In a post titled Back from the Garden Writers Symposium in Tucson, I reported about my trip to the annual conference held this year in Arizona. I shared photos from the one garden tour I was able to enjoy, and from the gardens along walkways at the hotel. I also explained about the conference’s show floor.
The GWA Symposium draws a decent contingent of garden industry suppliers who set up booths on a show floor in the hotel. GWA members spend nearly eight hours spread over two days visiting the booths and learning from experts about industry products and services. Manny suppliers offer free samples to the garden writers in hopes that we, the writers, will feature those products in our writing.
I had only a few hours on the show floor near the end of the exhibition. Of course, I scouted for products of special interest to kitchen gardeners.
In the “appeals to all gardeners” category, there were two tool companies that I remember visiting. One, Dramm Corporation, was showing a very colorful collection of tools—especially ones you’d use to water your garden. The other, Corona Tools, was showing ComfortGEL pruners—tools with slightly squishy grips that are supposed to be easy on your hands.
BlackGold products had a place on the show floor. BlackGold is an extensive collection of prepared organic soils and soil amendments—appropriate, I think, especially for apartment dwellers and other folks who need to garden in containers. Even more specifically for container gardeners was a product line called UrBin Grower. This is a planter that maintains airspace between the bottom of the soil and the top of a water reservoir.
LiveWall showed a compelling expression of green wall technology. The planters hold soil in trays that hang on horizontal tracks; plants grow up rather than out. This looks like a green wall a plant would design for itself. A freestanding unit on wheels was particularly compelling. I suspect it could manage a fine salad garden as well as several more demanding vegetables in a very compact space.
The most memorable product in the “appeals to all gardeners” category was DriWater. DriWater comes in a squishy clear plastic tube—a lot like brown-and-serve-style sausages. The product is a gel that is 97% water. You use a tube by slitting it open along one side and laying the slit against soil nurturing a plant you want to hydrate for an extended period.
According to the representative, bacteria in the soil digest the gel, releasing water from the package. A single DriWater package can hydrate a container plant for 30 days. Municipal parks workers can set out DriWater units and reduce the number of visits necessary to keep city gardens green.
In the plant category, I saw more ornamentals than I can recall. Some were specific to warm climates and would not survive in central Pennsylvania. Others were hardy enough for my home state. From Encore Azalea, I picked up the Autumn Sunburst which is supposed to blossom repeatedly through the growing season. From Skagit Gardens, I brought home the Kennedy Irish Drumcliff Primrose, hardy to zone 5, and Festuca Beyond Blue—a gorgeous clump of ornamental grass that’s hardy to zone 4.
Flirting with hardiness issues, I found Amistad Salvia from Southern Living. I wish I’d checked the tag because they recommend it for hardiness zones 9 and higher; about 2 zones farther south than it is now. More promising, from Star Roses & Plants, is Flamenco Rose Salvia. This Salvia has pink flowers, and I’d love to have it survive in my garden, but it’s hardy to zone 7—that’ll be hit-or-miss for me.
Finally, on the non-edible side, I picked up a three-pack of Sunrosa rose plants from Suntory. These promise to be covered in red blossoms through most of the growing season.
VIVA! Offered up Scentsational Lavender, a variety they told me was on the hardy side of the lavenders. My last lavender plant gave out after three years, and the representative for the VIVA! product told me that was typical of lavender—I’d always thought it was a perennial that lived on the edge in my hardiness zone, but now I have more reasonable expectations for this lovely herb.
My greatest thrills came at two booths. One, Renee’s Garden had two racks of vegetable seeds and invited me to select any I’d like to try in my garden. It’s hard to find space for the seeds I save from my own plants, but I have a significant expansion in mind for next season, so I’m trying a small assortment from Renee’s.
My second thrill came at the BrazelBerries booth. BrazelBerries come from Fall Creek Farm & Nursery and have small habits appropriate for container gardening. The BrazelBerries line includes two varieties of blueberry plants, and one of raspberries and I got samples of each.
With so many live specimens available to try, the challenge for conference goers is to get the plants home. It’s not practical to jam all those flower pots into a suitcase, so I spent an hour at the hotel shaking potting soil off the roots and repacking plants into zipper-topped plastic bags. These I stacked surrounded by clothing in my suitcase—some in a carryon and others in a bag I intended to check. Happily, all the plants came through in fine shape and I’ve since planted them in my garden and on my deck.
I’m excited to see how the plants do, and will share my observations in coming seasons.
I happened to reach the Corona Tools booth as vendors were packing to leave. There, my friend Chris gave me a handful of ComfortGEL pruners along with sharpeners to keep them in top form. In an upcoming post, I’ll launch a giveaway of those pruners with instructions for how you can enter to win a set. They feel great in my hand, and I expect to pack some next summer when I head out to pluck suckers in my tomato patch.
It’s mid-April, and I’ve planted nothing in my home kitchen garden! I’ve many seedlings literally dying to get out off their planters, but it has been cold and rainy, and working in the garden means wading in mud.
That said, today is Garden Bloggers Bloom Day. Carol, over at May Dreams Gardens, came up with this idea that one day each month garden bloggers would showcase their flowers. I try to post photos of whatever food plants are in bloom in my garden, but today there are none. So… I stepped over the garden fence and shot photos where the ornamental plants grow. I hope you enjoy the results… and jump over to Carol’s blog to find other garden bloggers. You’ll find all kinds of blogs that post awesome flower photos on Bloom Day!
My seed-starting shelf is ready for me to start planting my home kitchen garden. I’ve cleared off the canned goods and hung the lights. In the meantime, we’ve had some late winter snow, so I feel very lucky that I’ve been able to attend this year’s Philadelphia International Flower Show.
The show is an indoor oasis in winter. If features many exhibits of all types of plants that experts have tricked into maturing out-of-season. Not surprisingly, there are many, many flowers. Happily, there are also exhibits of vegetable plants. I spent some time at the show on Tuesday and plan to return on Friday.
I live about 2 and a half hours from Philadelphia. As I drove 50 miles south, I saw that lawns were sprouting green and it made me a little sad since my town is under about eight inches of snow. The show floor was crowded, so it was pointless to have a destination in mind; deciding to move with the crowd helped keep my stress level low.
With all the flowers and other plantings, my favorite ornamentals were succulents and cacti; there were some gorgeous specimens.
The show’s theme this year is Springtime in Paris, and one vendor showing succulents had a sign that read something like, We thought they meant Paris, Texas. That amused me.
If your home kitchen garden is still under snow, please have a look around the Philly Flower Show. I’ve posted a few photos to give you a short respite from the cold.
The berry snacks in this promotional giveaway include apple chips, strawberries, cherries, and blueberries… they’re delicious, nutritious, and low-calorie.
Welcome to Your Home Kitchen Garden. This blog is the sister site of Your Small Kitchen Garden. Your Home Kitchen Garden is about growing food for your own table… regardless of the size of your yard or garden.
Your Home Kitchen Garden is participating in the same promotional giveaway as Your Small Kitchen Garden. We are giving away three cartons of freeze-dried fruit snacks. Each carton contains 12 individually-wrapped servings of berry snacks, and 12 servings of tropical snacks. These were packaged by Sensible Foods under a different label, but otherwise they match the Sensible Foods snacks that often retail for $1.79 per pack.
You might win a carton of 24 snack packets if you do any (or all) of the following:
1. Score one entry by leaving a comment in response to this post. Multiple comments from the same visitor/email address qualify as a single entry. If you also do #2 (below), the comment you leave for that qualifies you for item 1.
2. Score two entries by linking to this post from your own blog or web site. Of course, I’d be happy to see more links, but I’ll count only one link as qualifying for the two entries. (After you link, come back and leave a comment linking to your web page so I can verify the link… otherwise, I won’t know you did it. If you do link from your web site, the comment you leave here to tell me about it qualifies as entry #1 (above). If that’s confusing, don’t worry about it.)
3. Tweet a link to this post that includes my twitter name @cityslipper (so I can keep track). I’d appreciate multiple tweets, but only one will count as an entry.
4. Visit my other two participating blogs, Your Small Kitchen Garden and Food Dryer Home where you’ll find a similar post… each of which can earn up to four more entries: One entry for a comment, two entries for a link, and one entry for a tweet.
While multiple entries may increase your chances of winning a carton, you cannot win more than one carton per email address or visitor.
This promotional giveaway ends on Friday, November 6, 2009. My random number generator will select winners on Saturday, November 7 and I’ll post announcements on all three participating web sites.
Never mind the turtles in Aiken, South Carolina. There wasn’t ice on the ponds! I’ve bounced golf balls on ponds in central Pennsylvania. Every winter I develop an urge to travel south as an appetizer for the coming spring.
As you might learn from many web-based “tips” for beginning gardeners: you should put your home kitchen garden where it will get sunlight. I’ve yet to see the following tip in any of those beginning gardening articles: Make sure you put your gardener where he or she will get sun.
I’ve no objection to winter, but I enjoy it much more when I get at least a week of respite some time before the spring thaw. Every gardener in northern climes—and especially those who manage massive kitchen gardens—should try to head south for a break in January or February.
Winter has suspended my own home kitchen garden, and it has slowed me down a bit. Most of that has to do with holidays; the rest of my family lives by the school calendar, and it was a particularly lengthy winter break this year. Thankfully, our break included escape from winter.
My in-laws have recently moved to Aiken, South Carolina, and on the Sunday after Christmas, we piled into the minivan and went for a visit. My mother-in-law, you might recall, introduced me to red pepper relish, one of the many fine foods she has fed me in the years since I met her daughter.
Aiken is nearly 700 miles south of Lewisburg. That’s plenty far enough to put winter out of reach. Some days ran more than 60F degrees, and all days but one were sunny. Of course, I Googled attractions in Aiken, and picked up brochures. The nearest public garden was just a few blocks from my in-laws. So, on an unscheduled afternoon, we were off to Hopelands Gardens.
Even in winter, the gardens were green and gorgeous. There were squirrels, ducks, and turtles about, and there were spring flowers in bloom. Many of the plants at Hopelands Gardens were unfamiliar to me; I suspect they’re not common in central Pennsylvania. And, clearly, no one planted the garden with a kitchen in mind. In fact, given the same space and resources, a kitchen gardener could provide fresh vegetables and fruit for at least a hundred families.
Hopelands Gardens is a tragic misappropriation of gardening space, but it made for a very pleasant afternoon. The garden walk helped to recharge me so I’ll hold up through the next two months of Pennsylvania’s winter. If you can find a way, get out of the winter for a week, and find a nice garden to visit. Now I’m anticipating some warm days in March, pruning and grafting in my apple trees.