Harvesting savings

Classes offered for all levels of gardening

Nurseries around the Grand Valley plan to have you eating your home-grown vegetables this summer.

The faltering economy makes growing vegetables and herbs attractive to the pocketbook-conscious and green-thumbed consumer. Several local nurseries are increasing their stock for what they predict will be hot-selling products this season.

Bookcliff Gardens nursery retail store manager Dennis Hill said he plans to bump production of vegetable and herb plants by 15 to 20 percent.

“We think folks are going to be a lot more interested in it this spring. When the economy is like this, people tend to hunker down,” Hill said.

Mt. Garfield Greenhouse and Nursery will expand its vegetable and herb production at least 10 percent, and possibly more with popular vegetables such as tomatoes and peppers.

“I just think it’s going to be our selling item this year … with the economy going the direction it seems to be going,” said Lori Guillory, Mt. Garfield greenhouse grower.

Ann Barrett, owner and manager of Meadowlark Garden, has ordered more vegetable and herb plants than last year.

“We ordered about half again more as we had last year,” Barrett said. “We always sell out.”

Hill said seeds have been selling like hotcakes, and it’s not too early to start planting cool-season crops such as broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, lettuce and spinach.

“The cool-season crops, go for it. Most people are disappointed with their cool crops because they plant them too late,” Hill said.

He said when he grew cool crops he would plant in February, and, “I was picking lettuce and spinach in April when (others) were planting it.”

A couple nurseries already are open for people who can’t wait to get started. Or in the case of Bookcliff Gardens, 755 26 Road, it never closes for the off-season.

Bookcliff store hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Saturday. Longer store hours begin in March. Meadowlark Garden, 2259 Broadway, is open with early spring hours from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday. Longer hours begin in April.

Bookcliff Gardens will expand its offerings this year with a line of organic vegetables and herbs from a greenhouse in New Castle. Hill said sales of organic plants have grown year after year.

Hill also has seen an expansion of Potager gardens, the French equivalent to the English kitchen garden. He said it is “basically a kitchen garden with the eye to the aesthetic.”

Gardeners can select herb and vegetable varieties for their ornamental characteristics and plant flowers alongside them. It is a melding of the two.

“It’s about more than providing those great fresh herbs. Try to balance it a bit. Get the best of both worlds,” Hill said.

Meadowlark Garden offers classes for novice and seasoned gardeners. Classes may include first-time gardening, a perennials class for people wanting to plant flower gardens, one on container gardening, and a class to learn landscape design, which has been popular in the past.

“We’ll still have a lot of nice garden ornaments and furniture. We’re thinking hopefully that people will want to stay at home and enjoy their gardens more this year,” Barrett said.

Mt. Garfield Greenhouse & Nursery, 3162 F Road, opens March 10. Initial store hours will be 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday to Saturday.

Mt. Garfield seeds all of its own vegetables. It offers 31 varieties of tomatoes, 18 varieties of sweet peppers and 17 varieties of hot peppers. Guillory expects an increase in vegetable sales.

“Nationally I think the trends have shown that when people don’t travel so much, people spend more money on their yard because they spend more time at home. Flower and vegetable sales don’t drop off,” Guillory said.

Guillory added Mt. Garfield tries to have people who are trained and able to answer questions available to answer questions every day.

“People can come in here and knock themselves out and then go home and work really hard,”
she said.

Hill said there is no pass or fail in gardening. Just go for it, he said. It’s supposed to be fun.

“The biggest thing that novice gardeners have to overcome is failure,” he said. “I have killed more plants than everyone else put together. You try your best, and sometimes it just doesn’t work in a spot. You figure your way out.”


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