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Wellness Gardens

Back in the 1940s, in the midst of World War II, Americans across the country planted Victory Gardens to supply themselves and others with fresh food, which was a scarcity at the time. Victory Gardens were hugely successful, and a symbol of our country coming together toward a common goal of keeping ourselves healthy and proactive. We're now in the midst of another global crisis, and judging from what we're hearing from our customers, gardening is yet again what we're all gravitating toward for sustenance and comfort.

As we all hunker down to protect ourselves and our loved ones, and the population in general, flattening the curve as best we can, we have the opportunity to get back to basics: spending quality time with family, cooking leisurely meals, engaging in meaningful conversations, and, of course, gardening. Growing our own food and flowers is incredibly therapeutic, with the added benefit of supplying our families with fresh food without stepping foot in a grocery store.

When choosing which vegetables to grow this season, think of easy-to-grow, quick-maturing varieties that offer great taste and lots of vitamins and minerals. Don't know where to start? We've curated three special discounted veggie-based Wellness Gardens for both spring and summer direct-sowing, and starting ahead indoors. We've also created a collection of the most cheerful direct-sow flowers we offer, for maintaining your good spirits during this difficult time.

Each of these four Wellness Gardens is offered at 30% OFF PLUS FREE SHIPPING AND HANDLING. (Shipping charges will apply to any other additions to your order.)

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Gardening Tips

Beet Sowing Instructions
Planting Depth
: 1⁄4"-1⁄2"
Row Spacing: 12"
Seed Spacing: 1"
Days to Germination: 6-12 days
Germination Temperature: 45°-75°F

Beets grow from compound seeds, which may produce several seedlings. Enhance germination by soaking the Beet seeds for an hour in bathtubwarm water. Planting Beets too early may cause stunting and bolting (going to seed), so wait until the soil has warmed to at least 45°F and there is no chance of hard frost. Beets prefer evenly moist, moderately fertile soil. Keep the Beet bed wellweeded, carefully thinning to 3" between plants when seedlings are about 2" tall. Baby Beets make the most choice eating. Harvest them on the smaller side to enjoy their sweet taste and smooth texture. (Or, harvest a bit larger for winter storage.) Enjoy chilled, with goat cheese, black olives and dried cranberries over baby greens with a raspberry vinaigrette. Yum. Or roast them whole with other root vegetables for hearty winter dinners. Beet greens are delicious too when steamed and dressed with butter and lemon juice.

Tips for Harvesting and Storing Root Vegetables

Baby Beets
If you’re planning to serve your tender baby Beets whole and unpeeled, try hilling the soil around their shoulders as they grow. This will keep the skin from hardening over and losing its smooth, red appearance.

Beet Geometry Saves Time
Beets do long service in the garden, from the first snippets of spring greens to rich, flavorful storage beets in winter. But their “seeds” are actually pods containing multiple seeds, so rows must be laboriously thinned. Turn that trait into a time-saver by planting multi-plant blocks. Using soil blocks or plug trays, sow two seeds in each block. This will produce four or five seedlings per block. Plant the blocks 10" apart in rows 12" apart. They will grow fine in clusters, and you’ll have plenty of space in between for cultivating in two directions~much easier than weeding a crowded row. The same trick works for Onion seedlings, which are also difficult to weed. Plant them in groups of four and they will push themselves apart a bit as they grow.

Late Great Beets
Storage Beets need to be planted early in the season to give them plenty of time to make full size. But did you know you could start a second crop of smaller beets just for fresh fall eating? Sow these six weeks before the last expected frost date in your area. You’ll be rewarded with tender, tasty Beets that you can harvest all the way up to the first hard freeze. They’re great steamed in a covered pan with butter or even sliced raw in salads. And the tender greens are delicious too. The cool weather keeps them mild and fresh tasting.

Shade Tolerance

Deer Resistant Seed Varieties

Spinach Sowing Instructions
Planting Depth
:1/2”
Row Spacing:12”-18”
Seed Spacing:1/2”
Days to Germination:10-14 days
Germination Temperature:45°-85°F

Vitamin-rich Spinach likes it cool, so you may direct-sow in the spring as soon as you can work the soil. You may also sow in the late summer or early fall for fall and early winter harvest. Spinach thrives in rich soil, so amend beds with organic fertilizer, compost and/or well-rotted manure as needed. Keep soil evenly moist. When seedlings are 2" tall, thin to 4" to 5" apart. (Thinnings are great tossed into salads.) If you plant Spinach in warm weather, sow seeds deeper and in partial shade with frequent watering to help it avoid bolting. In cool climates, direct-sow Spinach seed every 2 to 3 weeks for constant harvest. To harvest, either use a few outer leaves from each plant or cut the plant off at the base, after which the plants will likely regrow a second crop of leaves. Make sure to wash thoroughly in cool water before use. Pat dry.

Cool Weather Spinach
Summer gardeners miss out on the three seasons in which this tasty, nutritious green truly thrives. For fall Spinach, wait until cool weather is just starting to settle in, but there are still enough frost-free days to bring the crop to maturity. For winter Spinach, just protect it with a cold frame or--if your climate is mild--a layer of straw. The outer leaves may look beat-up in the dead of winter, but fresh new growth will continually appear at the center. For spring Spinach, you can keep on harvesting these wintered-over plants, or start new ones from seed as soon as the soil can be worked. Another trick is to sow a late fall crop that will germinate just before the ground freezes up, then overwinter the young seedlings. (In cold climates, protect them with a cold frame.) They’ll start to grow as soon as spring arrives!

Hail to the Hardy Greens
Most garden greens can hardly wait for cool weather to come. They perk up and sweeten up as the mugginess of August fades away. Crops such as Spinach, Arugula, Claytonia and Mâche, if protected by a cold frame or simple unheated greenhouse, survive the winter in cold climates, to be cut and re-cut for a continuous harvest. Sow them in September in the north, October in warmer parts of the country. They do best hunkering down, close to the earth. Lettuce and Endive over-winter best when cut at baby leaf size rather than full-sized heads.

Kale, Collards and Brussels Sprouts fare better if grown to full size and left outdoors to soldier on as long as they can, since they do not re-grow if cut back in winter. We can often harvest them for our Christmas table, even in snowy Maine.

Shade Tolerance
Summer Squash Sowing Instructions
Planting Depth
:1”
Row Spacing:4’-5’
Hill Spacing:2’-3’
Days to Germination: 4-10 days
Germination Temperature:65°-75°F

Direct-sow 3 to 5 seeds per hill when soil and weather are reliably warm, after the danger of frost has passed, thinning to the strongest single seedling. To start transplants, sow singly in pots 3 to 4 weeks before setting out. Provide ventilation, strong sunlight and even moisture. Gradually accustom to the outdoors, planting out after the danger of frost has past. Enrich soil with compost, organic fertilizer and/or well-rotted manure. Cover seedlings with cloches or other protection if it gets too cold. Water regularly and feed as needed with manure tea, kelp or fish emulsion. Harvest on the small side for the best flavor. Regular picking also encourages production. Leaves contain a skin irritant, so work carefully around the plants or wear long sleeves. (Powdery mildew on the leaves is normal in late summer, as temperatures cool and humidity rises. It won’t affect the squash.)

Our Pollinators are in Peril

Sex and Squash Blossoms
Melons, Pumpkins and Squash all have yellow, trumpet-shaped flowers, though those of Melons tend to be smaller. Large ones are prized for cooking by Mexican chefs, Italian chefs--and yours truly. The first to appear are usually male blossoms, and until the females appear, you can eat all you want of them. After that, leave a few of the guys for pollination purposes. You can recognize female blossoms by the little bump at the base that will become a Squash once the flower has been pollinated. Males just have a long stem--a perfect “handle” for dipping the flower in batter before deep frying.

Deer Resistant Seed Varieties

Cooking Tip: Simple Summer Squash
Slice the Squash very finely and put it in the top half of a steamer along with finely sliced Onions. Steam briefly until just tender but not mushy. Drain, then stir in chopped Parsley or another favorite fresh herb, along with salt and butter.

Savory, Sweet and Soulful Summer Squash
Just because legumes are known to improve the soil in which they grow, it does not mean that they needn't be planted in good soil themselves. This is especially true of Beans. If you dig in well-rotted manure at the time of planting, your bean plants will grow better, be more free from disease and give you a better yield.

Beans Sowing Instructions
Planting Depth
: 1"
Row Spacing: 18"-36"
Seed Spacing: 3"-4"
Days to Germination: 6-10 days
Germination Temperature: 60°-80°F

Beans love sun and well-draining, fertile soil. Plant Beans when the soil has warmed to 60°F and all danger of frost has passed. Amend the soil as needed with organic fertilizer, compost and/or well-aged manure. Cool, wet weather may necessitate a second planting: bean seeds rot in cold, damp soil. After planting, do not water until the sprouts emerge, unless it is very hot and dry. After emergence, and throughout the season, avoid watering the foliage. Water as needed by soaking the soil around the Beans and fertilize with kelp or fish emulsion as needed.

For Pole Beans, provide support with rough poles, teepees, netting or a trellis. Harvest when the Beans are young, slim and on the small side for the best eating! It is vital to keep Beans picked regularly since seed formation slows and eventually halts production. Sow Bush Beans every 10 to 15 days until 2 months before the first frost date in the fall for continuous yields.

A mainstay of the kitchen garden, homegrown Beans outshine those that are store-bought in their delicious, just-picked flavor, crisp-tender texture and rich vitamin content.

Beans Show Their Colors
My favorite use for purple-podded Beans is to pick them while slim and tender, along with green and yellow ones, and arrange all three on a platter with a hummus dip.

Beans, Beans & More Beans

Shade Tolerance