Drip Irrigation

This short infographic on installing drip irrigation is a good place to start if you’re thinking of conserving water in your garden.

If you live with hard water, like I do, I do not recommend “weeping” type hoses because they soon become encrusted inside by the minerals in the hard water. Using a system with emitters, as in the information, below, is much more satisfactory.

Don’t cut corners by leaving out the filter in the line. You’d be amazed how much debris is in water systems. The filter keeps the small particles of debris from clogging up your emitters.

Enjoy!



Source: Fix.com Blog

Sunflowers

The following article is from Dave’s Garden, a fabulous website full of great horticulture information and more!

The History and Uses of Sunflowers

By Melody Rose
January 28, 2017
The humble sunflower has been a part of mankind’s existence for thousands of years.


The Incas and Aztecs worshiped sunflowers (Helianthus annuus) and believed that spirits of the dead were attracted to them because they reminded those spirits of the sun.

Sunflowers are native to the Americas and have not only been a part of legends and lore, they have nourished us and healed us for centuries. Evidence shows that they have been cultivated by man for about 5,000 years, making them a rival for corn as one of the earliest crops that ancient hunter-gatherers decided to settle down and grow. In fact, there should actually be a ‘fourth sister’ counted with the sacred Three Sisters of corn, beans and squash since sunflowers contributed so much to early man’s survival. They ate the young, unopened flower buds as a vegetable and the seeds were pressed for their rich oil.
The Spanish carried them back across the Atlantic and improved upon their qualities with selective breeding to create hybrids with larger heads and better harvests.

However, it was the Russians that embraced the humble sunflower and made it what it is today. Peter the Great was so enraptured by the sunflower during a visit to western Europe in the 1700’s that he brought seeds back with him and proceeded to instruct farmers to grow them. They really didn’t catch on until it was discovered that the edible oil the seeds produced was not on the list of fats and oils that the Orthodox Church banned for Lent. That discovery was a game changer and the Russians embraced the sunflower with enthusiasm. Even today, some of the largest and most productive sunflowers are Russian bred with the most popular variety, ‘Mammoth Russian’ known by millions around the world.

Sunflowers have some other interesting properties other than an oil source. The stems, leaves and roots produce a lovely, light green to yellow natural dye while the dark colored seed hulls give us reds, purples, grays and blacks. Mordant sunflowers with vinegar.

Folk medicine utilized sunflowers as a treatment for ailments from snakebites to rheumatism.
These plants also have a unique characteristic of being able to clear toxic elements from the soil. Sunflowers planted near industrial areas draw arsenic and lead from the ground and they were even planted around the Chernobyl disaster to help remove radioactive compounds from the fields. They are also used to reclaim boggy or marshy areas because of their ability to take up great amounts of water.
Today, sunflowers are an important agricultural crop with millions of acres devoted to seed and oil production. Sunflower oil is low in polyunsaturated fats making it a heart-healthy choice for people on restricted diets. The seeds are a wholesome snack consumed by millions and of course anyone who has ever filled a bird feeder knows what wildlife thinks about them. They also make up commercial feeds for poultry and livestock, providing much needed fats and nutrients to maintain healthy flocks and herds.

Mammoth Russian Sunflower. Find seeds in The Herb Cottage seed section.

Gardeners love sunflowers for their cheerful blooms that make excellent cut flowers and there are varieties that range from knee-high midgets to back of the border monsters. Plant sunflower seeds after all chances of frost are over, in full sun. They do best in well-drained soil rich in organic matter with regular water. Some of the tallest varieties (and they can reach well over 12 feet) might need protection or staking to keep them upright when high winds threaten, but they are mostly care-free. If you want to try sunflowers as a vegetable, pick the young buds before they open and steam much like artichokes. Let the spent heads dry on the stalks to save them for winter wildlife treats.
Sunflowers are easy to grow and seeds are quite inexpensive for gardeners on a budget. Even small children and the disabled can be successful sunflower gardeners. (a sunflower was the very first plant I ever grew from seed before I ever started school) They make a great garden plant for both school kids and nursing homes. The sunflower has a rich and colorful history and from the looks of things they should be popular for another 5,000 years.
About Melody Rose


I come from a long line of Kentuckians who love the Good Earth. I love to learn about every living thing, and love to share what I’ve learned. Photography is one of my passions, and all of the images in my articles are my own, except where credited.

Here is the original article on Dave’s Garden.

What’s Eating My Plants

Have you ever gone out to water your garden in the morning only to find holes in your plants’ leaves that weren’t there the day before?

As many of you know, I garden organically, using only safe products to combat pests and disease on my plants. I like to make my own products, but sometimes there are remedies that I cannot make that work so well. Safer brand makes some of the products I use. The following infographic and information was sent to me. I think it’s very useful and concise.

(I am not being compensated for posting this info.)


Most pest problems can be solved with four naturally-derived pest controls: neem oil, diatomaceous earth for bugs with an exoskeleton, B.T. for caterpillars, and insecticidal soap used on soft-bodied insects.

While the culprit in your garden may be pesky bugs, don’t rule out four-legged pests that can do large scale damage. If big chunks of leaves have been eaten, the vandal is most likely a deer. Keeping deer from eating your garden before you get a chance to is easily solved with a tall fence, six feet or higher, that puts some distance between them and your crops.  Damage on a smaller scale, and closer to the ground, can be caused by rabbits.

Rabbits can operate covertly, digging a crawlspace under any fencing or squeezing through gaps. Keeping them at bay may be done by knowing what their nose knows.  A rabbit’s sense of smell is what attracts them to your garden in the first place, so use it against them by planting onions on the edge of your garden, or sprinkle powdered red pepper. You can also consider making a hot cocktail to spray on your plants out of hot peppers, onions, and garlic.

Being proactive against a deer or rabbit invasion in your garden, however, may be the best method for keeping them out.  Plant deer-resistant plants along the inside and outside edges of your garden fences, or choose flowering perennials and annuals that will make your garden look beautiful and smell wonderful while still keeping rabbits away.

Some leaf-eating insects can cause so much damage in just a few days that your plants might be dead within the week!

Use this quick guide to identify the pest eating your plant and what solution would be best to keep that bug away from destroying your garden.

There are also a few additional insects, below the infographic, to keep an eye out for that could hurt your plant’s leaves.

what-eating-my-plants

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License. If you like our infographic, feel free to share it on your site as long as you include a link back to this post to credit Safer® Brand as the original creator of the graphic.

12 Bugs That Eat Leaves

Since you rarely see the pest that is eating your plants, you often have to decide upon a treatment by observing the damage done. Here are the most common culprits who are eating your leaves and what you can do about it.

1. Leafminers are larvae of flies, sawflies, and beetles that feed on leaves and causes discolored blotches or wiggly lines. Leafminers particular like columbine, mums, citrus trees and tomatoes. The damage is usually relatively harmless to the plant but if it does get out of control spray neem oil on the top and bottom of leaves to protect them.

2. Box suckers are wingless nymphs of the box psyllids often found inside ball shaped shoot tips in spring. To control the damage, cut off the shoot tips you find suckers and discard. The damage caused by box suckers looks like tiny holes poked into leaves. Aphids, squash bugs and spider mites are all sucking insects that cause this type of damage. Red spider mite damage will show yellow mottling on leaves. Gall mites will often cause raised pimples or clumps of matted hairs on leaves. Sucking insects are mostly harmless but you can keep them away by using insecticidal soap.

3. Scale insects cause tiny blister or shell-like bumps on leaf backs, sticky excretions, and sooty mold on plant leaves. The damage caused by scale insects could stunt growth so be sure to wash leaves off and spray with horticultural oil or neem oil.

4. Thrips are tiny black flies that suck sap from leaves, which causes white patches to appear on leaves and petals of mostly indoor plants. Get rid of thrips with diatomaceous earth (DE) or insecticidal soap.

5. Vine weevil larvae are cream-colored grubs with brown heads that feed on plant roots which causes plants to suddenly collapse. Adult vine weevils are flightless nocturnal black beetles that can make notches in leaves. To kill the larvae, use nematodes and, to kill adult vine weevils, use diatomaceous earth.

6. Caterpillars are probably what comes to mind for most people when you first see holes in your plant’s leaves. For the majority of caterpillars, you can take the time to rub off the eggs you find on the plant and pick off caterpillars. It’s best to go inspect your plants early in the morning, which is when you will most likely find them chewing away. You can also apply sticky traps to capture adult moths before they can lay their eggs on your trees and plants. There are several different kinds of caterpillars that might be causing the damage. Cabbage white caterpillars love to eat brassicas and nasturtiums. Tomato hornworms are the caterpillars who often damage fruits. To get rid of caterpillars, dust your plants with B.T. Caterpillars will leave black excrement dots called “frass” on leaves. Since earwigs can cause similar looking bite patterns in leaves as caterpillars, finding frass is a good way to tell if it is caterpillars that are damaging your plants.

7. Earwigs are usually more beneficial than harmful since they eat insect eggs and adult aphids. However, they do like their fair share of soft fruits and new plant growth. Sometimes, older leaves tend to be chewed around the edges and look ragged when earwigs are involved. Use a pot filled with hay to attract earwigs and then release elsewhere. If you’re determined to kill the earwigs invading your home, sprinkle diatomaceous earth around and on plants with bite marks.

8. Sawfly larvae are caterpillar-like white larvae that eat leaves on plants like roses, gooseberries and Solomon’s seal. Leaf rolling is a sign of sawflies. They lay their eggs on plants and their larvae eat the leaves, they make holes that still have some plant tissue intact so the damage looks transparent. It may eventually break down and leave holes. Use insecticidal soap or horticultural oil to protect your plants from sawfly larvae. You can also pick caterpillars off plants or spray with pyrethrum.

9.Viburnum beetles, both the adult and larvae, eat leaves, which can slow your plant’s growth and looks ugly. To get rid of viburnum beetles and larvae, throw out twigs in late summer that have viburnum beetles’ eggs on them or release lady bugs in the spring to capture the larvae.

10. Japanese beetles feed on flowers and the tissue between leaf veins. Their larvae often causes brown patches in grass. To get rid of Japanese beetles, spray your plants and grass area with neem oil and set up these Japanese beetle traps to capture the adults.

11. Slugs and snails like areas that are moist and shady and eat irregular-shaped holes in the leaf (but not along the edges). To see of snails and slugs are your plant-eating culprits, come out at night with a flashlight and look under leaves. Pour beer in a used, open tuna tin or plate to attract slugs and snails away from plants and into the beer. Slugs and snails often leave shiny trail on leaves and the holes are larger than a pencil eraser but smaller than a quarter. Slugs will also eat ripening fruit touching the ground. If you have a bad infestation, use Dr. T’s Slug and Snail Killer for quick results that won’t harm other beneficial insects.

12. Cucumber beetles can destroy an ornamental overnight. Cucumber beetles will leave tiny transparent circles on plant leaves. Take immediate action to control these plant bugs with diatomaceous earth or use row covers to protect plants before cucumber beetles become a problem.

Don’t think your plants are being eaten by any of these bugs? Animals can often eat your plants too so watch out for possums, rats, deer and rabbits around your garden.

The information in this post is from the Safer blog: 

For over 25 years, Safer® Brand has been a resource for organic gardeners and growers. We proudly offer the broadest and most successful line of OMRI Listed® organic gardening, organic fungicide and organic pest control products.

It’s Organic*, It’s Effective, It’s Safer® Brand.

*For use in organic gardening.

DIY Pest Control

There is lots of information in books, magazines and on the web for homemade pest and disease control for garden problems. If you read about these, you’ll soon recognize many of the same ingredients throughout. 

And, that’s good, because it means these practices have been tried many times in different situations and they work. 

Below is a link to yet another DIY garden pest control that I found very helpful and easy to follow:

The situation is dire: a multitude of destructive super-villains are attacking your precious garden. These creatures have no remorse and they won’t stop until they exterminate every last blade of grass in your precious, green utopia.

These criminals are each specialized in a specific method of destruction and are so powerful that your innocent plants don’t stand a chance against them, alone. They can level a healthy looking garden in as quickly as a week and can leave nothing standing.

Beetles, aphids, caterpillars and a whole host of baddies descend into your garden and they are not taking any prisoners today. They are set on plundering and looting everything they see till there is nothing more left to destroy.

Is there no way to defeat them? Must you stand by helplessly and watch as they wreak havoc?

Not really. Enter the Guardians Of The Garden.

Here is the rest of the article. 

Houston’s Garden Academy

I learned about this useful gardening website from the Lazy Gardener newsletter from Brenda Smith of the Houston Chronicle. The site is full of good info for those living on or near the Gulf Coast. The info is also relevant, with a few tweaks, to those gardening elsewhere in mild weather regions. I hope you check it out and see if it’s useful to you.

The Garden Academy

Spring!

Spring just has to be the most exciting time of year for us gardeners.

The equinox has passed and the sun is climbing in the sky offering us longer days, more sun to help our plants grow and milder days to work in the garden.

Oh, I know many of you are still in the grip of Old Man Winter, but, Spring will come soon enough. Have you started your seeds yet? Planned this year’s garden? Started cleaning out the beds?

Here in the South, our gardens are transforming, with the end of our winter crops of leafy greens, root vegetables and green peas clearing space for warm weather crops such as beans, cucumbers, squash, melons, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and the like.

I’ve been harvesting Snap Peas for weeks.

Tired Pea Vines!
Tired Pea Vines!

 

The vines are looking a little peaked now and I think it’s time to cut the pea vines and plant something else in that tub. Since I grew peas, which added lots of nitrogen to the soil, I’ll grow a heavy feeder such as a Tomato, Pepper or Eggplant in that tub.

New Lavender, Thyme and Rue!
New Lavender, Thyme and Rue!

 

New herbs are being stocked here at The Herb Cottage just in time for Spring shows and markets.

 

 

 

People are making their way out to the farm to get the best selection of herbs and vegetables, too.

Cucumber, Melons, Okra

In the herb beds, new growth is everywhere!

IMG_0315
Texas Bluebonnets love The Herb Cottage!

Of course, since I let our State Flower, the Texas Bluebonnet, grow wherever it pleases, the beds are full of them now. I’ll have to wait another few weeks until they fade and throw their seed out before I can replant my favorite warm weather annual, basil.

In the greenhouse, I have seeded traditional Genovese Basil, but also lemon, lime, Holy and Thai varieties.

Los of little basil! 4 varieties!
Los of little basil! 4 varieties!

 

 

Each type has a different aroma and flavor. Watch for it at my markets starting in mid to late April.

 

 

 

This year I also have African Blue Basil, which I ordered in for a local bee keeper. He said his bees love it the best. So… if you want to attract bees to your gardens and yard, plant some African Blue Basil for them. Most people find the flavor of the African Blue variety too strong for cooking, but it makes a fabulous landscape plant for the bees and for cut flowers. It’ll bloom until frost! If you live in a frost free area, African Blue Basil is perennial! Start more plants from cuttings, as the seed is sterile.

Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia
African Blue Basil- Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia

African Blue Basil isn’t just for bees. It’s a great butterfly plant as well.

In fact, most plants that bees like are also favored by butterflies.

 

Continue reading “Spring!”

Winter Solstice and Gardening

Winter Solstice

The Winter Solstice is the shortest day of the year because the earth’s axis is tilted farthest from the sun and, therefore, is also the longest night. Our ancestors took this very seriously, as darkness presented more danger as well as cold due to lack of sunlight.

Winter Solstice
Stonehenge marks the Winter and Summer Solstice

Many cultures and religions celebrate the longest night of the year with rituals involving fire, light, noise, singing- anything to lessen the impact of the darkness and to encourage daylight to return with the continuation of the cycle of the earth.

Winter SolsticeWinter Solstice

BRIGHTON, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 21: People carry lanterns at the Burning The Clocks Festival on December 21, 2011 in Brighton, England. The annual celebration is enjoyed by thousands of people who carry paper lanterns through the streets of Brighton culminating on Brighton Beach where the lanterns are burnt and the Winter Solstice is marked.

As gardeners, the short days of Winter cause us to look forward to the Spring planting season. One way we while away the short days until Spring is to peruse new seed and plant catalogs coming in the mail. As the days slowly lengthen, all seems possible in the upcoming growing season

When I buy seeds, I usually order on-line, but I use the print catalog first to carefully look at my choices for the upcoming season. Somehow, I think the paper catalog allows for more contemplation and comparison, than on-line listings.

 

cat_coversThe problem with those colorful photographs and glowing descriptions is, of course, that we order much more than we can fit in our garden space or than we have time to tend.

 

 

 

overgrown_garden

 

 

 

Overgrown Garden

 

But… what’s a gardener to do? This is the perfect time of year to sit in a cozy house with a hot beverage and a stack of seed catalogs to thumb through and dream with. Each catalog has exciting new varieties to offer. Each variety of tomato sounds tastier than the last. Each piquant pepper will add just the right note to your salsa. Each new flower color will add just the right touch to your garden.

Basil Siam Queen.JPG

African Blue Basil 

There is a danger in all those pretty pictures and descriptions, each plant seeming like the perfect choice for your garden. Not all plants do well in all parts of the country, in all soil types and in all situations. So, before you get completely carried away, there are a few things you should take into account when looking at seed and plant catalogs. 

Continue reading “Winter Solstice and Gardening”

Edible Flowers- Beyond Nasturtiums, Calendula and Violets

Did you know Red Bud Tree flowers are edible… or Carnations… or the flowers on your Bean Vines?

Redbud Tree

Picture courtesy of Horticulture Update, Texas AgriLife Extension Service
Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas
January-February, 2008

Dressing up green salads with edible flowers is popular in restaurants and home-cooked gourmet meals with ingredients right from the garden.

What’s prettier than home-grown salad greens brightened up with orange Nasturtiums or purple and gold Violas? These edible flowers not only brighten up the visual aspect of a green salad, they add a spicy flavor, as well. Nasturtiums are peppery, while the flavors of Violas and Pansies have been compared to Wintergreen.

Nasturtiums

Photo from The Herb Cottage

Before using any flowers as edible additions to your plate, be sure you know how and where they were grown.

For instance, I would not use flowers bought in a floral department or a florist unless they were certified organic. Many ornamental flower growers use various chemicals to combat pests so the flowers look perfect. Flowers grown in other countries can be sprayed with chemicals that are banned here in the U.S. The best practice is to only use flowers you grow- without pesticides, of course, or from friends or a farmers’ market, after you’ve assured yourself they are free of chemicals.

There are myriad edible flowers beyond the common ones to add to salads, pancakes, drinks or canapes. I mentioned the Red Bud Tree. This tree is in the Fabaceae or family of legumes, like the acacia tree or Erythrina, the Coral Bean as well as some well-known vegetables such as beans, peanuts, peas and the like. The flowers from the trees in the Fabaceae family, IN MOST CASES, are edible, although the seeds are toxic.

But, I digress…. Redbud flowers are perfectly safe to eat and can be eaten raw or sauteed. Redbuds among the first to bloom in the spring, before they leaf out. They also produce large numbers of multi-seeded pods, from spring to late summer depending where it is.

Redbud Tree
Redbud Tree at The Herb Cottage. You can see it’s blooming the same time as the Bluebonnets. This pic taken 3/24/10.

Native Americans ate redbud flowers and the young pods and seeds raw or cooked. The flowers can be pickled. They have a slightly sour taste and are high in Vitamin C . They’re a pleasant addition to salads and can also be used as a condiment. The unopened buds can be pickled or used as a caper substitute. Add them to pancake batter for a fritter or freeze them in ice cubes and serve them in drinks.The flowers on the bean and pea plants you’re growing for vegetables are edible, too. Just don’t eat too many, or you won’t have any vegetables!

Many flowers growing on your herb plants are edible as well, with flavor similar to the leaf.

  • Chives
  • Cilantro
  • Basil
  • Arugula
  • Borage
  • Calendula
  • Chamomile
  • Dill
  • Fennel
  • Rosemary
  • and … don’t forget the Rose- It is, after all, considered an herb!

Above are just a few of the herbal flowers that are edible. The flavor ranges from milder than the leaf- as in Chives- or actually stronger and more tangy as in the Rosemary.

Garlic Chive Flowers
Garlic Chive Flowers

Clilantro Flowers
Cilantro in bloom
Other blooms you might not think of to eat include Carnations and Dianthus, Tulip Petals- with flavors ranging from fresh, baby peas to cucumber- NOTE: DO NOT EVER, EVER EAT TULIP BULBS!!!, Apple Blossoms, Pineapple Guava- sweet, tropical flavor, Yucca, Squash Blossoms- traditionally stuffed and fried, Hibiscus, including Okra flowers, Dandelions- of course, and Banana Blossoms.

Why not try some of these more unusual edible flowers in your next salad, punch bowl, pancakes or as a sauté over rice, quinoa or pasta? You might be surprised at discovering new flavors and uses for those herbs and garden flowers.

Here is more extensive information about Edible Flowers.

REFERENCES:

green line

QUOTE FOR THE MONTH

You’ve got to have something to eat and a little love in your life before you can hold still for any damn body’s sermon on how to behave.
-Billie Holiday, jazz singer and songwriter (1915-1959)

Fall Gardening- a Joyous Time to be in the Garden

vegmedleySeptember 2015

Gardening magazines and blogs this time of year, the Fall, are telling us how to put the garden to bed, preserve our harvest and settle in for the winter. I admit there’s something very cozy about cleaning up the vegetable, herb and perennial beds, covering them with a nice layer of leaves or mulch and letting them rest until next spring.

However, nothing could be farther from the minds of gardeners in the mild winter regions of the U.S. and elsewhere. This is the time for our lovely cool season herbs and vegetables to flourish. Instead of cleaning up the garden and putting it to bed, for us it’s time to clean up the garden and get it ready for another growing season.

vege_medley

I love the fall planting and growing season. The days are cooler so it’s much less stressful to be in the garden and the types of herbs and vegetables that grow so beautifully are healthy and flavorful, too. Think of broccoli, kale, cabbage, carrots with herbs such as dill, cilantro, fennel, chervil and celery leaf to add flavor and depth to recipes.

Even here in Texas, with our mostly mild winters, I love to do soups and pots of beans during the winter. Our non-air-conditioned kitchen is so much more pleasant than during the summer. And, on cold days, a pot simmering on the stove helps keep our old farmhouse warm.

Planting a fall garden can be done with transplants or by direct seeding. Direct seeding, of course, is more economical, but lots of people like to start with transplants. Finding specific varieties in transplants may be difficult, and starting your own from seed isn’t difficult. But, of course, it’s up to you how you want to start your garden. Root crops- beets, carrots, radishes… are best direct seeded and you’ll almost never see transplants for those.

If you’re planting in an area that was used for a spring and summer garden, you’ll want to add some fertilizer in the form of compost or a dry fertilizer that can be mixed with the soil. It would be helpful to have mulch available to spread around any transplants you use. Direct seeded crops should be allowed to come up a bit before mulching.

Fall crops such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and kale may attract little green worms that will devour the new leaves.

Cabbage Looper
These little guys can devour a small seedling overnight! Keep a vigilant watch out for them!

These are known as cabbage loopers and are the larva of various moths.

A handy, completely non-toxic way to deal with them is to cover your crops with a spun row cover material. This is a lightweight fabric that lets in light and water, but keeps the moths away from the plants so they cannot lay their eggs on your crops. There are several brands on the market and it’s getting easier to find at many retailers or on-line.

Another way to combat the little buggers is with a product that contains the ingredient Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis). Bt is certified for use in organic production and only targets the worms. It destroys the worm as it chews on the leaf. Bt is found in quite a few garden products now in ready-to-use spray, a concentrate that you mix with water or in a powder form. Be sure to follow all directions on the package.

Go ahead and jump into the Fall gardening season with joy! The weather is cooling off, many of the bugs are gone and the crops you can grow now are so nutritious and varied, you’ll never get bored with your harvest.

Continue reading “Fall Gardening- a Joyous Time to be in the Garden”

Growing Perennial Flowers From Seed

Perennials are those plants that last year after year without needing to be reseeded or purchasing new plants. Generally, perennials are divided into 2 groups: evergreen and true perennials.

Echinacea or Cone Flower
Echinacea or Cone Flower

Evergreen varieties are those that don’t freeze down every Winter. These are mostly found in milder Winter areas, although many shrubs and a few flowers will be evergreen in colder climates. And, of course, “Evergreens” like pines, fir, cedars, etc. are called that because they are Ever Green!

In mild Winter areas, there are many evergreen types of flowers and shrubs. They don’t bloom all year, but the plant remains green even when dormant. Some of these bloom in the winter and are dormant in the summer and some are the opposite.

True perennials are flowers that grow and bloom in a particular season, usually the warm weather- spring or summer- and then the growing parts freeze down with the first frost. The frozen parts can be cut down to near the ground to neaten the garden.

If there are seed heads, however, like on some of the smaller sunflower types or Echinacea, aka Cone Flower, those should be left for the birds to feed on in the Winter. They can be cut down in early Spring when the seed heads are empty and new growth is peeking up. These perennials then start new growth in the Spring- early for some, late for others- and grow and flourish for another season.

Perennials can be the backbone of a flower bed because even after the flowers have faded, the plant still sports foliage that fills in during the rest of the season. Perennials are generally slower to grow from seed and may need up to 3 years to create a full size, mature plant.

Here’s an old gardening adage about perennials planted from seed: The first year they sleep, the second year they creep, the third year they leap!

If you’d like to grow perennials from seed, it takes patience. If you plant them in the garden when they’re small you can fill in around them with annuals until they attain their mature size.

Spanish Lavender Plant
Spanish Lavender is a short lived evergreen perennial for me

Four Tips for Perennial Success from Botanical Interests Seeds

  • Sow perennials that do not need *stratification 8 to 10 weeks before your average first fall frost. This allows time for the seed to germinate, and plants to establish a root system large enough to survive the winter.
  • Sow perennials that need stratification after a hard, killing fall frost. This ensures that they will not sprout until the following spring.
  • Mark the spot. Label the area of sown seeds.
  • In a dry winter be sure to water late summer and fall-sown perennial seeds and seedlings just as you do your trees.

Check your Botanical Interests seed packet for specific instructions on stratification! Don’t forget to look inside the seed packet for more information!

*Stratification is the process of helping to break the seed coat of a perennial seed. In nature it is done by the cycles of cold and rain. We can recreate that process ourselves by placing seed in a moist growing medium and placing the seed in the fridge for a few weeks. Then, removing the seed and allowing it to germinate at a warmer temperature. Here’s more than you ever wanted to know about seed stratification!

Here at The Herb Cottage, I don’t sell too many perennial flower varieties. Echinacea or Cone Flower is one I do sell. I sell mostly annuals because they’re so easy from seed. Here’s an article on Fall Seeding of Annuals.

There are some herb varieties that fall under the perennial or evergreen category in mild Winter regions such as rosemary, oregano, parsley- technically a biennial- stevia, Mexican Oregano and a few others that are very slow to germinate.

Rosemary and Oregano Plants
Rosemary and Oregano at The Herb Cottage

They can be successfully planted in the Fall to come up in the early Spring and grow out as the weather warms.

I find it very rewarding to grow perennials from seed because of the time it takes. I feel my patience is greatly rewarded when I have a mature perennial successfully growing that I started from seed!