Square Foot Gardening

Spring means planting season in Central Pennsylvania and it’s a time of year when the ground awakens and locals dream of beautiful gardens filled with color and hearty vegetables. Farmers are out walking the fields and gardeners grow restless with anticipation of the coming season. Whether our customers come in by engine or buggy, everyone is asking the same big question- “What can I plant now?“

The spring season in Lancaster County is often difficult to decipher. Days in March awaken to a frost and thaw out to an average of 55°F. Our evenings tend to drop down below 40 and often land in the 30’s. For that reason, frost is a concern in the horticulture world and can be fatal to freshly planted seedlings that are not protected from these extreme temperature ranges. Plants that are not cold tolerant will show signs of stress and may experience irreparable harm.

Luckily, the natural world is a beautiful and tolerant place that offers hardy plants the ability to adapt and grow in even the most unpredictable days of spring.

So come to Ken’s Gardens and fill the wagon with an assortment of cold tolerant plants waiting to feel the touch of morning sunshine.


Ken’s Gardens has cold tolerant seedlings on the self and currently recommends the following cold tolerant vegetables:

  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Carrot
  • Hardy Herbs
  • Lettuce
  • Mustards
  • Onions
  • Peas
  • Radish
  • Swiss chard

Our complete vegetable inventory for 2016 can be found here.


However, not all seedling varieties are on the shelves. Mid-April will bring the release of our entire Tomato collection and May will start the beginning of our early summer vegetables. We greatly appreciate your patience as we grow from seed to seedling.

Our Ronk’s location has the perfect example of how a garden can look when planted in early March. Sitting in front of our green roof shed is a 4×4 square foot box. This garden style is called “Square Foot Gardening”. It’s a simple approach to gardening and utilizes every inch for efficient growing, leaving behind the space waste of row gardening.

green roof & square foot garden


This box of cold tolerant annuals and vegetables were planted on March 8th, 2016. It was as EASY as 1-2-3. Here’s how we did.

Easter Resurrection Garden Tutorial

Hi there! Easter Sunday is coming up, and we have made some Easter Resurrection Gardens to honor the holiday.

An Easter resurrection garden is a symbol of Jesus rising from his tomb. They portray the scene that Mary Magdalene saw, a tomb with a stone to be rolled away on Easter Sunday.

Resurrection gardens are typically made with rye grass, or can be made more decorative with preserved moss and violas. Here we will be showing you how we make both types resurrection gardens.

Start with your container, I love how terra cotta bowls and saucers look for these. A deeper bowl is great for a viola type garden, while a saucer works well for the grass type gardens. You can always combine grass and violas with moss, but go with the deeper dish.

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  • twigsDSCN0102
  • florist wire or jute twine (to create the crosses)
  • small terra cotta pot
  • large river rock
  • pebbles
  • the ground cover and plants of your choice




If your container has a drainage hole at the bottom, you will want to cover it up so that no dirt or water leaks through. Newspaper, cardboard, and duct tape all work well to prevent anything from falling out.


(Optional: lay an inch of gravel at the bottom to help with drainage before adding soil.)


Next, fill your container with soil nearly to the top. Set the terra cotta pot into the soil on an angle to have it look like a tomb like so:


Add some more soil to cover the end of the small terra cotta pot.

Next add your moss or seed. If you are adding seed, rye grass takes 7 days to grow (the fastest out of the grasses). You will want to mist the soil with water before adding seed to help the seeds stick. Sprinkle the seed to cover, but not completely so that there is no soil visible. Mist again once you’ve finished adding seed.

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Create a well for the violas in the soil. Squeeze the bottom of the viola pack to pop them out, and massage the roots before placing the flowers into the well. Add or move soil to finish adding the violas. Preserved moss can just be laid on top of the soil, gently spread out the moss to get a more spread and even coverage.

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The crosses are next, tie the twigs together with ample twine or wire and cut any excess. Purple string is also a great optional touch. Add the crosses to the garden, some small pebbles surrounding the base of the crosses aides to stabilize the crosses. Spread pebbles in front of the tomb as well, enough to cover the soil.

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For the finishing touch, add your large river rock in front of the terra cotta “tomb”. You can write any Easter sayings that you wish, bible verses or a simple “he arose” with a permanent marker.  Roll the river rock from the tomb on Easter Sunday to symbolize that Christ has risen.


Ken’s Gardens joins you in gratitude for Christ’s sacrifice and the joyful renewal it brings God’s children this Easter!


2016 Vegetable Inventory

Here is an inventory of all our vegetables for 2016. Crossed out  signifies vegetables we no longer carry. [highlight color=”eg. yellow, black”]Highlighted[/highlight] vegetables are new for the 2016 year. We look for durable varieties tolerant to our Lancaster County area and love vegetables with good yields and flavor. Our stock is 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.



Hot PeppersPumpkins-squashSquash-Tom JulTom-supersonicTomatoes SupersteakTom Verde-burpee

Artichoke-CabbageCaulf-CeleriacEggplant-KolLettuce-onionsOnions-S Peppers

All About Field Pansies!

The History and Tradition Behind Field Pansies

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What are field pansies? They are the same pansy seed that we use for our pansies in packs, just grown out in the field compared to being grown in a greenhouse. The growing cycle for a field pansy begins quite a long time before they are ready to be sold!


We seed field pansies in the summer, where they get their start in the greenhouses. Following the first frost and right before transplant, the field pansy beds are steamed. This is a tried and true method that has been done for well over a hundred years. Steaming the field pansy beds allows a chemical free method to kill weed seeds and fungus in the beds. The steam is at a certain temperature that kills undesirable soil pests but does not kill the beneficial microbes.


Around mid-October the pansies’ bare root plugs are ready to be transplanted into the field hotbeds. Once in the field, they will grow all winter under glass sashes. The sashes protect the pansies as well as trapping heat and moisture, ideal growing conditions for pansies! This field method of growing gives the pansies a better formed root system, as well as making them hardier against the cold. The field pansies have bloomed by mid-winter and are ready to be dug out once the ground has thawed enough.

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So why does Ken’s Gardens invest so much time and labor into field pansies? Tradition! Pansies were always traditionally grown in fields. Our Smoketown location has been growing field pansies for over 100 years, as both Glick’s Plant Farms and as Ken’s Gardens (all in the same family). We really love that our customers can remember coming to dig up field pansies at our garden center as children, and can now bring their own grandchildren to dig them up too!

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home upcoming events (2) viola closeup

Field Dug Pansy Day at our SMOKETOWN Location

field dug pansies

Mark your calendars now! March 19th will be FIELD DUG PANSY DAY! Our SMOKETOWN location will be celebrating a family tradition of digging field pansies. Over the past 40 years, the family has planted pansies in the fall and dug these happy little faces up in the spring. During the cold months, the environment and cold weather harden off these plants for a robust cure to ill winter blues.

This is a family event with coffee and light refreshments. Chubby Chix will be onsite with delicious cupcakes, topped with an edible pansy blossom. Shovels will be provided for you and your little ones to dig your pansies. Of course, we will have assistance there for anyone who prefers to leave the dirty work to the professionals.

$1 off a dozen pansies and a raffle ticket is given for every dozen purchased.

Looking forward to 2016!

           Here at Ken’s Gardens we are looking ahead to 2016! We have a lot to look forward to this new year: workshops, sustainability and being able to do more for our customers. A lot of you have voted on a new logo, which will be coming out in 2016, as well as a new tagline. This year we would like to refocus on what Ken’s Gardens is: a family owned full service garden center that grows plants and knows plants. While there are plenty of plant farms and garden centers, there are seldom together. Ken’s Gardens grows most of their own plants and we know everything else we get in well. This allows our customer to get the best plant care prior to purchase and we know exactly how to help you at home with these plants. We also carry reliable and unique plants, supplies, and décor!

            We are also working on becoming even MORE sustainable! Ken’s is also moving towards biocontrol for growing our plants to be more environmentally friendly, as well as doing more community outreach programs. Be on the lookout for events to attend and ways you can help us! 

             You may be wondering what a garden center would be doing with plants in the winter… Well, we are busy doing what we do best: growing plants! We have been very busy seeding and propagating.  Ken’s has also been getting together a fresh inventory of décor and supplies for 2016 and we love what we are getting in!DSCN0011 (2) DSCN0016 (2)DSCN0007 (2)DSCN0011 (2)


              Ken’s has been anxious to give our loyal customers more, and we have been listening to your questions. So in 2016 we will be bringing you workshops and activities! We will be having workshops for fairy gardens, terrariums, urban and contain er gardening, landscape basics and more.  Field Pansy day is also coming as soon as the weather is good and the pansies are ready! Come out and experience a tradition our Smoketown store has been doing for years: dig your own pansies from the field! FullSizeRender [126167]

Can’t wait to show you all we’ve been working on in 2016! – Ken’s