Planting the Fall Garden

It’s early August and that means it’s time to get planting for a fall garden here in Southern Indiana. I managed to get all of the fall brassicas in the ground this week. Most of them went in the fenced main garden area, in a spot where garlic was growing earlier. I like to set out transplants with a fairly big root system on them, so I generally pot them up into 3.5″ plastic pots, 18 of which fit nicely into standard potting flats.

cabbage seedling

cabbage seedling

Before planting I amended the soil with compost and fertilizer. Our soil is a silty loam that benefits from liberal doses of compost and other organic materials. Of course, compost is really great for any soil type. I do my best to produce as much of this “brown gold” (as Jim Crockett called it) as I can.

hauling compost in the garden cart

hauling compost in the garden cart

I planted the broccoli, cabbage, kale and kohlrabi in a double-wide staggered row, setting the plants about 16-18″ apart from each other. I’ve been using this method for a couple of years now, and it seems to work well. I ran out of time the day I was planting but I will come back in a few days and mulch the plants with straw before the weeds start sprouting. This bed is in between the caged indeterminate tomatoes and the bush squashes, where it will receive about a half day shade. These plants should tolerate the partial shade well, especially early on when it is hot like it is right about now.

double wide row of fall brassicas

double wide row of fall brassicas

I got the fall carrots and radishes planted last week. The radishes are mainly storage types like China Rose, Round Black Spanish, and the daikon Minowase Summer Cross. I’ll plant some of the quicker maturing types like Shunkyo later this month. I’m also trying the Italian heirloom Lungo di Napoli for the first time. Radishes make a great fall crop here, and the storage types keep well in the ground as well as after harvest. I covered the carrots with row cover material after seeding, and I’ve been keeping them well watered. They started coming up in six days, and I’ll keep the material on them until they all are coming up. The radishes were quicker and were sprouting up in three days time.

China Rose radishes sprouting

China Rose radishes sprouting

One more task I accomplished was replanting some kale in one of the cold frame beds. I planted Beedy’s Camden and Red Ursa there this spring, and while the plants are still alive and well, they are growing tall and hard to keep covered up with the bird netting I use to keep the critters away. I decided it made sense to replant with new seedlings in a different bed. I think the kale leaves get rather tough and strong tasting this time of year, so the new plants will start bearing once the weather has cooled a bit. I also tucked a few kohlrabi plants in the bed where celery is growing. I’m using shredded paper for mulch in these beds.

Beedy's Camden kale seedling

Beedy’s Camden kale seedling

By spending a little time now, I am hoping to extend our harvests as long as possible. At the moment we are in the middle of the prime harvesting and preserving season, but I am surely looking forward to the slower pace that fall gardening brings!

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Monday Recap: Getting Our Yayas Out

As I was down on my knees last week digging up the last of the spring carrots, I realized I was literally “getting my Yayas out” of the ground. I was also getting the Nelson carrots out, but it was the Yaya carrots that had Rolling Stones songs playing in my head. It is also possible that I had spent too much time working in the hot sun that day!

harvest of Yaya carrots

harvest of Yaya carrots

This spring I planted six different carrot varieties in short rows in a four foot square raised bed. Four of them (Yaya, Nelson, Baby Babette and Cordoba) had their own row, while the two purple varieties (Purple Haze and Purple Dragon) shared a row.

harvest of Nelson carrots

harvest of Nelson carrots

The Yaya and Cordoba varieties each yielded right at four pounds each. Purple Haze and Purple Dragon each yielded about two pounds, which means all these varieties produced at the rate of about one pound per lineal foot of row. This is in line with expected yields of 7 to 10 pounds per 10 foot row, as outlined in the document from the Virginia Cooperative Extension titled Root Crops. Since I dug the carrots at different times, and many have already been eaten, I don’t have any photos to compare them all at once.  Below is an image of the purple carrots that I dug a couple of weeks ago.

Purple Dragon and Purple Haze carrots

Purple Dragon and Purple Haze carrots

The Baby Babette is a French finger carrot that is meant to make small, uniform ‘baby’ carrots, so it isn’t fair to compare its yield with that of the other full sized varieties. It yielded right at two pounds, or half as much as the above varieties. The smaller carrots were nicely shaped and tasted good, but I doubt that I will plant this variety again because it just doesn’t make very good use of our limited space to grow carrots.

Baby Babette carrot compared to larger Nelson

Baby Babette carrot compared to larger Nelson

Nelson was the standout of the spring carrots, yielding a whopping 88 ounces/5.5 lb. The below photo shows the Yaya and Nelson carrots that I dug last week, and you can see the difference in the size of the pile of Nelsons on the left. While size isn’t everything, it is something, and Nelson has been a great performer here the last couple of years.

Nelson(L) and Yaya(R) carrots

Nelson(L) and Yaya(R) carrots

It’s hard for me to describe any taste differences in the varieties I grew this spring. They all tasted pretty good to me, but the spring carrots are generally not as tasty as ones that mature in the cooler weather of fall. My wife and I have been enjoying them all, and some of the Purple Haze went into a lentil salad my wife made last week. It is my turn to cook for the next two weeks and I am sure carrots will be on the menu several times.

lentil salad with Purple Haze carrots

lentil salad with Purple Haze carrots

In other carrot news, I got the fall crop planted last week. It’s in the bed where onions grew earlier, which is a tad bigger than the bed the spring carrots occupied, but not by much. I sowed five short rows of Bolero, Cordoba, Nelson, Purple Haze and Yaya, and I spaced these rows about 8″ apart. I could probably get another row or two in there if I spaced the rows a bit closer but for now I am happy with this arrangement. Bolero is a Nantes type storage type carrot that is supposed to improve in taste in storage. I got the seeds from Johnny’s. After sowing I covered the bed with doubled up Agribon row cover material, which I will keep in place until the carrot seeds have sprouted.

row cover material over bed of carrot seed

row cover material over bed of carrot seed

Carrots aren’t the only game in town around here. The summer lettuce is holding on, no doubt helped by the cooler than normal summer weather we are having lately. That’s Sierra in the below photo, a Batavian/crisphead type. It’s been nice for salads and sandwiches. Which reminds me I need to get some more lettuce planted and sown for fall.

Sierra lettuce

Sierra lettuce

The paste tomatoes are coming in now. A mix of Big Mama, Viva Italia and Juliet went into a batch of Homemade Tomato Ketchup my wife cooked up last week. It’s a good way to make about 10 pounds of tomatoes disappear, but it does take a lot of stirring and time to cook it down to the right consistency. We use a lot of this ketchup so we will try and make at least three batches of it this year. It’s tasty on a burger or fries, and it also makes a great base for BBQ sauce and other things like cocktail sauce for shrimp or my wife’s Cherry Chicken recipe.

homemade ketchup simmering

homemade ketchup simmering

A new paste tomato I’m growing this year is called Quadro. It’s an open-pollinated indeterminate type with medium sized blocky fruit, and so far it looks like a good performer here. If so it will join Ludmilla’s Red Plum as another o/p paste tomato that can stand our hot and humid growing conditions. Most don’t seem to cut it, but this one looks promising. I’ll continue to plant a lot of hybrid paste types too, since I have found a reliable group to grow here (Viva Italia, Health Kick, Rio Grande, Big Mama, and Super Marzano).

Quadro paste tomatoes

Quadro paste tomatoes

I made a Green Bean and Bulgur Salad with Walnuts yesterday with Fortex and Musica beans, plus some Sun Gold and Super Sweet 100 tomatoes. The pole beans are starting to slow down, but there are new blooms coming on and I think they are getting their second wind. It has been a great year for beans so far.

Green Bean and Bulgur Salad with Walnuts

Green Bean and Bulgur Salad with Walnuts

The greenhouse shelves are full of seedlings for fall veggies. I hope to begin getting some of those planted this week. I have the ground prepared here, and I hope to get the area at the Impact Community Garden tilled up tomorrow. These seedlings are all potted up in 3.5″ pots so they should really take off once they are in the ground. I also find that the birds are less likely to peck at the larger seedlings.

fall veggies fill the greenhouse shelves

fall veggies fill the greenhouse shelves

I also planted another round of cucumbers in the greenhouse bed, to replace the spring planted ones that got infested with spider mites. I will be using some insecticidal soap on these to hopefully keep the mites in check. I also hung some new yellow sticky traps up which should help. You can see them hanging down below the shelves in the above photo. The cucumber seedlings look tiny compared to the remesh cages, but they will take off and quickly reach the top of the cages. At that point I pinch out the growing point to force them to branch out, and to concentrate on growing nice big cucumbers.

Tasty Jade cucumber seedling in greenhouse

Tasty Jade cucumber seedling in greenhouse

I hope you have enjoyed this recap of what’s happening here in early August. To see what other gardeners are digging, drying, harvesting and cooking up, visit Daphne’s Dandelions where Daphne hosts Harvest Mondays.

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My Five Favorite Ways to Preserve Tomatoes

For many gardeners, nothing says summer any better than vine-ripened tomatoes. And even if you don’t grow them yourself, this time of year great tasting tomatoes are readily available from farmer’s markets and roadside stands. While homegrown fresh tomatoes are truly a seasonal treat, here at Happy Acres we like to enjoy the tomato-y goodness all year long. Here are my five favorite ways to preserve tomatoes, with links to more detailed information:

1. Dehydrated Tomatoes

handful of dehydrated tomatoes

handful of dehydrated tomatoes

Dehydrating tomatoes is one of my all-time favorite ways to preserve them. Drying concentrates their flavor, while at the same time conserving storage space. And you can dry any size or shape tomato, from the smallest cherry and grape types to the larger paste tomatoes and slicers. Once dried, they can be reconstituted by soaking in water, then used in a variety of dishes from pizza to pasta, omelets to salads, and in yummy creations like Sun-dried Tomato Pesto or Eggplant and Sun-Dried Tomato Spread. You can also make tomato powder by putting the dried tomatoes in a spice grinder or food processor. Store the dehydrated tomatoes in a glass jar or other air-tight container away from heat or sunlight, or do like we do and store in the freezer for even better quality.

2. Homemade Tomato Ketchup

jars of homemade ketchup

jars of homemade ketchup

As far as condiments go, ketchup is a perennial favorite. While Aussies have their Vegemite, and the French have Dijon mustard, tomato ketchup is an American classic. I certainly like mayonaisse, soy sauce, and other condiments too, but for me a hamburger or meat loaf isn’t complete unless it has some ketchup on it! I’ve been making homemade ketchup from red-ripe tomatoes for years. And now that my wife has fallen in love with the homemade stuff, she’s been making it for us too. While it takes a few hours to cook down the ketchup to the right consistency, the finished result is worth it to me.

3. Slow-Roasted Tomatoes

Slow-Roasted Tomatoes

Slow-Roasted Tomatoes

I can thank our friend Lydia for telling me about this great dish. She used this method whenever she had a bumper crop of her two favorite tomatoes, Sun Gold and Juliet. Like dehydrating, slow-roasted concentrates the flavor of the tomatoes, but you use the oven instead of a dehydrator. Smaller tomatoes work well for this recipe, so it’s a great way to use up any extra cherry and grape tomatoes you might have on hand. The tomatoes freeze well after roasting, so that way you can enjoy them all winter long. They can be used in many of the same ways you use dehydrated tomatoes.

4. Vitamix Tomato Sauce

Vitamix Freezer Tomato Sauce

Vitamix Freezer Tomato Sauce

If you have a high-speed blender like a Vitamix or Ninja, you can use it to speed up processing when making tomato sauce. There’s no need to skin or peel the tomatoes when you make sauce this way. That not only cuts the preparation time considerably, but it also helps thicken the sauce and adds some fiber to the finished product. The Vitamix has changed the way I make tomato sauce, and if you give it a try it might change the way you make it too!

5. Green Tomato Salsa Verde

Green Tomato Salsa Verde

Green Tomato Salsa Verde

This is something I like to make with those end of season green tomatoes. Many green salsa recipes call for tomatillos, but this recipe uses green tomatoes, peppers, onions and a few other ingredients to make a great tasting salsa. It will keep well in the freezer for up to a year.

I hope you have enjoyed looking at my five favorite ways to preserve tomatoes. If you have your own favorite ways with tomatoes, I’d love to hear about them. And if you try any of my methods I’d like to hear about it too.

This post was shared at  Green Thumb Thursday, Simple Lives Thursday and Old-Fashioned Friday.

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Monday Recap: Harvesting and Preserving

It seems like the garden has hit full-blown production mode here of late. The kitchen counter is the center of much of the action. Goodies come in, they get processed, and more stuff comes in to take their place. Last week peaches came in after we made a trip to Reid’s Orchard. We brought back a peck of yellow peaches and a half peck of white ones. We’ve been eating them every day, and my wife made peach leather with some of them. I love homemade fruit leathers, and my wife is going to make some blackberry leather as soon as she has the time, and the dehydrator is free. The peach and blackberry leathers are made with pureed fruit and a little honey added to taste.

local peaches

local peaches

The blueberries are getting smaller, but they haven’t quit just yet. We are up over 51 pounds this year, about the same as last year’s haul. My wife has been harvesting them for seven weeks now, and I’ve pretty much eaten some every day. I will miss the fresh ones when they are done, but we have loads of them in the freezer to enjoy until next year! Every day my wife harvests them and spreads them out on the counter. We eat what we want, then the next morning she freezes whatever is left.

daily blueberry operation

daily blueberry operation

Tomatoes of all size and shapes are coming in now from the garden. We’ve dehydrated them and slow-roasted them, plus I froze some whole and halved ones for soups and other uses. Next we will be making sauces and ketchup once we have enough of them. In the below photo we have Juliet, Golden Sweet, Golden Rave, Green Tiger and Black Cherry.

a harvest of small fruited tomatoes

a harvest of small fruited tomatoes

We’ve been enjoying eating the slicing tomatoes. That’s the 2014 All-America Selection Chef’s Choice Orange hanging out with the heirloom Eva Purple Ball in the below photo. The Chef’s Choice Orange is a hybrid version of the heirloom Amana Orange tomato, and it is making lots of mild-tasting, nicely sized tomatoes so far. Eva Purple Ball is a dependable performer for us every year. I’m also harvesting Early Girl and Jetsetter now. I’m keeping my eye on the Vinson Watts and Cherokee Purple tomatoes and they should be ready soon.

Chef's Choice Orange and Eva Purple Ball tomatoes

Chef’s Choice Orange and Eva Purple Ball tomatoes

The spring planted broccoli is just about done for, but I got a nice amount of side shoots last week. They made for some tasty Broccoli Walnut Salad. Many of the side shoots came from the Packman variety, which usually seems to make a lot of them.

broccoli side shoots

broccoli side shoots

The pole beans and summer squashes continue to produce for us. Some of the squash wound up in a grilled vegetable salad my wife made last week. It also featured grilled onions, carrots, peppers and kohlrabi from the garden, along with some Florence fennel that came from the grocery. Grilling really brings out the flavor of all these veggies. Toss with a vinegar and oil dressing, add some cherry tomatoes and feta cheese,  and you have a meal!

grilled vegetable salad

grilled vegetable salad

The summer lettuces aren’t nearly as tender and sweet as those that grow in cooler weather, but we enjoy them anyway. That’s Red Sails in the below photo, which my wife used to make a Wilted Lettuce salad last week.

Red Sails lead lettuce

Red Sails lead lettuce

I haven’t talked much about bread lately, but we continue to bake all of our own bread products, including rolls, flatbreads and buns. Moomies Famous Burger Buns are a staple here, and I made a batch of them last week. These freeze well and we usually have some in the freezer whenever we need them.

fresh from the oven Moomies Famous Burger Buns

fresh from the oven Moomies Famous Burger Buns

And one unintentional guest came in on a harvest last week, possibly with the lettuce. I found this little green frog on the kitchen floor, and managed to get it in the Tubtrug before it hopped away in the house somewhere. I returned it to the outside world, where it promptly jumped off into the grass. It’s hard to tell from the below photo, but it was less than an inch long and quite a jumper!

green frog visitor

green frog visitor

I hope you have enjoyed seeing a bit of what’s going on here in late July. To see what other gardeners are digging, drying, harvesting and cooking up, visit Daphne’s Dandelions where Daphne hosts Harvest Mondays.

 

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Photo Friday: July Flowers

I thought I would share some images of the Happy Acres summer flowers that are blooming now. First up is the Becky Shasta daisy. It’s a lovely bloomer that butterflies like but the deer don’t!

Becky daisies

Becky daisies

Nearby Becky is the Jubilee rugosa rose. We grow these for the hips, but in this case the deer usually get them before we do. Bees love the flowers too, as do other insects. The bumble bee in the below photo just wouldn’t sit still!

Jubilee rugosa rose

Jubilee rugosa rose

Over in the slope garden, it’s a sea of Rudbeckia flowers, plus a few white and purple coneflowers.

Rudbeckia and coneflowers

Rudbeckia and coneflowers

And speaking of coneflowers, over in the Wild Garden the purple ones (Echinacea purpurea) have been blooming non-stop for a couple of months now.

purple coneflowers

purple coneflowers

Blooming nearby is Ratibida pinnata, sometimes called the grey-head coneflower. The butterflies and bees love it and the Echinacea.

Ratibida pinnata flowers

Ratibida pinnata flowers

Also in the Wild Garden the Allium ‘Millenium’ is just starting to flower. They resemble chive blossoms, but bloom much later in the season. They are just as popular with the beneficial insects and butterflies as the chives are. I try and put a variety of plants in the Wild Garden to attract a wide variety of butterflies, pollinators and other beneficial insects, and birds. I plan on doing a feature on it soon.

Allium 'Millenium'

Allium ‘Millenium’

I’ll close with another butterfly favorite that is just now flowering, Joe-Pye weed. This flower is anything but a weed here.

oe-Pye weed

Joe-Pye weed

I hope you have enjoyed looking at some the flowers we have blooming now. I’ll be back soon with more adventures!

 

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Monday Recap: Transitioning

July is already more than half over, and there’s a noticeable change in the rhythm of things here. We’ve gone from planting, mulching and watering the summer garden to harvesting and preserving the summer fruits and veggies. And now it’s time to start planting for fall. The seedlings I started in late June are growing up fast, and it won’t be long before they are in the ground and growing. They spent a little time on the deck Saturday before they headed on to the greenhouse. That’s about half the total plants in the below photo. And I need to start some more things like Asian greens and lettuce soon.

seedlings for fall vegetables

seedlings for fall vegetables

It’s also time to sow carrots for fall, even as I am finishing the harvest of the spring planted ones. I’m sowing the fall carrots where the onions were growing, not necessarily because that’s a good succession but because that’s really the only good open spot I have at the moment. I’m pulling the spring carrots as we need them and as I find room in the refrigerator. That’s Cordoba in the below photo.

harvest of Cordoba carrots

harvest of Cordoba carrots

I couldn’t get seed for Hercules carrots this year due to crop failure, and Johnny’s Selected Seeds was recommending Cordoba as a substitute. It’s a blocky, cone-shaped carrot that is supposed to do well in heavier soils. Even though our soil isn’t all that heavy, it certainly did well in it’s first outing here, and I will plant more for this fall. Due to the wedge shape it was easy to pull up without digging, which meant no broken off carrots to dig out either. It’s also pretty tasty, so it’s got that going for it too!

closeup of Cordoba carrot

closeup of Cordoba carrot

Some of the Purple Haze carrots wound up on a salad. The purple and orange interior was pretty to look at when grated over the lettuce. I’m sure it added a few anthocyanins to the meal as well.

salad topped with grated Purple Haze carrots

salad topped with grated Purple Haze carrots

And speaking of onions, the Candy and Sierra Blanca onions did great this year. We’ve been enjoying them in various ways. They were great in some vinegar cole slaw I made last week, and they are so very tasty when grilled or roasted. The Red of Tropea onions were a big disappointment though. It seems I was shipped the wrong slips, even though the bundle on the label said ‘Red Tropea’. The onions that grew look like a red cippiolini type called Red Marble. They are lovely little onions, but the key word there is ‘little’. I ordered them from Renee’s Garden Seeds, and they have refunded my money but of course that doesn’t give me any of the Red Torpedo onions that have done so well in years past! I’ll find another supplier next year, though it’s really the grower’s fault.

Red Marble onions

Red Marble onions

The small fruited tomatoes are coming on like gangbusters. We started dehydrating them last week, and I slow-roasted some as well. Those are two of my favorite ways to preserve the smaller tomatoes, at least the ones that we don’t eat fresh.

tomatoes for dehydrating

tomatoes for dehydrating

We use the FoodSaver to seal them up airtight and then freeze them. Both the dehydrated and the slow-roasted tomatoes keep well that way for at least a year or more.

dehydrated and slow-roaster tomatoes after sealing

dehydrated and slow-roaster tomatoes after sealing

We also enjoyed the first slicing tomatoes last week. They begged to be put on a BLT, and who was I to argue with that? That’s the red Jetsetter and the black fruited Paul Robeson in the below photo. I have to say the Paul Robeson is no match for our favorite Cherokee Purple, at least so far. Hopefully we can do a side by side taste test of the two when the CPs start ripening. The BLTs were still tasty however. Jetsetter has become my favorite hybrid slicing tomato, and it is a dependable and tasty performer for us here.

sliced Jetsetter(top) and Paul Robeson(bottom) tomatoes

sliced Jetsetter(top) and Paul Robeson(bottom) tomatoes

The pole beans are continuing to keep us supplied with beans to eat and to freeze. The Fortex beans are coming on now, and they are always a treat. They are stringless and tender even when they get to be a foot long. I try and pick them a bit shorter than that, like the ones in the below photo which are closer to ten inches long on average.

harvest of Fortex beans

harvest of Fortex beans

I cooked up some of the Fortex beans along with a medley of fingerling potatoes. That’s a mix of French Fingerling, Russian Banana and Magic Molly in the below photo. There are a few of the smallest Yukon Golds in there too.

assortment of fingerling potatoes

assortment of fingerling potatoes

The blueberry harvest continues to wind down. I know my wife is happy about that, since she has been out there harvesting them pretty much every day for the past six weeks. The blackberries are giving us a nice amount every few days, as are the raspberries. The 2014 blueberry harvest is nearing 50 pounds. Those little blue organic jewels are precious to say the least. The local berry farm is selling them for about $5 a pound, and they’re not even organic! It’s safe to say the plants have paid for themselves several times over.

Apache blackberries

Apache blackberries

 

In other news, I pulled all the cucumber and amaranth plants from the greenhouse after they got infested with a major spider mite outbreak. Mites are a common problem in the summer greenhouse here, and they mushroomed out of control before I knew it. There’s time to replant the cukes, and in the meantime the ones out in the main garden are keeping us supplied. The last thing I need is spider mites getting on the seedlings for fall, though I have to say they seem to prefer the cucumber leaves. They can all hang out together on the compost pile now! I planted a few new leaf amaranth plants already, which are in the left side of the otherwise empty beds in the below photo. The mites left the parsley plants on the right side alone. The cucumber seeds should be up in a few days and I’ll get them planted too.

almost empty greenhouse beds

almost empty greenhouse beds

The dehydrator stays busy this time of year. When it’s not drying tomatoes, we’ve been using it to dry herbs, calendula and even onions. Drying the onions sure made the house stinky for a while, but then as the onions began to get dry the smell dissipated. I guess it wasn’t any worse than when we dry garlic, which is something else I’ll be drying soon.

calendula drying in dehydrator

calendula drying in dehydrator

I’ll close with an image of the Scarlet Hibiscus which has just started blooming in the Wild Garden. The hollyhock-like flowers are attractive to both hummingbirds and butterflies, and of course they are also pretty to look at as the tall plants tower over the other perennials.

Scarlet Hibiscus flower

Scarlet Hibiscus flower

That’s a look at what’s going on here at Happy Acres. To see what other gardeners are digging, drying, harvesting and cooking up, visit Daphne’s Dandelions where Daphne graciously hosts Harvest Mondays.

 

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Saturday Spotlight: Wave Petunias

Regular readers may recall that I am a big fan of the Wave petunias. I’ve been growing petunias for as long as I can remember, and when the Wave varieties first appeared I couldn’t wait to try them. The Petunia ‘Wave Purple’ was a 1995 All-America selection, and other colors were soon to be introduced. I loved the original Purple Wave, and for that matter all the Waves will brighten up any area with their colorful and seemingly never-ending display of blooms. They have certainly made growing petunias a lot easier with their productivity and easy going nature.

Wave Petunia 'Purple Improved' growing in old wheelbarrow

Wave Petunia ‘Purple Improved’ growing in old wheelbarrow

It’s been almost 20 years after the original Wave was introduced, there are now five different Wave series, and they come in more than a dozen different colors. There is truly a Wave petunia for every growing situation, with types for containers and planters (Easy Wave), hanging baskets (Shock Wave and Double Wave), and even some that will form a miniature hedge or climb a structure like a fence (Tidal Wave). Unlike older petunias, you don’t need to remove the spent flowers on the Wave petunias. They do however require an ample supply of water and periodic fertilizing throughout the growing season.

Easy Wave Red petunia growing in container

Easy Wave Red petunia growing in container

While petunias in general are not necessarily a great source for nectar or pollen, they do serve to attract butterflies, bees and hummingbirds. I wish I could say they are deer-resistant, but our hungry deer herd seem to be quite fond of all the different Waves!

Tidal Wave Pink petunia

Tidal Wave Pink petunia

The only drawback to the Waves is that the plants can be expensive to buy if you want a lot of them. At least they are expensive around here. So, a few years ago I stopped buying transplants and began starting them myself from seed. I found that for the price of one plant at a nursery I could buy a packet of seeds that would grow ten or more plants. That was a deal I just couldn’t pass up!

transplanting Wave Purple Improved petunias

transplanting Wave Purple Improved petunias

The seeds themselves are tiny, and are almost always sold pelleted to make them easier to handle. Petunias do take a long time from seed to flower, so I usually start the seeds indoors in early February. I use a heating mat to give the seeds the heat they require for germination, and they are normally up in a week or less. You can read about the whole process I use here: Do The Wave. By late April or early May they are ready to plant outside.

2011 Wave petunias at 5 weeks from sowing

2011 Wave petunias at 5 weeks from sowing

Whether you buy transplants or start them yourself from seed, if you’re looking for an easy-to-grow annual flower, Wave petunias are hard to beat. With a variety to suit almost any use, and lots of colors to choose from, there is surely a Wave petunia you will adore!

To see my other Saturday Spotlights, visit the Variety Spotlights page.

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