25 March 2011

Buying Plants for Your Garden

Last time we talked about starting your spring plants indoors.  If it’s too much for you to consider, or you just don’t have the room, you can always visit your favorite local garden center to purchase plants for your garden in the spring.   You should keep in mind a few points while making your choices.

Look for local growers as their plants will adapt more readily to your garden since they are grown here.    There are many retailers who bring plants in for sale from out of the area, usually from areas where they have longer, earlier grower seasons.  Because diseases and insects have specific life cycles, and because the growing season begins earlier in these other locations than here in the North, there is the strong possibility that plants from these regions can transport diseases and/or insects into the Northern zones, before their natural cycle would normally begin in our area.  Such was the case with Late Blight just a short time ago in 2009. 
Late blight is a fungus of which mainly tomatoes and potatoes are susceptible.  It can also affect other vegetation within the same family (Solanaceae).  The Late Blight we suffered in 2009 had been linked to plants that were brought in from a southern region supplier.  It began earlier in the season than is normal for our area (it usually arrives after our tomato season has ended) and the excessive wet weather and humidity we had that season further exacerbated the problem, wiping out most family gardens and farmers’ tomato crops for miles around.  

Many smaller, local garden centers and growers grow their own plants or purchase plants from other local growers.  Develop relationships with the owners and staff.   Learn where their plants are from if they are not growing their own.  It’s always a great learning experience and many local growers and garden centers are happy to share that information. 
Another important tip is to ask if the plants have been hardened off.  This is the process of acclimating the plants to our outdoor climate prior to planting them in your garden.  This is done by opening up the greenhouses and increasing air circulation while they are still protected in the greenhouse.  They are allowed exposure to cooler temperatures in order to help lessen the transplant stress once they are placed outdoors.  This step is vital to successful performance in the garden.

Also keep in mind the requirements your garden has for specific types of plants.  Is it sunny, shady, or a combination of the two?  Is the soil wet or does it have good drainage?  Some varieties perform better under certain conditions than they do others.   Do you have a need for trailing plants or plants with height?  Knowing these specifics will help the staff at your local garden center to better be able to assist you with choosing the right plants.
Keeping these points in mind should better help you plan for and plant a successful garden. 

Running Creek Farm Greenhouses, LLC
Valatie/Greenport, NY

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