My family owns a Greenhouse so I've been lucky enough to learn from not only them, but from our loyal customers. This year we're seeing so many new faces as everyone has some extra time on their hands. If you're new to the game as well, I wanted to share with you my guiding principles that I've developed over the years with help from my grandparents, dad, uncle, and cousins.
G.L. Green's North of the Border, since 1977.
Don't get too fancy or bite of more than you can chew
Literally and figuratively. You can't go wrong with some good ol' patio tomatoes and bell peppers. Do yourself a favor and go to Hannaford for your corn, asparagus, and brussel sprouts.
When in doubt, dead head it.
You know when you're at the hair salon and say "cut the dead stuff," and they inform you that in fact the bottom six inches are dead and just aren't really a good look. It's painful to see it go, but it's what's best. The same applies to your plants. If it's looking straggly it's time to let it go because it's only going to get worse. Cut the flower just above the first leaf to promote new growth or even down to the main stem (use your judgement).
Procrastination is your ally
People come into our greenhouse every year around mid May and we hear the same thing, "frost got all my ________." Say it loud, say it proud, we live in MAINE! We had a frost in June this year! When I plant in beds I wait until Memorial Day to plant, but when I use my lazy (but effective) planter/pot method I can get away with growing a little earlier because I can bring them inside when it's chilly.
Don't sleep on the idea of growing veggies in pots.
Hard core gardeners may cringe at this, but the best season I've ever had is when I was too busy to dedicate a lot of time to my gardens so I potted my veggies and plopped them in my driveway. Not only did I eliminate the tedious task of weeding, but the heat from the pavement sped those puppies right up. Below is my current set up- that funky planter in the front is for strawberries!
Tomatoes attract a lot of pests.
Many of our customers swear by planting tomatoes with marigolds as they deter aphids. This isn't proven, but I trust them.
If you're lazy, plant scaevola.
My dad calls this the "beach plant." Put it in the ground and go enjoy the beach.
The opposite of scaevola are petunias
Talk about deadheading. If you have petunias in a hanger or a pot consider bringing them under cover during heavy rains to avoid even more deadheading. Or just get scavola and go to the beach.
Don't coddle sunflowers
Don't bother growing seedlings and then transplanting, throw your seeds right into the ground. Below are the 12 foot sunflowers my dad and I grew by just letting them do their thing.
Plant geraniums and join the contest
Geraniums winter well indoors. They won't flower in the winter but keep caring for them and make sure they have plenty of light! We have a customer whose geraniums are on their 11th year and counting.
Share the wealth
Whether you're sharing your bounty, your knowledge, or your time. Gardening is something that's best served with others.
I'm always a fan of supporting small businesses, but it is especially important right now. Big box stores will recover from the crisis we're experiencing, but family owned businesses may not. Maine is filled with beautiful greenhouses but here are a few of my favorites:
O'Donal's Nursery - Scarborough / Gorham
Broadway Gardens - South Portland
These two hold a special place in my heart as they have hosted multiple dog adoption events for the rescue that I'm involved with.
Patten's Farm - Gorham
Allen, Sterling, and Lothrop - Falmouth
North of the Border - Wiscasset
Pinkhams - Damariscotta
Personal Favorite, but I may be biased.
Estabrooks - Yarmouth
Skillins - Brunswick, Falmouth, Cumberland
Develop your own ABCs
Gardening is more than just the end result. It's a learning experience. It's hard work. It's growth and patience. It's rewarding and spiritual. So just start where you are and learn along the way.