted:

24 cell size:
Cucumber, Marketmore Organic (Botanical Interests)
Summer Squash, Baby Round (Botanical Interests)
Summer Squash, Cubes of Butter (Botanical Interests)
Summer Squash, Patty Pan Scallop Blend (Botanical Interests)
Zucchini, Burpee Hybrid (Burpee)
Marigold, Boy O’ Boy (Burpee)

72 cell size:
Cosmos, Sonata Mix (Burpee)
Marigold, French Favorite (Botanical Interests)

Jiffy pop-ups:
Zinnia Cut and Come Again (Botanical Interests)
Zinnia Fireball Blend (Botanical Interests)

Here’s the finished project.  All ready for the sun to shine on it and get everything growing.
mini greenhouse

Seeds are in the House

After spending quite a bit of time pouring over seed catalogs, I finally sent in my seed orders. I had lots of new seed catalogs come to the house, and some more companies I just visited on-line, making the choices this year really tough.

Seed catalogs

Ultimately, I went with some Burpee stand by’s and the rest from Botanical Interests.  I ordered an assortment of vegetables and flowers.  Some of the vegetables I’ve grown before (summer squash, zucchini, lettuce) and others are new to my garden (pattypan squash, beets and cabbage).


I’ve outgrown the raised bed on the side of the house, plus we’ll have new construction next door so I’m not sure what the sun situation for that bed will even be come next year.  So we spent a great deal of time watching the sun pattern in the yard last year (full sun is a problem in my yard) and mulling over where we could tolerate more vegetable beds.  We finally settled on a new location off the back of the patio for 2 new raised beds.  I’ve promised to keep them under control and somehow “pretty” them up.  You can imagine them out there under the snow.


I bought new raised bed frames last fall from Plow and Hearth, so I am ready to go after a trip to the lumber store.  I’ll let you know how I like the brackets.

raised beds

Are you ready to start planting?


Fall Spinach


I wasn’t really thinking fall crops with all the 90° days we’ve had lately, but I was at the farmers market and one of my favorite farmers was talking about having just planted their fall spinach. I chatted with him a while about it, which I appreciate since whatever I grow takes away from his sales, and realized that I’d better get my seeds in the ground soon. What I found the most interesting is that even if I don’t get a great harvest now, it will overwinter and I’ll have some very early spring spinach.

I found a great article in Mother Earth News on growing fall spinach.  Some of the highlights are that spinach doesn’t germinate well above 75°, and not at all above 85°, it’s not so much the heat that makes it bolt in the spring as much as the length of daytime, and some varieties are better for overwintering than others.  Unfortunately for me, I thought about this all too late, so I just planted what I had and I’ll see what happens.  It does seem like we’re in for a cool stretch, so  maybe I’ll get them to germinate and be healthy plants before the first frost.

Next, I’ll be looking up some of these other varieties that they found to be tastier grown in the fall, the smooth-leaf varieties “Olympia” and “Viroflay”were hits, and the standard savoy varieties, “Bloomsdale Long Standing”  and “Tyee” were not as good.  There also seemed to be differences in ability to not bolt in warm fall weather, with  “Olympia” and “Spinner” fairing the best.  I think I’ll be ordering some Olympia seeds next spring!

Next year, required reading will be this Mother Earth News article on planting fall vegetables in general.  Late September is not the time to be first thinking about this.


Cucumbers-Mid summer

My cucumbers, which looked so wimpy when I planted  the seedlings, have grown great.  I grew Burpee Sweet Burpless Hybrid for no other reason than the description sounded good in the catalogue.  I do seem to have a lot more squash plants than cucumber, and unfortunately, I like cukes better than squash.   Oh well, I guess I’ll be needing some creative squash recipes.

In any case, the cucumber and squash plants are co-existing nicely on my large cucumber trellises from Gardeners Supply Company.


Cucumber plants naturally are climbers and use tendrils to attach themselves to anything it can–the trellis, the brick wall, the tomato plant next to it.



The nice thing about using a trellis is that the cucumbers hang off the back, are easy to find, and don’t lay in the dirt where they can potentially get rotten spots.


When they are ready to harvest, it’s a good idea to hold onto the spot the cucumber attaches to the plant while pulling it off.  It’ll be pretty stuck on the vine and I’ve pulled whole sections of the plant (with other immature cucumbers) with the ripe vegetable when I’ve tried to pick them.  Also, if this is your first time growing cucumbers, don’t be surprised that the cucumber is covered in little spines.  When I get them in the house, I just use the kitchen scrubber sponge and rub them off and you then have the normal smooth cucumber you’ll find in the store.  Enjoy them in your favorite cucumber salad recipe!