- Susan Marie at SHF
- Writing about the things I love. My writing work has appeared in hard copy magazines including Green Prints, Twins Magazine, Practical Parenting Magazine, Good Old Days Magazine, The Journal of Court Reporting, and more as well as hundreds of articles in Sunset Hosta Farm's Hosta blog and The Homesteading Village blog.
Friday, June 21, 2019
Saturday, June 1, 2019
Don't Cut Corners in your Veggie Garden!You Can Be Frugal and Successful!
There are a lot of ways to cut corners in the garden to save money. Buying garden supplies such as containers, watering cans, etc from a second-hand store is one way. Building your own raised garden beds or trellises is another.
Friday, May 10, 2019
Tomatoes - Determinate or Indeterminate?
What are the basic differences between a determinate tomato plant and an indeterminate tomato plant and which one is right for your garden?
Monday, April 8, 2019
Growing Milkweed for the Monarch Butterflies
The first time I saw a Monarch butterfly up close in my garden, I was completely awestruck by its grace and beauty. Their bright orange wings and solid black borders make the Monarch butterfly one of the most recognizable butterflies. And they are, without a doubt, little migrating miracles.
Thursday, February 7, 2019
Spinach is a cool-weather quick-growing annual related to Beets and Swiss Chard. Spinach has high amounts of carotenoids, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, folic acid, iron, and calcium. It is one of the healthiest salad choices you can make.
Height: 6" to 3' Width: 3" to 15"
Savory Spinach. Dark green crinkled leaves. It grows flatter compared to other Spinach. It tends to be more cold-hardy and becomes sweet and crispy after a frost.
Flat-Leaf Spinach. Grows more upright and easier to wash.
Semi-Savory. A hybrid between the two. Leaves aren't as crinkled or as smooth.
Starting Seeds of Spinach
Seed Depth: 1/2" deep
Seed Spacing: 2" apart, thin seedlings to 4-5" apart. Mature 10-12".
Days to Germinate: 1 week at 60 degrees.
Days to Harvest: 20-30 days for baby greens.
35-45 days mature leaves.
Seed Longevity: 1-3 years.
Spring: Sow seeds 3-4 weeks before your last average frost date. Transplant out as soon as seedlings are easily handled. Note that spinach doesn't always transplant well.
Spring: Direct sow in the ground or a container as soon as the soil can be worked. Succession sow every 2 weeks until mid-May. Covering with a shade net or row cover will hasten germination.
Fall: Direct sow in the ground or container 6 weeks before your first average frost date.
If you haven't tried winter sowing, you're in for a treat. This method is especially good for sowing herbs and greens.
Winter sowing is basically sowing seeds in the bottom of a milk jug during the winter, setting the milk jugs outside for the winter and leaving them there until the seeds germinate in Spring.
For a detailed article all about Winter Sowing, click here.
Growing Spinach Plants
Growing Temperature: 41 - 75 degrees. Survives light frosts.
Plant Spacing: 5" to harvest small or 8-12" for mature leaves.
Container Size: Spinach has a deep taproot. The pot must be 12" deep.
Sun/Shade: Full sun to part shade.
Soil: Well-drained, sandy soil rich in organic matter.
Watering: Water consistently for the best flavor. Water stress will cause Spinach to bolt early.
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Since greens are such a fast-growing crop, as long as they are grown in rich soil there may be little need for further fertilization.
That said, a liquid balanced fertilizer when the seedlings are 4" tall will give your greens a boost and carry them through their short season. After the temperatures warm, though, the leaves of Spinach will turn bitter and no amount of fertilizer will help at that point.
Too much nitrogen gives Spinach a metallic flavor.
When the Spinach plant is about to bolt, pull the entire plant to harvest before the leaves become bitter.
Shade the plant at temperatures over 80 degrees.
Cut the entire plant an inch above ground level to encourage the plant to regrow another crop of leaves.
Harvest anytime Spinach is large enough to eat. Harvest young outer leaves to allow centers to grow larger and keep producing which also will delay bolting.
Use fresh spinach for salads.
Chop fresh Spinach to add to chilis, soups or sauces two minutes before serving.
Sauteed Spinach, Spinach Dip, Spinach Salads, Creamed Spinach.
Storing Spinach For Later Use
Spinach loses its nutritional quality quickly after harvest, so harvest right before processing.
Although tender green-leafed plants, like lettuce, cannot be preserved well, the thicker leafed greens can be preserved.
Clean and pat dry. Bundle stems lightly, place on a paper towel (to absorb moisture) and wrap in a plastic bag. Keeps in refrigerator for 10 days.
Freezing for Later Use in Chili, Soups, Sauces, and Casseroles.
Steam or saute' leaves, chop them and store in freezer bags.
Puree with water and freeze into ice cube trays.
Clean and dry the leaves and store in quart size freezer bags.
Frozen leaves will keep for 6 months.
Blanching the leaves for two minutes first will extend freezer storage to 14 months.
To read the other articles in our Growing Your Greens series, click on the name below:
Check out our other great gardening articles: Click Here
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Tuesday, January 15, 2019
They're small, cute and they will brighten up your garden!
At last count, there are more than 35 different hostas in the Tiara series.
Tiaras are popular for so many reasons. Here's just a few:
- Easy to Grow
- Mass Plantings (They have a medium to vigorous growth rate.)
- Great for containers or tubs (They're just the right size.)
- Border Edging (Their thick leaves form a dense mound.)
- Ground Cover (The foliage remains low and dense right to the ground.)
- Bedding Plant (Plant Tiaras 20” apart for bedding plants.)
- Tolerate a wide range of soil types
- Established plants are more tolerable of dry shade
Here at Sunset Hosta Farm, we grow and sell the Tiara hostas that we feel are the best. And because they're tried and true, they are also some of the most popular.
Click on the name for more photos and information.
Size: Small Height: 12” Width up to 20”
Amber Tiara has thick chartreuse oval-shaped leaves with a blunt tip. It forms an attractive dense mound. The flowers are light purple on 22” scapes in late summer. Give this Tiara more sun for its best color.
Size: Medium Height 14” Width up to 24”
Emerald Tiara is the reverse mutation of H. 'Golden Tiara.' It emerges early in the season and boasts the same round textured oval leaves as other Tiaras but with gold centers with beautiful green variations appearing throughout the season.
One of its best features is that it will sport hundreds of dark lavender flowers in the summer that bloom into the fall. Very cute. Sun tolerant, too.
Size: Medium Height 16” Width: Up to 30”
Golden Tiara is a medium-size mounding variety. It has chartreuse to gold margin surrounding a medium green center. Medium to deep purple flowers appear in late July. It’s sun tolerant and will brighten up any shady area.
Looks great in wide shallow containers. 1996 Hosta Merit Award winner.
Size: Medium Height: 18: Width up to 44”
The leaves of Grand Tiara are thick, heart-shaped, ovate and wavy. The gold margin is much wider than 'Golden Tiara' which gives the effect of a golden yellow leaf with a center splash of green. Good sun tolerance. The morning sun enhances the leaf color.
In summer, the clumps are literally smothered with scapes of purple flowers making it one of the most popular Tiaras.
Size: Small Height 12” Width up to 30”
Platinum Tiara Hosta is a white margined sport of H ‘Golden Scepter’. The small, roundish leaf is a pale green-gold with a white edge and some light streaking throughout.
This is a tremendous grower and looks great in masses. A real charmer and a Sunset Hosta Farm favorite.
No matter which Tiara hosta you choose, it is sure to brighten up your shade garden!
Where to go next!
Love hostas or know someone who does?
Visit our website for great hostas at an affordable price!
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