Early Annuals

Get a head start in the garden with early annuals. Many of these varieties are hardier and thrive in cooler weather. They can survive a light frost and give your garden added spring color.

Cheiranthus ‘Charity Mix’

Provides continuous blooms during cool weather; sun to part sun, 8-10” tall.

Coleostephus myconis

Bright daisy like flowers; full sun, 24” tall.

Dianthus ‘Ideal Select Whitefire’.

 Softly-scented flowers; sun to part sun, 8-10” tall.

Dimorphotheca ‘Spring Flash Yellow & Orange’

Full sun, 10-12” tall.

Leucanthemum paludosum

Large daisy like flowers; full sun, and 8” tall.

Nolana ‘Bluebird’

Trailing blue flowers; sun to part sun, 10” tall.

Snapdragon ‘Frosted Flame’

Variegated leaf, brilliant colors, strong stems; sun to part sun, 16” tall.

Snapdragon Solstice Mix.jpg

Snapdragon ‘Solstice Mix’

Great for cutting, beautiful mix of color; sun to part sun, 16-20”.

Stock ‘Harmony Mix’

Large, fragrant flowers; Full sun, 10” tall.

Posted on April 6, 2016 .

Tomato Tasting & Autumn Festival 2015

Best Slicer - Kellogg's Breakfast                Best Paste - Jersey Devil                        Best Small - Sun Gold

Tomato Tasting Winners 2015

(Click the Tomato image above for a detailed list)

Most Tomatoes - 16 Varieties - Kathleen Sanders

Best Slicer - Kellogg's Breakfast

Best Paste - Jersey Devil

Best Small - Sun Gold

Posted on September 25, 2015 .

Recommended Vegetable Planting Timeline


We in the Herb and Vegetable Department want to help people grow good food.

In keeping with the philosophy of Edwards Greenhouse, we believe in and embrace the concept of sustainability.  Meeting the required standards is a demanding and daunting challenge, but one toward which we are ever striving.  We use safe, natural fertilizers and, when necessary, organic pesticides. 

We take pride in offering an extensive selection of varieties, the common as well as the less common.  The majority of our stock is raised from seed here in our greenhouses. 

We are unwavering opponents of GMOs, and so you need never wonder if that’s what you’re getting from us.  GMOs (genetically modified organisms) are not the same thing as hybrids, which we do carry.  The genetic modification involved in the creation of a GMO requires literal gene splicing.  A hybrid requires cross-pollination.

Whenever possible, we support independent seed companies; admittedly, however, buying seed from corporate suppliers is at times inevitable, as certain popular cultivars are available only through them.  Similarly, we avoid, when we can, the use of treated seed; our next goal is to eliminate treated seed entirely.

Posted on February 12, 2015 .

The Rose List is Here!

Lo and behold it's time to start planning for your spring planting, specifically, roses. If you order from now until March 31 you will get 10% off your order, so it plans to be thinking ahead! We've got some gorgeous new varieties and cultivars that we can't wait for you to see. Give us a call to pre-order your roses today!!

Click the rose to link to the 2015 Rose List
Posted on January 8, 2015 .

Amaryllis Care

POTTING: Use a bigger pot only when bulb has less than 1 inch of soil around it. At least 1/3 of bulb must be above the soil.

WATERING: Use warm water with 1/3 to 1/2 of recommended dose of a high phosphate fertilizer. Let bulb partially dry out between watering. A good soaking once a week should be plenty.
       --------If leaves get yellow & crisp - not enough water
       --------If leaves get yellow & soft – too much water

BULBS; May be a little soft after blooming for a week or two.
Otherwise, a healthy bulb should be hard & firm. When your amaryllis finishes blooming, cut the stalk that bloomed off at the base. DO NOT cut the leaves. Keep watering soil around the bulb& place plant in good light till May. After last frost, put pot outside where it will get about 4 to 6 hours of morning sun. Keep watering till late Sept to mid October. Bring inside, stop watering & place pot on its side in a cool dark place. Leaves will turn yellow & dry up. If they don’t fall off, you can remove them easily. After 6 to 8 weeks, you can do either of the following;

1)Remove top 1-2 inches of soil & add 1/2 new soil & 1/2 compost.

2)Remove whole plant from pot & remove all soil from bulb. Cut off all rotted &/or dried up roots. Cut roots that are left to about 1 inch long. Repot in 1/2 new soil & 1/2 compost mix.
Place the pot in good light & start watering. It should start blooming in 6-8 weeks!!!!
DO NOT get upset if the bulb takes a year off & only grows leaves the first year. It has been put through H---. To force it into bloom like when you first got it, is kind of like a 12 year old having triplets!!!!!!

Posted on November 21, 2014 .

Tomato Tasting 2014

MOST VARIETIES ENTERED: 35 Varieties – Kathleen Sanders
BEST CHERRY/GRAPE: Sun Gold(Hybrid)- Carol Evans
BEST PASTE: Basque Roma(Heirloom) – Sondra Skinner
BEST SLICER: Malakhitovaya Shkatulka(Heirloom) – Lindsay Schramm

Posted on September 24, 2014 .

Gardening Insights from Edwards Greenhouse


Food Preservation

Times of recent economic downturn are seeing renewed interest in food preservation since the “Victory Gardens” of WWI and WWII, and the 60’s and 70’s. The most popular food preservation technique is canning, followed by freezing and dehydration, and pickling and making jams and jellies.

In an effort to combat food spoilage in the early 19th century, long before the advent of refrigeration, French jam-maker Nicholas Appert systematized the process of heretically sealing food in jars and sterilizing them. Soon, canning became common in the US. Canning and food preservation make food more sustainable so that it can be eaten during other times of the year, capturing the harvest beyond the most bountiful growing months. It also reduces food waste. This adds to the economic benefit. Nutrition is another benefit that actually goes hand-in-hand with economics: lower income communities have higher rates of diabetes, obesity, and malnutrition that garden produce, whether fresh or preserved, can help combat.

Food preservation is very trendy these days, and foodies are especially keen on it. Sara Dickerman, in her slate.com article Can It: At-home preserving is ridiculously trendy, says,

[Home food preservation] is not about producing serious food for the future, and it’s not about shaking a fist at industrial food…Rather, it’s about making and sharing delicious, idiosyncratic things that are also, not insignificantly, very pretty.

This perspective on food preservation seems to come from more economic affluence, in my opinion, but is a way that food creativity can be expressed.

Speaking of shaking fists at industrial food, this isn’t to be discounted because home growing and preserving food helps reduce one’s carbon footprint. Food in refrigerated transportation travels an average of over 1500 miles to bring food to the grocery store, and loses some nutritional value and flavor in transport. (And the average grocery store vegetable is a week old on arrival and often requires preservatives.) Additionally, there’s a large amount of paper and plastic packaging to keep food fresh, or at least looking fresh, for a longer period of time. This waste is often impossible to reuse or recycle. Also, industrial farms where the food is grown are major sources of air and water pollution. These are all reasons to grow and preserve your own food, or food that’s grown locally, to not add to the problems of this industry.

If you’re new to food preservation, The National Center for Home Food Preservation has an excellent website to learn how to preserve properly and safely. http://nchfp.uga.edu/

Information from the following websites was used for this article:





Edward’s staff members are happy to provide support and advice throughout the gardening experience to strengthen each gardener’s skills at all experience levels.

Gretchen Weitemier

Herbs and Veggies Worker

Posted on August 5, 2014 .

Gardening Insights from Edwards Greenhouse

Eating the Rainbow

An easy way of getting a broad spectrum of nutrients and vitamins is to eat a broad spectrum of colors of fruits and vegetables. Oxidization, such as when an apple slice turns brown, or when fish becomes rancid, also happens to the cells in our bodies. Free radicals, caused by oxidization, damage cells as well as DNA. This may lead to the onset of cancer, heart disease, cataracts, and arthritis. The more brightly colored produce is, the more protective the health benefits from phytochemicals, plant compounds that help the body neutralize free radicals, and undo some of the damage already done to cells. Antioxidants including beta-carotene and vitamins E and C are often found in colorful vegetables and fruits. More detail regarding healthful nutrients of the following colors of produce:

RED: Beets, pomegranates, rhubarb, raspberries, cranberries, cherries, and red bell peppers. Contain vitamin A, beta-carotene, vitamin C, manganese, anthocyanins, and fiber. Red apples also have quercetin, a compound that fights colds, the flu, and allergies. Lycopene, found in tomatoes, watermelon, and red grapefruit, has cancer fighting properties. Contributes to a healthy heart, memory function, urinary tract health, and a lower risk of some cancers.

ORANGE: Butternut squash, peaches, carrots, nectarines, sweet potatoes, orange peppers, cantaloupes, pumpkins, and oranges. Similar to red, including vitamins C, A, B6, potassium, and fiber. Contain carotenoids and bioflavonoids. Contributes to a healthy heart, vision health, immune system, and a lower risk of some cancers.

YELLOW: Banana, yellow bell peppers, summer squash, spaghetti squash. Potassium, fiber, manganese, vitamin A, and magnesium. Health benefits similar to orange produce.

GREEN: Spinach, arugula, broccoli, asparagus, green beans, dark green lettuces and kales, green beans, pumpkin seeds, peas, collard greens, lima beans. These vegetables are more nutritious than iceberg lettuce. Rich lutein content aids eyesight, and folate supports cell reproduction. Additionally, green vegetables lower risk of some cancers, and contribute to strong bones and teeth. Green vegetables are important for vegetarians to obtain iron instead of the iron that meat provides.

BLUE/PURPLE: Blueberries, red onions, plums, eggplant, currants, blackberries, Concord grapes. Vitamin A and flavonoids are found in radicchio, purple cabbage, purple potatoes, and purple carrots. Blue and purple produce has powerful antioxidants that protect blood vessels and preserve healthy skin. Additionally, health benefits include a lower risk of some cancers, urinary tract health, memory function, and healthy aging.

WHITE: Cauliflower, parsnips, rutabagas. Contains vitamins C, K, folate, and fiber. Onions and garlic have allicin, a compound that protects the heart and blood vessels. The mineral selenium is found in mushrooms. White beans provide iron, potassium, and protein. These vegetables help maintain heart health, cholesterol levels that are already healthy, and a lower risk of some cancers.

BLACK: Black, (or wild) rice, black lentils, black beans. Provides high levels of antioxidants. Black rice has 70 percent more protein and twice as much copper as brown rice, though it is lower in manganese and zinc.

Percent Daily Value (% DV) provides an estimate of how individual foods contribute to the total diet. Foods that are an “excellent source” of a nutrient provide 20% or more of the daily value. Foods that are a “good source” of a particular nutrient provide between 10 and 19% of the daily value.

Opening your mind to new flavors can be beneficial in expanding to new colors of fruits and vegetables. Another way of doing this is trying new cuisines, especially Asian or Middle Eastern. Eating a variety on the rainbow ensures a variety of nutrients. Now your colorful fruit and veggie garden looks not only visually stunning, but is showing off its healthiness!

This article contains information from the following links:





Edward’s staff members are happy to provide support and advice throughout the gardening experience to strengthen each gardener’s skills at all experience levels.

Gretchen Weitemier

Occupational Therapist

Herbs and Veggies Worker

Posted on July 29, 2014 .

Gardening Insights From Edwards Greenhouse

Gardening with Pets

Recently, I have been interviewing Edwards workers and folks I know about how they manage to care for their gardens in relation to their pets. I considered the following strategies.

One woman said she, like many people, has a very busy life, and gave a suggestion for balancing pet (dog) time and garden time. As she walks her dog she’s inspired and enjoys seeing others’ gardens and yards. After the walk, she lets her dog cool off indoors while she spends 20 minutes weeding. She has found she likes to garden separately from caring for the dog because she can focus better and isn’t constantly interrupted to play fetch. Another strategy she shared that she fenced plants from her pets, when her garden was newer, until the plants were more established and less likely to be damaged by trampling.

Another woman I talked to said her Corgi likes to eat tomatoes, and her cat likes grass and catnip! Research shows that tomatoes are safe for dogs [1], because the dog would have to eat quite a lot of tomatoes for them to be poisonous. Pet WebMD [2] says that it is common for dogs and cats to eat grass. They also say that it is mostly considered normal for your furry friend to eat grass, but that herbicides and pesticides need to be considered for pet safety. This site: http://www.animalhealthfoundation.net/news/item.html/n/20261?gclid=CIqzorC4z78CFU9cfgodsG8AaA says,

Cocoa mulch is toxic if ingested because it contains theobromine and caffeine, which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, elevated heart rate and seizures. Use a mulch of hardwood or pine instead. Insecticides and herbicides can pose problems too. Research on phenoxy-type herbicides shows they increase the incidence of cancer. Don't use slug bait that contains metaldehyde, which can be fatal to pets and wildlife. Check the Internet or your cooperative extension service for safe alternatives.

The ASPCA website has an extensive list of toxic and non-toxic plants for dogs, cats, and horses [4].  Thorny plants can also pose problems.

Another person I talked to, like many gardeners, said that she enjoys being around her pets as she gardens. The dog likes to play fetch which, in this case, involves a bigger stretch of land for the dog to chase a ball. Yet another person said she likes to leave a pet area in the garden where dogs or cats can go cool off in the shade in privacy. Having a trained pet that knows which areas it can go, and which are off-limits, is very helpful. Here’s a dog-training suggestion site: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/25/dog-friendly-garden_n_3149183.html Here’s a cat-training suggestion site: http://cats.about.com/od/behaviortraining/

Edward’s staff members are happy to provide support and advice throughout the gardening experience to strengthen each gardener’s skills at all experience levels.

Gretchen Weitemier

Occupational Therapist

Herbs and Veggies Worker


1.       http://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/2011/09/are-tomatoes-poisonous-to-dogs/

2.       http://pets.webmd.com/dogs/why-do-dogs-eat-grass

3.       list of toxic and non-toxic plants for dogs, cats, and horses

4.       http://www.paw-rescue.org/PAW/PETTIPS/DogTip_garden.php

5.       http://ellisonchair.tamu.edu/health-and-well-being-benefits-of-plants/#.U8llJI1OUcA

6.       http://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2009/February/feature1.htm


Posted on July 22, 2014 .

Gardening Insights From Edwards Greenhouse

Gardening For Future Generations

Humans’ dance with the earth through cultivation began in ways that helped populations learn to survive and pass on their knowledge to future generations. Nowadays, cultivating knowledge looks different, and our own future generations may benefit from methods born from new insight.

This site: http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Ancient_History/Human_Evolution/Neolithic_Age talks about the domestication of plants by early humans. Horticulture, tending small plots of land with a variety of food crops, was successful for many tribes. One method, “slash-and-burn,” was sometimes used. This was clearing a wild plot of land of its trees and bushes, burning the remains, and using the ashes for gardening several years until the soil nutrients were depleted. The nomads would then move on. Gardening of one crop using larger plots of land, aka agriculture, developed. Nomads seeded some crops, moved to different lands for a time, and then returned to the crops. Sometimes other groups harvested while they were gone, the gardens were trampled, and/or insects ravaged the crops. Over the generations, a sense of ownership developed to maintain better care of the gardens, and humans, (once nomadic,) became sedentary. Such was the use of the earth by these early gardeners. The earth was used to service them during a time when populations were just beginning to grow.

This site: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sustainable_gardening talks about contemporary endeavors to garden. “Humans are now using natural biophysical resources faster than they can be replenished by nature…Organic gardening and the use of native plants are integral to sustainable gardening.” The main idea of sustainable gardening is to work closely with natural processes so that the gardens produce what is needed without excessive maintenance by people. The movement is a reaction to resource-intensive agriculture that is not as concerned with the health of the earth for future generations. This site: http://www.chicagobotanic.org/plantinfo/sustainable_gardening says, “Sustainable gardens benefit both the environment and the people they serve. As Pati Vitt, a conservation scientist at the Chicago Botanic Garden, says, "The goal of sustainable gardening is to create a self-reliant growth system — a garden that can last indefinitely without inordinate external support. Sustainable gardens are not a new idea," continues Dr. Vitt. "Many of the victory gardens of World Wars I and II were sustainable. These gardens, which helped to feed the troops so that money could be spent to support the war effort, produced nearly 40 percent of the vegetables that were consumed nationally....If we grew just 20 percent of our own food, imagine how dramatically we could reduce our carbon "foodprint" — the fossil fuels expended in transporting produce, the materials used in packaging, distribution, and more." This site has helpful suggestions on starting the process of gardening more sustainably, such as composting, losing the lawn in favor of veggies, installing rain barrels, a cistern system, or an in-home gray-water system that redirects wash water to your landscape, planting native species, using raised beds which are more productive and are space efficient, and establishing perennial food plants. In this way, by not just using the earth’s resources without giving back, gardening takes a broader view of helping a burgeoning planet support life in the future. What a gift for future generations!

Edward’s staff members are happy to provide support and advice throughout the gardening experience to strengthen each gardener’s skills at all experience levels.


Gretchen Weitemier

Occupational Therapist

Herbs and Veggies Worker

Posted on July 16, 2014 .

Gardening Insights From Edwards Greenhouse

Pruning and Growth

Both pruning and growth are essential for many plants and also our brain cells (neurons) -- a similarity that begs for exploration!

As I was pruning roses, I thought about why the selection of blooms and parts of canes to be removed help the lifecycle of the flowers we get to enjoy. The plants’ energy is used to produce more blossoms as the gardener wishes, and room is made for fresh growth.

According to Scientific American at http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/courchesne-gene-expression/, in utero, 250,000 neurons are created in a baby’s brain every minute. Each neuron connects to other neurons far and near. As the child grows older, the brain is strengthened in some connections when the child learns and grows, and other unused connections are pruned. The above article explains how important the pruning of neurons is to healthy development as some children’s genes have been linked to an atypical lack of pruning, which Eric Courchesne, of the University of California, San Diego, posits may be seen in children with autism. The autistic brain, Courchesne found, has excess neurons in the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for “executive functions” such as high-level thinking. Unused connections are not pruned away as they should be, and autism may result with social, linguistic, motor control or intellectual disabilities. (Although, not all researchers agree with this finding as a generalization about the autistic population. The medical community and others are eager to find ways to help this population, and more is being discovered every day, especially related to immune system functions, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20643381.)

We have seen the role of pruning in developing organisms. We now focus on new growth: freshly energized rose buds that are the glory of the garden with the rose bush sharpened up for new blossoms! The correlation in the brain? Neuroplasticity! It was once thought that the human brain grew all of its neurons in utero, and that no new neural connections were created throughout life. Scientists now know that the brain continues to grow neurons and neural connections until the end of life, known as neuroplasticity (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18499723). Therapists and other professionals are harnessing neuroplasticity for their clients, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21482550, including those with autism, as brains can become more functional. Just think what this means for new learning, growth, and development for a rich and satisfying life!

Plants’ and brains’ energy can be optimized. Pruning and new growth are part of nature, and can be influenced by human activity. Good things for gardeners and their loved ones!


Edward’s staff members are happy to provide support and advice throughout the gardening experience to strengthen each gardener’s skills at all experience levels.


Gretchen Weitemier

Occupational Therapist

Herbs and Veggies Worker


Posted on June 25, 2014 .

Gardening Insights From Edwards Greenhouse

Gardening Grows Ideas

Edwards lends itself to the creative process. When you visit the grocery store, you don’t see all of the many varieties of tomatoes, herbs, or flowers that are what make Edwards special and inspiring. Visiting Edwards and choosing from its offerings is a creative act in itself, especially if gardening planning is involved. What are other ways gardening grows ideas? A Psychology Today article found at, http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/201304/the-enemies-invention talks about how creative work comes from reframing ideas:

If you want to change the way you approach a creative problem, then you need to change what you are thinking about. You need to describe the situation in a new way. That will change what you pull from your memory and the knowledge you use to solve the problem. Many times while I’m gardening, the problems/ideas on my mind will melt away from the rigid structure I had, and my subconscious will blossom a new approach.Having routines can be very effective for gardening and for creative work. Many gardening tasks are basic and while one gardens with routines, one can relax and think. Mason Currey of The Guardian, in his article found at, http://www.theguardian.com/science/2013/oct/05/daily-rituals-creative-minds-mason-currey states,

It was William James, the progenitor of modern psychology, who best articulated the mechanism by which a strict routine might help unleash the imagination. Only by rendering many aspects of daily life automatic and habitual, he argued, could we "free our minds to advance to really interesting fields of action". (James fought a lifelong struggle to inculcate such habits in himself.) Subsequent findings about "cognitive bandwidth" and the limitations of willpower have largely substantiated James's hunch: if you waste resources trying to decide when or where to work, you'll impede your capacity to do the work. Don't consider afresh each morning whether to work on your novel for 45 minutes before the day begins; once you've resolved that that's just what you do, it'll be far more likely to happen.

When I’m watering or weeding, my mind is free to wander because I’m not concentrating heavily, and I am not afraid of making mistakes in my creative ideas as much, because of the simplicity of the gardening I’m doing. The Psychology Today article talks about how concentrating too hard, and fear of failure can stifle creativity, and cites experiments that show,

The participants (who were asked to do creative activities,) who made the most creative products were those who didn’t know their work would be evaluated. They were just playing -- not concerned about judgments or rewards.

This goes along with other points the article makes, that positive thinking and optimism can lead creative people to invest more in their creativity, despite the odds of being recognized and compensated for their efforts. I don’t know if I will ever have success with my creative endeavors, but gardening helps me to be positive!

Perhaps gardening will help unleash your own artistry so that you may enjoy your garden many ways such as through photography, painting, floral arranging, cooking, entertaining, or relaxing as you think other thoughts.

Edward’s staff members are happy to provide support and advice throughout the gardening experience to strengthen each gardener’s skills at all experience levels.


Gretchen Weitemier

Occupational Therapist

Herbs and Veggies Worker


Posted on June 18, 2014 .

June is perennial gardening month.

Since June is perennial gardening month perhaps it’s best to take a step back in June and do one of the most important gardening activities: evaluate. We plan all winter about how the year is going to be but as soon as spring rolls around everything happens so fast we forget about our months of planning and the garden shapes our lives more than we shape its. We forget to evaluate our gardens from a broader perspective of thinking outside of the box. It’s important to look at prominent views from windows or down garden paths and ask questions like is that maple branch lower from the shade of higher limbs and from increased weight of this year’s foliage? Has it begun to obscure a favorite plant from view? (maybe this would create some mystery and be something valuable) Are the oak-leaf hydrangeas still within scale of the garden and their location after eight years of unchecked growth? Is this Campanula in full flower at the same time as the rose as I intended? Is there a better option whose color and blooming cycle would sink better with the rose’s?

Keep these sorts of questions in mind during the rest of the year.

Once you’ve identified areas that need improvement it’s important to put a lot of thought into your plan. Learning about the myriad of available options can be daunting and overwhelming, however the more options you have the better-informed your plan will ultimately be. The internet and books are an obvious starting place but another great (and perhaps better) option is to come in and talk with a perennial staff member. Most of us have gardens and first-hand experience not only with gardening but also with what plants are available in the trade since we’re around them every day. Recently, I was helping a customer decide on what to pair with their Hydrangea ‘Limelight’ that would be blooming at the same time. To make a really hot mid-summer show I suggested planting Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ and Leucanthemum ‘Becky’. The foliage of the Crocosmia also gives a tropical feel. Or for a cooler but equally dramatic combination plant Lilium ‘Landini’ along with H. ‘Limelight’ and leave out the Leucanthemum. In a moist shady area Rodgersia pinnata‘s bold foliage would make a dramatic statement, but make that Rodgersia ‘Bronze Peacock’ and pair it with Corydalis lutea and we’ve created much more excitement by adding textural foliage contrast and warming up the bronze tones of the Rodgersia with golden Corydalis flowers.

Posted on June 17, 2014 .

Gardening Insights From Edwards Greenhouse

Turning What Is Unwanted Into What Is Useful

It fascinates me how unwanted materials, such as those from plants and other biological items that have come to the end of their lifecycle, can be used to create compost; and compost is a profoundly beneficial and essential ingredient to enriching gardening. Similarly, making mistakes are usually unwanted occurrences, but they enrich our lives to learn from them.

There are many available sources to obtain a compost bin or container online, or information for constructing your own. The two types of organics that can be put into compost are known as “greens” and “browns”. According to http://greenactioncentre.ca/content/composting-basics-and-getting-started/ greens can be fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds/filters, tea leaves/bags, garden waste, fresh weeds without seeds, and fresh grass clippings. Browns include dry leaves, straw, dry hay, sawdust, woodchips from untreated wood, twigs, dried grass clippings, dried weeds without seeds, shredded paper napkins, and tissue paper. (Other beneficial materials include eggshells, small amounts of wood ash, plain rice, plain pasta, bread, hair, wool, and cotton.) Do not compost meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, oily foods, bones, pet waste, weeds with mature seeds, plants infected with disease, plastic/petroleum products, metals, and synthetic materials.

According to the above site, you start with a generous layer of browns on the bottom, and then you alternate layers of greens and browns. Use 2 to 3 times as much browns as greens. The smaller the material the faster it will break down. Some people choose to save dried leaves from the fall to add to their compost the rest of the year, but if you don’t have leaves, you can use sawdust, straw, or even shredded newspaper for browns. Woody debris and larger material takes a long time to compost. Whenever you add a layer of greens, add a layer of browns to prevent odors and avoid attracting pests. Micro-organisms are the magic in composting. They break down the material, and in the process produce heat. They need about 50% moisture in the pile. (Greens add moisture.) They also need air, and aerating or turning the pile every 3-5 days is recommended.

Among the benefits of composting www.epa.gov lists include:

  • Reducing or eliminating the need for chemical fertilizers.
  • Promoting higher yields of agricultural crops.
  • Reducing the need for water, fertilizers, and pesticides.
  • Serving as a marketable commodity and is a low-cost alternative to standard landfill cover and artificial soil amendments.
  • Extending municipal landfill life by diverting organic materials from landfills.

The previous article I wrote for Edwards discussed how mulching will be essential for moisture consistency as the Boise metropolitan area continues to have hotter-for-longer summers. Compost is excellent for mulching, with the added benefit of giving the garden needed nutrients.

And here’s some thoughts on composting our minds.According to studies listed in The Science of Willpower: How Mistakes Can Make You Smarter in www.psychologytoday.com when people make mistakes, they have one or the other of two brain responses. One is a “wake up call,” focusing on the problem to be solved, with increased decision making attention. This improves performance and learning from mistakes. The other is shutting down, responding to what is perceived as a threat. This response helps to escape feeling bad or doubting one’s abilities. People who have this response pay much more attention to positive feedback. This response is much less effective as a learning style. Getting It Wrong: Surprising Tips on How to Learn, an online article in www.scientificamerican.com, cites studies on how making mistakes and learning from them is more effective than other ways of learning such as studying. Additionally, after mistakes have been made, “by challenging ourselves to retrieve or generate answers we can improve our recall.”

Gardening reflects life in so many ways. What is unwanted unfolds into what is useful. Nature’s intricate decomposition process makes new life stronger. Intelligence, it appears, can be practiced and improved as making mistakes creates stronger neural connections.

Edward’s staff members are happy to provide support and advice throughout the gardening experience to strengthen each gardener’s skills at all experience levels.


Gretchen Weitemier

Occupational Therapist

Herbs and Veggies Worker


Posted on June 4, 2014 .

Gardening Insights From Edwards Greenhouse

Boise Metropolitan Area: Higher Temperatures for Longer Stretches

The Boise metropolitan area has, for quite a while now, seen summers that have been incrementally hotter and longer periods of high temperatures. John Sowell, of the Idaho Statesman newspaper, wrote an article about this phenomenon for 2013. He writes in www.idahostatesman.com/2013/09/02/2738614/whew-summer-has-remained-hot-hot.html,

Since Jan. 1, Boise’s high temperature has reached 90 degrees or higher 70 times. That’s 26 days more than the 44 days that is normal for Boise, according to National Weather Service statistics compiled since 1898.

He goes on to say,

In fact, [the summer of 2013] -- June 1 to Aug. 31-- was the hottest on record for Boise, since record keeping began in 1875, according to the weather service.

What does this mean for gardeners and their gardens? Many herbs, and especially vegetables, hate going from dry-to-wet-to-dry-to-wet soil, and there is more of a danger of this with these weather conditions. The tomato family, including peppers, eggplants and tomatillos among others, and most vining crops including cucumbers, squash, pumpkins, gourds, and melons would benefit from measures to maintain a more consistent moisture and temperature, as well as water conservation. According to Better Homes and Gardens, www.bhg.com, mulching is useful in this area. The “soil stays cooler and plant roots don’t stress from the heat.” And, “water evaporates more slowly from cool soil protected from the wind. If you mulch, you don’t have to water as much, which saves time, money, and a precious resource.” About how much mulch to apply and when, the site states, “For most mulches and soils, start with a layer 3-4 inches deep. Use newspaper as a decomposable barrier to keep weeds at bay. If the soil is dry, water it before applying mulch to pull weeds easier.” Mulch can be applied at any time. Organic mulches improve the soil. They include straw, “grass clippings, leaves, manure and compost.”

www.veggiegardener.com talks about how living mulches can be a cover crop, such as clovers, hairy vetch, alfalfa, or rye grass. Living mulches are also effective for providing shade, retaining soil moisture, controlling weeds, helping reduce disease issues, and controlling some insect pests. “The best reason to use living mulch is because most cover crops, such as clover, feed nitrogen into the soil which in turn benefits your vegetable plants.” The cover crop is tilled in after its life cycle. The cover crop should be compatible with the plants around it and not susceptible to the same diseases as the vegetables it is meant to benefit. One of my co-workers in the Herb and Veggie department has also discovered that planting sweet potatoes among other vegetables can actually be useful as a type of living mulch as well! Also, some gardeners plant their plants closer together to “self-mulch”.

Water conservation is increasingly important for gardens and people as Boise’s weather patterns trend to hotter, and hotter for longer, summers. www.idahorivers.org talks about how, “Food requires water wherever it is grown; growing food using water-wise techniques [especially mulching,] can minimize ecological and social stresses.”

What does the Boise metropolitan area’s changing weather patterns mean for our health and livelihood? www.ecotechwater.com lists benefits of water conservation, by including techniques such as mulching, that it , “Saves money, protects drinking water resources, minimizes water pollution and health risks, reduces the need for costly water supply and new wastewater treatment facilities, maintains the health of aquatic environments and saves energy used to pump, heat, and treat water.” www.chemistry.about.com states that the human body is between 50-75% water. This is one of the reasons why clean water is one of the most precious resources on the planet.

Weather patterns in the Boise metropolitan area may continue with this trend, perhaps becoming more pronounced over time. This underscores the need to care for our gardens using mulch, and use other water conservation techniques, to protect our food and water and live more sustainably.


Edward’s staff members are happy to provide support and advice throughout the gardening experience to strengthen each gardener’s skills at all experience levels.


Gretchen Weitemier

Occupational Therapist

Herbs and Veggies Worker


Posted on May 28, 2014 .

Gardening Insights From Edwards Greenhouse

Enrichment and Balance

Amendments to the soil help balance conditions for plant growth. How we engage in purposeful and meaningful activities helps bring balance to our lives. These are very different concepts, but are both essential.

First, a look at soil preparation for a vegetable garden: Nothing replaces the wealth of information a professional soil test provides, including soil pH, and how much organic matter and fertilizer is needed. (Contact your local County Extension Office for instructions and sample bags for soil testing.) But in general, amending with organic matter is the most crucial element. www.gardeners.com and http://web.cals.uidaho.edu/idahogardens/tag/soil-amendments/ discuss how organic matter reduces problems with soil diseases, and improves soil structure. Soil may have too much clay, or too much sand or silt, which affect drainage and nutrient availability. Don’t add sand to clay, or vice-versa, because your soil will turn into concrete! Adding organic matter, such as compost, plant waste (leaves or lawn clippings), aged animal manure, green manures (cover crops), mulches, or peat moss not only creates better texture, but also the water, food, and air for the most important ingredients: the tiny creatures that live in the soil. These are what www.gardeners.com call the “magic” in healthy soil: the soil organisms that “include bacteria and fungi, protozoa and nematodes, mites, springtails, earthworms, and other tiny creatures,” that, “help convert organic matter and soil minerals into the vitamins, hormones, disease-suppressing compounds, and nutrients plants need.” The University of Idaho site, cited earlier, encourages spreading a layer of compost 3 to 6 inches deep on the soil surface and tilling to a depth of 10-12 inches if possible. Edwards sells at least 5 types of compost in the Garden Store, including bulk compost, that you can ask Edward’s retail staff about.

Fertilizer is another element to consider. Generalizations about how much fertilizer to use are difficult to make, and a soil test is the most accurate guide. However, the U of I site states, “For most Idaho soils, a fertilizer that is relatively high in nitrogen and phosphorus, contains a moderate amount of potassium, and possibly some sulfur will work reasonably well,” and, “a yearly application of fertilizer is likely needed.” Edwards sells Dr. Earth products found at http://drearth.net/blog/

We’ve seen how plants need enrichment and balance through soil amendments. People need enrichment and balance through purposeful and meaningful daily activities. These activities include self-care, play or leisure, work and/or home, and community-based tasks. www.webmd.com has tips for a better balance if you are experiencing burn-out.

  1. Scheduling is a powerful tool for needed activities, such as scheduling time to eat a leisurely lunch. (I’m guilty of not doing this!) Another may be scheduling family/friend time to go to the park.
  2. Becoming more aware of how time is spent, so that you’re able to drop unnecessary activities, such as getting sucked into social media for excessive amounts of time, is another consideration.
  3. Exercising helps boost energy levels and improves physical and mental health, especially the ability to concentrate.
  4. And creating time to relax with a hobby, like gardening, can be rejuvenating and fun!

Also, in a report titled “The Health Benefits of Volunteering: A Review of Recent Research” found at www.nationalservice.gov, the Corporation for National and Community Service, “has established a strong relationship between volunteering and health: those who volunteer have lower mortality rates, greater functional ability, and lower rates of depression later in life than those who do not volunteer.” And, “the biggest benefit people get from volunteering is the satisfaction of incorporating service into their lives and making a difference in their community and country.” www.idahorefugees.org is a link to volunteer opportunities for Global Gardens, a project working to, among other benefits, endorse skills for sustenance for the refugees in Idaho through gardening!

Edward’s staff members are happy to provide support and advice throughout the gardening experience to strengthen each gardener’s skills at all experience levels.


Gretchen Weitemier

Occupational Therapist

Herbs and Veggies Worker


Posted on May 8, 2014 .

Gardening Insights From Edwards Greenhouse

Plants, Humans, and Music

I, among other people, in Edward’s Herbs and Veggies department, listen to the classical music that wafts over from the neighboring Perennials department. I enjoy the music reaching the flowers, trees, and customers, and wondered if it’s beneficial, beyond giving me pleasure. According to my internet research, the Perennials department seems to have wisdom in this area, but the story doesn’t stop there!

According to information on dovesong.com and ehow.com, Dorothy Retallack, in 1968, studied how different types of music effects plant growth. She found that rock (of her generation), acid rock, “modern” (dischordant) classical music stunted growth, with plants turning away from the source of the music and becoming unhealthy. She found slight negative reactions to percussive steel drums music, and that when the same song was played on stringed instruments the plants bent toward the speaker. Intrigued, she did more experiments with North Indian classical music performed by sitar and tabla, Bach organ music, country and western music, and jazz, with control groups of no music. The plants “liked” all selections, with no change seen with the control groups and the country and western music, but showed the most beautiful and abundant growth with the Indian music and jazz.

It appears music stimulates growth and health in plants and humans. Gentler, consistent musical rhythms stimulate plant growth. French physicist and musician, Joel Sternheimer, claims that the right kind of music stimulates protein production and quantum vibrations in plants, increasing plant growth.

Music improves gardeners’ moods, therefore helping gardeners care for plants with more skill. Music and the brain is a fascinating area to explore. Cnn.com refers to a study in the journal Science, by Valorie Salimpoor, a researcher at the Rotman Research Institute in Toronto and former student of Daniel Levitin, a prominent psychologist who studies the neuroscience of music at McGill University in Montreal. She talks about how differences in music choice are reflected in different parts of the brain. Partly it has to do with what’s most reward-related, and genres of music that a person listens to over a lifetime that impacts how connections and structures form with musical preferences. Surprisingly, my co-workers and I often chose to listen to sitar and tabla, and other soothing/gentle rhythmic to feel good even before I had done this research. The music definitely had effects on us as gardeners, calming our nerves and inspiring good work, and coincidentally it’s good for plant growth too! Now, not all of us prefer this music, and some had hoped I’d find out how rock music actually helps plants. Who’d like to do some research to see if herbs and vegetables “like” the kinds of rock played nowadays? Our green-growing-friends have evolved differently than humans in this area. If they had a nucleus accumbens, an evolving superior temporal gyrus, and a way to store templates of what has been heard before as humans do, and ears, we’d definitely have a story! An explanation and picture of the brain can be found here.

It’s wonderful to think about how we as unique and complex organisms, and unique and complex plants, respond to art that is so unique and complex. These are some of the areas of growth that fuel my joy for gardening, and I hope yours as well.

Edward’s staff members are happy to provide support and advice throughout the gardening experience to strengthen each gardener’s skills at all experience levels.


Gretchen Weitemier

Occupational Therapist

Herbs and Veggies Worker

Posted on May 2, 2014 .