Community Partners

Sweet Potatoes Slip Sale 2016

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Sweet Potato Slip Sale

June 11th and 12th, 2016

8:00 to 6:00 pm

 Red Wagon Plants greenhouses

2408 Shelburne Falls Rd  * Hinesburg, VT

Proceeds from the sale benefit the educational programs of Vermont Community Garden Network.

For more information, call 482-4060

Sweet potatoes can be grown in Vermont. Under ideal conditions they thrive and can yield up to 5 pounds per slip. During this benefit sale, we will be selling sweet potato slips in 4" pots, with three slips per pot. These get transplanted 18" apart, in loose, well drained soil. You can also grow them in containers. They like warm, southern exposure, and can be trellised to save space.

Here are some resources for more information on Sweet Potatoes:

The Vermont Community Garden Network has information on their programs and the sweet potato sale here.

This  article on the Mother Earth News website highlights growing methods for northern gardeners and best ways to store the tubers.

 Here is a photo essay on how some ingenious customers are growing their sweet potatoes in Starksboro.

Recipe for Roasted Sweet Potato Fries with Herbs

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/3 inch batons

3 TBS olive oil

salt and pepper

1/3 cup finely chopped parsley, chives, and or cilantro

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1 small pinch of cayenne

1 tsp lemon juice

  • Preheat the oven to 450 F. Place 2 large cookie sheets in the oven so they are pre-heated as well
  • Toss the cut sweet potatoes with the olive oil and salt and pepper in a large bowl
  • Arrange them on the hot pans in a single layer.
  • Roast for 20 minutes, and flip them over with a spatula, and return to the oven for another 20 minutes, or until tender and browned.
  • Meanwhile, toss the herbs, garlic, cayenne and lemon juice together in the same bowl
  • When the hot fries come out of the oven, sprinkle the herb mixture on the fries and serve immediately

Growing Instructions for Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potato slips are cuttings that come from a parent vine. The slips grow best in a loose, sandy or silty soil that drains well. If sweet potatoes are grown in a rich dark soil they may discolor but are still good to eat. • Transplant the slips into garden beds during June, preferably in the late afternoon or on an overcast day. When transplanting, lay the slips on their sides with 2/3 of the slip buried a half inch under the soil. Water enough to keep the soil moist, but not saturated. • Plant the slips 10 to 18 inches apart in rows that are three to four feet apart. The rows or raised bed should be elevated 4 to 8 inches above the ground level to allow the sweet potatoes room to form. • Keep the cuttings watered while they are getting established. The leaves that were originally on the planted slips will dry up and fall off leaving just the vine stem. New leaves will emerge from the cuttings as the slips become established. • The sweet potato vines will cover the ground reaching 5 to 10 feet in length. Hoe around the vines to cultivate weeds and mulch with hay if desired. • Deer love sweet potato leaves, so be sure your planting area is fenced if deer are aproblem. A flying gold colored beetle may chew round holes in the leaves. The vines are tough and will keep growing despite insect damage. • Sweet potatoes are dug and harvested in late September through mid October, a day or two before the first predicted frost. Most of the sweet potatoes will be just below the parent plant. Each plant can produce up to six sweet potatoes. • After harvesting, dry the sweet potatoes on the ground for two or three hours. Allow them another 10 to 14 days to cure at room temperature or above, before storing the sweet potatoes at a temperature between 50 and 60 degrees F. • Unlike Irish potatoes, sweet potatoes should not be kept cold in a garage, refrigerator or outbuilding. If properly cured and stored, they will keep until April. Enjoy!

Herb Thoughts

Herb garden planning is not a lot of work, but here are some thoughts I have put together on the topic. Herbs are easy to grow for the most part, but they are a big category of plants (we grow 100 varieties of herbs) and it helps to break them down and organize them into categories. This will help any gardener plant the right plant in the right place and give it the preferred amount of water, sunlight, food, and water.

Why grow herbs? For flavor, fragrance, and beauty - it is the easiest way to improve the flavor of what you cook. It is also one of the easiest ways to have a container garden on your porch or deck.  Herb gardening is intimate - you get close to the plants, smell them, taste them, see them respond to regular clippings. They are a perfect way to better understand plant physiology and the best short cut to great food made with little effort.

Propagation: Plants vs. Seeds

All herbs can be planted from plants, and some can be planted directly into the ground as seeds. The herbs that you can seed directly in the ground and expect great results are: cilantro, dill,  and chamomile. Everything else will do much better if you start the seeds in containers in a sheltered environment. You can start your own herb transplants easily if you have grow lights and a heat mat. Many herbs take a long time to germinate and many herbs are propagated only from cuttings. Making your own rooted cuttings is possible too, but that takes a little more of a sophisticated set up with misters, rooting hormone of some sort, and humidity domes. For those herbs, it is generally easier to purchase the plants.

Herbs from Seed:

  • Parsley
  • Chives
  • Cilantro
  • Dill
  • Chamomile
  • Savory (winter and summer)
  • Marjoram
  • Basil (all kinds)
  • Common Mint
  • Sage
  • Catnip
  • Chervil
  • Oregano (basic varieties)
  • Thyme (basic varieties)
  • Shiso
  • Sorrel
  • Lovage
  • Lemon Balm
  • Fennel
  • Salad Burnet

Herbs from Cuttings:

  • Rosemary
  • Lavender
  • Mints that are true to type (spearmint, peppermint, pineapple mint, etc)
  • Tarragon
  • Specialty Thymes (lemon, variegated, silver, etc)
  • Specialty Oregano (golden, ‘Hot and Spicy’, variegated, etc)
  • Specialty Sage (purple, tricolor, golden, etc)

Containers vs. in the Ground

Some plants love to be planted in the ground and others would prefer to be in pots.  Generally speaking, the herbs that like it dry and warm will prefer to be in a clay pot that breathes like Italian terra cotta. Plants that like it wet and cool might prefer to be in the ground, but they can also be grown in pots if the right conditions are given (more watering, a glazed or plastic pot, heavier potting soil, a little shade).

Herbs that like to grow easily in the ground in Vermont:

Cilantro, Dill, Parsley, Rosemary, Savory, and Chervil

Herbs that prefer to be in containers in Vermont: EVERYTHING ELSE!

This does not mean that you cannot grow herbs in the ground, it just means that in containers, it can be a little easier.

Some herbs do really well as tiny shoots for micro-greens: chervil, dill, cilantro, basil, fennel are our favorites.  And they are easy to grow indoors year round – just pat down some moist potting soil in a shallow container (only need 2” or so of soil) with holes in the bottom, press in the seeds, cover very lightly with a thin layer of soil, and keep moist. When the first set of true leaves begin to emerge, they are ready to eat. You can also grow pea shoots and sunflower sprouts this way. A south facing, sunny window is sufficient.

You can bring in potted herbs in the fall and keep them in a sunny window for use during the winter. The herbs that do best with this treatment: sage, parsley, rosemary, thyme, and savory. Basil can be brought in as well, but it won’t be terribly happy unless you have grow lights for it.  If you had some of these herbs planted in the ground, you can dig them up and slowly acclimate them to being in a pot and being indoors.

Herbs can be dried or frozen or infused in vinegar or simple syrup for year round use. Pesto or herb pastes made with oil or water can be frozen in small containers.  Drying is very simple or very elaborate – you choose! A dehydrator can be used, and the leaves can be stripped off of the stems once dried and stored in jars in a dark place. Or you can go the simple route and just harvest whole branches of the woody herbs such as thyme, oregano, rosemary, sage, and winter savory. Place the branches in woven baskets and keep in a dark, well-ventilated space. They will dry just fine on their own, and you can keep them covered with paper bags or kitchen linens and use as needed.

Related Upcoming Events

Cooking with Herbs with Molly Stevens and Julie Rubaud – a class and dinner.

South End Kitchen, Burlington, Vermont

March 19th.,  6pm

Red Wagon Plants pre-season Open House

April 4th 10 am to 3 pm. Tour the greenhouses and see behind the scenes.

Herbal Cocktail Party with Caledonia Spirits

April 17th, Red Wagon Plants 6 pm to 9 pm

Help us kick off our season with a bang!

This Week in Photos 6.13.12

There's been no shortage of excitement this week! The sweet potato slip sale was a great success (and we still have some left, if you missed out). Saturday was extra amazing because of the delicious treats whipped up by Jessica Bongard of Sweet Lime Cooking Studio...seriously, this girl rocks, and if you haven't checked out her cooking classes, you should! We're also having a sale: hanging baskets are buy one, get one 50% off, and shade perennials are buy one, get one free. So come get 'em before they're gone!

New North End Plant Sale

Come to the

3rd Annual New North End Plant Sale

at Bibens Ace Hardware

Ethan Allen Shopping Center, North Ave.

Burlington

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Saturday, May 19th, 2012

9 am to 2 pm

The proceeds from this sale help scholarship applicants of the Burlington Area Community Gardens secure a garden plot for the season. Come and help out your neighborhood gardeners!

For more information, please call Dan Cahill at Burlington Parks and Recreation, 802-863-0420

The sale is a partnership of Red Wagon Plants, Bibens Ace Hardware, and Burlington Parks and Recreation

FAQ #11: What soil should I use in my planters?

Vermont Compost Co.
Vermont Compost Co.

Although it’s tempting to think you’ll save money by using garden soil, you won’t have as good success because garden soil does not hold moisture as well as potting soil. Proper moisture is essential for container plants because they dry out more quickly than plants in the ground. Using a high quality potting mix will ensure that the soil holds moisture and that it has the nutrients your plants need.  At Red Wagon we grow all of our plants in a great organic potting soil called  made by Vermont Compost Company. We also sell a variety of Vermont Compost Company products in our retail greenhouse. A good, compost-based mix will ensure that your plants thrive all summer long. Long flowering annuals such as petunias, fuschias, and gernaniums can benefit from some additional fertilizer during the season.

2012 Stone Wall Workshops

Charley MacMartin, owner of Queen City Soil and Stone, and all around great guy will be continuing his popular winter workshop series in our shared greenhouse starting in January. Please read Charley's message below for more information.

Stone wall workshops. Our introductory stone wall building workshops for homeowners and tradespeople promote the beauty and integrity of stone. The one-day, hands-on workshop focuses on the basic techniques for creating dry-laid walls with a special emphasis on stone native to Vermont. Workshops are held inside warm greenhouses in Hinesburg. The first workshop date is Saturday, January 14, 2012, and workshops continue through March 2012. The one-day workshop is $100. Space is limited. For complete schedule and registration information, go to the link www.queencitysoilandstone.com/workshops.html or contact Charley MacMartin, 802-318-2411.

Our Plants in New Places

We had a great week last week and met up with lots of new customers at a few new venues. Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington is a leader amongst hospitals around the country for taking health, well being, and green living seriously. Their nutrition and dining services people use local foods, they have a beautiful garden on the roof top, and multiple gardens on the various campuses where herbs, salad greens and other vegetables are grown for the kitchens. The staff is dedicated and enthusiastic - so much so that they asked us to provide plants for a plant sale last week which was a huge success! Here are a few pictures from the sale:

I have to say, that when I dropped off the plants, I was sure that there were way too many, but those amazing women sold so many plants! There were only a few trays left at the end of the day. This will be an annual tradition hopefully and we can get a chance to talk gardening with all the hospital employees again next year. Ally sent along a sweet note this morning:

Hi Julie & Awesome Greenhouse Crew,

We had a blast at the hospital plant sale and so did all the employees, patients, and visitors who stopped by.  Everyone commented on how great the plants looked. Even our executive chef ended up adding some  impulse purchases to his list for the hospital's gardens!  Thanks to Eric for stopping by with more signs, and to Julie for her expert gardening advice, and to everyone at Red Wagon who contributed towards growing such healthy plants.  I've included some pictures from the first hour of the sale.  I wish we'd thought to get some shots of the empty tables at the end of the day.  Even then, with slim pickings left and the cash registers shut down, people kept trying to buy plants!  Thanks again, Ali

Charley MacMartin's Herringbone Wall

To me a stone wall has a sort of natural mystique. The way the stones hold together, without any mortar, seems almost magical, and their patterns, nooks, and crannies create an artistic union of human and natural construction. In the garden the rock wall serves other magical purposes. The sun heats the stones, which radiate warmth back to the plants long after the sun goes down, a boon to heat-loving plants like tomatoes, peppers, and basil. The spaces between the rocks can also be planted to create a vertical garden of mosses, ferns, and succulents. Our friend, Charley MacMartin of Queen City Soil and Stone , is building us yet another beautiful and unique wall to stabilize the bank beside the road and provide a canvas for our plants!

As I walked out to see Charley’s progress on the new wall on a sunny, spring-like day this past week, I was immediately struck by its unusual design. Charley was kneeling on the ground, surrounded by piles of large flat stones and buckets of softball-sized white ones, partly hidden by the wall rising before him. When I got closer he explained that this is called a herringbone wall. It is so called because the flat stones are stacked in rows on their narrow edge, creating the illusion of a spine or long ribbons of stone. He explained that this type of wall is common in places like the British Isles and Japan, where the natural stone is flat and plate-like. The herringbone wall takes much less stone to build than when flat stones are laid horizontally.

This particular stone came from Plainfield, VT, where Charley carefully chose each piece to become a part of this wall.  This is no easy task. Stonewalling is an ancient trade requiring patience, skill, and vision, each wall a monumental labor of love and dedication.  And Charley's walls are no exception - people come from miles around to learn and work alongside him.

The herringbone wall has two sides. The front side of the wall (that you see) has the vertical pattern described above, whereas the back side (holding the bank) is made of a wide variety of stones, a veritable ratatouille of shapes, sizes, and colors – “Leftovers,” said Charley, carefully choosing a large egg-shaped white rock and wedging it into place.

The two sides of the wall, front and back, taper towards the center like a cairn, so that the gravity of the stones stabilizes the wall. Every few minutes Charley pulled out a tape measure to make sure the width of the wall was just right. Between the two sides he hammered the softball-like stones into place, forming a strong core that can hold the bank, the stones, and the plants that will soon be growing there.

We'll post more pictures of the wall as it grows. For more information about Charley or Queen City Soil and Stone, visit his website, www.queencitysoilandstone.com. You can also read a wonderful article he wrote for Local Banquet called "Good Walls Make Good Gardens", which also features Red Wagon!

By Sophia Bielenberg