FAQ #3: I'm new to gardening - what's the best use of a 10x12' raised bed?

Decide what you'd like to grow and eat, considering the space requirements and growth habit for each.  Vine veggies like cucumbers and squash can be planted on the periphery to spill out onto a lawn and not crowd the other plants; or they can also be trellised.

Give tomatoes at least 3 square feet, eggplant and peppers 2 square feet.   Also, consider rate of maturity; plant lettuce in one area, then after harvesting, plant beets or herbs. Planting a few edible flowers, such as nasturtium or gem marigold gives the raised bed a flower planter look. For ease of maintenance, make sure space or a path is made to reach all of the plantings.

Plants in a raised bed tend to yield more than plants in the ground because their roots are in lighter soil that is easier to grow in. It is important to only use good quality top soil and compost in the raised bed. The bottom layer can be filled with some rotted horse manure and yard waste like leaves and grass clipping.

Choose varieties that do well in smaller spaces and keep re-using the space once you harvest something.  Small patches of green beans can be replanted multiple times, a small trellis with a few snap peas can be a nice addition that leaves room for summer lettuce or fall broccoli. Just keep in mind that a few plants that are well cared for will yield as much as many plants that are poorly cared for!

FAQ #6: How do I grow asparagus?

The ideal method for growing asparagus is to prepare the area at least one season in advance by tilling and planting a cover crop to suppress weeds. This will help reduce stress on the asparagus plants during their first few years, ensuring a healthier and more vigorous crop. A cover crop turned into the bed also increases the organic matter in the soil which is good for the plants. Since asparagus is a perennial that can last for many years, choose a well-drained site that can be dedicated to asparagus for the foreseeable future.

Asparagus is usually grown by tilling an area and then digging trenches 6-8” deep and 3-5’ apart. The crowns (roots) are placed in the trenches 8” apart for narrow spears and 14” apart for thick spears. Cover the crowns with 1-2” of soil and fertilize heavily with compost or other phosphate-rich fertilizer. Add soil to the trenches three times during the next few weeks until the soil is mounded somewhat to avoid water pooling around the plants. Keep the plants hand-weeded and fertilized until midsummer, then mulch heavily with straw or leaves to suppress weeds. The asparagus “ferns” should be allowed to grow, since they feed the plants, then cut back after they die in the fall. A moderate harvest is usually possible the first year after planting, followed by full harvests every spring thereafter.

Red and black asparagus beetles are nearly always present in summer and can be treated with organic pesticides but are better removed by hand to minimize harm to the plants. Just drop the beetles and larvae into a can of soapy water to kill them. Larvae can also be killed by gently brushing the ferns with a soft broom - they die quickly after falling to the ground.

Although asparagus is not quite as simple to grow as annual crops, it is well worth the effort! Fresh, juicy asparagus spears are unrivaled in texture and flavor.

FAQ #2: How do I know if a tomato is determinate or indeterminate? How do I support my tomatoes? Can I grow them in containers?

A determinate tomato is a type of tomato that has all of its fruit ripen at once. They usually grow to about 4 to 5 feet tall, and then stop growing while they spend all of their energy on fruit production. They are great for canning since they ensure you have a large harvest all at once. They can be grown without staking, but the fruit quality will be better if cages, stakes or a small trellis are used.  Indeterminate tomatoes keep growing until they succumb to frost or a disease. In a warm climate, they are actually perennials and can grow into trees. Indeterminates ripen all season long and give you a more sequential harvest with one or two tomatoes ripening a day during peak harvest.

In general, space tomato plants at least 2' apart, preferably 3' or more apart.  Support both kinds; pea fences or hardwood stakes work nicely on determinates; indeterminates keep growing up and out and need more support, such as hardwood stakes positioned so that as the tomatoes grow, trellising can be added with hemp twine.

Check out this video to see a method we like for trellising tomatoes:

Weaving Tomatoes

Round tomato cages are great for peppers and eggplants.  One of our customers designed a portable one-tomato planter with a five gallon bucket, drilled 3 holes about 2 inches from the bottom for a water reservoir, and screwed two hardwood stakes to opposite sides of the bucket for plant support.

New Plants for the 2012 Line Up

We have been busy at work with ordering seeds, deciding on what plants to grow for the coming year, and which ones to discontinue. We usually add about 10% new varieties each year - enough to keep it interesting, but not so much that we risk having bad inventory or unwanted expenses for a plant no one loves. This is really, really hard since the seed catalogs and plug listings each year show more and more varieties that look tempting. Not to mention the world of heirloom seeds which is so vast and so alluringly historic and charming. If the pressures of pleasing customers and breaking even were eliminated, I would probably have the type of nursery where every plant has a sign that is 12" x 12" with lots of text describing some arcane knowledge about how the variety was bred or discovered, how it was cooked in 15th century Sicily and  how it came to be a Red Wagon variety. My winter job at Red Wagon is part business manager, part HR department, and part curator. Guess which is my favorite. Take a look at the list of new plants and give us some feedback. Our favorite new variety is the kind that comes by way of a customer recommendation, so you get a vote in this process.

Happy garden planning, and check out the rest of the website for the complete plant list, we are updating it this week,


Plant Category Genus Variety or Cultivar
Annuals African Foxglove Ceratotheca triloba
Annuals Amaranth Oeschberg
Annuals Angelonia Adessa White
Annuals Balsam Impatiens Balsamina
Annuals Begonia, Tuberous Illumination Peaches and Cream
Annuals Begonia, Tuberous Non-Stop, Bright Rose
Annuals Begonia, Tuberous Pin Up Flame
Annuals Browalia Endless Flirtation
Annuals Browalia Endless Illumination
Annuals Calibrachoa Saffron
Annuals Calibrachoa Superbells Dreamsicle
Annuals Calibrachoa Superbells Peach
Annuals Calibrachoa Superbells Trailing White
Annuals Calibrachoa Tequilla Sunrise Improved
Annuals Calibrachoa Yellow
Annuals California Poppy Milkmaid
Annuals Celosia Chief Mixed Cockscomb
Annuals Celosia Cramers’ Amazon
Annuals Coleus Amora
Annuals Coleus Big Red Judy
Annuals Coleus Fishnet Stockings
Annuals coleus Glennis
Annuals Coleus Sedona
Annuals coleus Wedding Train
Annuals Cosmos Cosmic  Orange
Annuals Cosmos Cosmic Mix
Annuals Cosmos Cosmic Red
Annuals Cosmos New Choco
Annuals Cosmos Sonata Dwarf Mix
Annuals Cosmos Sonata White
Annuals Dahlia Happy Days Cream
Annuals Dahlia Happy Days Pink
Annuals Dahlia Happy Days Purple
Annuals Dahlia Happy Mystic enchantment
Annuals Dahlia Mystic Haze
Annuals Dahlia Mystic Wonder
Annuals Dahlia Salvador
Annuals Dusty Miller Silver Lace
Annuals Euphorbia Mountain Snow
Annuals Exclusively  Echeveriaa Collection
Annuals Fern Montana
Annuals Fern Collection
Annuals Floering Cabbage Osaka Mix
Annuals Four Oclock Marvel of Peru
Annuals Gaura lindiheimeri Whirling Butterflies
Annuals Gazania New Day Mix
Annuals Geranium Firestar Purple
Annuals Geranium Firestar Salmon
Annuals Geranium, Ivy Mini Cascade Red
Annuals Geranium, Ivy Sunflair Fireball
Annuals Geranium, Ivy Sunflair Neon Pink
Annuals Geranium, Ivy Sybil Holmes
Annuals Geranium, Ivy Vancouver Centennial
Annuals Geranium, Scented Lemon Fizz
Annuals Geranium, Scented P. querquifolia
Annuals Geranium, Scented Sweet Mimosa
Annuals Geranium, Zonal Brocade Happy Thoughts Red
Annuals Geranium, Zonal Brocade, Mrs Pollock
Annuals Geranium, Zonal Candy Fantasy Kiss
Annuals Geranium, Zonal Madame Salleron
Annuals Geranium, Zonal Patriot Cherry Rose
Annuals Geranium, Zonal Patriot Lavender Blue
Annuals Geranium, Zonal Patriot Salmon Chic
Annuals Geranium, Zonal Pillar Purple
Annuals Geranium, Zonal Rocky Mountain Lavender
Annuals Geranium, Zonal Rocky Mountain Magenta
Annuals Gomphrena QIS Formula Mix
Annuals Hedera Golden Child
Annuals Hedera White Mein Hertz
Annuals Hypoestes Splash Rose Select
Annuals Impatiens Super Elfin Salmon Splash
Annuals Impatiens Super Elfin XP pink
Annuals Ipomoea Desana Bronze
Annuals Juncus Blue Arrows
Annuals Juncus spiralis Unicorn
Annuals Kiss Me Over the Garden Gate
Annuals Lantana Evita Rose
Annuals Lantana Bandana Cherry Sunrise
Annuals Lantana Bandana Rose Improved
Annuals Lantana - bandana Peach
Annuals Larkspur Sublime Formula Mix
Annuals Leycesteria Jealousy
Annuals Licorice Lemon
Annuals Lisianthus Echo Lavender
Annuals Lisianthus Echo Pink
Annuals Lobularia Silver Stream
Annuals Marigold Antigua Orange
Annuals Marigold Antigua Yellow
Annuals Marigold French Janie Primrose Yellow
Annuals Marigold French Single Marietta
Annuals Marigold, French Durango Tangerine
Annuals Melampodium Derby
Annuals Morning Glory Grandpa Ott’s
Annuals Morning Glory Moonflower
Annuals Nasturtium Trailing
Annuals Nemesia Angelart Almond
Annuals Nemesia Angelart Pineapple
Annuals Ornamental Corn Field of Dreams
Annuals Ornamental Millet Purple Majesty
Annuals Osteospermum 3-D Silver
Annuals Osteospermum Astra Orange Sunrise
Annuals Osteospermum Cape Daisy Fireburst
Annuals Osteospermum Cape Daisy Purple
Annuals Osteospermum Sunset Orange
Annuals Osteospermum Zion Copper Amethyst
Annuals Oxalis Allure Burgundy
Annuals oxalis triangularis Charmed Velvet
Annuals oxalis triangularis Charmed WIne
Annuals Pansy Delta Mix Buttered Popcorn
Annuals Pansy Delta Premium True Blue
Annuals Pansy Freefall Golden Yellow
Annuals Pansy Matrix Sangria
Annuals Pansy Panola XP Mix baby Boy
Annuals Pansy Panola XP Mix Blackberry Sundae
Annuals Pansy Panola XP Mix Citrus
Annuals Pansy Ultima Blue Chill
Annuals Pansy Ultima Morpho
Annuals Petunia Bouquet Salmon
Annuals Petunia Littletunia Sweet Sherbert
Annuals Petunia Mini Strawberry pink veined
Annuals Petunia Whispers Star Rose
Annuals Petunia Cascadias Cherry Spark
Annuals Petunia Littletunia Sweet Dark Pink
Annuals petunia multiflora prostrate Easy Wave Plum Vein
Annuals Petunia multiflora prostrate Easy Wave White
Annuals Poppy White Linen
Annuals Portulaca Happy Hour Mix
Annuals Portulaca Sundial Chiffon
Annuals Portulaca Sundial Mix
Annuals Portulaca Sundial Pink
Annuals Rudbeckia Autumn Colors
Annuals Rudbeckia Cherokee Sunset
Annuals Rudbeckia Prairie Sun
Annuals Rudbeckia Denver Daisy
Annuals Salvia farinacea Victoria Blue
Annuals Sanvitalia Cuzco Yellow
Annuals Scabiosa Black Knight
Annuals Snapdragon Montego Mix Sangria
Annuals Snapdragon Rocket Mix
Annuals Snapdragon Rocket White
Annuals Spectacular Succulent Collection
Annuals Sunflower Sunny Smile
Annuals Sweet Potato Vine Bright Ideas Rusty Red
Annuals Thunbergia Arizona Dark Red
Annuals Thunbergia Lemon
Annuals Thunbergia Orange
Annuals Thunbergia Sunny Suzie Yellow Dark Eye
Annuals Thunbergia Sunny Suzy Red Orange
Annuals TRIXI COMBO Ayers Rock
Annuals TRIXI COMBO Caribean Cocktail
Annuals TRIXI COMBO Gold and Bold
Annuals TRIXI COMBO Lemon Sorbet
Annuals TRIXI COMBO Lollipop
Annuals TRIXI COMBO Sunrise
Annuals Verbena Chambray Royal superbena
Annuals Verbena Estrella Salmon Star
Annuals Verbena Lanai Twister pink
Annuals Verbena Royal Peachy Keen
Annuals Verbena Tukana Scarlet star
Annuals Viola Penny Orchid Frost
Annuals Zinnia Dreamland Mix
Annuals Zinnia Dreamland Red
Annuals Zinnia Sunbow Mix
Annuals Zinnia White
Eggplants Globe Rosa Bianca
Ferns Matteuccia struthiopteris Ostrich Fern
Foliage Alternanthera Brazilian Red Hot
Foliage Alternanthera Red Thread
Foliage German Ivy Green
Foliage Muehlenbeckia Wire Vine
Foliage Setcreasea Purple Queen
Herbs Basil Amethyst Improved
Herbs Basil Sacred, Tulsi
Herbs Basil Sweet Genovese, Aroma II
Herbs Basil Sweet Genovese, Aton
Herbs Bee Balm Wild Bergamot
Herbs Epazote
Herbs Feverfew
Herbs Flax
Herbs French Sorrel
Herbs Lavender Fern Leaf
Herbs Lemongrass West Indian
Herbs Mint Emerald and Gold
Herbs Oregano Mexican Lippia
Herbs Papalo
Herbs Red Shiso Britton
Herbs Red Shiso
Herbs Rosemary Prostrate
Herbs Sage White
Herbs Thyme Lime Golden
Herbs Thyme Orange
Herbs Thyme Wooly
Herbs Zaatar Marjoram
Peppers Hot Fish
Peppers Ornamental Hot Pepper Chilly Chilly
Peppers Sweet Pepperoncino
Peppers Sweet Round of Hungary
Peppers Sweet Sweet Banana Pepper
Perennial Adenophora Amethyst
Perennial Alchemilla Lady’s Mantle
Perennial Sedum Blue Spruce
Perennial Sedum Floriferum
Perennial Sedum Oracle
Perennial Sedum Picolette
Perennial Sedum Voodoo
Perennial Thyme Wooly
Perennials Achillea Pretty Belinda
Perennials Achillea Saucy Seduction
Perennials Achillea Strawberry Seduction
Perennials Achillea Sunny Seduction
Perennials Achillea millefolium Colorado
Perennials Acorus ‘Ogon’
Perennials ajuga Dixie Chip
Perennials Alcea rosea Chaters Double Purple
Perennials Alchemilla Molis Lady’s Mantle
Perennials Anemone sylvestris
Perennials Aquigelia Cameo Rose and White
Perennials Aquigelia Origami Mix
Perennials Artemesia Silver Brocade
Perennials Astilbe Delft Lace
Perennials Astilbe Deutschland
Perennials Astilbe Fanal
Perennials Baptisia Solar Flare Prairie Blues
Perennials Bellis Daisy Bellissima Rose
Perennials Bergenia cordifolia ‘Winter Glow’
Perennials Campanula glomerata ‘Freya’
Perennials Centranthus Cocineus
Perennials Chrysanthemum Samba
Perennials Coreopsis verticullata Early Sunrise
Perennials corydalis sempervirens
Perennials Delphinium Magic Fountains Dark Blue w Dark Bee
Perennials Delphinium Magic Fountains Sky Blue w White Base
Perennials dianthus Pomegranate Kiss
Perennials dianthus Zing Rose
Perennials Dicentra Gold Heart
Perennials Echinacea Harvest Moon
Perennials Echinacea PowWow Wild Berry
Perennials Echinacea Sundown
Perennials Eupatorium dubium ‘little joe’
Perennials Fern Barne’s Male
Perennials Gaillardia aristata Arizona Sun
Perennials geranium Rozanne
Perennials Geranium cantabrigiense ‘Bergarten’
Perennials Geranium macrorrhizum ‘Album’
Perennials Geranium maculatum ‘Espresso’
Perennials Guara Pink Fountain
Perennials Helleborus Pink Parachutes
Perennials Hemerocallis Alabama Jubilee daylily
Perennials Hemerocallis Always Afternoon
Perennials Heuchera ‘Snow Angel’
Perennials Heuchera Obsidian
Perennials Heuchera Plum Pudding
Perennials Heuchera Raspberry Regal
Perennials Heuchera Silver Scrolls
Perennials Hibiscus Luna Red
Perennials Iberis sempervivens Snowflake
Perennials Iris ‘Before the Storm’
Perennials Iris pallida ‘Argentea Variegata’
Perennials Iris sibirica Pink Haze
Perennials Joe Pye Weed
Perennials Juncus effusus ssp. Twister
Perennials laminum Beacon Silver
Perennials Lamium Orchid Frost
Perennials Lamium maculatum Beacon Silver
perennials Lathyrus latifolia Perennial sweet pea
Perennials Liatris Floristan White
Perennials Ligularia dentata Britt-Marie Crawford
Perennials Ligularia dentata Little Rocket
Perennials Lychnis arkwrightii Orange Gnome
Perennials Lysimachia punctata ‘Alexander’
Perennials monarda Petite Delight
Perennials monarda Purple Rooster
Perennials monarda Raspberry Wine
Perennials monarda didyma Jacob Cline
Perennials myosotis sylvatica Royal Blue Carpet
Perennials paeonia Duchess de Nemours
Perennials paeonia Felix Crousse
Perennials Papaver Flamenco Dancer
Perennials Penstemon digitalis Dark Towers
Perennials Perovskia Longin
Perennials Persicaria Darjeeling Red
Perennials Phlox glabberima ‘Morris Red’
Perennials Phlox paniculata David
Perennials Phlox paniculata David’s Lavender
Perennials Phlox paniculata Flame series purple ‘Barfourteen’
Perennials Physostegia Pink Manners
perennials Physostegia virginiana Alba
Perennials Phystostegia Crown of Snow
Perennials Primula Ronsdorf Strain
Perennials Salvia Caradonna
Perennials Salvia Sweet 16
Perennials Scabiosa Beaujolais Bonnets
Perennials Scabiosa Vivid Violet
Perennials Sedum Autumn FIre
Perennials Sedum Matrona
Perennials Sedum Neon
Perennials sedum kamtschaticum
Perennials sedum sieboldii
Perennials Sedum spurium Summer Glory
Perennials Tanacetum Robinsons Red
Perennials Tiarella ‘Delaware’
Perennials Tiarella ‘Lace Carpet’
Perennials Tiarella ‘Susquehanna’
Perennials Trollius chinensis Golden Queen
Perennials Veronica Giles van Hees
Perennials Viola Labradorica
Perennials Viola Striata
Perennials Salvia aregentea Artemis
Shrub Hydrangea macrophylla Endless Summer
Shrub Hydrangea paniculata Limelight
Shrub Amelanchier Autumn Brilliance Service Berry
Shrub Ilex verticulata Southern Gentleman
Shrub Ilex verticulata Winter Red
Shrub Viburnum Trilobum Alfredo
Small Fruit Blackberry Black Satin
Small Fruit Gooseberry Titan
Small Fruit Strawberry Jewel
Small Fruit Strawberry Sparkle
Tomatoes Cherry Gold Nugget
Tomatoes Cherry Green Envy
Tomatoes Cherry Isis Candy
Tomatoes Cherry Lizzano
Tomatoes Cherry Sweet Treats
Tomatoes Cherry Terenzo
Tomatoes Cherry Sweet Black Cherry
Tomatoes Container Red Husky (Patio)
Tomatoes Determinate Orange Blossom
Tomatoes Determinate Oregon Spring
Tomatoes Heirloom Black Prince
Tomatoes Heirloom Cosmonaut Volkov
Tomatoes Heirloom Costoluto Genovese
Tomatoes Heirloom Dona
Tomatoes Heirloom Earl of Edgecombe
Tomatoes Heirloom Paul Robeson
Tomatoes Heirloom Pineapple
Tomatoes Heirloom Wapsipinicon Peach
Tomatoes Hybrid Brandymaster Yellow
Tomatoes Hybrid Park’s Whopper
Tomatoes Paste Amish Gold
Tomatoes Plum San Marzano gigante III
Vegetables cantaloupe Sarah’s Choice
Vegetables Cantaloupe, French Charentais Savor
Vegetables Italian Dandelion Clio Chicory
Vegetables Lettuce Mottistone
Vegetables Lettuce Nevada Summer Crisp
Vegetables Lettuce Red Batavian Cherokee
Vegetables Lettuce Red Cross - Red Butterhead
Vegetables Lettuce Red Oak Paradai
Vegetables Mei Qing Choi (Baby Boc Choi) Boc Choi
Vegetables Mustard Greens Ruby Streaks
Vegetables Okra Millionaire
Vegetables Onion Mini Purplette
Vegetables Onion Redwing
Vegetables Radicchio Virtus
Vegetables Summer Squash Magda
Vegetables Vertus Radicchio
Vegetables watermelon Sunshine



Things to Plant Now. You Will be Glad You Did.

August is rolling around, thundering ahead,  and with it comes some vegetable planting possibilities that will feed you late into autumn and early winter. This is a great time to clean out some of the garden beds that have finished producing and replant them with some fresh crops for late season harvest. Here are a few options that you might want to consider incorporating into your later summer gardening routine.


- seed a small amount directly into garden beds, or buy transplants up to mid-August. If you are direct seeding into a garden bed, remember to thin or prick out and replant the broccoli babies so that they have proper spacing (15” or so).


- same as broccoli. Choose shorter day varieties. Seed packets usually list the days to maturity for all crops. In early August, you can usually get away with planting a 60 day cabbage that will be ready in early October.

Kale -

this is a great time to put in a few more kale plants or seeds, they will size up before snow flies, and will withstand lots of wintery weather. The good thing about kale, is that once it is full grown, it will just stand around in the garden waiting to be picked. It does not get “too old” or bolt (jump into seed production mode). This makes it a great early winter crop and a joy to harvest under snow fall. Collards can be treated this way as well. A note on flea beetles: It does not hurt to use row cover to speed things along and to keep out the flea beetles. They are little biting insects that make little holes in the leaves and generally slow down a plant’s growth by stressing it a bit. All vegetables in the brassica family are susceptible to flea beetles - broccoli, kale, cabbage, mustards, arugula, collard greens, and boc choi are all in this family.

Arugula -

a nice addition to salads, this tender green with a mustard-like flavor is also a great survivor of cold temperatures. It can withstand many hard frosts and will continue to add a little spike to your salads well into November and December. You can put row cover on it to keep away the flea beetles and to give it a little extra protection from cold winds that can dry it out. If it starts to turn a little purple in the colder temps, don’t worry about it, it is still fine to eat. This is just a symptom of not being able to absorb phosphorous in cold conditions.


- a short season salad turnip can still be sown in August. I like the Hakurei variety from Johnny’s. It is delicious raw in salads, sliced thinly or finely diced, or sauteed in a little butter with fresh herbs (winter savory makes a special appearance at my house, often in this dish in particular). People who think they hate turnips will just be shocked when they taste these buttery slices that just melt in your mouth.


- in the first half of August, it is a good idea to plant a large patch of spinach. It will germinate in the cooler night time temperatures (spinach does not like to germinate in the heat) and will last a long time in the field in the cool temperatures of October and early November.

Overwintered Spinach - overwintering means keeping a vegetable alive through the winter for spring harvesting and eating. Not all vegetables can survive our VT winters, but the few that can include spinach, parsnips, leeks, garlic, and parsley. Spinach for early spring eating (mid to late April) should be sown in the first two weeks of September. Once it germinates, allow it to grow without harvesting or touching it. You can eat a little if you want, but ideally you will leave as much of the plant in the ground as possible. Once very cold weather hits, in early to mid-December, you can protect the spinach under a layer of straw, or leaves, or a few layers of row cover. In the spring, as soon as the ground has thawed out, remove the layers of protection and you will see the spinach come to life, long before any other plants begin to stir. This is such a delicious treat for early spring and really worth the trouble. A future post will be just about overwintered vegetables, so if this is something you have been wanting to try in your garden, check back here in a few days!

Cilantro and Dill

are good herbs for fall planting since their cold-hardiness is unmatched, and it will give you something to add to autumn salsas, salads, and pickles. Just sprinkle some seed into a shallow trench, press them in, and lightly cover with soil. The planting depth is very shallow here, just 1/4 inch or so. One of the most common problems with crops seeded directly into garden soil, is that they get planted too deeply. Remember this basic rule of thumb: the seed needs to be planted only 2 times deeper than its own size. Cilantro and dill will live until the first snow! They thrive in the cold. They are true soldiers of season extension.

Let us know if you feel inspired to try your hand with some of this season extension - we love to hear about it!

Managing Garden Pests: Cucurbits (Squash Family)

The problem with plants that taste good to us is that they also taste good to a variety of insects. These bugs can suck the juices out of the plant, chew big ugly holes, and transmit diseases.  Because plants in the squash family (melons, cucumbers, squashes, and zucchinis) are very juicy and sweet, bugs love them. But don't despair! We can help you identify and manage these pests so you can bring in the bounty. Cucumber Beetles

These pesky little creatures are about 1/4 inch long with yellow and black stripes. They love to chew cucurbit leaves until they look like lace. They fly but tend to fall off the leaf when you disturb it, so put your hand underneath to catch them. Squish the beetles and look for their orange eggs laid in the soil around the plant. You can often catch them in pollinated squash flowers, then just squish or drop in a bucket of ammonia, kerosene, or other poison. For serious infestations, spray plants with pyrethrum (a botanical pesticide) every 3-4 days.

Squash Bugs

These large bugs are often found in pairs on squash family plants. They are brown or black, shield-shaped, and about 3/4 inch long. They lay very shiny reddish eggs on the undersides of leaves. They can be easily controlled by squishing or with applications of insecticidal soap. Making a small moat of wood ashes around the plants will control the bugs as well, since they hate walking over the ashes. Just make sure not to get any ash on the plants!


Aphids are one of the most common garden pests. They can be difficult to see because they are very small and often green or tan in color. They suck the sap of the tender young foliage and undersides of leaves. If you see ants on your squash family plants, you probably have aphids, since ants are attracted to the honeydew produced by aphids. A variety of methods for managing aphids are available. The best remedy is to squish them when you find them. You can also make "bug juice" by mixing the squished bugs with water and spraying the plants. A spray made of ground garlic, onions, or hot pepper can also be used to repel aphids. Insecticidal  soap or horticultural oil can be used as a last resort.

Flea Beetles

Flea beetles are not as common on cucurbits as they are on plants in the cabbage or mustard families, but they can do damage. They are very small, about the same size as an aphid, and shiny black. They jump like fleas when disturbed and make zillions of tiny holes in leaves. Flea beetles can be repelled using row covers, hot pepper, or garlic sprays, and as a last resort can be killed with pyrethrum.

This Week in Photos - June 29th, 2011

It's getting to be that time in the season when there's more time for fun projects - the vegetable garden is in, and with the exception of weeding and succession planting, one can finally delve into the beauty and creative freedom of flower gardening. And just in time, as if by magic, the first rudbeckia unfurls its yellow petals, the astilbe raises its frothy plumes, and the daylilies unpack their sweet blossoms as if to say, "I'm out in the world now! Come play!" Our perennials look more dazzling than ever (and with our sale,  they're also a steal)! If you'd like to learn about perennial selection and maintenance, our resident gardening expert, Hope Johnson, will be teaching a free workshop at our greenhouses on Saturday, July 16th from 9-11am. Come with your gardening questions, hopes, and dreams!

We still have lots of beautiful annuals for tumbling over window boxes, making bouquets, twisting into braids or brightening a veggie garden - whatever suits your fancy!

This Week in Photos - April 16, 2011

Each year I am amazed by the incredible variety of new plants that are available. This is the work of plant breeders, who painstakingly cross-pollinate particular varieties until they achieve the results we want or who carefully scan their crop for particular traits they want to select. It is a time-consuming process, but gardeners are always grateful - this year, as with every other, we are treated to an array of extraordinary new plants. We hope you enjoy this week's photos!

Each plant has a unique texture, and each has its special place in the garden...

And then there are also wondrous colors and shapes...

Do You Want a Little Spring in the Kitchen?

We start selling herbs in pots long before the ground is ready to work. Many of you still have snow on the ground; some of you may be lucky enough to live someplace where the snow is melted, but we all are worried more is on the way. Anyhow, when the snow first melts, the ground looks barren and dirty save for a few bulbs trying to poke through. Poor things. This has been such a cold spring, and while I don't want to complain too much, it would be nice if we had a little warm weather right about now. If you are wanting just a little reminder of what is coming down the road, you could grow a little window sill herb garden for now. All you need are a few herbs, a sunny window, and not much else. If you want to get fancy, you could pot up those herbs into pretty pots or mix them together in an indoor window box, but there is no need to really. Just some 4" pots are fine for now, and soon enough the plants can go outside, either in the ground or in bigger pots. We just started to deliver plants to a few stores, so consider picking some up for a little cheer. The scent alone is enough to lift anyone's spirit.

A group of Bhutanese farmers came to visit our greenhouses this week - it's the second group that has come by. When I saw the look on their faces when they were smelling the herbs - mint, rosemary, cilantro, lavender - I was reminded of why I do this work. It takes the edge off of those long end of winter weeks and brings hope and love into my being. It's an honor to share it all.

- Julie

New Plants in 2011

'Zion Copper Amethyst' Osteospermum
'Zion Copper Amethyst' Osteospermum

We are so excited about our new selection of plants! Many of you have requested a wider array of edible and ornamental landscape plants, and we are happy to oblige. Below you will find a few of the new plants we love. Descriptions, growing information, and suggestions for companion plants can be found under "Our Plants".

'Zion Copper Amethyst' Osteospermum: Upright, daisy-like annual flowers in awe-inspiring amethyst/pink/orange. Plant in part to full sun 12-18" apart. Slightly trailing habit. Low maintenance, no deadheading required! Does well in containers. Allow top of soil to dry out between waterings.

'Holy Red and Green' Sacred Tulsi Basil: Striking purple and green leaves have a musky scent and mint-clove flavor. Tulsi basil has been sacred to Hindus for at least 3,000 years. It has excellent medicinal properties as a stress reliever and anti-inflammatory and makes a refreshing tea. Allison, our seed master, says it makes a wonderfully-scented oil for salves and skin creams.

'Reliance' Grape: A very hardy, vigorous variety that produces clusters of beautiful pink seedless grapes excellent for fresh eating as well as jellies and juices. Plant in full sun and moist, well-drained soil where the plant will have at least 10’ of climbing space. Prune in winter, train in summer. Makes a great privacy screen or seasonal shade.

'Banana Cream' Leucanthemum: An unusual perennial daisy that opens lemon yellow and slowly turns white as it matures. Full flowers bloom in abundance all summer. Ideal for cut flowers due to long, straight stems and extended shelf life. Looks lovely with just about anything, but especially lavender, liatris, and gaillardia. Very vigorous plants multiply easily, making a great filler. Plant in full sun 18-24” apart. Attracts butterflies.

'Niger' Black Mondo Grass: A compact, clumping grass-like plant. Foliage turns jet black when grown in full sun. Small light purple to white flowers on short stalks appear in early summer and give way to black berries in the fall. Plant in full sun to part shade 12” apart. Pair with succulents, lobelia ‘Fan Scarlet’, or Lamb’s Ear for dramatic color and texture combinations.

A note on the 'Julia Child' Heirloom Tomatoby the renowned tomato breeder, Gary Ibsen:

"Early in 2001, while having lunch with Julia Child at Bernardus Lodge in Carmel Valley, California, I told her about my having in my tomato seed trials several un-named varieties. I followed by asking her, "If I'm able to grow an heirloom tomato that's good enough to name after you, what kind would you like it to be?" I suspected she would say, "Red", or "Beefsteak", or "Yellow." However, after just a moment's hesitation, Julia looked at me and replied, "Tasty, my dear"

"'Julia Child' is an open-pollinated, heirloom tomato. The tall, indeterminate, potato-leaf plant produces lots of 4-inch, deep-pink, lightly-fluted, beefsteak fruits that have the kind of robust tomatoey flavors and firm, juicy flesh that invites tomato feasting and seed-saving. It's not a simple, sugary sweet variety, but has a bold, straight-forward character in its taste, with more than enough acidity and earthy nuances to balance its sweet, fruity flavors."

'Paul Robeson': A well loved tomato on many people’s “favorites” list. A “black beefsteak” with dark red fruit tinged with black, brown and purple flesh and skin. Rich flavor with hints of spice and red wine. Vary widely in size, but average 10 to 12 oz. each. Does well in colder temperatures. 74 days. Indeterminate, provide support. Won “Best of Show” at Carmel TomatoFest!

Today's Tips

Planning Your Ornamental Landscape

Landscaping your property yourself may seem like a daunting task, but it's easier than you think. In an ornamental landscape, it's important to consider how plants go together - color, texture, size, and shape are important aspects of creating a beautiful and interesting landscape. Using contrast helps bring out complementary features of the different plants. An example of color contrast could mean using plants with flowers from opposite sides of the color wheel, such as blue and orange or yellow, or light and dark colors next to each other. You can also create contrast with texture by using plants with different types of foliage - a plant with lacy foliage could go next to one with glossy leaves - for example, amsonia with heartleaf bergenia.

The Right Plant in the Right Place

One of the most important things to consider when planning your landscape is what plants are suitable for your microclimates. Take a walk around your yard and house and you will undoubtedly find areas that are shady, others that receive salt from driveways or paths, some that are perpetually wet, and yet others that may be very windy, sunny, or cold. It is easy to look at these as "problem" areas where you cannot grow the plants you would most like to. Another way of looking at these areas is as opportunities to create a more diverse landscape and get to know unfamiliar plants. Below you will find examples of some of the plants we grow that fit well in these microclimates.

Salt-Tolerant Plants (good for near the road where the salt truck spray in the winter) : Common Thrift, Sea Holly, Daylilies, Artemisia, Heuchera

Juglone Tolerant Plants (many plants won't grow near trees in the walnut family): Hollyhocks, Daylilies

Cold-Tolerant (superhardy) Plants: Campanula, viola, sedums, Lady's Mantle

Shade-Tolerant Plants: brunnera, hosta, heuchera, dicentra, Goat’s Beard, white baneberry, astilbe, cimicifuga, heartleaf bergenia

Water-Loving Plants: Joe Pye Weed, Highbush Cranberry, ligularia, Chinese Globeflower,

Low-Maintenance Plants

If you are a very busy person (as I know I am), it is wise to choose plants that require little or no maintenance in order to look beautiful and survive. These plants require little pruning or deadheading, and can fill your landscape with color, texture, and wildlife.

  • Day lillies
  • Grasses
  • Shrubs
  • Sedums
  • Perennial herbs
  • Perennial geraniums
  • Peony

Woody Ornamental Plants

This year we are offering an expanded selection of ornamental shrubs for your landscaping projects. Many of these are also dual-purpose, providing a number of other benefits such as privacy screening, coppice material, shade, windbreak, food and shelter for wildlife, nectar for birds and insects, erosion control, and more. Some examples include:

‘Winter Red’ and ‘Southern Gentleman’ Winterberry Hollies – Plant these two together for a stunning year-round show! Female plants are deciduous, with leaves that turn yellow in the fall and are replaced by masses of large scarlet berries that provide winter food for birds.

‘Summer Wine’ Physocarpus – A beautiful, fast-growing perennial with arching stems covered with dark purple-bronze foliage. White, button-like flowers appear in June and provide pollen for insects. Makes a great privacy screen.

‘Hakuro Nishiki’ Dappled Willow – A gorgeous ornamental plant with pink shoots that open to green and white variegated leaves. Yellow flowers appear in April and stems turn red in winter. Flowers provide pollen for insects. A fast-growing plant that makes a great privacy screen.

These are all some of the easiest plants to grow. Once you are armed with a list of simple plants, just keep in mind these other factors:

  • Color
  • Texture
  • Placement

Once you understand what kind of plants like what type of conditions, you will feel confident to play with plants like a painter plays with colors. It is all about the right place for the right plant; so learn to identify the micro climates within your yard, come up with lists of plants that fit each micro climate, and create your own box of paints!

If this is hard for you, remember, we are here to help you!

First Days in the Greenhouse

Beautiful bacopa cuttings ready for potting up
Beautiful bacopa cuttings ready for potting up

It is finally that glorious time of year when work in the greenhouses begins. Our first cuttings have arrived and we have started potting them up, giving each plant new room to grow in wonderful Vermont Compost Company potting mix. (See note below) We can imagine that they feel the same way we do upon first entering the greenhouse, as they shed their cardboard boxes and we our many winter layers. At first the sunshine pouring down dazzles us, and we squint in the brightness. But soon we are all reveling in the lovely feeling of the rich soil, the moist, 85 degree air on our skin, and the intoxicating scent of rosemary. Within a few days this greenhouse will be filled to bursting with vigorously growing young plants.

'Gorizia' Rosemary cuttings before repotting
'Gorizia' Rosemary cuttings before repotting
Bronze-leaf begonia cuttings, awaiting potting
Bronze-leaf begonia cuttings, awaiting potting
Golden sage and rosemary
Golden sage and rosemary
Buddy dibbling the pots for planting
Buddy dibbling the pots for planting
Allison, our seed master, seeding the first trays
Allison, our seed master, seeding the first trays
Allison seeding trays
Allison seeding trays
Kate potting up rosemary
Kate potting up rosemary

By Sophia

Note: "Cuttings" are plants that can only be started from rooted stems. Instead of the plant producing seed and being propagated from a seed, plants that are 'vegetatively propagated'  (as it is called) are only true to type from the stem cuttings. In some cases, this means that they are cloned hybrids - a cross between two plants and they would revert back to looking like one of their parents if you planted the seed.  Another reason plants are propagated this way is because they are too slow to germinate and in our climate, they would be hard to establish. We buy in our rooted cuttings because making them ourselves would require heating a greenhouse all winter long and for now it is more efficient to buy in these beautiful cuttings from growers in Quebec and Massachusetts who specialize in this kind of greenhouse production. And just to be clear, this is old-fashioned plant breeding and propagating - these are not test tube babies or genetically modified organisms.

Edible Landscaping

A New Focus on Landscaping This year Red Wagon is pleased to offer a variety of new landscape plants that have been requested by our customers. We are working with Cobble Creek Nursery in Monkton to provide  a wide variety of Vermont grown edible and ornamental trees and shrubs. Our staff can help you choose the right plants for your project and give you the information you need to grow them successfully. We can also do on-site garden consultations at your home.

Ecological Landscaping: How to Make the Landscape Work for You

When it comes to landscaping, we believe in a natural, practical approach. There are a number of ways you can make your landscape more functional for you and for the ecosystem simply by choosing the right plants. One way is to plant trees and shrubs that produce edible fruit. The fruit can feed you and your family for years to come, and provide food and habitat for wildlife. Many of these plants have still other benefits, such as ornamental interest, providing shade in summer, as windbreaks, or as privacy screens. Here are some examples of edible landscape plants we are growing this year. For descriptions and growing tips for all the plants we are growing this season, click on “Our Plants”. For some great information on edible landscaping, check out Rosalind Creasy's website or see our "Resources" section.

NEW ‘Autumn Brilliance’ Apple Serviceberry – A native plant that produces white flowers in spring that provide pollen for a wide variety of insects. Flowers are followed by edible red berries that are adored by birds. Leaves turn orange and red in the fall for ornamental interest. Also a coppice species.

Apple Serviceberry
Apple Serviceberry

NEW ‘Darrow’ Blackberry – A very reliable, cold-hardy blackberry that bears huge sweet berries in July. 4-5' tall. Provides great habitat and food for wildlife. Produces suckers, creating a fast-growing hedgerow that works well as a privacy screen or windbreak.

‘Patriot’ Blueberry – A super-hardy half high blueberry that tolerates wet soils and produces delicious berries for birds and people. White blossoms in spring and orange leaves in fall offer year-round ornamental interest. These are underused as landscape plants, and we want to promote their use. A hedge of blueberries in the fall is absolutely stunning!

NEW ‘Red Lake’ Currants – A very hardy shrub that produces tart red berries in July. Delicious for jams, jellies, and pies. A great food and shelter plant for wildlife. Flowers that bloom from April to May have ornamental interest and provide nectar for a wide variety of insects.

‘Pixwell’ Gooseberry – Very easy to grow and low-maintenance, with round green berries that are picked like blueberries. Provides food and shelter for wildlife, and flowers provide nectar for pollinators.


NEW ‘Reliance’ Grape – Beautiful pink seedless grapes are excellent for fresh eating! These vigorous climbers can provide needed shade or a privacy screen in summer, as well as food and pollen for wildlife.

NEW ‘Parker’ Pear – A very hardy pear with medium sized reddish-brown fruit, lovely white flowers in spring, and dark purple foliage in fall for year-round ornamental interest. Requires a second variety nearby for pollination. Flowers provide nectar for pollinators, and the tree can be coppiced to produce wood for craft projects or scions.

NEW ‘Shiro’ Plum – Tree produces abundant gold fruit from July to August. Flowers provide nectar to a wide variety of insects.

NEW ‘Fall Gold’ Raspberry – An ever-bearing variety with yellow fruit that produces two crops, in June and August-October. A very hardy and tough plant with a wide variety of uses – plants provide food and shelter to wildlife and pollen to insects, brambles form a hedgerow for privacy or a windbreak, leaves can be used to make tea, and the berries are considered a super-food.

NEW ‘Black Beauty’ Elderberry – A wonderful ornamental and edible plant with year-round interest. Dark purple foliage is complemented by huge pink flowers in midsummer that provide nectar for native pollinators. Dark purple fruit appears in fall, and is great for making jam. Plant provides both food and shelter for wildlife. We will also be carrying a strain of elderberry that was bred by Lewis Hill - a Vermonter who was the authority on fruit production in the northeast. Lewis unfortunately passed a way a few years ago, but the plants he bred and propagated are his living legacy.

Highbush cranberry bush
Highbush cranberry bush

NEW ‘Alfredo’ Highbush Cranberry – This colorful edible ornamental gives a year-round show. Foliage opens red, then turns green, yellow, and then red again in fall. Red berries appear in fall and persist all winter, providing forage for wildlife. Large white to yellow flowers appear in spring and provide nectar for native pollinators. A very hardy plant that is deer and rabbit resistant. This makes a beautiful privacy hedge, growing thick and tall and just covered in cheery red berries in the fall.

Let us know your plans for your garden this year; perhaps a few well placed edible plants can add beauty to your yard and bounty for your table.

by Sophia and Julie

Perennials and Shrubs: Cutflowers, part 2.

Flowers for bouquets are often grown in their own gardens, in tidy straight rows, and exist not to beautify your yard, but to kick out lots of stems that are promptly cut just as the blossoms begin to unfurl. These "cutting gardens" are not necessarily the nicest to look at, but they sacrifice their beauty for the vase, where they can provide up to a few weeks of enjoyment in a portable format. If you lack the space for a proper cutting garden, you can always dip into the front yard flower beds for a stem or two and no one will know the difference but you. In fact, many perennials will produce for a longer season and in a more robust fashion if they have their stems cut now and then. Here are some favorite perennials and woody ornamental shrubs that are forgiving of the cutting shears and a boon in the bouquet.

  • Japanese Willow  Salix Hakaro Nishiki.This is a stunning filler. Pink, green and white variegated foliage looks like delicate petals. Shrub willows always benefit from regular cutting and on this variety, the new growth is more pink and flashy.

Hydrangea paniculata 'Limelight'. Most hydrangeas do really well in vases, they act as a delicate, feminine filler and are long lasting. Can be dried for everlasting arrangements as well.

  • Physocarpus 'Summer Wine'. Another shrub that is well suite for bouquets. Arching, dark burgundy stems and leaves, pale pink/white blossoms that cover the stem and a sweet aroma make this a lovely addition to mixed bouquets. Cut the stems long for a dramatic effect .
  • Salvia 'May Night'. A dark blue/purple with medium length stems. Cutting the stems low down near the crown of the plant will help to stimulate more blooms and will help control diseases by increasing air flow.
  • Asclepias tuberosa. This orange-flowered cultivar of milkweed is taller than the native version, long lasting in vases, and does not mind a cut here or there in the least.
  • Peony 'Sarah Bernhardt'. A pale pink bloom, nice in the vase as a simple combo with the dark burgundy stems of the  previously mentioned physocarpus shrub.
  • Rudbeckia 'goldstrum'. A cheery late summer flower that is lovely with echinacea purperea, Salvia 'May Night' and even golden rod.
  • Monarda 'gardenview scarlet'.  A cheery, red bee-balm that also benefits from frequent stem cuts. Anytime you cut out some foliage, air fow is increased and the risk of foliar disease is decreased.
  • Phlox paniculata 'David'. A  delicate white addition to early- and mid- summer arrangements. Tall stems are great for drama and the divine fragrance really fills a whole room.
  • Achillea 'Colorado' or 'Apricot Delight' or 'Sunny Seduction'. These are all well branched cultivars that produce an abundance of tall, wiry stems that are perfect for the vase. Early summer to mid summer blooming can be encouraged to bloom again in the fall with repeated pruning and cutting. Can be used in everlasting arrangements as well.

All of these shrubs and perennials can be found at our retail greenhouse in Hinesburg, but if you are not in the area, they are fairly common varieties, readily available in any well-stocked garden center. The varieties above are easy to grow and add beauty to your home with staggered bloom times, varying heights and light requirements. Let us know what some of your favorite perennials are for bouquets!And remember, if you are planning to grow your own flowers for an event (wedding?!), be flexible and have fun. Let the season and your climate guide you.

The Very Fragrance

Hope Johnson, whom many of you know from our retail greenhouse, brought me this plant this summer, while muttering something about "bringing coals to Newcastle" and said it was a red morning glory she had started from seed.....well here it, a few months later, and just a beautiful morning riser. It only opens for a short while, maybe if it had been planted with mroe of a south eastern exposure it would stay open longer, but I just love it. It is a dark pink, not a true red (this often happens with flower color description), and the flowers are about the size of a silver dollar. Should we grow and sell this next year?

These Kennebecs have provided me with the most satisfying harvest of my potato growing life. They were planted in the best soil in my garden, the site of an compost pile, and I did not even hill them. They were virtually maintenance free save for some periodic weeding.

This corn was transplanted in late July from seeds that had been started in mid-July. I somehow did not make time for corn any earlier this year. As Elise and I transplanted, I kept wishing for some October corn and a warm fall. Well wishes do come true: while the ears are not terribly big, the flavor is sweet and the texture is just right. This has been going into a fabulous corn salsa recipe I have been canning.

This makes it all worth the toil. I heard this line from a Rilke poem yesterday:

Is not impermanence the very fragrance of this world?

A good thought for autumnal transitions.

On Vacations and Onions

Last week, I came back from our ocean vacation, the one during which I  tried not to think about the garden for a week. This was preceded by some fast and furious hours hoeing, weeding, mulching, watering and generally preparing all plants for a week of neglect. Everyone survived, tomatoes are in high production mode, spitting out ripe orbs faster than I can use them; and the peppers and eggplant are jumping into harvest baskets, big and ripe. Potatoes are ready to be dug, garlic is cured after a couple of weeks hanging from the barn rafters. Onions are next on the harvest and cure list. I never seem to have enough onions to last through the winter even though I plant so many of them each spring. I think the culprit this year was poor bed preparation prior to planting. I try to get onions in as soon as possible in April, the same time that coincides with peak greenhouse production and growing wholesale orders. So yes, once again, the onions are on the small side because we planted them into some soil that was a little compacted and not rich enough in composted donkey manure.  What do I love most about gardening? Being able to say, "there is always next year."

Onions: harvest the onions by pulling up the whole plant once the tops die back and start to lie on the ground. It's best to pull them up on a sunny, breezy day so that they can spend a few hours drying in the sunshine and wind. Before night falls, on that same day, bring them inside, out of direct sunlight so that they may cure for a few weeks. The curing process is what turns the outside layer of the onion into the paper-like skin. This outer layer, when dried properly, is what gives onions their real staying power as a storage crop. It is best to place onions in an airy, dark place - a garage with airflow but no direct light, an attic with air circulation, a shed, or even an extra bedroom with the curtains drawn and the windows open. You can braid the onion tops, bundle them into bunches and hang them up from the ceiling or rafters. You can also leave them in a single layer on the floor, but they must be turned over at least once a week. Once the tops are completely dried and the outer layer is paper-like, you can pull off the tops and store the onions in baskets, brown paper bags (with slits cut for ventilation), milk crates, apple crates, or cardboard boxes. Again, the important thing is to make sure the onions are in a dark place and it is well ventilated. Basements are often too humid for onion storage. In the winter, onions can go down to the low thirties and be fine. Colder temperatures better for onion storage than warmth with the ideal storage temperature being 35 to 45 degrees F.