Organic Gardens

Few pursuits are as rewarding as growing your own organic garden. Not only do you get to enjoy the fruits of your own labor, but you have the satisfaction of knowing that the produce you are eating was grown free of chemicals, pesticides and herbicides. Growing organically produces healthy, more diverse ecosystems which are better able to resist significant pest damage… naturally!

We continually add articles to this section, so please check back often. Also, you can share tips and ask questions over at our Organic Gardening Forum page.

Borage

BorageAn easy to grow annual, borage leaves and flowers have a mild cucumber-like flavor.

Sunlight: Full sun to partial shade
Maturity: 55-75 days
Height: 18 to 36 inches
Spacing: 12 to 24 inches apart, 2 to 4 feet between rows

Star-shaped borage (Borago officinalis) flowers hang in clusters and are a beautiful blue color. Bees love the bright blooms and rely on the herb as a nectar source, literally covering the plants some days. Leaves and stems are covered with fine, silver or white hairs and appear to be almost woolly.

Borage flowers can be used to decorate cool, summer-time party drinks and add color to salads and desserts. Both the flowers and leaves are edible and provide a light cucumber flavor. Grows well in containers and may be used as a companion plant with tomatoes and squash. Plants are 2-3 feet tall and self-sow readily. Hardy annual. (more…)

Basil

BasilA how-to guide for growing this classic culinary herb.

Sunlight: Full sun to partial shade
Maturity: 60-90 days from seed
Height: 18 to 24 inches
Spacing: 6 to 12 inches apart, 1 to 2 feet between rows

A member of the mint family, home gardeners are growing basil (Ocimum basilicum) for its luscious flavor and wonderful aroma. This extremely popular herb is available in many beautiful varieties, all of which make uniquely flavorful and aromatic additions to gardens and borders.

Colorful, compact plants grow well in containers — both inside and out — and add interest to herb and ornamental flower beds. Excellent fresh or dried, the classic large-leaved variety is a favorite in Asian and Italian cuisine and is best known for pesto. Fragrant plants grow 18-24 inches tall and are very productive. Tender annual. (more…)

Zinnias

Growing ZinniasLarge, brightly colored blossoms make zinnias a sunny summer-time favorite.

Sunlight: Full sun
Maturity: 60-75 days from seed to flower
Height: 18 to 24 inches
Spacing: 6 to 12 inches apart in all directions

Available in a wide variety of sizes and colors, growing zinnias will satisfy home gardeners for several months each summer. Larger varieties can be used to brighten up annual or mixed borders and are a favorite in cut flower displays. Smaller varieties are well suited for containers and windowboxes or planted at the front of a garden bed.

Zinnias are amoung the easiest flowers to grow and are extremely rewarding with their beautiful colors and long-lasting blooms. Vibrant blossoms are also highly attractive to songbirds, butterflies and pollinators. Plant an array of colors and watch your flower gardens come to life. (more…)

Sweet Peas

Sweet PeasUniquely shaped and sweetly fragrant, sweet pea blossoms add soft, varied color to bouquets and trellised borders.

Sunlight: Full sun
Maturity: 55-75 days from seed to flower
Height: 48 to 72 inches
Spacing: 4 to 6 inches apart in all directions

A great climber that’s perfect for fences and trellises! Home flower gardeners are growing sweet peas for their fragrant scent and interesting blossoms. Easy to plant from seed, they add a splash of color to any garden, especially in cool, damp climates.

These classic, cool-season annuals have been a fixture in American gardens for generations. However, they don’t like heat — hot weather stops their flowering — so plant early and mulch well to keep roots cool. Hardy annual. (more…)

Sunflowers

SunflowerA symbol of summer and a favorite of kids, sunflowers can grow to impressive heights or be just knee-high depending on the variety.

Sunlight: Full sun
Maturity: 60-95 days from seed to flower
Height: 2 to 10 feet
Spacing: 4 to 12 inches apart in all directions

Home gardeners are growing sunflowers for their rich colors and large blooms. Easy to plant from seed, they are available in sizes ranging from miniatures at 1 to 2 feet tall — good for edging — to over 10 feet tall with 2 foot diameter blooms. (more…)

Snapdragons

SnapdragonThe heady fragrance and uniquely-shaped flowers blooming on a central spike make snapdragons a landscaper’s favorite.

Sunlight: Full sun
Maturity: 80-100 days from seed to flower
Height: 12 to 36 inches
Spacing: 6 to 18 inches apart in all directions

Growing snapdragons (Antirrhinum Majus) provides months of color ranging from pale pastels to vibrant reds and oranges. Native to southern Europe and the Mediterranean, they are a favorite flower for cutting and will blossom all winter in warmer climates.

In ancient times snapdragons were thought to have supernatural powers and offer protection from witchcraft. They were also believed to restore beauty and youthfulness to women. Aromatic plants grow 1-3 feet tall. Self-seeding annual. (more…)

Roses: The Queen of Flowers

Rose GardeningOrganic gardeners have been growing roses for well over 2,000 years!

Loved for their beauty and fragrance, roses are cultivated for a variety of landscape effects or for cutting. The members of the genus Rosa are prickly stemmed shrubs with a wide range of heights and growing habits. There are as many as 150-200 species and thousands of varieties, from miniatures (6 inches to 2 feet tall) to climbers that may grow 20 feet or more. Perennial.

Site Preparation

Roses like a good, well-drained soil and will grow best in protected spots with ample water and full sun. Plants require at least 8-10 hours of sunlight per day for optimum growth. (more…)

Petunias

PetuniasThe beautiful, soft-petaled, many-colored petunia is a flower straight from our childhood.

Sunlight: Full sun to partial shade
Maturity: 55-75 days from seed to flower
Height: 10 to 18 inches
Spacing: 8 to 18 inches apart in all directions

Flower gardeners are growing petunias for their dazzling colors and prolific blooms that continue from early spring until frost. Available in hundreds of varieties, petunias are one of the most popular flowering annuals and are well suited for use in borders, baskets and containers.

Native to South America, the first petunia specimen (Petunia multiflora) was discovered at the mouth of the Rio de la Plata and was white in color. The original plants were hardy, had trailing 2-3 inch stems and incredible scents. These scents have been lost in many of the modern-day hybrid varieties. Fortunately, many of the old fashioned, heirloom varieties are still available to fill the air with their amazing fragrance. Plants grow 10-18 inches tall. Self-seeding annual. (more…)

Pansies

PansiesTruly historic and extremely beautiful, pansies are often the garden’s first seen flowers.

Sunlight: Full sun to partial shade
Maturity: 60-85 days from seed to flower
Height: 4 to 10 inches
Spacing: 6 to 12 inches apart in all directions

One of the most widely grown of all garden flowers, pansies (Viola x wittrockiana) — also known as violas — will bloom in a variety of colors all summer long and thrives in cool spring-time conditions. Striking plants with beautiful, round-faced blossoms are perfect for growing in containers, rock gardens, borders or edging. Plants are short lived in hot environments. Self-seeding perennial (grown as an annual in the North), 4-10 inches tall. (more…)

Nasturtium

NasturtiumA quick and easy-to-grow annual, nasturtiums’ trailing vines spread rich colors just where you need them.

Sunlight: Full sun to partial shade
Maturity: 55-70 days from seed to flower
Height: 12 to 18 inches
Spacing: 8 to 12 inches apart in all directions

A quick and easy-to-grow annual that reseeds itself freely. Home gardeners are growing nasturtium (Tropaeolum) for their colorful flowers and attractive foliage. Great for cool-weather climates, beautiful blossoms can also brighten up salads and pastas… they’re edible! (more…)

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