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BOOST YOUR GARDEN'S NATURAL DEFENSES
WITH STRESS-BUSTING TIPS FROM WHITE FLOWER FARM
Would you like your plants to be robust as well as beautiful? According to the gardeners at White Flower Farm (www.whiteflowerfarm.com) the best way to keep your plants naturally healthy is to make sure they aren't stressed. That's right! Plants can become stressed, and they react by not growing to their full potential. Follow these sensible tips for a garden that is naturally healthy and hearty.
** Feed your plants. Top dress with compost or mix it into the soil every time you plant in the ground or in a pot. Compost not only provides essential nutrients, it also contains natural bacteria that are beneficial for root growth. Learn how to make your own valuable compost: download our Home Composting Guide in PDF format at http://www.whiteflowerfarm.com/cultural-instructions.html.
** Apply mulch. Spreading mulch around your plants keeps down weeds and conserves moisture in the soil. Weeding takes time (much more time than it takes to apply a layer of mulch) and weeds will steal nutrients and water from your plants. Water stress can decrease flower and fruit production and make plants more susceptible to disease. As an added benefit, as mulch breaks down, it can add nutritious organic material to the soil. White Flower Farm uses Sweet Peet™ organic mulch around vegetables and herbs in its Kitchen Garden.
** Know when to water. Check the soil one inch down with your finger to see if it's dry. If so, your plants need watering. If you can water in the evenings when the air is cooler, less water will be lost to evaporation. For healthy roots that reach down into the soil, be sure to water the soil deeply when you do water.
** Read the directions for each plant. Plant labels tell you how much sunlight a particular variety needs. Remember, shade-loving plants will burn in too much sun, while most vegetables need at least 6-8 hours of sun per day.
** Give your plants elbowroom. Good air circulation around plants keeps their leaves dry, thus reducing the opportunity for diseases to establish. Below ground, roots compete for nutrients and water and need room to spread. Spacing plants properly means they can grow to their full size and produce more flowers and fruit.
** Fertilize with an organic fertilizer according to each plant's needs. Provide the basic nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) as well as micronutrients to ensure plenty of flowers and fruit. For more information, consult the A-Z Growing Guides at http://www.whiteflowerfarm.com/gardenhelp.
** Tend your garden. Keep vegetables picked and faded flowers removed so the plants will keep producing. Pinch tips off your basil to use in the kitchen, and the plants will respond by making more branches and leaves. The flavor of basil leaves will be best if you pinch to prevent flowering, too.
** Keep pest control simple. Pick off offending insects and drop them into a jar of soapy water (Japanese beetles, asparagus beetles, squash bugs, tomato hornworm caterpillars) or hold the jar below them and help them fall into the water.
** Give your tomatoes support. Staking improves air circulation, makes sure each plant gets its share of sunlight, and keeps fruits and flowers off the ground. Provide stakes early on in the season and keep tying as the plants grow.
** Finally, a clean garden is a healthy garden! Remove diseased foliage or plants that have not survived the winter.
With these straightforward tips, your garden should stay vital and pretty all season long. You might also add some colorful annuals in with your vegetables (such as nasturtiums, morning glories, or lemon gem marigolds) just to brighten it up.
Save the Date -- From May 21-23, White Flower Farm will once again host Tomatomania™ and its originator, author and tomato enthusiast Scott Daigre. Don't miss the biggest tomato seedling sale on the East Coast and the chance to have all your questions about growing tomatoes answered by the experts. Shop for vegetable and herb plants, fertilizers, potting mix, supports, and everything else you need for your home garden.
Barb Pierson, the nursery manager at White Flower Farm, is available for interviews upon request, as are other experts.
Please contact: Deborah Broide,
Deborah Broide Publicity,
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White Flower Farm is a family-owned nursery located in northwest Connecticut. Since 1950, they have been gathering, evaluating, growing, and selling a wide range of annuals, perennials, shrubs, vines, bulbs, and houseplants representing the very best varieties from around the world. Plants shipped are true to name, free of disease, and in prime condition for growing. While in the area, stop by White Flower Farm with its five acres of display gardens, or visit www.whiteflowerfarm.com, where you will also find helpful gardening information including a how-to video library. Join our E-mail list for gardening advice and tips, From the Farm monthly newsletter, announcement of events at the White Flower Farm Store, and special offers not in our catalogues or on our Web site. White Flower Farm -- we make your garden grow.