Category Archives: Garden Centers/Seed Suppliers

Give it your best shot …

In the greenhouse at Staehly Farms

In the greenhouse at Staehly Farms

Customers of Staehly Farms, in East Haddam, CT, already know what a welcome addition their bedding plants and fruit and vegetable stand has been for customers of this family run fresh-cut Christmas tree farm.  Their sweet corn is outstanding and they offer a great selection of fresh produce from late spring through final frost.

Staehly Farms, East Haddam, CT

Staehly Farms, East Haddam, CT

This year Staehly Farms is trying to spark a little competition among their customers by running a garden photo contest.  What are they looking for?  New or refurbished, creative and colorful gardens created with the help of some Staehly Farms plants.

Their customers can submit one photo per household, emailed  to by July 17. Then, from July 20 through August 31, all submissions adhering to the contest rules, will be posted on Staehly Farms’ website where all customers can cast one vote for their favorite.  Prizes include – you guessed it – gift certificates to Staehly Farms.


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Composting Lesson

Any Connecticut gardener looking for down and dirty, hands-on advice on composting should consider heading to Ballek’s Garden Center in East Haddam this Saturday, May 2 by 10 am … directions here.  Ballek’s is a family owned nursery and landscaping business with owners and staff who offer a wealth of information to anyone who asks.  I rarely leave Ballek’s without learning something, getting an idea on how to use a plant, or feeling invigorated.  Any seminar they offer is likely to be entertaining and informative.

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Wander and watch

Observation is one of the key tools I use as a gardener.  Watching a plant’s growth or lack thereof, adds to the knowledge and understanding both seasoned and aspiring green-thumbers compile about their surroundings.  The saga of my disappearing-reappearing crocus serves as an example.  Years ago I planted crocus on either side of my front steps knowing I would enjoy their happy blooms in early spring.  The crocus rapidly multiplied to two good sized clumps.  Then last summer when the vole population exploded I noted the consistently uplifted, tunneled through soil on one side of the steps.  I would firm down the soil and a few days later tunnels reappeared indicating a frequent vole hang-out.  I knew my crocus had suffered and, as expected, this spring brought no blooms on one side and few on the other side of the steps.  Unexpectedly though, I found single crocus blooms popping up in other locations – a welcome surprise, but not one created by forgetting where I planted since I have not planted crocus bulbs for years.  Rather, I suspected voles did some underground re-arranging as they transported their food (my bulbs) from one location to another.  Therefore, any crocus replanting in these locations should involve a barrier (such as metal screening) that will prevent underground vole penetration.  Had I not paid attention I might have replanted and re-lost the crocus … in essence, spending hard earned cash on crashing stock.


New gardeners can obtain a wealth of information simply by observing neighbors’ or friends’ gardens and by picking their brains.  In early spring, those plants first poking out of the ground or leafing out are often the hardiest – they don’t mind the cold or even a light snow.  Those that come up later or leaf out later do so because their leaves like warmer weather.  New gardeners can also take garden center walk-abouts to observe what plants they offer, when they are available for sale, and where they are placed for sale.  Reputable garden centers will not risk losing their stock by placing plants in open areas too early … if caught off guard they will have to cover tender plants to protect them against a late frost.  So if a particular garden center plant suits you, yet it is stored under cover when other plants are outside, take this as a hint that this plant might like warmer temperatures.  Likewise, when you see garden center plants stored in shade or under sun-protective cover, suspect these plants may not like full sun.  Ask the staff questions.  A local, established garden center should be experienced with local conditions, have local knowledge, and be more than willing to impart local advice.  If they are not, then move on and find one that does.

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Great day to start my blog.  Finally ordered seeds … now anticipation of crisp snow peas and fresh picked lettuce intermingle with visions of morning glories greeting me at sunrise.  Though snow stubbornly clings to the front lawn, and more is forecast still, I’m warmed by knowing Spring is on its way.

With the aim of using regional suppliers, the bulk of my seeds come from Pinetree Garden Seeds, a family run company in Maine.  They offer large selections of all types of seeds at a very reasonable price, allowing me to order a good amount without feeling I have broken the budget.  I also ordered, from Kitchen Garden Seedsin Bantam, CT,  some bush beans, a lettuce, and peas, as the specific variety descriptions suggest they may work in well in targeted spaces (more on this in a later post).

My mail is heavily laden with nursery and seed catalogues from all over the U.S., but I tend to buy from those within the northeast … just a small way to support local/regional businesses and minimize delivery distances.

And on a completely different note, today is Valentine’s Day … a day so many feel obliged to act upon feelings of love.  This day often puzzles me … if you love someone, why wait for a ‘holiday’ to let them know.  Life’s too short … remind your loved ones – every day – by actions and words – how much they mean to you.

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Filed under Garden Centers/Seed Suppliers, Gardening, Seasons, Seeds, Uncategorized