By Susan Patterson, Master Gardener
Although some confusion may arrive from various English and Latin names, most bluebells are also known as wood hyacinths. This article will help with growing English and Spanish bluebell plants.
By Mary Ellen Ellis
Growing Virginia bluebells in their native range is a great way to add pretty spring and early summer color. These gorgeous wildflowers thrive in partially shady woodlands and can be used to naturalize gardens, in beds, wooded areas, and borders. Learn more in this article.
Jennifer is a full-time homesteader who started her journey in the foothills of North Carolina in 2010. Currently, she spends her days gardening, caring for her orchard and vineyard, raising chickens, ducks, goats, and bees. Jennifer is an avid canner who provides almost all food for her family needs. She enjoys working on DIY remodeling projects to bring beauty to her homestead in her spare times.
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You put in all kinds of work to finally harvest, but how do you know when the time is right to pick?
This is a common question among gardeners. We have this misconception in our heads that what we do in our backyards is going to look identical to what we find on a grocery store shelf.
Also, we tend to be impatient and pick too soon, or get sidetracked and pick too late. All these things matter when harvesting a garden.
If you are curious about how to pick your garden at the right time, here are some tips to help you along:
When your garden begins to ripen, it will hit you all at once. It is the way the cookie crumbles. Therefore, it is important to check your garden every day.
If you don’t check your garden daily, you could not only miss out on produce, but you are leaving produce to rot in your garden. This draws pests which means your garden could quickly become overtaken with a disease.
None of this is good, which is why it is best to check your garden every day. This way you get the harvest you’ve worked hard for, and it can keep coming since there will be nothing there to draw bugs.
Also, keep in mind, if you pick your plants when they first ripen it encourages the plants to produce more in most cases.
Have you ever gone to pick zucchini and it looks to be the size of a football? That’s not actually good.
Don’t wait until your vegetables grow too big. It is best to pick produce when it’s small. This is the time most vegetable varieties are at their most tender, have better flavor, and haven’t developed as many seeds.
However, if you do run across a football-sized zucchini, don’t toss. Instead, grate it and make delicious chocolate zucchini bread with it.
In case of zucchini, it is best to pick them when they’re around 6-inches in length. It may not look like much, but if your plant is producing in high gear (as they usually do) you’ll have plenty to go around.
Harvesting is a great job to assign to your kids. They also find it fun to be allowed to pick things from plants.
However, if you need your child’s help, make sure to remind them to be gentle with the produce. Vegetables can be easily bruised. It is important to gently pick them and place them in the basket or bucket.
It’s not just a matter of appearance. If you bruise the skin of the produce, it could lead to rot which will shorten the lifespan of the vegetable once harvested.
When this happens, you’ll have to cook it immediately or it could go bad.
Still, it’s best to avoid this scenario altogether instead of having to rush to cook up your harvest to not lose it.
A way to make harvesting easier and also avoid bruising is to make sure you use large enough baskets to harvest with.
When I harvest, I prefer to use 5-gallon buckets when picking green beans and large bushel baskets when harvesting fruits, tomatoes, eggplants, squash, lettuce, cabbage, and other larger plants.
If you don’t have either of these options on hand, consider using a clothes basket. You could also use a washbasin or a galvanized tub as well. If the vegetables have enough room to breathe, it should work.
It is important you watch where you step when you are harvesting your vegetables. Gardens can be tight to maneuver in.
Therefore, you’ll have to make sure you either have clear walkways, or you watch where you put your feet.
Not only can you step on vegetables which need to be harvested without knowing it, but you could also step on plants too.
This could damage the plants and create openings for disease and pests to make their way to your plants and harm them.
In turn, this harms your harvest. It is amazing how something as small as watching where you step can be helpful to your garden and your harvest.
When you plant an entire garden, it can be difficult to keep up with what you planted, what variety you planted, how long it takes to reach harvest, and what the harvest should look like once you’ve reached that point.
You’ll have to keep track of the information to help you through harvest. If you know what variety you planted and how long it takes to reach harvest, you will know when to begin looking for harvest from each plant.
Also, by knowing what variety you planted, you should know what the harvest should look like to help prevent harvesting mistakes.
For instance, if you planted a mega-variety of a fruit or vegetable, it would be terrible to harvest them early because you didn’t realize it was a larger variety. You would miss out on produce.
Yet, if you keep track of this information, you’ll harvest everything right on time and get the amount of produce you intended on having when you planted your garden.
When you are harvesting your garden, it is a good time to check your plants’ health as well. You should check the leaves to see if there are any spots or discoloration.
These could be symptoms of a disease or pest which has moved in on your garden. If you feel like you rarely have the time to check on your plants, schedule it every day when you are outside picking.
This way, nothing should slip by you, and the health of your plants shouldn’t deteriorate either. It is another simple step, but one that could save your harvest.
When you grow your own vegetables, you will soon realize they don’t usually look like what you buy at the grocery store.
For instance, when you grow broccoli, the heads don’t get as large as the broccoli heads you buy at the grocery.
Having unrealistic expectations can cause you issues during harvest. You’ll watch the plants and ponder, “They don’t look like what I’m used to.”
Next thing you know, you keep waiting for them to look like what you are used to seeing, and they end up becoming rotten before you ever get to harvest them.
It is important to know what your harvest should look like. This way you’ll be prepared and not miss out on a perfect harvest because of expectations your garden simply can’t meet.
There are certain vegetables and herbs we eat which don’t produce fruit. We enjoy eating the actual plant.
Produce like herbs and lettuce should be picked early. This is when they are most tender and have the best flavor.
If you wait too long, they sometimes bolt which will change the texture and flavor of the harvest. You don’t want this.
In your harvest’s best interest, pick vegetables that are stem vegetables early on.
There are some plants in your garden which you don’t eat. Instead, you eat the product of the plant.
For instance, plants like tomatoes, apple trees, peppers, and peaches are all products of a plant. You won’t want to pick these as early as possible.
Instead, leave them to ripen fully on the plant. This is important information to keep in mind when harvesting your garden.
This way, you won’t pick some varieties of vegetation too quickly.
Bluebells are unmistakable bell-shaped perennial herbs. They actually spend the majority of their time underground as bulbs, emerging, often in droves, to flower from April onwards.
Leaves: are narrow, around 7mm to 25mm wide and 45cm in length. They are strap-shaped, smooth and hairless, with a pointed tip.
Flowers: usually deep violet-blue in colour, bluebells are bell-shaped with six petals and up-turned tips. These sweet-smelling flowers nod or droop to one side of the flowering stem (known as an inflorescence) and have creamy white-coloured pollen inside. Some bluebell flowers can be white or pink. Up to 20 flowers can grow on one inflorescence.
Not to be confused with: Spanish bluebell (Hyacinthoides hispanica), which is very similar in appearance to the British bluebell. However, Spanish bluebells grow upright, with the flowers all around the stem, not drooping to one side like the British bluebell. Hybrid bluebell (Hyacinthoides x massartiana) is a mix of the British and Spanish bluebell. It is often very similar in appearance to our native bluebell, but might threaten its existence by out-competing it and diluting the gene pool.
There are many wonderful hellebore varieties, often sold in a mix of colors. More and more hybrids are being offered in single colors. Here are some favorites:
It is hard to categorize primroses. There is the common primrose (Primula vulgaris) cowslips (Primula veris) in buttery yellow the exotic candelabras (Primula japonica) that hold their flower clusters on tall, straight stems and the saturated colors of English primrose (Primula acaulis). They all vary a bit in shape and size, but they all look best in large clumps, particularly when spreading out under trees.