Tag Archive | National Garden Bureau

2017 is the Year of the Brassica!

Reposted with permission of the National Garden Bureau:


2017 is the Year of the Brassica!
Year of the Brassica

The Brassica family of plants is one of the most prolific genera of vegetables in the world, enjoyed by countless generations in many forms and playing a starring role in many culturally significant recipes. Brassica vegetables, including bok choy, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, kale, kohlrabi, rutabagas, and turnips are popular around the world today and have been a major food source for as long as anyone can remember. The Chinese philosopher Confucius, before dying in 479 B.C. wrote over 300 traditional songs describing life in the Chou dynasty. Many of the songs were agriculturally themed and named over 40 foods of the time, including cabbage! Perhaps current songwriters should devote more lyrics to healthy eating and the joys of agriculture!

Also known as cole crops, derived from the Latin word caulis, denoting the stem or stalk of a plant, brassica provide plenty of nutrition (vitamin C and soluble fiber) and healthy doses of glucosinolates, a compound that helps reduce the risk of various cancers of the digestive tract.  In addition, red Brassicas provide mega-doses of Anthocyanin (a powerful anti-oxidant) at bargain prices. Some glucosinolates have a bitter flavor that makes them unpalatable to some people.  Modern breeding has replaced some of the bitter glucosinolates with neutral-flavored ones so that all palates can enjoy Brassicas.

To celebrate the Year of the Brassica, try one of these Brassica recipes from Chef Jonathan Bardzik
Read more about all the different types of Brassica including Broccoli, Brussell Sprouts, Cabbage, Pak Choi, Cauliflower, Collards, Kale, Kohlrabi, Radish, Rutabaga, Turnip.
See pictures of all the different types of Brassica.
New Varieties from our members:
Brussels Sprouts Dagan
Brussels Sprouts Dagan
Cabbage Caraflex F1
Cabbage Caraflex F1
Kale Prizm F1
Kale Prizm F1
Kohlrabi Konan F1
Kohlrabi Konan F1
Radish Sweet Baby F1
Radish Sweet Baby F1
Radish Fiesta Blend
Radish Fiesta Blend
The National Garden Bureau recognizes and thanks, Jan van der Heide from Bejo Seed as the author, and Heather Kibble from Sakata Home Grown as a contributor to this fact sheet.

This brassica fact sheet is provided as an educational service of the National Garden Bureau. There are no limitations on the use. Please credit National Garden Bureau. Please consider our NGB member companies as authoritative sources for information. Click on direct links to their websites by going to ngb.org and searching our Member Directory. Gardeners looking for seed, bulb and plant sources, please select “Shop Our Members”.

Photos can be obtained from the NGB website. National Garden Bureau would like to thank our members for providing the photos for this feature. Please credit the National Garden Bureau anytime one of these images is used.

2017 is the Year of the Pansy

2017 is the Year of the Pansy!
Year of the Begonia

Pansies are such a friendly-faced flower! But until the 19th century most people considered them a weed. Today, pansies are a hybrid plant cultivated from those wildflowers in Europe and western Asia. Much of the collection and cultivation of pansies can be attributed to plantsmen and women in the UK and Europe more than 200 years ago. For example, Lady Mary Elizabeth Bennet, daughter of the Earl of Tankerville, and her gardener cross-bred a wide variety of Viola tricolor (common name “Heartsease”) and showcased their pansies to the horticultural world in 1813. Further experiments around the same time eventually grew the class to over 400 garden pansy varieties.

Garden pansies (Viola x wittrockiana) are a mixture of several species, including Viola tricolor. Oftentimes the names “pansy”, “viola”, and “violet” are interchangeable. However modern pansies are classified by the American Violet Society as having large-flowered blooms with two slightly overlapping upper petals, two side petals, and a single bottom petal, with a slight beard in its center. They’re considered annual bedding plants, used for garden decoration during cooler planting seasons. Pansies come in a rainbow of colors: from crisp white to almost black, and most all colors in between. They are also a great addition to your spring or fall vegetable garden as they are edible and pair well with lettuces. They can also be candied and used to decorate sweets or other dishes.

Read more about the history of pansies here.

Most pansies fall into a few categories: Large (3 to 4 in.), Medium (2 to 3 in.) Multiflora (1 to 2 in.) and a new category of Trailing pansy. Some modern large-flowered pansy series are Majestic Giant Mix, bred by Sakata (a 1966 All-America Selections Winner); Delta, bred by Goldsmith Seeds; and Matrix, bred by PanAmerican Seed. Medium-sized pansy series include Crown by Sakata and Imperial from Takii & Co., Ltd. (Imperial Blue won an All-America Selections in 1975). Multiflora pansy series like Maxim and Padparadja won AAS awards in the early 1990s. New on the scene for hanging baskets and ground cover are WonderFall from Syngenta, and Cool Wave® pansies, from PanAmerican Seed – the makers of Wave® petunias. These Trailing pansies spread over 2 ft. wide and overwinter in fall gardens. Today’s garden pansy varieties can fill any sunny space – large or small, hanging overhead or growing underfoot – with soft fragrance and happy blooms.

Starting Your Pansies From Seed:
To germinate, start your pansy seeds indoors with a soilless mixture (this helps prevent disease on the seedlings). Plant seed 1/8-in. deep with a light cover and a gentle watering. Pansies prefer darkness for germination. The media temperature should be 60-65°F and keep air temperature at 70-75°F. The media should stay damp (covering with a plastic wrap or damp newspaper will help retain humidity. A fine spray or mister can be added if the media dries. Germination occurs in 10-20 days. When shoots appear, remove covering and move the flat to a brightly lit but cool room to continue to grow. Continue to grow cool. Separate seedlings into larger containers after two sets of leaves appear. Begin to feed with diluted plant food.

For Transplants or Purchased Finished Plants:
space your pansies 6 to 10 in. apart in a well-drained and fertile soil location. The best location is an area that receives morning sun. Adding granular or time-release nutrition to the soil is encouraged, especially for trailing pansies as this increases their vigor and number of blooms. Offer plenty of water at planting and during their adjustment period to help establish roots and minimize stress. Mulching can help retain moisture and reduce any weeds that may compete with your plants. Pansies planted in the spring will enjoy the warm days and cool nights of the season. Most V. wittrockiana will begin to diminish or go out of flower as nighttime temperatures begin to rise in the summer. When planted in the north for fall outdoor decorating, pansies will enjoy a shorter but colorful season of blooms and in many cases will overwinter to pop up again the following spring. Southern gardeners often use pansies as their winter color and enjoy them all season long.

For more information on Pansies, please see our NGB website Year of the Pansy page!

The National Garden Bureau recognizes and thanks, PanAm Seed as the author of this fact sheet. This fact sheet is provided as an educational service of the National Garden Bureau. There are no limitations on the use. Please credit the National Garden Bureau. Photos can be obtained from the NGB website in the area labeled “Image Downloads.” National Garden Bureau would like to thank our members for providing the photos for this feature. Please credit the National Garden Bureau anytime one of these images is used.

Pansy Inspire Plus Beaconsfield
Pansy Inspire Plus Beaconsfield
Pansy Colossus Tricolor Imperial
Pansy ColossusTricolor Imperial
Pansy Nature Mulberry Shades
Pansy Nature Mulberry Shades
Pansy King Henry Viola
Pansy King Henry 
Pansy Majestic Giants II Blue Jean
Pansy Majestic Giants II Blue Jeans
Pansy Majestic Giants II Mix
Pansy Majestic Giants II Mix
Pansy Matrix Solar Flare
Pansy Matrix Solar Flare
Pansy Panola Primrose
Pansy Panola Primrose
Pansy Cool Wave Morpho
Want to plant something new this year?

Check out the latest in new flowers and edibles from our NGB Members!

Pansy Cool Wave Morpho delivers easy spreading color in the ground and containers and is perfect for hanging baskets.

#newfor2017  #plantsomethingnew

For more information: Contact Diane Blazek at National Garden Bureau by e-mail.

Founded in 1920, the National Garden Bureau is a non-profit organization whose mission is to disseminate basic instructions for backyard gardeners and those who want to garden, that will inspire them to spend more time outdoors, enjoying all nature has to offer. 

AAS Introduces New Winners for the 2017 Garden Season

Reposted with permission of All-American Selections

16 New AAS Winners for Your 2017 Garden!
Celosia Asian Garden
2017 National Winner, Ornamental Seed 
Dianthus Interspecific Supra Pink F1
2017 National Winner, Ornamental Seed
Fennel Antares F1
2017 National Winner, Edible
Geranium Calliope® Medium Dark Red
2017 National Winner, Ornamental Vegetative
Okra Candle Fire F1
2017 National Winner, Edible
Pea Patio Pride
2017 Regional Winner – Southeast, Edible 
Penstemon barbatus Twizzle Purple F1
2017 Regional Winner – Heartland and Southeast, Edible 
Pepper Mad Hatter F1
2017 National Winner, Edible
Squash Winter Honeybaby F1
2017 Regional Winner – Heartland, Edible
Tomato Chef’s Choice Yellow F1
2017 Regional Winner – Southeast, Edible
Tomato Patio Choice Yellow F1
2017 National Winner, Edible
Verbena EnduraScape™ Pink Bicolor
2017 National Winner, Ornamental Vegetative
Vinca Mega Bloom Orchid Halo F1
2017 National Winner, Ornamental Seed
Vinca Mega Bloom Pink Halo F1
2017 National Winner, Ornamental Seed
Watermelon Mini Love F1
2017 National Winner, Edible
Zinnia Profusion Red
2017 National Winner, Ornamental Seed
All-America Selections is the only non-profit trialing organization for plants that demonstrate great garden performance throughout North America. Each variety was trialed in North America by professional, independent, volunteer judges during one growing season. Each entry was trialed next to comparison varieties that are considered best-in-class among those currently on the market. Only the best performers are declared AAS Winners.
You can purchase AAS Winners for the 2017 gardening season through these mail-order companies as well as garden centers throughout North America.

More information on these winners and all AAS Winners can be found on our AAS website.  

Perennial Plant Association’s Perennial Plant of the Year for 2017

Reposted with permission of the National Garden Bureau:

Asclepias tuberosa
2017 Perennial Plant of the Year™
A great pollinator plant!
Butterfly Weed – A North American Native Plant
Asclepias tuberosa are butterfly magnets. Flowers are a nectar source for many butterflies and leaves are a source for the monarch butterfly caterpillars.

Additionally, butterfly weed is subject to no serious insect or disease problems. Deer usually avoid butterfly weed.

Hardiness: USDA Zones 4 to 9

Light: Butterfly weed grows best in full sun

Soil: Grows best in well-drained soils and it is drought tolerant

Uses: Butterfly weed is a perfect selection for full-sun meadow or prairie gardens as well as formal to semi-formal urban gardens. Flower arrangers find the plants make long-lasting cut flowers.

For more information about Asclepias tuberosa, visit the Perennial Plant Association

Founded in 1920, the National Garden Bureau is a non-profit organization whose mission is to disseminate basic instructions and inspirations for backyard gardeners and those who want to garden; encouraging them to spend more time outdoors enjoying all nature has to offer. 


Still Time to Plant your Spring Flowering Bulbs in Containers

Reprinted with permission of the National Garden Bureau:


Still Time to Plant your Spring Flowering Bulbs in Containers!

Do you still have some spring bulbs that haven’t made it into the ground yet?  Don’t despair, you can still plant them in pots and enjoy the spring display!

Spring Flowering Bulbs are still available at great deals from many of our NGB Members including:
American Meadows
Brent and Becky’s Bulbs
Longfield Gardens
McClure & Zimmerman
W. Atlee Burpee and Company

Spring Bulbs in Containers Experiment
Ever wonder about how to overwinter your spring bulbs that you plant in containers? Well, here at NGB we did a little experiment to see just what would happen if you keep the planted container outside (somewhat protected), or in an attached or unattached garage.  Check out the video on how we did it and we will let you know how it turns out next spring…

Daffodils, a perennial spring favorite, are easy to plant, require little care and continue to multiply each year!

Bringing the spring “sunshine” to your garden with daffodils planted for early to late spring flowering.

Find out more about the Year of the Daffodil at our NGB website.

Great Gift Ideas for Gardeners🎁

Great Gift Ideas for Gardeners

The garden-lovers on your gift list are sure to be pleased with any of the nifty gift ideas below. No need to look any further than these National Garden Bureau members who have a garden’s worth full of great inspirations. To shop all of NGB’s retail members, click here.

Chef’s Garden Gift Set from Harris Seeds

Moon Mini Magnet Succulent Garden, Set of 3 from Gardeners Supply

Love to Garden Ornament from Burpee

TubTrug from Johnnys Selected Seeds

ProPlugger Planting Tool

Gift certificates are a much-appreciated idea for gardeners dreaming about their 2017 seed purchases!

Brent and Becky’s Bulbs
Cobrahead Tools
Edmunds Roses
Jung Seed
McClure & Zimmerman
NatureHills Nursery
Longfield Gardens
Proven Winners
RH Shumway
Roots & Rhizomes
Select Seeds
Totally Tomatoes

Vermont Bean Seed Co.

Cottage Bee House from Park Seed

Automatic Watering System for Pots from American Meadows

Book on Monarchs from St. Lynn’s Press

Fermenting Crocks from Territorial Seed

Kitchen Linen Towels from Sustainable Seed

Time to Plant Your Garlic!

“Dear Mertie Mae,

What do I need to know about growing garlic?   Just the basics.

Thank you,



Hi George,

Thank you for your question regarding growing garlic.  Here are a few basic points to keep in mind:

1.  Where to buy
The first thing you need to figure out is if you want to buy organic or conventional grown and heirloom or non-heirloom types.  Some places sell great garlic and others not so much.  I personally recommend Seed Saver Exchange (get your order in when you buy your garden seeds!!! They sell out insanely fast!), and Territorial. Additionally, Botanical Interests (they have garlic assortments that give you a bulb of a few different varieties), Burpees, Dominion Seed House, Harris Seed, Jung Seed (order early or you will have a slightly mushy bulb based on my experiences), and Cook’s Gardens all receive high ratings on websites like the National Garden Bureau and such, but I’ve found that their quality and selection aren’t as good as SSE and Territorial.  There are many other places that offer garlic too, but as I haven’t tried them, I can’t say for sure if they are worth spending your time with.  If you are in the north, plant hard neck varieties (require winter chilling). If you are in the south, grow soft neck varieties.

2.  When to plant
Most experts say that in areas that get a hard frost before winter, it is recommended that you plant your garlic 6-8 weeks before that frost. While this may work in places other than Wisconsin, I have found that planting my garlic that early makes it not so hardy come winter.  I usually plant mine here in West Central Wisconsin (and in Central or Southern WI when I lived there back when) between October 1-14.  This allows the cloves to get established, but not spend a ton of energy growing.  They need that energy to get through winter!  And it works — even the old timers around use the rule of thumb to plant on Columbus Day (October 12).  If you are in a southern area with no winter, February or March is a better time to plant.

Garlic prefers well-drained soil in a sunny spot with lots of organic matter. It’s a rather narrow plant, so I like to plant it in double rows that are about 6-8 inches apart and then alternate (zig-zag) the plants down the rows to give them a little more space.  Plant the cloves 6-8 inches apart (12 inches if growing Elephant Garlic).  Garlic should be planted 3 inches deep.  Fertilize as you would onions.

3.  To scape or not?

Garlic Scapes
Trimming the tops of hardneck garlic (garlic scapes) is often recommended… but I don’t do it.  I’ve found that it never fails that if you trim them, there will be a rainstorm or heavy dew and the tops will get weird or you will get disease.  Also, letting them mature gives you small bulb-like cloves that you can put into the ground at harvest time and grow for next year’s crop (which I suspect is why the seed companies say cut them off — less profit for them if you let them grow!)

As long as you are properly tending your garlic with water and fertilizer, the bulbs will grow just as big.  If you decide to cut them off, they are edible.

4.  When to harvest
Harvest time depends on when you plant, but the key is to look for the garlic leaves to turn brown. Unlike onions or shallots, they don’t just fall over.  In Northern climates, harvesting will probably be in July or August, depending on the variety. In Southern climates, it will depend on your planting date. Either way, stop watering so the outside skin can dry out a bit and harvest within one week of matuity.  Waiting too long will allow the outer skins to disintegrate.

I hope this information helps you out.  If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask!



© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.