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Acer's Florist  & Garden Center
Edition 15.20 Acer's Florist & Garden Center May 2015
Long Island Grown Azaleas
 
herbs and veggies
 
perennials, trees and shrubs
 
annuals and tropicals
 
coupon
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fire pits
 
coupon
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Flowering Flats

When you want to add some color to your garden, the best bang for your buck is often to buy flats of small flowers. Whether for pots, beds, or window-boxes, a few flats of flowers are the quickest and easiest way to have flowers around instantly.

Whether you prefer impatiens, petunias, marigolds or geraniums, there are a wide variety of sizes and colors to choose from. They can easily be mixed and matched to create brilliant patterns. They're not just good for their looks either. Flowers attract pollinators that will fertilize your fruits and vegetables, ensuring you a larger harvest.

Take into consideration where you will plant them before you go to the Garden Center. Will they get full sun, or partial shade? Does the soil drain well there? Is the area particularly dry? Knowing the conditions will help you select varieties that will work well where you want them. Soil amendments, fertilizers, and mulch are good things to consider, as well. They will help your flowers grow bigger, as well as retain moisture as the summer heats up.

 
Gardening with Kids

Gardening can be a great way to relieve stress, get exercise, and to feel connected to the environment around you. These benefits can be as good for your kids as they are for you!

Besides the obvious benefits, spending time with your kids in the garden will give you lots of opportunities to teach them about the world around them, as well as give you a chance to spend time together without the distraction of phones, televisions, or video games.

Kids love to watch things grow, and once they've seen a pea turn into a shoot, and then a vine, flowers, and eventually delicious pea pods, the dinner-time veggie battle will be half over.

Some of the easiest and most fun things to grow are peas, carrots, cucumbers, kale, lettuce, strawberries, and cherry tomatoes. Besides being easy, they also lend themselves to being great snacks without having to cook them.

The easiest place to start gardening with your kids is to set aside a corner of your garden just for them. Plant things together, and check on them frequently to watch their progress. Teach your child which plants are weeds, which are yours, and how to tell the difference. Show them which bugs to squish (caterpillars), ones to avoid (bees), and which ones should be kept around to eat the pests, like lady bugs and praying mantis.

Even a tiny garden can be a great opportunity for some great quality time with your kids. If you keep it simple and keep it fun, they might even love it as much as you do!

 
tomatoes

Tomatoes are the favorite vegetable for home growing. Over the past years, commercial growers have produced tomato varieties that valued shelf-life and unblemished prettiness over taste--and the result has been an almost tasteless tomato at your local stores. You can put taste back on top of the list by growing your own.


Tips on Choosing Your Tomato Plants:
  • Height and bushiness of the plant are important, particularly for gardeners growing tomatoes in small spaces. Check to see whether the variety you select is "determinate" (bush type--produces all at once--best for small spaces) or "indeterminate" (vine type--produces throughout the season and grows in all directions).

  • Consider taste, size, shape, color, mildness, (acidity or non-acidity), disease resistance, and cracking resistance.

  • Your intended use for the tomato may dictate your selection. For instance, if you want to use your tomato crop for preserving or for making tomato paste, you'll want to select a variety that has a strong tomato flavor and lasts a long time in the refrigerator.

  • Depending on when you plant, you may be concerned about the "days to maturity" (the time it takes a transplant to bear ripe fruit.)

  • Finally, consider selecting a few unique tomato plants that you haven't tried before or a novelty variety no one else in the neighborhood grows.

Planting tips:

  • Choose a spot in full sun, and prepare the soil by digging it deeply with a spade and mixing in a good planting mix.

  • Add a good vegetable fertilizer.

  • Plant transplants deeply. If they're leggy, snip off the lower leaves, make a little trench with the trowel, lay the plant in sideways, and bend the stem up gently. Roots will form all along the buried stem.

  • Choose a staking system (such as a tomato cage or trellis).

  • Water deeply and continue to irrigate so the soil stays evenly moist.

Grow your own tomatoes! Your taste buds will thank you!

 

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