What is Growing on? No. 1

This is the first post in a series on what is going on at Ken’s Gardens. It will cover what is going on at the greenhouse, things that will be going on in the coming weeks, and what plants look good right now.

Spring is only a few weeks away and we are in full swing getting ready so that we have the plants you want when you come in. Seasonal employees have returned and some new employees have started. Seeds are being planted. Plugs are coming in and being transplanted all to get ready. But this is not to say it is not worth coming in, here are 4 reasons to visit now.

    1. We have flowers in bloom:

      Nothing is better to break up the winter than seeing flowers in bloom. Even just seeing them can bring a smile to your face! We have pansies, tropicals, primroses, english daises, and more.

    2. We have fresh made planters:

      One of the best parts about spring is that planters can once again be grown. We have a good selection of premade planters all made in house by Don Deiter. These planters make great gifts or just a great up lift for the middle of winter.

    3. Tropicals and house plants:

      Right now is a good time to get house plants and tropicals. Although there are still more to come, you still should be able to find what you are looking for.

    4. Seeds:

      Seed starting season is soon going to soon be in full swing. Not sure when you should start seeds? there are many tools online that will help with this. Just search seed starting dates and you will find many tools.

What are you excited for this spring? Comment below!

6 Thoughts on Starting Seeds Indoors

In the next few weeks, people will begin planting seeds indoors. Here on 6 thoughts on starting seeds indoor.

Perhaps you are one of the people who start seeds each year. Perhaps your parents had done it when you were growing up and now you want to follow in their steps or are thinking of trying to start seeds for the first time. Here are 6 thoughts about starting seeds indoors:

    1. Make sure that you have enough light:

      One thing that is often forgotten when starting or growing plants indoors is how important light is. What we must realize, however, is that just generic light is not enough. Regular light bulbs are not as efficient as specially designed grow lights. Grow lights are specially tailored to provide light that matches the spectrum of the sun or is on a spectrum that lends to photosynthesis.

    2. Beware of diseases:

      Disease is the seed starters scourge. One must remember that when starting seeds, there will be losses. Disease is one of the main cause of these losses. There are many reasons why disease is a concern when starting seeds indoors. One of the main reasons why this is an issue indoors is lack of air circulation. Another way to limit diseases is to make sure that containers and soil is sterile.

    3. Make sure you start seeds at the right time:

      One of the biggest struggles of starting seeds is starting them at the right time. Fortunately, there are many tools online that will help with this. Just search seed starting dates and you will find many tools.

    4. Be careful not to overwater:

      Overwatering can be a big problem when starting seeds. You don’t want to underwater, but seeds are so easy to over water. Overwatered seeds can rot and overwatered seedlings can spoil.

    5. Warmer soil speeds seed germination and seedling growth:

      As one might expect, warmer soil helps with seed starting. Consider purchasing a plant heating mat to provide seed trays with warmth.

    6. Make sure that acclimate the plants when you take them outdoors:

      Planting seeds is more complicated than just starting them and sticking them in the ground. Before they are planted out side, plants must be acclimated to the climate. This can be done, by carrying the established seedlings outside for a few hours in the days before transplanting and gradually increasing the time out side. Also, it is important that seedlings are covered if it is to be cold, so they do not freeze.

Are you starting seeds this year? Comment below with what you plan on starting!

Succulent Presentation at Country Gardener’s Club

On February 15, 2018 @ 7:00 P.M., Ken’s Gardens will be at the Country Gardener’s Club in New Holland offering a presentation on growing succulents in containers.

Succulents are all the rage today. Look in the gardening magazines. Look in the stores. Chances are that you will find succulents. A simple search on Google will turn up 54 million results.

Perhaps you have noticed this, and perhaps you want to get in on the action, but you are not sure where to start. This presentation is for you!

In the presentation, we will:

  1. We will look at some examples of succulent containers.

    In this section, we will see that there are endless types of succulent containers and designs.

  2. We will go over how to creates a succulent container.

    In this section, we will look at the different types of succulents, soils, and containers.

  3. We will look at how to care for your succulent container.

    In this section, we will at everything that you need to know to keep your succulent container looking nice!

  4. We will look at a fun idea that you can do with succulents.

    In this section, we will go over a way that you can have fun with gardening with people you know and those you don’t yet!

  5. And lastly, we will open up for questions.

Want more information? Visit the Country Gardener’s website for more information.

Will you be there? Comment below.

5 Reasons to Visit Your Garden Center Now

Chances are that you are not thinking of visiting your local garden center now. It is February after all. But here are 5 reasons that you should rethink that.

Most people would not think it, but February is a busy time at the garden center. Although, the end of December and the beginning of January is slow, by February we are in full swing. Plants for spring are being planted and being moved to get ready for when you come to shop in the coming months.

But why should you come in? Here are 5 reasons:

    1. Let’s face it, winter is long:.

      Regardless of who you are, winter is long. It is good to get out of the house and just to see the green of the plants. We fail to realize how much we miss the green and lively color.

    2. Silk Flowers:

      Another way to break up the winter and to liven your house is to get silk flowers. Right now, we have about the best selection that we will have in silk. We have both pre-made arrangements and loose silk for you to create your own arrangements.

    3. Seeds:

      Right now, we have a full supply of flower and vegetable seeds, so you can get them while we still have the best selection and before you get too busy to get an early start!

    4. Spring flowers:

      Nothing brightens your home more than spring flowers. Right now, we have a supply of primroses, cyclamens, with more flowers coming soon!

    5. Houseplants:

      Houseplants are often something that we forget about, but they are perfect way to bring a life into your home year round! We have air plants, succulents, ivy, and other house plants! Enjoy the benefits of the reduced stress by bringing a plant into your home!

Are there any other reasons that you can think of? Comment below!

2017 Vegetable List

We look for durable vegetable varieties that are tolerant to our Lancaster County area, and we also love vegetables with great yields and flavor. Our stock is carefully chosen for the backyard and urban gardener, the canner, and of course, your mother’s favorites.

March brings out the cold tolerant vegetables. The early summer vegetables will be available in April. Ask our employees for a recommendation suited to your garden’s needs.

Click here: 2017 Complete Vegetable List  to view our complete vegetable list for 2017. Please follow the guide at the top to see what is new, which is a space saver, and which are the heirloom varieties.

Happy planting! – Ken’s


Ken’s Library


Top Ten Lists for Beautiful Shade Gardens: Seeing Your Way Out of the Dark

Top Ten Lists for Beautiful Shade Gardens: Seeing Your Way Out of the Dark


Ken’s Library

This post features one of our favorite books written by Kerry Ann Mendez.

At Ken’s Gardens, in Ronks, our library is a small book collection available to customers while shopping. Feel free to sit at our table and browse through the pages or roam the store to look for new plants. Please, return all books and magazines before checking out. Thank you! Remember; read a book, plant a tree.



Back Cover Excerpt

“..provides proven strategies for growing gorgeous, low-maintenance perennial gardens in shade. It is written from a do-it-yourself, roll-up-you-sleeves and tell it straight, gardener’s point of view.”

Our Seedy Thoughts

Working at Ken’s Gardens I often see confused looks on a customer’s face. It’s no secret. No matter how hard you try, gardeners often look lost and helpless while browsing for shade perennials. Shade spots are tricky and this book will help!

There are 52 lists for every gardener with even the smallest ounce of shade. Big or small, your approach to shade gardening will be confident and well informed. Your Way Out of the Dark is must have for ALL home gardeners living in Lancaster County and the surrounding areas. The book covers climate zones 3 – zone 7. (Click here to find out if this book is for your growing location.)

Each list has 10 plant suggestions. Suggestions are mentioned for all seasons; spring, summer, fall, and winter. It even has a list for “challenging sites” like dry shade or moist shade.

Most of the book is formatted with lists of plant, detailed descriptions, and multiple variety suggestions. There are parts where Kerry Ann Mendez breaks down tough shade lingo. All suggestions come from experience with Kerry’s own shade garden and she explains how to take care for them too. Her straight forward answers are written in a way everyone can find humor in. And yes! This book is funny!


Author Mentions

  • Sign up for Kerry’s free newsletter by going to her home page. You will find a ‘SUBSCRIBE TO NEWSLETTER’ link under ‘PRODUCTS AND SERVICES’.
  • Kerry Ann Mendez will be hosting a webinar titled ‘Radical Perennials: Non-Stop Color! No-Fuss! Environmentally Responsible!’. It will be October 27, 2017. Gardeners who are unable to see the live session are still able to sign up for the webinar at $7. Price includes downloadable documents.  Perennials featured will have hardiness Zones ranging from 3 – 8 or 9.  There will also be a form on the webinar that Master Gardeners and Landscape Architects can print to submit for continuing education credit hour consideration. Details and registration can be found here.
  • Kerry will also be scheduled to speak at The 13th annual Great Gardens and Landscaping Symposium on April 22, 2017.  This event is popular for all gardeners in the Northeast. In previous years this event has sold out and early registration is recommend. Special group and Master Gardeners rates are available. Find more information about the Symposium by clicking on the link above.

The Buzz on Pollinators

      Pollinators are your garden’s best friend! Pollinator insects are key to the environment, they ensure the production of seeds for flowering plants as well as producing 1/3 of the food that we eat.  The decline of pollinators is an ongoing problem for the environment, so at Ken’s Gardens we decided to “bee” proactive! Both of our main locations, Intercourse and Smoketown, have a honey bee hive on site.  Smoketown had a beehive last year, and it was so successful for both the plants and the bees that we added one to the Intercourse location for this year! What is the best part of our bees? They will leave you alone! The only time to use caution is on a breezy day where they might get caught in your hair. We comfortably work right next to the hive, but wearing a hat is the best way to prevent stings.

Bees are always welcome in our vegetable garden!

Bees are always welcome in our vegetable garden!

      Smoketown’s beehive is located directly next to the trial vegetable garden beds. Our vegetable garden yields are indeed higher because of the beehive! The Smoketown hive has currently 50,000 to 60,000 bees and has produced 120 pounds of honey this season so far. The Intercourse beehive is located in the perennial growing area, which is off limits to customers since the hive is still growing.  If you have visited either store, you wouldn’t be surprised to see our honey bees filling their bellies with pollen and nectar in our perennial yards and in with the annuals. We have made it our mission to minimize any spraying of chemical insecticides on our plants to ensure our bees safety. 

Smoketown's Beehive

Smoketown’s Beehive

Ronk's Beehive

Ronk’s Beehive

     Larry Beiler, of Beiler Beehives, cares for both of our beehives; he checks on them weekly and will harvest honey when necessary.

Larry checks on the Smoketown hive.

Larry checks on the Smoketown hive.

     Bees require a lot of honey to be stored throughout winter, and Larry is sure to keep them well stocked! Honey combs can only have honey harvested once the comb is capped like so:

Larry holding a capped honeycomb.

Larry holding a capped honeycomb.

 Larry will also check the hives for mites; he sets up a drone comb to examine the amount mites and to watch for any diseases.

Larry holding a drone honeycomb.

Larry holding a drone honeycomb.

     Honey bees have a lot of different roles within the colony; here is a stinger-less drone bee! Yes, you can hold drones with the help of a beekeeper.

A drone bee from the Smoketown hive.

A drone bee from the Smoketown hive.

If you see a swarm of honey bees, don’t panic, call a local beekeeper. Swarming bees mean their queen bee has left the hive for some reason and the bees need to be rehomed. To learn more about honey bees, National Geographic has some good information.

Larry holding an active honeycomb.

Larry holding an active honeycomb.


Our thriving flowers and hardworking beehive gives us a lot to “bee” happy about here at Ken’s!

CLOSED July 4th

IST-IS162RM-00000177-001The Declaration of Independence is the statement adopted by the Second Continental Congress meeting at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on July 4, 1776, which announced that the thirteen American colonies, then at war with the Kingdom of Great Britain, regarded themselves as thirteen newly independent sovereign states, and no longer under British rule. Instead they formed a new nation—the United States of America.

Organic Gardening with Ken’s Gardens

seeds“Do you have any organic flowers, vegetable, or herb plants available?”

We are often asked this question here at Ken’s Gardens, and we wanted to tell you about our practices. While we are not a certified organic grower here at Ken’s Gardens, we do our best to offer organic compliant solutions for our customers.

Vegetable and Herb Gardening:

Although we are not OMRI certified, we use many organic methods to ensure that our vegetables and herbs are healthy, vibrant, and free of chemical pesticides.

  1. We start with all GMO free seeds. Some, but not all, are from organic seed sources.
  2. We blend our own potting mix which includes either compost or organic fertilizers to provide biological activity in the soil that is critical to the long term success of your plants.
  3. We use a combination of conventional and organic fertilizers depending upon the nutrient requirements of each type of plant.
  4. By keeping our growing areas clean and plants healthy, we are able to minimize the use of any pesticides. However, when necessary, we use only organic solutions for our vegetable and herb plants.

We grow herbs and vegetables the way we would want them for our own gardens, which by the way, is where some of them end up every year. If you are looking for organic seeds, non-GMO seeds, or untreated seeds – don’t worry! We have those too! We offer Lake Valley Seeds, some of which are certified organic, and all of their seeds are untreated and non-GMO. All of Rohrer’s vegetable and flower seeds are non-GMO, as well as all of Crosman’s Seeds are non-GMO.

Soil, Fertilizer, and Treatments:

This is where Ken’s Gardens really comes through with giving you the most natural and organic products. We love the BlackGold line of soils! They offer many OMRI listed soils from seedling mix, to garden compost blends, and natural and organic potting soil. For fertilizer and garden treatments we carry Espoma’s organic line, Safer Brand, Monterey Organics, Captain Jack’s, Bonide’s natural line of products, as well as many other organic gardening products.

Pesticide Use at Ken’s Gardens:

Pesticide use with growers has been a hot topic with the decline of pollinators. So is Ken’s Gardens pollinator friendly? Yes, we keep bee hives to ensure we are doing our part to help the pollinators. We will not do anything in our power to destroy our beloved honey bee hives. Last year, only the Smoketown Ken’s Gardens had the honey bee hive, but our Intercourse location will be home to a honey bee colony this season. Our beekeeper has said that our beehive did better than all of the other hives in our care, and it was easy to see how much our flowers really benefited too! We are in the process of transitioning to biological control of pests here at Ken’s Gardens for more stubborn problems.

Ken’s Gardens is always looking for more ways to be sustainable and environmentally friendly, we want to ensure a healthy planet for our future family members. Keep a look out for our upcoming Arbor Day event!

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