Planting Tips

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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!       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 Ronk's Beehive

Organic Gardening with Ken’s Gardens

“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. We start with all GMO free seeds. Some, but not all, are from organic seed sources. 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. We use a combination of conventional and organic fertilizers depending upon the nutrient requirements of each type of plant. 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

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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.

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.    

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.

Indoor Herb Garden Tips

Chives Very easy to grow, chives are a member of the onion family and are used to flavor soups, potatoes and eggs. The linear leaves should be trimmed when they reach 4 inches, and frequently afterward. Start from seed or divide an existing clump and plant directly in soil.   Dill Though short-lived, dill's tangy leaves make it a good winter candidate. Plant the seeds thickly, about 20 per pot. Trim the entire plant once leaves reach 3 inches tall, and frequently thereafter. Toss at season's end. Start from seed.   Lavender Opt for Hidcote or Munstead varieties for easy growth, plus flowers and fragrance that last all winter long. Good drainage is essential; lavender is prone to root rot. Remove flowers as they fade. Start from crown division or buy a starter plant.   Mint Choose a variety with a fragrance profile you prefer: peppermint, chocolate or even apple with its fuzzy, grayish leaves. Mint spreads abundantly outside, but works well in a container with regular trimming. Start from seed or cutting.   Oregano Varieties of this hardy perennial like well-drained soil and low humidity. Snip sprigs when the plant grows several inches tall; keep trimming to promote growth. Plant from a crown division or starter plant.   Parsley This is another plant that grows easily inside. Eating parsley aids digestion and reduces inflammation. Transplant it outside come spring, and you'll attract swallowtail butterflies. Plant from seed.   Rosemary Trim the leaves and flowering tops of this needled herb to flavor fish and meat or infuse aromatic oils and soaps. The Herb Society of America recommends cutting stems above any woody growth and avoiding dry, brown or yellowing leaves. Plant from cutting or seed.  

Planting Blueberries

Blueberries are a popular home grown favorite and we have the tips you need to get your crop up and growing. Click the image for details.

Shade Loving Alternatives

Downy Mildew has affected Impatiens in the landscape all over the United States. Below are suggested alternatives for the shade and part shade garden.

Shade Loving Alternatives

Downy Mildew has affected Impatiens in the landscape all over the United States. Here are suggested alternatives for the shade and part shade garden. Click the image for details.