Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category

MelonWhat we call cantaloupes are really muskmelons. True cantaloupes are hard-shelled melons from Europe. Honeydew melons are different from muskmelons in that the skin is smooth, the flesh is green, and the scent is markedly different. Unlike muskmelons, honeydews can be stored for up to a month. Muskmelons stop ripening after being picked from the vine, but honeydews will continue to ripen a bit, though vine-ripening is best.

In cool areas, black plastic mulch can be used to warm the soil and keep weeds down. Melons use a lot of water while they are growing, but taste best if ripened under drier conditions. Set ripening fruit on a soft bed of straw, or a coffee can to keep moisture from damaging the fruit. Melons also grow well on a trellis, which saves space and increases airflow, helping to prevent fungal diseases.

When to Sow Outside: RECOMMENDED: 1 to 2 weeks after average last frost, and when soil temperature is at least 70 degrees F, ideally 70 degrees F to 90 degrees F.
As you probably know, at Bridgewater Farm Supply we have all you need to grow them… compost, fertilizer… whatever.

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Growing Onions

onion2Onion seeds should be started indoors (with the exception of the South) 10–12 weeks ahead of your average last spring frost, and transplanted out 4–6 weeks before your average last spring frost. Leeks and shallots also follow the onion rule – the bigger the transplant, the bigger the potential yield – so start these early (8 to 10 weeks before average last spring frost). Shallots are cold hardy and can also be transplanted out in the fall.

Growing onions from seed versus starter plants offers a wider variety, is less expensive, and gives you more control over growing conditions and inputs like fertilizer or pesticides. Plus, we are all itching to get our hands dirty again!

Tips for growing onions, leeks, and shallots

The ideal soil temperature range for best germination is 60°–85°F; although, they will germinate at 45°F, but it will take more time.
Onions are heavy feeders. Adjust your planting area according to soil test suggestions. Nitrogen is usually the first major nutrient to be used up, so usually a test suggests adding nitrogen and often, organic material (compost or ground leaves work well).

After hardening off, transplant onions 4″ deep. This may leave only a tiny bit of green poking up through the soil, but don’t worry, leaves will quickly catch up. Scallions and bunching onions can be grown densely; all others should be separated into individual plants and transplanted 3″–4″ apart.

Once greens are 8″–10″ tall, beds can be heavily mulched or hilled with soil to reduce weed pressure, conserve water, and in the case of leeks, blanch the stems (keep them white). Leeks should be hilled monthly to keep as much of the stalk white as possible.

With the exception of bulb-producing onions and shallots, the other onions discussed can be harvested whenever you like. Bunching onions and leeks are frost tolerant but should be harvested before a hard freeze. Many gardeners prefer to harvest leeks after a light frost, because plants produce sugars to avoid freezing, making them sweeter.

Bulbing Onions

Bulbing onions require special attention at sowing because their growth is triggered by day length (latitude). Understanding what varieties grow best in your area is the first step to success. Long-day varieties grow well in the north (above the 37th parallel), as they need 14 to 16 hours of daylight to trigger bulb formation. Try RingmasterYellow Sweet Spanish Utah, and Cipollini Borettana.

Quick Tips:
Long-day varieties grow well in the north (above the 37th parallel), as they need 14 to 16 hours of daylight to trigger bulb formation. Try Ringmaster, Yellow Sweet Spanish Utah, and Cipollini Borettana.

At Bridgewater Farm Supply we stock what you need to get it done: seeds, bulbs, fertilizers, soil, tools. . . it’s all here.

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Why Does Popcorn “Pop”?

A popcorn kernel is essentially a sealed container efficiently storing moisture, and the makings of a new plant. When enough heat is applied to a kernel, the internal moisture is turned into steam, and because steam takes up more space than water, the small shell cannot contain it, so it rapidly expands, creating a tiny, but powerful, “POP”.
Traditional popcorn is called butterfly or snowflake because it has “wings,” and pops into different shapes. Popcorn that pops large and round without a lot of extensions is called mushroom popcorn. This is the kind that is often glazed or coated and sold as flavored, gourmet popcorn.

Popcorn Diagram

Try Botanical Interests three varieties! Botanical Interests is one of our seed suppliers.

Robust Pop 400MR Popcorn: Electric orange kernels pop to a large, preferred round shape for kettle corn.
Dakota Black Popcorn: You’ll pop over these gorgeous, jewel-like, blackberry-colored kernels! Save the ears for autumn décor.
Strawberry Popcorn: These petite strawberry-shaped ruby red ears are a colorful and quaint addition to a fall centerpiece
Corn Strawberry
Corn Robust
Dakota Black

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Spring is struggling to arrive and is bringing the first flowers of the year! After the nastiness of this last New England winter, the early daffodils and a rainbow of tulips are most welcome.

The secret to keep spring flowering bulbs producing year after year is a spring feeding of Bulb Tone.

When planted, bulbs are packed full of nutrients to last all winter. Come spring, they have used all the food they have stored.

In spring your spring bulbs — tulips and daffodils included — are exhausted and starving even if they don’t look like it!

Fertilize spring bulbs after the plants have bloomed and are about 6 inches high.

Use an organic plant or bulb food that is low in nitrogen and has a higher amount of phosphorous. Nitrogen is the first of three numbers on fertilizer bags, — phosphorus is the second number on the bag. For example, Bulb Tone has a 3-5-3 Nitrogen- Phosphorous-Potassium ratio, which is exactly what bulbs need.

The advantage of using a plant food made specifically for bulbs is that it provides a complete feeding. Your bulbs will love Espoma Organic Bulb-tone. This specially formulated bulb food is fortified with microbes to create a healthy soil and environment for bulbs. Plus, of course, it is pet and child friendly.

Now to boost spring bulbs, apply Bulb-tone at a rate of 4 lbs. per 60 square feet. Simply sprinkle the organic bulb food around the bulbs to ensure they come back even stronger  next year.

One thing to remember – leaves on flowering bulbs produce food, and keep bulbs well fed throughout winter.  So embrace your bulbs’ leaves! They add a lovely pop of glossy greenery to your landscape. A light layer of mulch keeps those leaves functioning longer.

Only cut bulbs’ leaves when they begin yellowing or showing signs of decay. For tulips and daffodils, this can happen as late as July.

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Ah, ’tis spring and the gardens and lawns are coming to life again. Large trucks are coming daily to get our loam and compost mix to haul off to places that need it to add to sandy soil in the many Cape Cod and Southeast Mass. towns. We are proud of our soil because we know it has a wide mix of organic sources that add humus. And that, not just “dirt”, is what makes for good plant growth.

For building a lawn or for garden soil starting with a high organic content in soil provides better aeration, good, natural nutrients and better fertilization hold. At some garden stores or national chain stores (or at guys who just sell “dirt cheap” from a pile by the side of the road) when you buy loam you are buying a nearly dead soil product. It was scraped off some used dirt patch and piled up. It’s old, tired and not ready to grow seedlings with any sort of vigor. Some of us older folks know that feeling well 🙂

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Small girl picks dandelions.

Tired of weeds? We sell weed killers and mulch, but not this weed killer

It’s the peak time for mulching. We see it every year. Folks want the place looking great for Memorial Day. The earlybirds have been out on cold days to clean up, mulch the beds, lime and “Step 1” fertilize the lawn. They’ve already mowed a bunch of times. Most of us, though, are procrastinators. We mean well, but it takes some good weather when we can’t resist being outdoors, or the pressure of the long holiday weekend with its approaching visitors (and perhaps a nagging spouse?)  to get us out raking, fertilizing, and spreading mulch. Besides, the Celtics and the Bruins were in the playoffs, and the Sox are playing every day now.

All right, so maybe you picked up some fallen branches between sports periods and maybe even raked.  But… soon the weather will turn hot and steamy, making weed control tasks much more unpleasant.  Get out there now! (or get your spouse out there.  Apply Step 2 Weed and Feed and rake that mulch and add some more where needed.  Seems every time I do that the Red Sox go on a streak. No, really. Don’t wait ’til the All Star break. It’s too hot then.

Call us now at 508-697-0357 or buy some mulch online. You’ll be glad you did.

Bridgewater Farm Supply is in Bridgewater, MA, proudly part of Red Sox nation.

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Why use straw mulch?

Photo by Sebastian Kasten (Own work) [GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

Don’t mess with my straw bale!

Straw  provides a lightweight airy mulch,  which lets rain through, smothers weeds, and adds organic matter to the soil, improving its structure. It is a cheap mulch compared to many commercial mulches.  Hay mulch is cheaper but straw is the proper choice because it has few if any seeds.  Straw also doesn’t use up as much nitrogen in the soil as some wood-based mulches such as wood chips. Straw also works well on steep slopes where erosion might be a problem. You can “crimp it in” to the soil using a shovel.

Straw, with its light color, reflects light to your plants and helps to keep heat from the soil, keeping soil temperature steady… while of course doing the main job of a mulch–conserving moisture.

Straw just “feels good” in a garden. It generally stays clean-looking during the season and feels good under foot. Also — is there a better “natural” garden seat than a straw bale?

Problems using straw mulch

Many people find that various tunneling garden pests like moles, shrews, and voles love a good straw mulch, too.  Some of these critters are vegetarians and may enjoy feasting on your tulip bulbs or other off-limit foods.

Using straw mulch

Best practice involves applying a new layer of straw mulch in the summer for heat protection and moisture retention. Use gloves and pull 3-inch-thick sections off the bale, fluff them up and apply them. Keep the mulch layer “fluffy” for best results. Many people find a thin layer of newspaper added underneath works well.

In the spring the straw will have begun to decompose and can be pulled back to allow the soil to warm. When the soil becomes workable you can work any soft, rotted straw into the soil along with fertilizer.

If bought in the fall (maybe as part of your autumn decoration) it can be applied and left after on vacant beds or where rodent damage is not a threat.  Otherwise let the straw bales begin to rot and they will be fine to apply in late spring.

Hey, if you’re in Massachusetts, come visit us!

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