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4 Reasons to Consider Gardening in Containers

One of the newest trends is gardening in containers. This is not to be confused with container gardening but is growing vegetables and herbs in containers.

One of the main things that keep people from gardening is space. Compared to previous times people have far less yard area. Because of this, some have started to grow herbs and vegetables in containers and had good success. The only issue is when this first began, people would tend to do only one thing, like only one type of lettuce, etc. But as time has gone on, this practice has changed and people have started to get fancier with what they plant.

Not only are they using different types of greens, but they are also using different colors too. Now, not only do these containers not look plain, but they are worth growing even if you do not use the vegetables in them. Or if you do use them, you can grow them without missing the annuals that you would have planted there.

Here are 4 reasons why should consider growing vegetables in containers:

  1. It is nice to have fresh vegetables and herbs:

    Vegetables and herbs are a great addition to any meal, but you can’t beat fresh ones and you can’t beat homegrown. Not only are they tastier, they are also healthier.

  2. They are easy to grow:

    Growing herbs and vegetables in containers is really easy. All that needs to be done is watering, harvesting, and maybe a little trimming.

  3. It adds interest to your patio:

    Containers add interest to your patio or yard. They can be used to break up an area or fill an empty spot. Regardless of where you put them, they will brighten up your patio.

  4. They look good:

    Let’s face it, another good reason to grow herb and vegetables in containers is that they look good. A quick search will give you far more ideas than you need to create many different combinations.

Have you ever tried container gardening or can you think of another reason why you should garden in containers? Comment below.

What is Growing on? No. 2

This is the second post in a series covering things presently going on at the greenhouse and things that will be going on. It will also highlight plants that have just come in and plants that look good right now.

Though the weather has only started to feel like spring this weekend, spring has been in full swing for a few weeks here at the store. Trucks have come in and the shrub yard has been filled up. Seeds that were planted a few weeks ago have not only sprouted but have been growing and some have been even been repotted. Some have already bloomed. Basically anywhere that you stand at the store you can look around and see that spring is in full swing.

It will not be long before even the most tender of plants will be ready to plant. It will only be a few weeks till corn, basil, and tomatoes can be planted in the garden and begonias, angelonia, and impatients in the flower beds. Consider the following things.

    1. If you have not already, consider what plants you may plant:

      Now is the time to start planning your garden if you have not already. Decide how much and where you want to plant. This will make it a whole lot easier when you get to the greenhouse. This is not to say that your plans won’t change when you get to the greenhouse, but it is to hopefully make it easier.

    2. Remember about containers:

      Right now is a great time to consider what you are going to do as far as containers go. Perhaps start looking for ideas on Pinterest or through searching. If you have not grown planters in the past, consider whether you want to grow them this year.

    3. Remember seeds:

      If you have not got seeds yet, it is still a good time to get them. Starting seeds is a great and easy way to save money.

What are you planting this spring? Comment below!

“Help! How do I prune my hydrangea!”

The Issue at Hand:

Hydrangeas are one of those plants it is hard to remember how to grow. Do not misunderstand this, however. I do not mean that hydrangeas are hard to grow. They are among some of the easiest plants to grow, but we forget how to care for them. And unfortunately when we think we do, we generally get it wrong. But how do you prune hydrangeas?

But before we move on to the how to prune hydrangeas, we must note that there are different types of hydrangeas. This article covers primarily on the Big leaf (macrophylla) and Mountain hydrangeas (serrata). These are the 2 hydrangeas that people have the most problem with. They are the one which we prune because they look like they should be pruned.

These hydrangeas grow more like a perennial than a shrub. Beyond that, throughout the winter and into early spring, they look dead. But this is not the case. Not only are they alive, but they need this wood to bloom.

And this brings us to the question at hand: “how do I prune my hydrangea?”

How do I prune my hydrangea?:

Now that you have identified your hydrangea as one of the ones that bloom on old wood, how do you prune them?

The short answer is that you remove the old flowers, remove the old canes, and clip back the tips that do not grow back in the spring. Let us look at how to do each of these.

    1. The Old Flowers:

      When it comes to pruning off the old flowers, you have a few different options of when it can be done. Some people prune them when they are old and others prune them off later, some people even waiting till late winter to cut them off.

    2. The Old Canes:

      This is a thing that most people forget to do. Out of the 3 things that are on the list, this is the one that takes the longest, but it should not be forgotten. It helps make sure that hydrangea is revived. It rejuvenates the plant and makes it grow better.

    3. The Dead Tips:

      After the hydrangeas have started growing back, you may find that the winter has caused some branches to freeze back a few inches. If you see that this is the case, you can prune back those tips. In some cases, you might also do this to give your hydrangea a more uniform shape.

Have you ever made the mistake of pruning back your hydrangea or have any further thoughts? Comment below.

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!