- [Narrator] Wanna feed your gardening soul during the bleak winter months and save money? Annette Shrader gets a lesson on winter sowing from this gardener who starts hundreds of plants as early as January. Sheri Gramer introduces us to a can-do gardener who meets the challenge of having various microclimates on her property, plus we'll see how she took what was an intimidating slope and made it a colorful terraced backyard garden. Come along. Incorporating the treasures of stones, rocks, and slabs at this beautiful mountain home. - Today we're gonna visit a terrace garden and it's a border garden, also, but you know what, it's terraced for a very good reason. It sits atop of Long Mountain and it has not been a disadvantage, it's been an advantage for this homeowner. We're at the beautiful home of Carol Menth today. Carol- - Hi. - Tell me about your gardens and what made you do all of this, it's gorgeous. - I love to garden, I love to see the birds and the bees and the butterflies so- - And so we're in the front of your house. - In the front of the house, yes- - And you- - Overlooking the mountain. - And you were saying there's all different microclimates here on your property. - Right. This side over here is very dry, so I'd have to put things in that worked over there, and then on the other side it's quite wet. - [Sheri] And so how many acres do you have here? - [Carol] Almost four acres. - [Sheri] And what do you think, how much of that do you think you're gardening? I know you're on a steep hill or steep mountain top. - [Carol] Probably about a acre and a half. - [Sheri] And I love how you've incorporated the rocks and the different ledges- - Thank you. - [Sheri] Into your transitions, into your different garden areas. - [Carol] Well, some of those rocks were there permanently and I could not move them. - Obviously, so let's look at your hot part of your garden here. - Okay. - What do you have going on here? - [Carol] Brown-eyed Susan's do really well 'cause they can handle the drought. - [Sheri] And you have catmint? - [Carol] Yes, catmint. - [Sheri] And what else is in this garden here? - [Carol] Uh, bee balm to attract the butterflies and the birds, coneflowers and lilies and I have some roses, but then I have to water those a little bit more. - [Sheri] Uh-huh. You said this is the driest garden in your area? - This is the dry area, yes. - [Sheri] Okay, okay. Carol, this is a pretty area, you were saying this has a flair, what's the flair? - [Carol] Well, it's more like a part of a Japanese garden and- - [Sheri] And so how did you intermingle these? I love the combinations of the colors of the impatiens coming. - [Carol] Well, they all come up by Mother Nature's help. They're seeding themselves every fall and then I take them outta here and transplant them other places in the yard. - [Sheri] And you have dry river bed here with some rocks. - Right, and we do, it gets very wet when it's raining. - [Sheri] And what else do you have up here in this border? - We have some azaleas, some roses, Siberian irises, regular irises, more beebalm and a bunch of lilies, which are almost done blooming. - It's very pretty. - And then there's a butterfly bush that's trying to come back, been a hard winter. - Like everything this year, right? - Right, and I got a new bush called the fothergilla that's right there. - Uh-huh. - [Carol] It's really pretty white flowers in the spring and it's supposed to get really pretty colors in the autumn with the leaves. - Nice, nice. As full and as wide as these borders are, you've got a lot more to see, let's go look. - [Carol] Yes, let's go look. - Carol, this is a different border, this must be a little bit wetter one for you. - Yes, it's a lot more wet here and we have to be really careful what we put in because it has to like a lotta water. The impatiens do well here. They get some sun- - The ferns are loving it. - [Carol] Yes, they are. - [Sheri] And so I love the combination with the balloon flowers and the- - [Carol] And the phlox- - Mm-hm. - [Carol] It's, I think, called bubblegum phlox. - [Sheri] It looks just like Dubble Bubble, doesn't it? - Mm-hm, yep. - [Sheri] And you have more black-eyed Susans? - [Carol] Right, more black-eyed Susans. I just put the seeds down and they come up every year for me. - [Sheri] And oakleaf- - Sometimes in places I don't want them to come up. - [Sheri] Okay, yes, and oakleaf hydrangeas? - Yes. - And you have a lot of ground cover in the gardens here in the borders, you were telling me about that before. - I have some oregano, thyme and different basil mixed in, I have herbs mixed in with the flower beds. - [Sheri] You're gonna make a lot of gardeners jealous with your hardscape, most gardeners have to pay for it. - [Carol] I know, it's all free. - [Sheri] It's all free and did you move some of these rocks into these borders? - [Carol] The big one, that was there, so I just built the flower beds around it. - [Sheri] That's great how you did that and then you use a lot of the rocks for edging your borders, as well. - Right, and some of them are there permanently because they go way down deep. - [Sheri] And you use some for steps and walkways? - [Carol] Right, yes. - [Sheri] And so do you do that or does your husband do that or do you- - I did almost all of this. - Well, good for you. - He would bring the wheelbarrow with all the stones in it and I would lay them down. - [Sheri] Fun. Well, this section really pops with color. - [Carol] Yes, it does. Most of it came up by itself. - [Sheri] What do you have going on in here? - I've got some perennial hibiscus, lilies, hydrangeas, crepe myrtle that I had to chop down to the bottom because it was really bad looking, bad shape, and then brown-eyed Susan's and then I put some gladiolas in to cut flowers. - [Sheri] And you have different kind of groundcover here? - [Carol] Yes. - What is that? - [Carol] I have some sedum in, the creeping sedum it's called- - [Sheri] Mm-hm, and you were saying you just throw that anywhere and it just- - Pick it up, throw it and it grows. Just water it- - So, it likes a sandy, dry- - [Carol] Right. - Loamy. - [Carol] It'll grow in anything, it'll even grow in mostly shade, too, but it doesn't grow as well as it is in the sun. - So, tell me about the difficulty that you had, but you know what, I love your hydrangeas here- - Oh, thank you. - They are performing nicely today for us. - They are. They were a little bit more upright, but the rains kinda knocked them down a little bit. - [Sheri] So the struggles with this yard for you, you have grassy area which is what, maybe 12 feet- - 12 feet wide- - [Sheri] Wide at some points? - Just enough to walk through. - [Sheri] Uh-huh, and then you were telling me that the terrace came really outta necessity for you gardening this hillside. - [Carol] Right. - Correct? - [Carol] I would get on my boots, because I'm afraid of snakes and I would start sliding down the hill in my boots, so I thought I've gotta do something better. - [Sheri] What? - [Carol] It was a little bit more steep than it is now and so I terraced the top level one year, the next year, another level and I just kept going down. - [Sheri] - And that's because you kept sliding down? - [Carol] Yep, sliding down with my boots on. - [Sheri] Well, it ended up working out nicely for you, I think- - Well, thank you. - [Sheri] And the color is just beautiful, the pops. Do you see yourself going farther down the hill? - [Carol] Not too much further, we have a line of blackberry bushes down at the bottom, so we're just gonna keep those there and I think I'll end right down there. I'm working on the last level right now, but it's a lot of weeds. - I imagine every window has a beautiful view- - Yes, it does. - And I think what's important to note is that most of these are annuals and perennials- - [Carol] Right. - [Sheri] And they're so tall and healthy. - [Carol] Yes. - [Sheri] Do you fertilize with anything? - [Carol] Not on the hill, I don't fertilize a thing. - [Sheri] And you have no watering system? - [Carol] No watering system except for a garden hose. - [Sheri] Yeah, well it's beautiful. I think the combinations are breathtaking. - Thank you. - [Sheri] As if you didn't have enough terraces to contend with, you made some more here, this is lovely. - Yes, thank you. Well, we thought the cottage needed a little bit of a garden, too, so, this was- - And so what all do you have in here? - [Carol] Astilbe- - [Sheri] Again, the heights are gorgeous. - [Carol] Siberian lilies- - [Sheri] And you have some shrubs- - [Carol] Some rose bushes, some ferns- - [Sheri] Nice, and then I hear water behind us. - [Carol] Yes, we have a really nice fish pond here with a waterfall that my husband built. - [Sheri] And so you said you planted the plant material before you had the pond? - [Carol] Right, hoping that we could put the pond here and it worked out, one of those places we didn't have any big boulders underneath. - [Sheri] Well, it's beautiful. - [Carol] Thank you. - [Sheri] You have vignettes everywhere. - [Carol] Well, thank you. - [Sheri] So, this is more of your woodland shade area? - [Carol] Right. - And as I turned here, I was surprised to see, well I shouldn't say surprised, because it is your gardens, there's another huge border over here in the woodland area- - Uh-huh. - With more hostas and shade plants, it's gorgeous. - Well, thank you, we put that in about two years ago when our neighbors started building over there to have sort of a screen. - [Sheri] Yeah, those oakleaf hydrangeas will really grow up- - Yes, they might. - [Sheri] And be nice, won't they? And then behind that border is your favorite sitting spot, you said. - [Carol] Yes it is. - And that rock was there I'm assuming- - The rock was there, yes. - [Sheri] 'Cause that was way too big to move. - [Carol] Yes, it was. - [Sheri] And I bet you get really nice breezes coming up- - Yes, it's beautiful. - [Sheri] That mountaintop side. - [Carol] And I'd like to put a hammock between some trees here, yeah. Be nice place to rest after I'm done gardening. - [Sheri] I wanna tell you, thank you so much for sharing your hard work and your husband's hard work. - Yes. - [Sheri] His name is Mike- - Yes. - [Sheri] And he's your go-to person for the wheelbarrow. - That's correct. - [Sheri] And thank you for sharing all your borders, your terrace gardening and you can give people an idea that just because you live on a big slope, it's not a disadvantage. - That's true, you can do something with it. - [Sheri] Well, thank you for sharing, it's been beautiful. - You're welcome. - For me, the term winter sowing used to mean that, okay, it's time to put the winter wheat in the ground, it's time to sow the red clover, but I never thought about winter sowing for the future plants of the spring. A new thing today, and Marla is an expert gardener and I know that she's resourceful and she's looked into winter sowing for the future of our flower gardens and our vegetable gardens in the spring. - Mm-hm. - I know you've tackled this Marla, but it's really not a hard thing to do, is it? - No, and that is why, that is one of the reasons why we do winter sow because it's very easy, it's very inexpensive, you can start doing this in January, planting your seeds, it's motivating because a lot of people suffer from the wintertime blues- - [Annette] Yes. - And it's something that a gardener can do during the winter and it's fun and it's exciting to watch those little seedlings sprout, and it's a great time to plant perennials to start out with because perennials, there are a lot of perennials that need a long, cold, wet winter and- - [Annette] To stratify. - Exactly right, for winter stratification, cold stratification, they need that time period- - Right. - So, it's a great time to start a lot of your plants for the future of your garden. - [Annette] Well, okay, well let's move then- - All right. - [Annette] To our choice of containers. - Okay, so basically you've got different choices here. My preference is a milk jug, which most everybody has either a milk jug that they buy from the store, your milk jug, so a water jug, ice tea jug, as long as it's clear. So, what we're gonna do is we're going to make a mini greenhouse out of a milk jug. - Yeah. - [Marla] So, what you would normally do is I like to cut mine right at the edge, make a small slit in it, and then take it and cut it directly around, but you want to leave a little bit of a handle- - Oh. - [Marla] Because you're gonna need to open that container- - Right. - [Marla] And especially when the temperatures warm up, it's going to need the fresh air and the wind- - Okay. - [Marla] The breeze. - [Annette] So, now did you purposefully make it where- - Exactly right. - [Annette] The hinge is where the handle is? - [Marla] Exactly right, so you can open it- - And it's stronger. - [Marla] And you're making a little mini greenhouse. - [Annette] As long as it's clear and preferably plastic- - Uh-huh. - [Annette] And you can make drainage holes in the bottom- - [Marla] Exactly. - [Annette] See, like I brought my little thing 'cause I want to sow something with you. - [Marla] Okay. - This was a tomato case. - [Marla] And you can practice with that one. - [Annette] And you see, all I have to do, it's already got ventilation in the top- - [Marla] Mm-hm. - [Annette] So that the moisture can go through there, but all I'll have to do then is just put me some holes and you can take a soldering gun or a screwdriver or whatever- - Right. - [Annette] And make, you have to have drainage. - [Marla] You have to have drainage. - [Annette] Okay, well- - Which brings us to this process. - Okay. - In order to make your drainage holes for the bottom, before I had a little wood-burning tool, now I use that because it's so much easier when you're going to- - Oh. - Do a lot- - That's not a solder gun, is it? - No, but you can use a solder gun. - Gotcha. - [Marla] You can also use a hot glue gun. - Yeah, okay. - Something like that works perfect. - Okay. - Before I ever had those things, you don't have to go out and buy those kind of things if you don't have 'em, you can use something as simple as an ice pick and poke your holes, a bunch of holes in the bottom. - [Annette] Okay. - We're gonna talk about soil here. When you start seeds, you want a very light soil. So, what you normally would use is a potting soil, just a plain potting soil, you don't- - Without fertilizer. - Exactly, without fertilizer, without moisture control, you don't want those things, you want a plain soil- - Okay. - And what I usually do is some of the soils, even potting soils that you get are kinda heavy, and so I may amend mine with a little bit of perlite and also I'll add some peat moss or- - [Annette] You don't put vermiculite? - You can in place of, like, in place of the perlite. - Okay. - Usually vermiculite is another thing that you can use. So a peat moss and perlite mixed in, make it a light airy soil. Now, when you add your soil to your container, you want at least, I always normally do about three inches because you want to give it some room for those roots- - Roots, yeah. - [Marla] Roots to grow strong, healthy roots. - [Annette] Okay. - [Marla] I've selected some seeds for you and I know you brought your own- - [Annette] I did! - That you'd like to do, too, so we can do both of those. - Okay. The ones I've selected for you is a perennial that's called granny bonnets columbine- - [Annette] Okay. - [Marla] And I know you're a grandmother- - [Annette] Okay. - And so I thought that would be a very appropriate thing for you to plant today. - Okay. - So, this one is a cool one for Easter, if you have children, too- - Yeah. - I thought this one would be a fun one for them to grow, it's called bunny tails grass. - Oh, yes! - It's an annual- - Yes. - And so being as we've just talked about annuals, this is already late in the season for our seeds starting, so an annual would be perfect to start now. - Okay. - Okay? - That's right, mid-March, yes. - Winter sowing's also a great project for kids. - Yeah. - They love it, they love it as much as we do. They love to get out there every day and check on the plants and peek in the milk jugs and see if things have sprouted- - [Annette] Yeah. - And it's just, it's a fun thing to watch- - Okay. - Watch their babies grow. - Well, I'm interested in the seed sowing- - Okay, okay! - And we've got a process to show here. So, let's get in some seeds. - All right, well let's open the granny bonnet- - Okay. - And these were saved seeds from my garden and these are very pretty, real pretty pink- - Oh, yeah. - And so some people have asked me, "Well, how many seeds would you put in a container?" It depends on the size of the seeds to me. If they're large seeds, I may do nine, I may do 12. So, I'm going to plant these, the granny bonnets, and columbine doesn't need soil to be covered, it needs light to germinate. - Mm-hm. - So, I just sprinkled a handful of seeds, not a handful, but a little bit of seeds in here because they are small seeds. - Like a Columbine seed, all right. - So, what I'm gonna do is I'm just gonna sprinkle 'em kind of like in little rows. - Yeah. Do you ever make mix your tiny seeds with sand? - [Marla] I do not. - It's a good way to kind of not get it all a clump of seeds. - [Marla] Uh-huh. - [Annette] You get some sand and some seed and you can even put 'em in a salt shaker- - [Marla] Ooh, that's awesome. - And do that. - [Marla] A friend of mine had a seed planter that she uses- - [Annette] Yeah, okay. - That's amazing and that's something. - Okay, all right, all right, now we've got our seed in there. - Okay, we planted a few seeds. - So, we've got to mark them, too. - Yes. - And that's important because you don't want it to disappear from the winter. - That's right! That's exactly! - Okay, so there's- - [Marla] So, that's why I quit using a Sharpie. - [Annette] And that puts the seed in contact with the soil. - [Marla] That's right. - Okay. - [Marla] You wanna tamp it down just a little bit. - [Annette] Okay. - All right, and then our next thing that we're going to do is we're gonna grab one of these little markers and we're gonna identify what the plant is, and I use what's called a garden marker, and it doesn't fade. - Doesn't, okay, that's crucial. - So, we're gonna mark this- - [Annette] I don't trust my memory anymore. Okay, and- - Granny bonnets. - [Annette] So, while you're writing that, do you put this on the inside or the outside? - [Marla] This one we're gonna put on the inside- - [Annette] Okay. - And so, because when you write on the outside of the jug, just to be on the safe side- - Yes. - The sun will fade it, this type of marker does not fade very much- - Okay. - So we're, but we're gonna mark it in just a minute. - Okay, so now we're going to close it up and do what? - We're not gonna close it yet- - Oh. - 'Cause we need to water it in place. - Okay. - So, we're gonna step over here and if you don't have a sprayer and you do a lotta winter sowing, this is a fabulous tool to use. - [Annette] I have one but I've never used it. - Oh, well it can, the benefit is it can be turned upside down. - Oh, I see! - A lotta times when you have a sprayer- - Yeah. - You can't turn it upside down- - Okay. - 'Cause it doesn't reach the bottom, so I go through- - Give her a bit of a drink. - And I make sure I'm gonna saturate that soil very well. So the next thing you're going to do is I'm also gonna identify what it is on the top of the milk jug. Some people use a number system, I just wanna know what it is. - [Annette] Right. - All right, and I also like to write the date, which today is- - The 16th. - [Marla] 3-16, okay! - The Ides of March are upon us. - All right, and then what we're gonna do is we are going to tape this up and I've done this so many times I know about how many pulls to do. - Oh, I messed you up, I apologize. - Oh no, you're fine. You're fine, you're fine, and, oh, it helps to have the right thing. Okay, there we go. And so we're gonna tape it up and I usually just start it at the handle and we'll turn it around so you can see around there and look at that. - [Annette] That's to keep it from blowing away, that keeps it closing the moisture in- - It keeps it closed and the moisture in. - [Annette] Okay. - Okay? So, then we'll come over here, we're going to let that sit outside, I put mine out in the sun 'cause I want 'em, some people put 'em under a tree to keep 'em a little bit protected- - [Annette] Just so they don't blow away or something. - Yes, that's the main thing- - [Annette] Now- - [Marla] Is to put 'em in a protected area, at least though- - Okay. - [Marla] Where they're getting sunshine. - All right, now- - Okay. - Now they've grown, is that the next process? - Now they've grown! So I'm gonna come over here, this plant is a hyssop, I have some anise hyssop growing over here in the garden that's got, that's already this tall. - [Annette] So, that's been two months? - [Marla] This has been two months, since 1-13. - Yeah. - [Marla] So, you can always know when you're gonna plant them. So, this is a great time to do this because you can see the process right now of putting 'em, planting 'em out into nature. These are ready to plant into your garden. Now when you plant them out, a lotta people do, because they're so teeny, a lotta people do a hunk of seedlings method when they plant them and- - That's what I was thinking about. - Woo! Until they get a little bit bigger. - Yeah. - So, what you wanna do and a lot of times their roots will already have grown very thick in here- - [Annette] Yeah. - And so what we do- - And when you separate roots, that sometimes puts 'em in shock, doesn't it? - It does. It does, so what I like to do is I will just take, in order to let these just get a little bit bigger and to decide where I want to put them, plus I won't plant all these plants, so I wanna give 'em a little more time to get a little bit bigger, so I will take my little spoon here and I will just get out a clump of seedlings, a hunk of seedlings, and I will put that right in a little pot and these will grow- - [Annette] But you can take that directly to the garden. - You can, yes, and I will show you some plants that I planted directly in the garden because- - Okay. Well, we better hurry up. - [Marla] And these will grow and the the strongest seedlings will survive. - Yeah, and you can snip out. - [Marla] Exactly, you can snip out the ones you don't want. - Right, okay. - What I usually do is let 'em grow and then I break 'em apart, put 'em in more pots and then you've got plants to share with- - Right. - Other people at your plant swaps or your friends and- - Well, I think we see the process- - Plenty to do. - [Annette] And the results, and now- - Of course this- - [Annette] And you've already got tomatoes in. - Yes, this is what I wanted to talk to you about doing vegetables, you can start vegetables. There are certain ones, things you wouldn't start, I wouldn't start like squash or beans- - Right, it's just- - [Marla] Or anything that are gonna grow,- - Yeah. - But my tomatoes, I wanna give a head start. - Yeah. - So, you have to really keep an eye on 'em when you plant them. I planted this one in February, beginning of February, you can wait a little- - That's just a month then? - Yeah, just a month, and they've already sprouted during the- - And that's been outside? - [Marla] It's been outside. - [Annette] So Marla, this is what we were striving to achieve. This is the result of your winter sowing and you pull them directly from their growing container and transplanted them into the ground. - [Marla] Yes, these hollyhocks have been growing in the winter sown jugs for since beginning of January, it's now March, they're ready to plant out- - Exactly. - They've got at least two sets of leaves and they can tolerate the cold that we are having and another thing that you can do to protect your seedlings once you've put them in the ground, is take your winter sown jug, go ahead and cut that little handle off and then place it over your plant, your newly planted seedlings. These are some sweet peas that I planted last week and I just use the other half of the jugs and just cut 'em and put them over the bottom and the top of, use the bottom and the top and put 'em over each side of the seedlings to protect them from the winter cold. - You filled my mind so full of information that I still have time to go home- - You exactly- - And do this. - That's exactly right because we're expecting some more cold in the next few weeks and it's not springtime yet, so it's time to get your winter sowing done and watch your babies grow and, you know- - And I thank you for your advanced planning. - Well, thank you! - Made it wonderful to come and spend time with you and get your knowledge, thank you. - Well, thank you, I'm glad to have you. - Now, many times when we purchase plants at the nursery, they have been growing in containers for quite some time. So, a lotta times you'll find that they're fairly root bound when you take them outta their pots. You can see that the roots have grown all over the bottom of this, we do have nice healthy roots coming down the sides of the root ball, but before we stick it in the ground, I always wanna break this up just a little bit. This one's breaking up pretty nicely, sometimes they don't do that, you get a little more, you have to get a little more aggressive with them, sometimes even use a tool and cut through some of those roots. You don't wanna break a lot of them, but if you have to cut through a few, it's not going to hurt anything, they'll regrow, but what we're looking to do here is just tease those roots out so that when we fill in around the plant, they're more inclined to go right directly into the soil rather than just continuing growing around and around and around the root ball. We'll just fill right in behind, my soil, I use soil conditioner as mulch. It's clay based, but over many years of amending, I've been able to make the texture pretty good. So, some parts of the garden, I still use amendments in the hole, when I dig in other parts I don't have to use as much anymore, and, but anyway, that's all you're looking to do, but just tease those roots out good and loosen them up in the root ball so that, again, they'll go right out into the soil rather than growing around and around that root ball and potentially strangling themselves. - [Narrator] For inspiring garden tours, growing tips and garden projects, visit our website at volunteergardner.org and find us on these platforms.
October 05, 2023
Season 32 | Episode 12
Want to feed your gardening soul during the bleak winter months, and save money? Annette Shrader gets a lesson on winter sowing from a gardener who starts hundreds of seeds as early as January. Plus, we meet a 'can do' gardener who meets the challenge of the several micro-climates on her property, along with doing an ornamental garden on a steep slope.