UNH Researcher and Extension State Specialist Becky Sidemen joins us to discuss proven tips and solutions for selecting the right seed varieties and developing your garden plan. We'll also explain how to get an accurate soil temperature, what to consider

planting seeds

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Winter is the ideal time to reflect on last year’s garden and plan for the year ahead, but when seed catalogs start arriving it can be overwhelming. In this episode of Granite State Gardening,  New Hampshire Agricultural Experiment Station researcher  Becky Sideman, Emma Erler and Nate Bernitz share and discuss proven tips and solutions for selecting the right varieties and developing your garden plan. This was a long conversation, packed with experience and insights to help make 2021 your most successful and rewarding gardening season yet.

Featured question: What is the best way to get an accurate soil temperature reading and what's the ideal temperature for planting a variety of vegetables

Featured plant segment: nasturiums, Tropaeolum

Closing gardening tip: Garden fencing considerations

Connect with us at @askunhextension on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and subscribe to the monthly Granite State Gardening newsletter.

Email us questions, suggestions and feedback at gsg.pod@unh.edu

Background Reading: 



Transcribed by https://otter.ai

Nate B  00:00

Greetings Granite State gardeners. I'm Nate Bernitz co-host with Emma Erler of the Granite State Gardening podcast a production of UNH extension. This episode features an incredible conversation with the University of New Hampshire's Dr. Becky Seidman. And as part one of two because we decided to split our interview into two episodes. Part Two will be released in a couple weeks, and this episode part one we focus on understanding different kinds of seeds and vegetable garden planning. In part two, we'll take a deep dive into understanding and utilizing the wealth of information on seed packets, and within seed catalogs, physical and online, and how to use that information to take your garden planning to the next level. Dr. Becky Sidman is our first guest on the Granite State Gardening podcast, a colleague of ours at UNH Extension. In addition to Becky's work as a sustainable horticulture state specialist at UNH extension. She's a professor and coordinator of undergraduate programs in sustainable agriculture and food systems within the Department of Agriculture, Nutrition and Food Systems at the University of New Hampshire, and a researcher with the New Hampshire Agricultural Experiment Station. Becky's research emphasizes vegetable and berry crop production, including season extension practices for Northern New England. Let's get into part one of our conversation with Becky Sideman.

Becky, Emma, I am so glad to be sitting here talking with you today about one of my favorite topics and certainly a timely topic as we're getting our seed catalogs in the mail, snows on the ground. And we're just yearning to be outside and warm weather back in our gardens. And seed catalogs, of course, have so much promise the the new varieties, the exciting varieties, all the benefits, the solutions to last year's problems. They're all in that seed catalog. But I think it makes sense to start with a little bit of science as we sometimes do an extension. So Becky, was wondering if you can demystify a few terms, the big two categories, when it comes to seeds, open pollinated and hybrid, what are we talking about? They're

Becky S  02:25

Sure, I agree, this is my favorite time of year with the same catalog start coming in. And we get to spend our time poring through them.

Emma E  02:34

Basically, an open pollinated variety is one where you can save the seeds, and they come out looking something like what you started with. And so it's basically an inbred thing that you can keep saving, and selecting, and so forth. A hybrid is a variety, that's the result of crossing to parents that might or might not look anything like each other. And as a result, it's pretty uniform, and usually has pretty predictable characteristics. But if you saved it seed, it wouldn't come out. Like the thing you started with. Am I in your experience when you're looking at a seed catalog or a seed packet for that matter? Are they actually going to say open pollinated? or hybrid? Are they going to have other terminology as well? And how does that all fit together? Yeah, I'm glad you asked that Nate, a lot of times that information is listed right on the seed packet. it'll it'll sometimes say open pollinated, will often say is heirloom, which all heirloom varieties are open pollinated varieties. They've just been around for a while, like they've been around probably since 1950. Or or earlier. So these are things that people have been have been saving the seeds from for four generations. Typically, what you will see to on on seed packets is an indication if a seed is hybrid, so it'll either say hybrid on the label or it will often say f1. I personally sometimes go for the hybrid varieties just because they do have some sometimes stronger characteristics might have a more robust plant might there might be some sort of resistance to a disease, let's say, and I don't try to save seeds myself. So that's perfectly acceptable for my garden.

Nate B  04:30

And Becky, you're coming into this with several perspectives because not only are you an avid gardener, but you're a researcher and searcher and you know you have extensive experience in plant breeding. So for you saving seeds isn't just, you know, a hobby or a pastime. It's something that has been essential to your work. So I'm curious, wearing your various hats but maybe especially your hat as a garden. What do you see as the pro and cons, when you're evaluating broadly what category you're aiming for?

Becky S  05:09

That's an awesome question. As a gardener, I tend to actually grow a whole mix of things, I grow a mix of modern hybrids to new open pollinated varieties to much older varieties and heirloom varieties as well. So it really just depends on the particular characteristics I'm looking for. And the particular crop we're dealing with. I do have some species where I like to save my seeds from year to year. And for those I'm using primarily, heirloom open pollinated varieties that I'm saving. But I also have some crops where I want the latest best disease resistant and the most vigorous varieties, and the latest coolest hybrids, and so I have a real mix of all of these things in my garden. Okay, so you're not putting all your seeds in one basket, you're, you're diversifying, trying to, you know, get the best of all worlds. I

Nate B  06:16

I know this is a little nerdy, but that we're used to that we're okay with that. I was wondering if you could just before we move on from this topic, can you actually explain why seeds would be open pollinated? Like what that actually means? Why something might be a hybrid? What, what results of that? Like? What is the actual science behind these terms? And what are the different ways that plants in the garden actually are pollinated? Like for something that's open pollinated? How is it actually getting pollinated? For something that's hybrid? Where are those seeds actually coming from?

Becky S  07:00

Oh, that's a super awesome question. And we could get really deep in it. But I'll keep it kind of, I'll give sort of an a general general response here. So it all comes down to the biology of the plant. So some plants some plants need to be pollinated by other members, other individuals, sort of like, you know, we do as humans. And so for example, squashes need, they have female and male flowers. And that female flower cannot be pollinated, except by another flower, a male flower. And so it sort of facilitates and encourages cross pollination. Lots of plants that are open pollinated, don't have that reproductive strategy. And instead, they can pollinate themselves. And they do so very cheerfully. And so a plant that does very well with open pollinated varieties is probably usually one that naturally self pollinate or naturally in breeds. So you could kind of see that each of these strategies has advantages. The advantage of outcrossing and needing to be pollinated by somebody else, is that you're always bringing in new genetic diversity. And that tends to be kind of good for adapting to new chain, you know, changing environments, and so forth. But on the flip side, you have to have another individual nearby. And if you self pollinate, you can just do this all on your own. So you're kind of you know, you're a little more independent in that way. So it really just comes down to the fact that different plants have different reproductive strategies. Basically, that's what it comes down to.

Nate B  08:56

And it's nice because the seed packets while it's not actually going into the biology, by knowing whether something's open pollinated or hybrid, you're actually getting some of that information, you know, if you if you understand this topic, and of course, now we all do, thanks to that wonderful explanation. So last week, Emma and I were getting ready for this episode. And we started to get into this, we're like, Okay, so we're going to talk about the science and then we're going to go right into the seed catalogs and packets and how to, like make these decisions. But we both realized, actually, before you get into all that there's a lot of planning that you need to do and so this time of year is not only exciting for circling what you want and your seed catalogs and, but it's also really important for planning. So I was wondering, What are you thinking is the most important checklist of pieces you want to get lined up before you even start thinking about what you're going to order.

Emma E  10:05

I guess for me, it kind of depends on on where you're at in your gardening career. If you've never garden before, this is going to be your first year, starting a vegetable garden or even a flower garden for that matter. First, you really need to assess your site. So assess your your yard, wherever you're planning to put this garden to make sure that it's actually going to be appropriate for what you want to grow. If you've been gardening for years and years, and you have this really bright, sunny, you know, full sun spot that's well drained, then, that part, you've probably already figured out the space where you're going to be putting that actual garden. But if you're brand new, first making sure that you have a good spot, a spot with that that good well drained soil with with bright sun is really important, it's also going to be important to determine how much you're going to grow. I think a lot of times when you've never garden before, it's easy to get really carried away. In the spring, when you're starting seedlings, maybe even when you're let's say tilling the plot where your garden is going to be the first time. So trying to have a real honest, look at how much energy you're going to have to actually maintain that garden. Because I think one way that's one really easy way to get frustrated and not come back to gardening is if you start too big, too fast. And then you don't end up having that much success either. Because you can't you can't keep up with the maintenance, whether it's watering, weeding, weeding can definitely be a big problem the first year that you start a garden, or you know, any year going down the line, depending on what weeds you're dealing with, or you might even have pest issues. So have a realistic look at what you're actually going to be able to accomplish.

Nate B  11:55

So I guess as a gardener, you want to plan for both the best and worst case scenarios to some extent. So best case scenario, everything you plant thrives, and you end up with a huge haul. So your options are consume what you can, if you're a canner preserver, you're doing that. Maybe you're giving stuff away to family and friends, of course, that there's that time every year where everybody's trying to unload all their zucchini, and there, there's these predictable different times of year where if you actually succeed, you're really overwhelmed potentially by all you have. So you should plan for that. And also plan for what happens if things don't go your way has diseases, drought, whatever your obstacles are that that you're okay,

Emma E  12:43

absolutely. And I would say to you know, if you have any knowledge of gardening, just knowing that some crops are going to take a bit more effort and work than others, you know, something like a tomato is actually going to require a fair amount of work to get it to be productive, you're going to need to stake that plant in some way, you're probably going to have to do some sort of pest management and whether it's insects or diseases, and you're going to want to be around to harvest too. So that's that in my mind is going to potentially be a little bit harder than just putting in a row of radishes.

Nate B  13:25

Today's featured question comes from a virtual panel we offered in January, which included Becky as well as reps from local seed companies, unexciting vegetable varieties. The question was, what is the best way to get an accurate soil temperature reading and what's the ideal temperature for planting a variety of vegetables. Let's start with getting an accurate soil temperature rating and why that's important. gardeners typically think about the last frost as the marker of when to plant and that's important, but soil temperature is just as important. soil temperatures affect whether seeds will germinate and whether plants will grow. Using a soil thermometer. Take the soil temperature at eight or 9am for several consecutive days at a depth of two to four inches and then average the results. Sunshine snow, cold rains and overcast conditions all affect soil temperatures and it's worth noting raised beds and soil under black plastic will heat up a little bit more quickly in the spring. While soils covered with organic mulch, like straw will warm up a little bit more slowly. Now for the second part of the question, New Hampshire gardeners often circle Memorial Day weekend on their calendars for planting. This is somewhat conservative as the last frost is usually well before that. But having patience is a virtue in May, when it's so tempting to take the risk of planting warm season crops a few weeks earlier. If you're in a warmer microclimate or using season extension techniques like row cover, you can move up your planting window a little bit, but again, soil temperature remains important. Generally speaking, cool. season crops like leafy greens, peas, onions and root crops can germinate in soils as cool as 40 degrees, and some even as cool as 35 degrees. But most seeds tend to germinate best at between 70 and 80 degrees. warm season crops are typically transplanted into the garden as seedlings. So the last frost date is typically what gardeners are focused on for those crops. For corn, beans, okra and vegetables in the cucurbit family. soil temperature is an important consideration for direct sowing. corn and tomatoes will germinate and soil as cool as 50 degrees. But the optimum temperature is 80 degrees. Snap beans as cool as 55 degrees but also optimally 80 degrees and cucumbers, eggplant, pepper and squash and soil as cool as 60 degrees. But optimally 80 or so degrees. This has been your featured question. Emma, you've brought up pests a few times. I'm curious, Becky, as you're gardening throughout the year, you're taking note of what pest issues you have, how does that actually inform how you plan for the next year's garden?

Becky S  16:16

Well, you're right, I do keep really good track of what problems we have had. And I keep notes about those. I'm kind of lucky in that I have three little garden areas. So I can move things around. And a big part of my planning is actually figuring out my rotation and figuring out okay, if I had my squashes over here last year, and boy, I really would like to get those far away, because I'm rotating away from squash bugs hopefully, Part A big part of my planning and juggling involves drawing little pictures and lists of things in the different spots of the garden. So I think that even if you don't have a huge space, anything you can do to sort of move things to areas where they weren't before is going to serve you well.

Nate B  17:11

So I'm glad you brought up like actual visualizations, the pictures the list, because when I think about a garden plan, I think about it visually, I think about the layout, because for one thing, every crop is gonna need its own spacing. So there's the whole spacing, and then there's actually how many of each plant Do you need, you know how many squash and so you do a little bit of multiplication there, if you have five squash plants, and they each take up, you know, X amount of feet. That's kind of giving you your formula. But you also need pathways and access your accounting for all the different rotations potentially successions that you're planning on doing with your plantings. Maybe you're even accounting for cover cropping during the summer, or in the early fall. So how do you account for all of these variables when you're actually doing your planning, Becky?

Becky S  18:09

Well, in my case, I've been doing it long enough that I have kind of an idea in my little map of how much space we devote to given crop to particular crops like, oh, we're going to need a whole row of this, we're going to need a wide row of that. All of these things can fit in one row, that kind of a thing. So I I kind of have a sense of how much space they'll take. But especially I think if you're newer, you might not have that sense. And I will be honest, even though we've been doing this for a long time, sometimes we get it wrong. And the plan changes. And this is okay. We do our best like, like you said, to kind of calculate out how much space where we think we're going to use and where we think things are going to go. And then then we would modify on the fly if we have

Emma E  19:03

to. And I'd say that finning is sometimes Okay, too, right. So if you end up with too much of something, say you have you have tomatoes and you've spaced them 12 inches apart, and it should really be, let's say, two plus feet apart, probably even more than two feet. Ideally, if this is a large indeterminate tomato, it's okay, you know, you might actually end up with more produce at the end of the day, if you weed out some of those plants to get that spacing a little bit better. And that's true. I think when you're growing some other crops to you, you really have to thin them a bit so that you're getting that full size produce that you're looking for. Let's take carrots, for example. You really need to be pulling some of those out. Even though it might seem a little a little painful at first to be throwing away what seems like perfectly good plants that could be providing you more food, you're not going to get as good a harvest if if they're spaced too closely.

Nate B  20:00

Well, I'm glad you brought up specific crops, because earlier you were talking about how some crops require more work than others. You talked about how some plants are going to require thinning. I was wondering if you could, I guess this question is really for both of you, in your experience, what crops are going to require more work? What are some of the easier lower maintenance crops,

Emma E  20:22

I guess I always considered tomatoes to potentially be a little bit higher maintenance. And I guess that's, that's kind of hard because everybody wants to grow tomatoes in their garden, right. But tomatoes can definitely have some more issues, just the fact that there are a number of fungal diseases that can be problematic. insect diseases, if anybody's familiar with tomato, or tobacco hornworm. It's incredible how quickly these these caterpillars can come in and defoliate your plants if you're not paying attention. So scouting is going to be really important making sure that you're in your garden often. And you definitely are going to need to be doing some staking and trellising. I, often if I don't think that I'm going to have a whole lot of time to spend in the garden, I will definitely be going more for some of the root veggies. Just because you know, once I've thinned them out, once they've come up, I don't feel like I have to do all that much more besides come through and harvest them. And I definitely don't really need to be doing any pruning, staking trellising, they're just going to do their thing. So as long as I'm not dealing with any sort of soil borne past, I think those are a bit easier. Yeah, I

Becky S  21:36

would agree. And also, you know, the thing about tomatoes is that, you know, if you don't get a great Head Start, you probably won't be harvesting them until sometime in August, if you're lucky. And a lot can go wrong between spring when you plant them and August. And so even though some crops like I think about peas, for example, as being really a lot of work, the work is picking and picking is pretty fun, and it happens pretty early. So you know, in a gardening setting, even though peas are a lot of work, I think they're one of the easier crops one of the more rewarding crops to grow, because you get such an

Emma E  22:18

early start to things versus say the shelling bean, that's going to be a little bit later. Exactly. There's a lot of work that goes into it. And you might already be a little a little weary from weeding and monitoring past hopefully not too much watering, but depends on the season. Of course.

Becky S  22:38

I think another thing is there's the easiness factor, but there's also this space utilization factor. And I think that squash is while it's in some ways, sort of set it and forget it, if you don't have terrible pest problems. It's a huge space hog or can be similarly with, you know, melons. And, for example, dry beans, dry beans are a tremendous space hog for the amount of beans you get. And those can be really valuable, wonderful crops to grow. But you just have to have plenty of space. And if you have real limited space, you might not spend it on those crops.

Nate B  23:21

Yeah, so what if someone does have a pretty small space and they want to maximize it and grow a variety of veggies? What would you recommend,

Emma E  23:30

I mean, I would definitely try to be growing some greens because they don't take up very much space and you can plant them more than once say you get a harvest and as long as it's not too hot, you can get another harvest after that. Same ago for radishes. If you like those you can get a couple harvests in you might be able to get away with if this is a very small spot a determinant tomato variety. So tomatoes really typically fall into two camps, determinate or indeterminate. And determinate tomatoes will basically form all of their flower buds at the ends of the branches there, they're going to bloom all at the same time, you're going to get fruit that's developing at the same time and pretty much ripening all at once. So really helpful if you're if you're looking to have an efficient harvest because everything's ready to go. Pretty much at the same time. These plants also stay smaller, which sometimes makes them more appropriate for small spaces or for patio plantings. indeterminate tomatoes are going to produce fruit over a longer period of time. These are going to keep growing throughout the course of the season, and are going to be producing flower buds continuously as they go. So you're going to be say only harvesting a few fruit at a time but you're going to have those over a longer period of time. But those plants get very, very big. So usually for the very small space in your garden or in a container. They're not the best choice and I You would probably forego the zucchini summer squash if I was if I had a very small space or just a single raised bed, because I might only in that situation have room for just that, let's say, one, maybe two zucchini plants. And if I have a neighbor who gardens, there's a good chance that I'm probably going to be able to get my hands on some fresh zucchini anyways,

Becky S  25:24

that's a good point, my, my, let's see, he was my step father in law had a very small single raised bed garden in the retirement community in which he lived. And it was always fun to see how he, what how he got the most out of that tiny, tiny space. And he always planted at least one indeterminant cherry tomato, because a cherry tomato just goes and goes and goes, and at least a couple cucumbers. Because also they just go and go and go. And so if you're willing to harvest a little bit each day, and you know, you're willing to take care of that one plant, it was so shocking how much produce he could get out of this very tiny space from these couple of real productive plants.

Nate B  26:18

Do you see growing vertically as a solution to small space gardening for any crops? You know, of course, when you're talking about these space hog plants, you're talking about plants that are vying along the ground, taking up huge quantities of space. But to what extent can you try and train plants to grow up instead of out

Becky S  26:40

sure that works really well for things that are vining plants. And there's lots of ways that you can creatively sort of either steak them up or install some kind of trellis. A quick google image search of trellising your favorite crop will yield countless creative options for how to do that. But I think you know, cucumbers, certainly tomatoes, pull beans, peas, these are all things that really do great, with some kind of sticking up.

Emma E  27:17

But I probably wouldn't try though, is something with a heavier fruit, like a pumpkin or a melon, unless you want to go out and rig up some sort of system to provide support for that fruit what you could do. Again, if you if you do a Google search for images, you'll you'll see different ways that people have made nets and different webbing systems to hold up the fruit. But that weight can potentially be too much for the vine itself. So it's either going to pull the plant, well, it's probably just going to pull the plant down or potentially break a stem. So I would stick to something more like those cucumbers, maybe a smaller gourd beans. Those are things I've had success with in my brief vertical gardening career.

Nate B  28:00

That sounds like fun. If you're into that kind of thing. Emma, when we get questions from people who are trying to do their garden planning, something we get a lot is people really struggling with lack of full sun space. You know, they've assessed their backyard, and you know that their flat area over here is great, except that it doesn't get full sun and the area that does get full sun, it was more of a marginal growing site. And that really limits your options. Once you pick up that catalog. What do you recommend for people in that situation,

Emma E  28:46

if you don't have full sun, meaning you don't get at least eight hours of full direct sun in that area day more, more is definitely better, then you're going to be looking at maybe growing some things that don't fruit. So you want to let's say grow greens. These typically tolerate less less sunlight, you might be able to get away with some of the root vegetables. Nothing's going to be quite as big or full or robust as it would be if you grew the plants in full sun, but you can still get something out of it. You might also play around with herbs if you think you might have a use for those. But if you don't have a full spun spot, I wouldn't waste your time with peppers, eggplants, tomatoes, squashes, because they really do need all of that sunlight in order to be able to photosynthesize effectively and create enough energy to be able to grow a fruit.

Nate B  29:41

We're gonna have to cover this topic in a different podcast, I think but one other consideration that comes to mind for me for garden planning is just what are you actually going to start from seed indoors? What are you going to direct sow, and what are you going to potentially buy as a seedling? So I think the only question I want to ask on this topic is for beginner gardeners, what do you think should be considered for buying as a seedling instead of ordering it as a seed from a catalog.

Emma E  30:13

I mean, I think that if, if you, you know, don't have the capacity to be starting seeds indoors. So if it's either start directly in the garden or, or buy seedlings, the tomatoes that Becky mentioned, are probably helpful to buy as established plants, you typically don't get as good a variety selection when you buy the plants versus buying seeds. So the tomatoes may not have all the characteristics that you're looking for, you know, either it's not gonna have the flavor, you're looking for the plants not gonna have the growth habit that you were hoping for. Or probably most importantly, you're not going to have, let's say the disease resistance characteristics that you really need in your garden. Other than that, I mean, a lot of times what you'll find are some of the cold crops, so broccoli kale cauliflower that you can buy as a starts, I've had luck directly sowing these in the garden, although the germination rate definitely isn't as good as it would be if I started them indoors in advance. So if you're looking to get a real early start in your garden with some of these crops that will take a light frost and you don't have room to start them indoors, then maybe getting some some kale or broccoli into the ground that are already established plants might be good, so that those plants can produce for you before we get into the heat of summer. Because they don't, these are things that really don't like the heat,

Becky S  31:40

I might add to that list onions, because they're notoriously one of the longest, one of the slowest growing young transplants. And so usually the first thing you'd have to start if you were going to produce those transplant yourself. And so I might think about whether you could find the onions you were looking for started by someone else that might be something might get,

Nate B  32:09

you have to be kind of careful about buying onions, though you need to get the right variety for our area. So when you think New Hampshire growing onions, and you're looking for, are they called sets, when when they're at that size, I think what are you actually looking for

Becky S  32:27

what set is a tiny onion, so it looks like a little pearl onion, but it's dried down. And you would just plant it like a little bulb and it would grow into a big onion that you would then harvest. So that's one option. And yes, you do have to be careful to get varieties that will grow in our long days, we have long days, even though we have a short growing season compared with short day onions that grow down south. So you'd have to be kind of thoughtful about that. But you can also buy transplants, which are little young onion plants that look just like little scallions. And I'm a number of nursery sent local nursery centers, garden centers would likely have onion started as small plants that you could could get, you can also purchase onion plants, mail order shipped to you, I tend to be a little cautious about doing that. Because usually those are raised in much warmer places than here where they have many onion pests. And often you're also purchasing in small insects with them. So that that could be a caution. That would be one reason to raise your own or purchase local seedlings.

Nate B  33:47

Well, it's a it's a good point about being cautious just in general about where you're ordering from because I think that really gets us into the catalog phase. A lot of gardeners get several catalogs, you're not ordering all maybe from one company. And you mentioned a preference, possibly, at least in some instances for local companies. So Becky, how do you think about choosing a company or companies? I know we're not going to give endorsements of Oh, you know, shot from this company? They're the best. But in general, what considerations are there for who you're shopping from and maybe what you're purchasing from a particular company?

Becky S  34:27

Well, that's a good question. And I personally purchased from a whole array of companies every year because I'm a real variety nut and I want all the varieties of everything. And so I really have to go to lots of different companies for that. But I think your consideration about local is really important because we have a unique growing climate here in the northeast, we've got a short growing season. And it's humid. And it's just really different than many other parts of the US. And so I would want some level of assurance that the varieties that I'm going to grow are going to have been evaluated and are going to grow well, in a climate like ours. That's not to say that I only buy from companies based in the northeast, there are certainly good reasons that you might go outside this region. For example, if you want to really excellent peanut selection, you're going to have to go to Southern companies for this,

Emma E  35:40

for example.

Becky S  35:42

But I think that that, knowing that things have been evaluated with the diseases and insects and climate that we have, is a really important factor.

Emma E  35:54

I guess I I sometimes base things too, just on reputation. You know, if I know somebody, or if I have a friend who says they had really great luck with the company, then I might be inclined to shop from them. I also love it too. And companies have a really good customer service department. So make sure that there is a number right there that you know, you can call to reach out, I think sometimes it is possible to buy seeds from other, you know, online distributors that might seem really cheap. But I would definitely be, you know, thinking if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. And be ordering from a well known company that that does have a reputation for producing quality seeds, plants, etc.

Nate B  36:44

So whether you're actually using physical catalog, some people really like to actually receive their catalogs in the mail, they get to circle things and use them in the way they always have. But you can also shop online, and many of these companies have excellent websites, where you can do all or most of what you would do in a physical catalog, maybe even some things that you wouldn't be able to do in the physical catalog. So I'm curious for both of you, how do you actually like to use a catalog, whether online or in person, what's your process as a shopper?

Emma E  37:20

Well, I guess I actually like to look through catalogs and decide what I want to order from the catalog. And I guess one reason I like that is that all of the offerings for let's say a specific crop tend to be clustered together. So I can quickly compare all of the different descriptions of the different varieties that they're offering, you know, just by looking at a single page or two, versus if I go to the website for that, that same company, and I'm looking at the catalog from, I'm probably gonna have to click on every single variety to take a look at, you know, its description. You know, let's say it's the number of days to maturity. So I just like the the catalog for that. Plus, a lot of my favorite catalogs have really nice glossy pictures and just kind of fun to sit back, you know, let's say next to the woodstove and look through the catalog. I will say that I am more modern though when it comes to actually placing orders. So I'll probably pick out from the catalog what I want, you know, I have things circled there, start and then go online, and select what I want, make sure that it's still available, because a lot of times online, you can look right away and see if something's out of stock versus filling out your your paper order slip, sending that off and then not getting what you want. And then I can pay with card. But definitely still really appreciate that that hardcopy catalog that shows up in the mail,

Becky S  38:47

we have a super similar process, I lay out all the catalogs, and I proceed through crop by crop comparing all the offerings and make my spreadsheets and then go online to place the order and then I can pivot if necessary if they're out of stock or of something. It is true though, that sometimes it's good to check online. Because it they see companies have printing deadlines. And they have to print the catalog at some point earlier in the season. And it may be that things get out of stock, but it also happens that things get added. And so you can be delightfully surprised by new and exciting things that aren't even listed in the catalog.

Emma E  39:34

That's a good point too. I guess probably the only time I would go online first is if I'm ordering from a company that I never have before and I don't have a physical catalog from them. But if so if they don't automatically send me a catalog, I might sign up for one too so that in future years that that catalog will be part of my collection.

Nate B  39:54

And Becky when you said that you go crop by crop, kind of going back to the garden plan when you Actually sketched everything out by the end of that garden plan process? Do you actually have a list of the crops that you want to grow the quantities that you want, you know, where everything's gonna go? That's all happening before you're actually getting to that process of laying your catalogs out?

Becky S  40:17

Well, yes, but that does make it sound more organized and scientific than it is. In reality, I just need I know, I need a whole bunch of this, that and the other and only a little of this than the other. So it's, it's not as worked out as you make it sound. But I will say I maintain this spreadsheet. And every year, I just add a new tab to it. And this has come in shockingly handy when you want to go back and see what variety did I grow last year, that was such a failure, or that one that was so successful, where did we get that that was three years ago. And it's just like, it's so wonderful to have this resource of all the things I've ordered over the years.

Nate B  41:07

I love that from an extension person. And one sentence, it's not that organized. It's not scientific. On the other hand, I have this spreadsheet, and each tab correlates with a different year and I'm able to cross check and everything that's, that's such a classic extension perspective, not that scientific.


It just doesn't have amounts in it.

Emma E  41:29

And I'm assuming there's always room to for that one thing. You see where you're like, Oh, I gotta try that. That's really cool. That wasn't originally part of the plan.

There's a miscellaneous section.

Emma E  41:42

That would work for your gourd garden, right?

Nate B  41:44

That's right. I'm planning on having a magnificent gourd garden this year. Speaking of space hogs, I think my entire garden might just be gourds growing sideways growing up growing every which way. And I guess that miscellaneous category what what's that kind of the equivalent of a junk drawer? Right,

Becky S  42:01


Emma E  42:27

Though we're talking about vegetable variety selection this episode, I wanted to feature one of my favorite annual flowers that often gets planted in vegetable gardens. The Mr. shum tropaeolum. nasturtiums are a really lovely annual plant. They're typically grown for the ornamental features, although they're also edible. They grow really well in poor to average well drained soils that are in full sun, and they're even moderately drought tolerant, which makes them a good choice for New Hampshire landscapes, where the weather tends to be a little uncertain. nasturtiums will also tolerate a fair amount of neglect, and really don't require much maintenance during the growing season. They shouldn't even be fertilized because this can increase leaf growth and decrease flowering. nasturtiums can be sown directly in the garden after the spring frost date, or planted indoors four to six weeks before the last spring frost. Now nasturtiums are interesting largely because of the their actual features. The leaves are rounded and peltate which means that the leaf stem aka the petiole attaches to the center of leaves instead of at the base as is more standard in most plants. The flowers are funnel shaped with five petals and a distinct spur at the back. They come in shades of red, yellow, orange or cream, and the flowers are also fragrant. All parts of the plant are edible except for the roots and have a peppery flavor. The leaves, flowers, pods and even seeds can be added to fresh salads. an assertion is often listed as one of the best edible flowers. So give nasturtiums a try in your garden this season. No vegetable garden is complete without them.

Nate B  44:25

For today's closing gardening tip like to talk about garden fencing. An important part of your garden planning is protecting your harvest from animals and today's closing gardening tip is about using fencing around your garden. Depending on what animal species have been the biggest nuisance in past growing seasons, the type of fencing that will work best will differ. Some animals can jump over fencing if it's not tall enough, like deer, while other animals can dig under fencing if not designed to prevent it, including rabbits and groundhogs, also known as well. Chuck's while other animals can climb up and over fencing such as porcupines your budget will in part dictate what materials and style of fencing you install. Plastic and wire are less expensive options than wood or electric fencing. But all have pros and cons. Appearance may also be a consideration So combining function with a statics may be part of your planning. If you rent or for another reason, don't plan on Gardening in the same plot for years to come. You may consider something that can be moved, whereas that may not be a consideration for homeowners with well established garden plots. This has been your closing gardening tip. This conversation continues but we've split it up into two episodes. Make sure you're subscribed to Granite State gardening so you know when Part two is released, which will feature the second half of this conversation as well as another listener question gardening tip and featured plant. Look for Granite State gardening in your podcast feed every two weeks and look out for episodes and the not so distant future on seed starting pruning, emerald ash borer and foliage house plants. email us your questions, suggestions and feedback to GSG dot edu. This podcast is just starting out. So there are a couple things you can do to help other gardeners find us. One simple thing is just to share it with fellow gardeners and friends. And if you're listening on Apple podcasts, you can give us a five star review there which actually helps people find the podcast. Beyond that you can connect with us on social media to get more regular tips and updates from us. Just search for ask UNH extension on Facebook or Instagram and give us a follow there. We also have the link to sign up for our monthly newsletter, also called Granite State Gardening in the show notes, where you can find lots of helpful resources related to what we talked about in this episode. Thanks for tuning in to Granite State gardening. Until next time,

Becky S  47:16

keep on growing Granite State Gardeners.

Nate B  47:24

Granite State Gardening is a production of University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension and equal opportunity educator and employer views expressed on this podcast are not necessarily those of the university's its trustees, or its volunteers. inclusion or exclusion of commercial products in this podcast does not imply endorsement. The University of New Hampshire US Department of Agriculture and New Hampshire County is cooperate to provide extension programming in the Granite State. Learn more@extension.unh.edu

Transcription by otter.ai


Extension Field Specialist, Community & Economic Development
Phone: (603) 678-4576
Office: Cooperative Extension, Nesmith Hall Room 204, Durham, NH 03824