Plant Facts2017-04-06T10:29:54-04:00

Soil Basics and Hook’s Tips

Categories: Blog, Hooks Tips, Soil, What We Offer|

It is time to delve into the dark dirty secrets of soils! This series of blogs are dedicated to demystifying the many varieties of soil and help you pick which one is best for your garden and budget. Here at Hook’s we know that choosing what type of soil to buy can be tricky considering there are many options to choose from, but the variety in soil types available at garden stores are necessary for meeting the needs of every gardener. The type of soil needed depends on a number of factors including which types of plants are being planted, whether they will be planted in the ground or in a container, and on the quality of the local soil.

Each soil is made to have different nutritional values. There is potting soil which is made to suit the needs of a container garden or raised bed. It drains excess water and retains moisture. We recommend Pro-mix Premium Potting Soil. Topsoil is used for the finishing layer in your garden. It’s meant to loosen heavy soils and improve the moisture retention. Garden Magic Topsoil is our favorite topsoil. Compost and manure can be included in a variety of different gardens. However, it works especially well to help get a young garden growing. We recommend Garden Magic Compost and Manure. Peat is perfect if you are dealing with more difficult soils. It provides nutrients for sandy soils and breaks down clay to make problem soil more manageable. Pro-Moss Peat Moss is our recommendation and should get your soil back into garden shape.

Each type of soil that we use is equally important for gardening. There are many other types of soil. These are the basic foundational soil that you will find in every day gardening. It is important to know what kind of soil you need to improve your plant health. Be sure to do your research and don’t be afraid to ask questions. We are happy to help you figure out your soil and gardening needs.

Last year we introduced a new line of soils here at Hook’s called Happy Frog by Fox Farms. We love so many things about the brand, like how this brand of soil can help improve root efficiency and encourage nutrient uptake. This soil includes, earthworm castings, bat guano, and aged forest products to help your plants thrive all year long. This soil is meant for container gardening weather it is indoor or outdoor plants this soil provides all your plant needs to be healthy. 

Here is a listed guide of Hook’s recommendations for a variety of common gardening situations.

 

Annual Containers

Good – Miracle Gro Potting Soil

Better – Baccto Potting Soil

Better – FoxFarm Potting Soil

Best – Pro-mix Premium Potting Mix

 

Organic Options

Good – Garden Magic Compost and Manure

Better – FoxFarm Soils

Best – Pro-mix Organic Vegetable & Herb Mix

 

 

Perennials

Good – Garden Magic Topsoil

Better – Garden Magic Potting Soil

Better – FoxFarm Soils

Best – Pro-mix Premium Garden Mix

Early Spring Planting

Categories: Annuals, Blog, Hooks Tips, Perennials, Plants|Tags: , , , |

Watch for early spring frost, freeze or just plain cold
nightly weather. If you have an early itch to plant flowers,
start with containers on a protected porch or that could
easily be moved in. Use cold hardy annuals such as
violas, pansies or alyssum. Outside grown perennials or
harden off perennials make great container accents and
can be later planted in garden beds.

Pro Tips for Growing Strawberries at Home in Ohio

Categories: Blog, Edibles, Fruits|

March and April are the perfect months to get back to gardening, especially if you’re planning on devouring some fresh, home-grown strawberries.

Organic gardening has become popular over the past decade, and strawberries are now one of the top picks when it comes to backyard gardening—and for a good reason. Few fruits are as easy to grow as strawberries, and with their ability to grow almost everywhere, anyone can enjoy this essential summer fruit in all its juicy glory.

With so many varieties of strawberries available, it’s important to know the best type for your home garden—according to the growing environment and the best way of growing them.

Is there a Right Season to Grow Strawberries at Home?

Strawberries can be typically categorized according to the yield season where some grow as early as late spring, whereas others can be picked as late as the first autumn months.

· The early seasoned strawberries—also known as “June-bearing”—are ready just as the summers arrive. These plants have the most concentrated fruit in late June and mid-July months and are only available for a small period.

· The mid-season varieties come just a few days—minimum a week—after the June-bearing fruit, followed by the late-season strawberries.

· Ever-bearing strawberries, sometimes also known as day-neutral varieties, grow throughout the season but typically produce crops in early summers and mid-fall.

Pro Tips for Home Grown Strawberries

Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or a beginner getting into the strawberry-growing scene in Ohio, the right knowledge is the key to high crop yield.

We’ve put together some crucial tips necessary for getting the best out of a strawberry plant.

1. While strawberry plants are self-fertile, they often need bees for pollination. Flowers are also pollinated by winds, but if you’re growing them indoors—under a greenhouse—and don’t have access to bees or natural breezes, use a vibrating device for best results.

2. Strawberry plant thrives when it has plenty of room to breathe, both in the open air and inside the soil. The leaves need sunlight to produce the juicy fruit, which why it’s important to not let them get crowded by weeds or daughter plants. One plant can produce as many as 100-150 daughter plants, so make sure to remove some of them, or soon your yard will be overrun by strawberry plants only.

3. It’s essential to use a mulch during watering and during the time of ripening. Mulch can help achieve two things:

o It keeps the moisture in the soil, so you don’t need to water as often

o It protects the developing crop from mud splashes, protecting it from soiling and allowing it to grow in full size.

Bonus Tip: You can use organic mulch such as straws and chopped leaves for best results. Netting can also protect the yield from damage during the ripening stage.

4. Slugs are one of the biggest threats to indoor and home-grown strawberries. If you don’t want your fruit to be damaged by slugs and weeds in an open area, plant your strawberries in containers or pots. Keep in mind that containers can dry out more quickly, which is why you’ll need to water the pot plants more frequently compared to those in open air. Make sure to use only high-quality potting soil for strawberry plants growing in a container.

Growing strawberries is one of the easiest hobbies to undertake when you want to do something productive with your leisure time, and nothing beats the satisfaction that comes from hand-picked fruit that just melts in your mouth.

If you’re living in Ohio or in its vicinity area, we help young gardeners acquire skills and knowledge essential for indoor gardening. If you have a porch, balcony, patio, or even a small deck, you can decorate it with indoor house plants along with ornamental strawberry plants.

Get in touch with us here or call us at 440.647.5480 for more information.

Perennials

Categories: Blog, Perennials, Plants We Love, Proven Winners|

It’s time to look forward to spring! Are you already thinking about your garden? We’ll be ready for you! Here’s an article to get you in the mood….

Perennials —Fuss-free plants that flourish for years

What’s the big difference between an annual and a perennial?  Annuals die when it gets too cold out.  Perennials appear to die when the temperatures drops, but they’re actually hibernating.  Beneath that dead-looking clump of stems, leaves and blooms are hardy roots that will produce a new plant come spring.  

Perennials are a flower garden’s backbone.  They are easy-care, dependable performers that provide years of beautiful color, texture and form. They also are:

  • Uncommonly colorful thanks to foliage and/or flowers
  • Trialed and tested for proven performance
  • Grow bigger and better with each passing year

Keep in mind that all plants – perennials and annuals — are programmed by Mother Nature to survive.  All they need is the right amount of sunlight, food, water, and an occasional haircut.  What makes Proven Winnerstm perennials different is that they are programmed to flourish year after year.  They are born and bred to be innovators with extended bloom, expanded regions of performance, new colors and forms.

Annuals Make Big Impact In Garden!

Categories: Annuals, Blog|Tags: |

Need to fill in flowerbeds quick? Want low maintenance flower beds? Choose high impact annuals such as Kong Coleus, Wave Petunias, Zinnias and fast-growing Sweet Potato Vine. Kong Coleus is an easy-to-care for plant, adding unique color to shade or part sun flowerbeds or containers. This plant thrives in the heat when planted in good soil and when planted in the ground – add compost and manure to give it a boost. Wave Petunias have a trailing or spreading habit, making them great for in ground mass plantings. The best part about these flowers is there is no need to deadhead the spent blossoms! These colorful plants blooms strong all the way to the fall. Be sure to fertilize at least twice a week. They love sunny places, but also tolerate part sun locations which would be at least four hours of sun. Another great annual for sunny spots are Zinnias. These flowers get full and bushy and have a tendency to thrive in the trickiest of locations! We carry Zinnia in multiple colors. To keep these plants looking their best, deadhead them to encourage new blooms to continue throughout the season. Zinnia make great cut-flowers and also look great dried in dried flower arrangements. Sweet Potato Vine is one of my favorite in ground Annuals because they make great borders, fill in large spaces and require little to no care, once established. Be sure to water all of these plants as needed and use water soluble fertilizer at least twice a week. Try planting with high Quality Potting Soil such as Pro-Mix Premium Potting Soil or bagged Compost and Manure.

Growing Onions in Small Spaces

Categories: Blog, Edibles, Vegetables|

Onion is an ancient food dating back to 5000 B.C. It was introduced to North America by the pilgrims and was one of the first crops planted by the colonists.

A large number of varieties can be found today ranging from large sweet onions to scallions. With the ability to enhance many foods, onions are a staple in many gardens today, as well as at the dinner table. It doesn’t take a lot of space to grow onions and they do well in planters as well as open space vegetable gardens. Let’s explore some of the ways to grow onions at home when gardening space is limited, or worse, no garden space is available at all. Planters can be grown on terraces, porches, backyards, or indoors. Onions are also happy living among the flowers and look right at home among the colors of the season. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Planters

When space is an issue, the onion will adapt readily to containers. Choose a container with drainage, that is large enough to accommodate the number of onions you want to plant. At least 12″ deep since the bulb growing is done underground.
Plant from onion sets or transplants, about 3″ deep, leaving 3-4″ of space around each plant. Onions prefer moderately moist soil. Water when top of soil dries out. Do not over saturate or your onions can rot. Place container in direct sun if possible. Harvest when stems fall over.

Flower Beds

A nice addition to flower beds is vegetables. Onions will look right at home among your blooms and can be planted sporadically throughout. Choose a sunny location. Onions enjoy full sun especially when planted among flowers which may cause shading. Plant onions between flowering plants and foliage leaving 3-4″ of space around each. Keep in mind when planting in flower beds, the mature size of the plants surrounding the onions, to avoid too much shading. Try to plant your onions among shorter flowering varieties that will not over power the onions. Keep soil moderately moist. Harvest when stems fall over.

Indoors

Onions adapt well to indoor growing as long as they receive the proper amount of light. Plant in individual deep containers when planting indoors. Find containers at least 8″ that will allow proper drainage and place a saucer underneath. Fill with potting soil and plant one transplant or onion set in each pot. Place in sunny window or under grow lights. Keep soil moderately moist. Harvest when stems fall over.

Hydroponic

Scallions or white bunching onions are especially adaptable to being grown in water. Simply find a glass jar or vase, place onion plants inside and add water. Place in sunny window. Be sure to wash roots before planting in water to avoid rot. Cut greens as needed.

Alternative Indoor Planters

For a more decorative or interesting effect, onions are especially adaptable to alternative containers. One method is to cut the top off of a 2 liter soda bottle. Cut small holes randomly around entire bottle from top to bottom, leaving about 2″ uncut on the bottom for soil. As you fill the bottle with soil, insert a bunching onion into each hole, deep enough to keep onion in place. Once filled, place in sunny location and keep soil moist. Be sure to keep a large saucer under bottle to catch overflow when watering. Stems will grow upwards and create an interesting living design. Cut stems as needed for adding to your favorite dishes.

Onions come in a variety of sizes and colors, strengths and uses. Follow planting and care instructions for your chosen variety for best results. While bunching onions can be grown for continuous cuttings, bulb onions will need to be harvested and stored. Pull bulbs after stems have fallen over and store for 6 months to a year in a cool dry place.

Until next time, Happy Planting!
~Liz

Mouth Watering Strawberries

Categories: Blog, Edibles, Fruits, Hooks Tips, Plants|

When it comes to summer flavors, the strawberry is maybe the first thought that comes to mind. Juicy and sweet, these fruits can be used in many ways from homemade ice cream and jam to toppings for cakes and refreshing summer drinks, but eaten straight from the vine, is undeniably an experience in itself.

There are three classifications of strawberries.

June-bearing produce large, sweet, juicy fruit in the late spring, and is most popular for production strawberries. Runners and flowers should be pinched off during the first year so that the plant can use all of its energy to produce a healthy root system. June-bearing strawberries are heat tolerant, and need to be protected from late frosts, as they may be budding already. Budding takes place after daylight becomes 12 hrs or more. Plant 18-24″ apart in rows that are 4′ apart. Dig a 6″ x 6″ hole for each plant. Use a time release fertilizer or fertilize every 2 weeks during production time. Fruiting will come heavy at one time in late spring to early summer for 2-3 weeks.

Everbearing strawberries produce fruit in late spring and again in early fall. Like June-bearing plants, the Everbearing strawberry begins to flower after daylight becomes 12 hrs or more. During the first year, encourage plants to produce strong root systems by pinching buds and runners. Plant in 6″ x 6″ holes, staggered at 12″ apart.

Day-neutrals, can produce fruit the year they are planted starting in late spring to early summer and continuing through early fall, making them a favorite among gardeners. The fruit is somewhat smaller, however, flavor is no less than other varieties and you can expect 1 to 1 ½ quarts of fruit per plant with proper care. Day-neutral varieties, do not depend on length of daylight, but temperatures. They will produce when temperatures reach 35 F to 85 F.  They become dormant and stop bearing fruit with first frost.

When planning a strawberry patch, think about what you want to use the fruit for. Planting Day-neutrals for same year and continuous lower volume fruiting will give a quick return. If you are planning on preserving strawberries, Everbearing varieties are a good choice with two crops so there isn’t as many to work with at one time, yet you get higher volume crops. Planting a Day Neutral for summer long eating along with a heavy periodic crop can help when preserving. You get the best of both worlds!

While strawberries enjoy row planting in flat gardens or raised beds, they also do well in mounds and pots. To grow in pots, use a good potting soil mixed with fertilizer. Be sure there are good drain holes in the bottom of your container so roots don’t rot. Plant one strawberry in about an 8-10″ space. If your container is large enough you can fit more than one plant per container. Special strawberry planters are also available that are terraced with staggering holes to plant in or use hanging baskets! Strawberries tend to have shallow root systems, so wide, relatively shallow containers will work well. When planting in containers it is not necessary to use black plastic, which may create too much heat for roots. Mulch with straw. Keep runners from hitting the ground if you don’t want them to propagate into unwanted areas.

When building your own strawberry mound, terrace with bricks or rocks and follow the rules of 12″ spacing around the mound as well as in height. Pinch runners if they are interfering with plants below. Mulch with black plastic or straw.

Strawberries enjoy rich, moist but well draining soil. Water at the soil level to avoid rot and mold. Fruit is susceptible to slugs and birds. Grow in full sun.

Growing strawberries is fun for the whole family and can be arranged and planted in beautiful unique ways. Vertical planting saves space in tight garden areas  and the fruit can be enjoyed in many ways!

Until next time, Happy Planting!

~Liz

“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.” ~Audrey Hepburn

Growing Tomatoes in Pots

Categories: Blog, Edibles, Hooks Tips|

If you love fresh picked tomatoes but have no room for a full garden, don’t worry, there is a way to grow your own!

Tomatoes are one of those fruits that are best picked fresh. While they travel just fine to the grocery store, there seems to be nothing quite like a vine ripened tomato, picked at peak.

Since tomatoes are America’s favorite vegetable, many people grow tomatoes in pots right on their patio.

The Pot

You will want to start by getting your container. We recommend a pot that is 24″ deep and at least 12″ across for each plant is sufficient, but 24″ across is even better. Five gallon buckets can be used as well, but the larger the pot, the happier the tomato. Be sure your container has drain holes in it or make them yourself. If you are planting on a terrace, you may want to consider adding a saucer underneath your pot so water does not run onto the neighboring terrace below.  Tomatoes enjoy consistently moist soil so it is important to have drain holes in your pot so roots don’t rot. Before filling, you may want to mix an organic fertilizer or compost into your potting soil for added nutrients. Fill container to within about an inch from the top.

The Variety

Tomatoes are by far the most popular vegetable in the U.S. and grown worldwide, so it isn’t surprising that there are no less than 15,000 varieties recorded. They range in color from light pink to deep purple and come in a large variety of shapes and sizes.

While all tomatoes can be eaten straight from the vine or used in recipes, many are bred for particular uses. The heartier more meaty tomatoes fair well for canning, while other varieties lend well to salads or slicing. Choosing your favorite or a variety that will be of best use to you if you are planting one or two plants is a good way to go. If you are planting a few tomatoes to test a particular variety outside of your traditional garden, planting in pots is a good choice as well.

If you don’t already have a favorite in mind, consider how you like to eat tomatoes most. Slicing, in salads, in recipes, etc. If you don’t have a strong preference, you may want to consider the

Cherry or grape varieties. They are convenient for popping into your mouth fresh from the vine, snacking on between meals, in a salad or even for chopping into recipes. If slicing is a favorite in your household, choose a larger variety.

The Planter

Now that you’ve done all of the hard work, choose a healthy strong plant. If you have chosen a vining tomato, be sure to pick up a  trellis to tie it onto as it grows. Make sure your trellis is large enough to accommodate the size of your mature plant. Alternately, a tomato cage is important for many tomato plants as they become top heavy when mature, especially when fruiting. A cage will keep your plant from breaking under the weight. Bush variety tomatoes are especially suited to pots, as they bush out and stop growing when they reach a certain size so they don’t necessarily need caged or trellised. There are many varieties bred and labeled as “Patio” or “Pot” tomatoes.

Pinch off the first two lower stems. Make a hole in moist soil a few inches larger than the  root system and deep enough to set plant in up to nearly the lowest stem left. Mound dirt around plant and gently compact it with your hands to firm up soil. Water generously trying to not get leaves wet. Let your plant drain but keep soil consistently moist. If you are using saucers under pots, be sure to dump tray daily so roots are not sitting in water.

Place pot in sunny location. Tomatoes enjoy full sun for 6-8 hrs a day.

Enjoy!

Until next time, Happy Planting!

 

~Liz

 

“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.” ~Audrey Hepburn

Growing Beautiful & Healthy Succulents Indoors

Categories: Blog, Plants, Plants, Plants We Love|Tags: , , |

Growing Beautiful & Healthy Succulents Indoors

Succulents have always been popular as indoor plants not only because of their glorious shapes and forms but also because these plants can survive in moderate light, and low humidity. They are quite sturdy as they can endure weeks of neglect by storing water within their fleshy leaves, stems, or roots. Growing succulents is easy too, as they can be propagated from stem cuttings and rooting leaves. You can also propagate them by dividing small plants. However, growing succulents indoors can be a bit complex but not impossible.

Discussed below are a few ways on how to plant succulents indoors and how to take care of these beautiful plants.

Planting Succulents Indoors

If you are planning to plant succulents for the very first time, choose your potting soil carefully. When growing succulents, the soil should be well-drained. You can also go for a ready-to-use cactus mix. However, adding extra pumice, sharp sand, and grit or perlite can help in drainage, preventing breakdown over time. 

The roots of succulents are quite brittle and shallow. When planting, gently sift new soil with your finger, or you can even use a blunt end of the pencil to tamp it lightly. Use sand, gravel, or grit to cover the surface. Give the plants some days to dry before watering.

Sun Care for Indoor Succulents

Growing and caring for succulents indoors does not require too much pampering. All they require is bright light, though depending on the plant type, the timings may vary.  For instance, Sempervivum and Pedilanthus only need a few hours of sunlight to bring about their best foliage colors. On the other hand, varieties like Portulacaria, Sedums, get very rubbery and weak if they are not kept in very bright light for an ample time. However, there are some exceptions that you must keep in mind when growing succulents indoors, specifically for species like Sansevieria and Hoya as they have low light endurance levels.

The safest place recommended to plant your succulent garden is any place near a window that falls on or near the south, west, or east sides, to ensure a few hours of direct sunlight. In case your only option is to place the succulents directly in the sunlight, then it is recommended to shade them with sheer curtains.

Quick Tips for Indoor Succulents

Some quick tips to remember when caring for indoor succulents are:

·     Water moderately to prevent the plants from drying out

·     Use distilled or rainwater to prevent an accumulation of damaging dissolved minerals and fertilizer deposit

·     Clean out the soil at least once throughout the year with a good soaking

The Bug Problem

Providing proper care when growing succulents will ensure that there are no bugs. However, in case a succulent bought from outside already has bugs in it, it can definitely create a big hassle for you. Nonetheless, to tackle the bug problem effectively, you need to be familiar with the ones you may encounter.

Gnat: Beginners usually come across this bug. However, you can avoid gnats quite quickly by keeping the soil well-drained.

Solution: Use a well-draining soil mix and give it time to dry out between watering sessions.

Mealybugs: These are the nasty bugs that can drain the life out of your succulents

Solution: Spray rubbing alcohol liberally to cover the soil with alcohol. This will kill the mealybug eggs too.

 

Enjoy Growing Succulents Indoors

Enjoy the therapeutic aura and beauty of succulents. Don’t fret too much. The truth is that even if you do not have the green thumb, succulents can survive with little care too. So, enjoy the beauty and care for them to make your succulents last long.

Larger Potatoes, No Problem…. Chit Them!

Categories: Blog, Edibles, Ideas We Love, Miscellaneous, Plants, Plants, Plants We Love, Vegetables|Tags: , |

Hook’s Tips

Starting your potatoes.

Seed potatoes are grown specifically for starting new plants. They are usually smaller in size than you may find in the grocery store and have not been treated with a growth inhibitor (meant to stop or slow sprouting).

Here’s How:

You can Chit your potatoes about two to three weeks ahead of outside planting to give them a better start. This speeds up the process of growing to full production. To do this, allow potatoes to sit either on egg cartons or spread out so they are not touching. Place in sunny warm location to speed this process. Once the eyes sprout, your potato is ready to plant.

Cut into sections, leaving one or two eyes per piece. (Two are recommended in case one sprout doesn’t grow well).
Set sections in a well ventilated area for about two days to heal-over cut edges. This will help protect potato from rotting in the ground.
Plant sprout side up, 6″ deep and 12″ apart, about 2 weeks before danger of last frost. This will give slow growing potatoes time to form strong roots before sprouting up through soil. Water.
Mound dirt when plants are 8-10″ tall. Rule of thumb is to mound dirt to about half the height of the stem.

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