Edward's Garden Center

Forty Fort, PA

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Spend Your Memorial Weekend in the Garden

Memorial Day weekend is the official kick off of planting season in Northeast PA. We know many of you (and us) have already started planting annuals, pulling weeds and maybe buying vegetable plants.

With the weather being finicky up until this week, planting early was actually a little risky. We are sure you or someone you know was outside rushing around last week putting buckets or bags over their plants because of the sudden cold spell.

It appears spring/summer has worked its way into our area so you should be okay to start filling up your vegetable gardens and hanging baskets.

Here are some of ideas of what to start with on this hot, humid Memorial Day weekend.

Edward's Garden Center - Grow Sunflowers Memorial Weekend

Photo cred: fusianliving.com

Start a new tradition: planting sunflower seeds
These fun, sunny plants are easy to grow and are the perfect way to kick off the growing season. Plant seeds in warm soil about 1 to 2 inches deep and keep the soil moist until the seeds sprout. Once the plants get growing, water thoroughly and as needed. Established plants are drought tolerant though you’ll get the best eating seeds when properly watered. The best part about growing sunflowers is the beauty they will bring to your garden.

Plant your vegetables
It’s officially time to start those tomato plants. Though you may have had some growing in your greenhouse or home for weeks, it’s time to move those plants outside for optimal harvest. It’s also a great time to start a vegetable container garden. If you are not sure how to start a vegetable container garden, sign up for our hands-on seminar, on June 5 at 11 am.

Edge out your gardens and boundaries
The grass has been growing like crazy thanks to the wet week a few weeks ago and the heat this week. It’s probably time to redefine the edges around your gardens. Using a spade or a half-moon edger could be a lot of work but the end result will be beautiful.

Visit your favorite Garden Center!
Many people’s favor thing to do on Memorial Day weekend is shop for all the annuals and perennials they will add to their gardens this year. Visit Edward’s Garden Center this weekend. We are fully stocked with annuals, perennials, mulch, fertilizer and pond supplies. Don’t forget to bring the kids to enjoy all our animals.

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Edible Garden Treats

It’s the time of year for enjoying fresh veggies from the garden. We are sure many of you are chowing down on some fresh garden tomatoes, sweet corn, lettuce and green beans. But did you know that other plants from your garden can produce some tasty treats?

Edible flowers - Edward's Garden Center

Fried Sunflowers by Eleven Madison Park

Why not try some fried sunflower?
Everyone knows that these beautiful flowers can produce some tasty seeds. But how many of your have tried to eat the actual sunflower? Diners at the Eleven Madison Park in New York City are familiar with the creamy, woodsy taste of the sunflower. The sunflower is a cousin to the artichoke so it tastes similar.

The chefs at Eleven Madison Park strip away the pedals and the stem. Then they plunge it three times into boiling water, then an ice bath. Once the sunflower heart is braised until tender in a rich barigoule sauce of white wine, onion, fennel, thyme, bay leaves, and lemon—a riff on a classic artichoke preparation. The chef cakes one side with buttery brioche crust crumbs and sears it until it’s a perfect golden-brown disc.

This process helps remove the floral taste the flower gives off, making it quite delicious.

Marigold tastes great in soup?
Calendula or Marigolds are a tasty addition to many common dishes. Their sharp taste resembles saffron (also known as Poor Man’s Saffron). Has pretty petals in golden-orange hues. Sprinkle them on soups, pasta or rice dishes, herb butters, and salads. Petals add a yellow tint to soups, spreads, and scrambled eggs.

Daylillies are edible - Edward's Garden CenterDaylilies are a vegetable?
OK, not really, but they taste like a combination of asparagus and zucchini. You can sprinkle the flowers on a spring salad or use them in a dessert. Some people think that different colored blossoms have different flavors. Use Daylilies in your cooking sparingly; they can act as a diarrhetic.

Bea Balm on your pizza?
Wild bee balm tastes like oregano and mint. The taste of bee balm is reminiscent of citrus with soft mingling of lemon and orange. The red flowers have a minty flavor. Any place you use oregano, you can use bee balm blossoms. The leaves and flower petals can also be used in both fruit and regular salads. The leaves taste like the main ingredient in Earl Gray Tea and can be used as a substitute.

For more edible flowers and what to do with them visit: http://whatscookingamerica.net/EdibleFlowers/EdibleFlowersMain.htm

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Enjoy Giant Sunshine in Your Garden

If you have ever driven through Lancaster, Pa or another heavily farmed area, you have probably seen the giant sunflowers that grow in people’s gardens. They don’t seem to be your average sunflower crop and that is because they are not.

The giant sunflowers you see come from different seeds and require special care. When grown and maintained properly, these plants will provide you with beauty and a tasty treat. Take a look at our tips before starting your giant sunflower seed crop.

Choose the correct variety
Sunflowers grow to all heights, at different times of the summer and shed different amounts of seeds. If you are looking to grow the tall ones with the huge faces and leaves, stick to seeds such as Mammoth, Russian Mammoth or California Greystripe. The Sunzilla variety are a very reliable hybrid that grows strong stalks to hold up their giant seedheads. Sunzillas have been known to reach over 16 feet and produce huge seedheads. Edward's Garden Center Tips for growing giant sunflowers

Pick a sunny spot and prep the soil
Sunflowers need a full 6-8 hours of sun a day. Knowing how difficult that can be in Northeastern PA, you should choose the sunniest spot in your yard. Also make sure the area will drain easily.

Next, prepare your soil by digging an area of about 2-3 feet in circumference to a depth of about 2 feet. Sunflowers are heavy feeders and deplete the soil more than many other crops – especially if you are growing them to reach a massive height so the nutrient supply must be replenished each season. You can use Osmocote to fertilize your soil.

Sow your seeds for success
If you want to grow the tallest sunflowers, you should sow your seeds right into the ground where you want them to grow. Sunflowers have long taproots that grow quickly and become stunted if confined. Peat pots in particular often dry out and block off root growth.

Since sunflowers need a long time to dig their roots deep, you should plant your seeds as soon as the night temperatures no longer drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. For NEPA, this usually means late May to mid June.

The ideal spacing in rows for giant sunflowers with large seed heads is 20 in. apart. If you plant closer, you might get taller stalks but smaller heads. If you plant farther apart, the seedhead may be larger, but possibly too heavy for the stalk to bear.

To sow seeds, water your soil, and press seeds 1 inch deep in clumps of 5-6 seeds about 6-8 in. apart. Put snail bait in a circle around the clump. Cover loosely with netting to protect emerging seedlings from birds. Keep the soil moist so that seedlings will appear in 5-10 days. As the plants grow, thin them to the best and most vigorous growers. Leaving even several seedlings growing too close together will keep you from growing a giant in your garden.

Tips for growing giant sunflowers from Edward's Landscaping.

Photo cred: fusianliving.com

Caring for your growing giant
Feed often and water regularly. While the plant is small, water around the root zone, about 3-4 in. from the plant with about 2 gallons of properly diluted liquid fertilizer solution per week. When the plants get bigger, scrape out a small doughnut-shaped moat about 18 inches around the plant and about four inches deep. Pour several gallons of properly diluted fertilizer into the moat every week.  Sunflower roots can grow to 4 feet below the soil surface. Avoid pouring fertilizer directly on the stems, since this can cause them to rot. Another feeding method for larger plants is to make several holes by driving a steel stake into the ground about 3-4 feet deep and about 1½ feet from the plant. Fill the holes with properly diluted liquid fertilizer.

Be very attentive to your sunflower seedling. Keep an eye on weather reports of high wind. In the case of a wind storm, delay watering to reduce their chances of blowing over.

Enjoying the seeds of your labor
As the petals fall off, the center florets dry up and the seed kernels begin to swell in the disks, carefully climb a stepladder and cover your flower head with a mesh onion bag or loose burlap or paper bag. This will keep the seeds from being eaten by a passing bird. If you plan to use the seeds for your bird feeder, wait until the seeds are completely dry. Remove them by hand or by rubbing them over wire mesh into a basket.

Information for this story came from Renee’s Garden.