Spring Garden Planning

Ken's Gardens employee Don Deiter working on a container at a metal soil bin in a greenhouse

Spring is around the corner! Are you ready?

Now is a great time to start planning for your garden if you haven’t started.

Ken’s is fully stocked with seeds, bulbs, and cold tolerant plants such as pansies, herbs, and vegetables.

Checklist for Spring:

  • Cleaning beds:
    • Rake and amend soil
      • Now is a good time to loosen up dirt and add compost or adjust the pH if needed
    • Remove leaf litter and any dead ruffage.
    • Pro Tip: If you missed trimming back any plants this fall, wait until the plant starts pushing new growth to see where to trim.
  • Check supplies
    • Fertilizer, pest control items, spades, shears, and hoses all should be checked for rust and expiration
    • Containers should be checked if they froze over winter and their drainage holes are open
      • A good cleaning never hurts
  • Draw out any new plans for the beds you have,
    • Include sunlight exposure (south facing, shaded by tress etc.)
    • Measure space
  • Write a plant wish list and check for compatibility
    • Bloom time- you want to stage the seasonality of the blooms
    • Requirements – sun, space and drainage are the main three
    • Maintenance – do you want something easy to prune or is a high maintenance plant with high pay off your goal for 2022?

Direct seeding? Starting seeds indoors? No matter your preference we have the supplies and knowledge you may need. Stop in and talk with us for tips on getting started. Need somewhere to start with veggie garden planning? Check out the Farmer’s Almanac, our friends at Rohrer’s seed have great planting tips! If all else fails, check out our list for what we have planned for herbs and veggies this year!

Happy Planting!

2022 Herb List

Complete Herb List

The following is a list of herbs we carry at our garden center.  Please note, inventory fluctuates throughout the season. Not everything listed is guaranteed to be in stock.

Aloe Vera

Anise Hyssop

Basil, Dolce Fresca

Basil, Dwarf

Basil, Pesto Party

Basil, Sweet

Basil, Thai

Basil, Try Mixed

Bay Laurel

Borage

Burnet

Cat Grass

Catnip

Chamomile, Roman

Chervil

Chives

Chives, Garlic

Chives, Staro

Cilantro

Comfrey

Curry, Dwarf

Dill

Eucalyptus

Fennel, Bronze

Fennel, Florence

Germander

Horehound

Hyssop

Lavender, Aromatic Blue

Lavender, Annet

Lavender, Big Time Blue

Lavender, Dilly Dilly

Lavender, Elegance Pink

Lavender, Elegance Purple

Lavender, Grosso

Lavender, Hidcote Blue

Lavender, Melissa Lilac

Lavender, Munstead

Lavender, La Diva Eternal Elegance

Lavender, La Diva Vintage Violet

Lavender, Phenomenal

Lavender, Platinum Blonde

Lavender, Provence

Lavender, Super Blue

Lemon Balm

Lemon Grass

Lemon Verbena

Lovage

Marjoram, Golden Tip

Mint, Apple

Mint, Black Peppermint

Mint, Chocolate

Mint, Citrus Kitchen

Mint, Curly

Mint, Grapefruit

Mint, Mini (Corsican)

Mint, Mojito

Mint, Orange

Mint, Pennyroyal

Mint, Peppermint

Mint, Pineapple

Mint, Spearmint

Oregano, Common

Oregano, Golden

Oregano, Greek

Oregano, Italian

Oregano, Variegated

Parsley, Plain

Parsley, Curled

Patchouli

Rosemary, Arp

Rosemary, BBQ

Rosemary, Creeping

Rosemary, Foxtail

Rosemary, Gorizia

Rosemary, Madeleine Hill Hardy

Rosemary, Officinalis

Rosemary, Salem

Rosemary, Spice Island

Rosemary, Tuscan Blue

Rue

Sage, Berggarten

Sage, Common

Sage, Dwarf

Sage, Emerald

Sage, Golden

Sage, Mexican

Sage, Pineapple

Sage, Purple

Sage, Tangerine

Sage, Tricolor

Savory, Winter

Sorrel, Garden

Sorrel, Raspberry Dressing

Spilanthes –Toothache Plant

Stevia

Sweet Annie

Sweet Woodruff

Tarragon, French

Thyme, English

Thyme, English Tabor

Thyme, Faustinoi

Thyme, Foxley

Thyme, French

Thyme, Golden Lemon Variegated

Thyme, PA Dutch Tea

Thyme, Rose

Thyme, Silver

Thyme, Creeping Archer’s Gold

Thyme, Creeping Doone Valley

Thyme, Creeping Elfin

Thyme, Creeping Pink Chintz

Thyme, Creeping Red

Thyme, Creeping White

Scented Geraniums:

Apple

Attar of Roses

Charity

Chocolate Mint

Citronella

Lady Plymouth

Lemon

Lemon Rose

Lime

Nutmeg Variegated

Old Fashion Rose

Peppermint

Pine

Pretty Poly

Strawberry

2022 Vegetable List

Complete Vegetable List

The following is a list of vegetables we carry at our garden center.  Please note, inventory fluctuates throughout the season. Not everything listed is guaranteed to be in stock.

 

Artichoke Green Globe

Arugula Astro

Bean Stringless Bush

Beets Detroit Red

Beets Bulls Red

Broccoli Pack Pro

Broccolini

Brussel Sprouts Jade Cross

Bush Bean Blue Lake

Cabbage Bravo

Cabbage Chinese Blues

Cabbage Early Jersey Wakefield

Cabbage Golden Acre

Cabbage Stonehead

Cabbage Storage #4

Cabbage Red Jewel

Cantaloupe Burpee Hybrid

Cauliflower Cheddar

Cauliflower Graffiti

Cauliflower Romanesco

Cauliflower Snowcrown

Celeriac Brillant

Celery Tango

Collards Georgia

Cucamelon

Cucumber Burpee Hybrid II

Cucumber Burpless 26

Cucumber Burpless Bush

Cucumber GherKing Gherkin

Cucumber Marketmore 76

Cucumber Patio Snacker

Eggplant Classic

Eggplant Ghostbuster

Eggplant Ichiban

Eggplant Rosa Bianco

Endive Salad King

Escarole Full Heart

Fennel, Florence

Gourd Small Formula Blend

Honeydew Early Dew Green

Kale Lacinato

Kale Scarletbor

Kale Vates

Kolhrabi Grand Duke

Leek Large American Flag

Lettuce Alkindus Red Butterhead

Lettuce Bergams Green

Lettuce Bibb

Lettuce Buttercrunch

Lettuce Cherokee

Lettuce Deer Tongue

Lettuce Freckles

Lettuce Galactic

Lettuce Ithaca

Lettuce Nevada Summer Crisp

Lettuce New Red Fire

Lettuce Muir

Lettuce Oakleaf

Lettuce Romaine, Breen

Lettuce Romaine, Green Forest

Lettuce Ruby Sky

Lettuce Vulcan

Mustard Mizuna Miz America

Mustard Red Giant

Okra Cajun Delight

Onion Candy

Onion Red Burgundy

Onion Walla Walla

Onion Warrior Bunching

Onion White Spanish

Onion Yellow Spanish

Pak Choi Joi Choi

Pak Choi Red Pac

Peanut Carolina Jumbo

Pepper Big Bertha

Pepper California Wonder

Pepper California Wonder Yellow

Pepper Candy Cane Red

Pepper Chocolate Beauty Bell

Pepper Cornito Giallo

Pepper Cubanelle

Pepper Giant Marconi

Pepper Gypsy

Pepper Jupiter

Pepper King of the North

Pepper Lady Bell

Pepper Mad Hatter

Pepper Orange Sun Bell

Pepper Purple Beauty Bell

Pepper Red Knight

Pepper Round of Hungary

Pepper Snackabella

Pepper Sweet Banana

Pepper Sweet Bite Size Red

Pepper Sweet Bite Size Yellow

Pepper Hot Cayenne Large Red Thick

Pepper Hot Habanero Orange

Pepper Hot Holy Mole

Pepper Hot Hungarian Wax

Pepper Hot Jalapeno

Pepper Hot Lemondrop

Pepper Hot Mucho Nacho

Pepper Hot Poblano

Pepper Hot Portugal

Pepper Hot Red Cherry Large

Pepper Hot Serrano Chili

Pumpkin Baby Boo White

Pumpkin Jack-Be-Little

Pumpkin Jack-O-Lantern

Pumpkin Mystic Plus

Pumpkin Neck

Spinach

Squash Summer Scallop White Bush

Squash Summer Sunburst

Squash Summer Yellow Straightneck

Squash Summer Zucchini Aristocrat

Squash Summer Zucchini Eight Ball

Squash Summer Zucchini Gold Rush

Squash Winter Acorn Table Princess

Squash Winter BonBon

Squash Winter Butternut Indian Brave

Squash Winter Vegetable Spaghetti

Swiss Chard Bright Lights

Tomatillo Ground Toma Verde

Tomatillo Husk Ground Cherry

Tomato Amish Paste

Tomato Better Boy

Tomato Big Beef

Tomato Black Russian

Tomato Brandywine Red Potato Leaf

Tomato Burpee Big Boy

Tomato Bush Beefsteak

Tomato Bush Early Girl

Tomato Candyland Red

Tomato Celebrity

Tomato Delicious

Tomato Early Girl

Tomato Evergreen

Tomato First Lady II

Tomato Giant Tree

Tomato Grape

Tomato Great White

Tomato Health Kick

Tomato Heirloom Yellow Cherry

Tomato Indigo Cherry Drops

Tomato Jetstar

Tomato Juliet

Tomato Lemon Boy

Tomato Little Napoli

Tomato Long Keeper

Tomato Mator Sandwich

Tomato Mortgage Lifter

Tomato Mountain Pride

Tomato Mr. Stripey

Tomato Old German

Tomato Orange

Tomato Oxheart

Tomato Pineapple

Tomato Pink Girl

Tomato Roma

Tomato Rutgers

Tomato Striped Stuffer (Pepper)

Tomato Sugar Lump

Tomato Sunsugar

Tomato Supersonic

Tomato Supersteak Hybrid

Tomato Supersweet 100

Tomato Sweet”N Neat Cherry Red

Tomato Tidy Treats

Tomato Tomatoberry

Tomato Very Cherry Cascade

Tomato Yellow Pear

Watermelon Crimson Sweet

Watermelon Sangria

Watermelon Sugar Baby

Watermelon Seedless

 

BURPEE VEGETABLES

Cucumber Fresh Pickles

Eggplant Early Midnight

Eggplant Meatball

Eggplant Patio Baby

Pea Masterpiece

Pepper Big Daddy

Pepper Bush Habanero

Pepper Confetti

Pepper Gold Standard

Pepper Jalapeno Gigante

Pepper Jungle Parrot

Pepper Lemon Dream

Pepper Sweet Heat

Pepper Tangerine Dream

Pepper Thunderbolt Sweet

Pepper Zavory Hot

Tomato Baby Boomer

Tomato Big Daddy

Tomato Big Mama

Tomato Brandy Boy

Tomato Bushsteak

Tomato Cherry Punch

Tomato Fourth of July

Tomato Fresh Salsa

Tomato Homeslice

Tomato Indigo Fire Ball

Tomato Mighty Sweet

Tomato Power Pops

Tomato San Marzano

Tomato Solar Power

Tomato SuperSauce

Tomato Sweet Seedless

Tomato Sweetheart of the Patio

Tomato Tasti-Lee

 

Visit our Planting Tips page to check out other lists and tips!

How to Prune Ornamental Grasses

How to Prune Ornamental Grasses

One of the most common questions people have about ornamental grasses is “How do I cut them back?.” But the answer to this question is not as simple as it seems. As it turns out, there are two different answers to this question. The answer depends on whether the grass you have is a warm or cool season grass. So in this article, we will explain the difference between the two and tell you how to care best for each. Of course, we will be only covering perennial grasses. Annual grasses should be removed at the season’s end after they no longer look good or the frost kills them.

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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!

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!

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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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.

cold-tolerant-wagon

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.

Indoor Herb Garden Tips

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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.

 

Sage

This dense, hardy plant will come back year after year. Use green leaves in poultry dishes. Avoid cutting woody stems and remove flowers to encourage growth.

Plant from seed (a three-month process) or use a crown division.

 

Sweet basil (Genovese)

You can use the leaves and seeds of this leafy green often associated with Italian dishes. The Herb Society of America recommends pruning it when it has three to five sets of full-size leaves to maximize growth. Start from seed or cutting.

 

Thyme

Versions of this herb grow tall or spread wider to form a mat that “trails nicely” over a pot’s lip. Versions like lime, lemon, coconut or the more common Italian can perfume a room with just the touch of a hand. Crown division or buying a starter to transplant.

*The above tips are from KIMBERLY MARSELAS | LNP CORRESPONDENT*

Shade Loving Alternatives

impatiens

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.

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