Eco-Friendly

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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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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

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