Aubrey Baldwin, who heads the Beardsley Community Farm in Mechanicsville, offers some of her favorite gardening resources for anyone looking to get their hands dirty in a garden.
If you can only splurge on one thing for your new or established garden, let it be seed. These little miracles dictate the potential of your gardening effortsgood seed is essential for good gardens. Always use seed grown for the current year, and choose varieties that will grow well in your own special micro-climate. Heirloom varieties are great because they all have stories to tell, and growing open pollinated varieties rather than hybrids allows you to save your own seed next year.
Good Seed Sources
Ijams Nature Center: The folks at Ijams host a seed swap every spring, usually in late February or early March. Bring seed you've saved to swap with others, or just come to beg. Lots of what is available here is the real thing, old family varieties that have been growing in the region for generations. Call 577-4717 for more information.
Pinetree Garden Seeds, New Gloucester, Maine: Pinetree offers good seed at good prices in seemingly endless varieties. Lots of vegetables, flowers, and herbs to choose from, and great descriptions and photos as well. Call to request a catalog at 207-926-3400.
Territorial Seed Company, Cottage Grove, Oregon: Territorial has one of the largest trial gardens in the country, and they offer many exclusive varieties. They have great garlic and "jump starts," tiny plants for you to transplant in your gardengermination guaranteed. Call 541-942-9547.
The Cook's Garden, Londonderry, Vermont: If you are looking to grow the best tasting Italian Chicory, lilac colored peppers, or an incredible salad mix, look no farther than Cook's Garden. They specialize in finding rare, authentic, and yummy vegetables from around the world. Call toll free 1-800-457-9703.
Seeds of Change, Santa Fe, New Mexico: If you are willing to pay a little more for certified organic and open pollinated seeds, bulbs and seedlings, Seeds of Change is for you. Safeguarding the environment and preserving rare varieties are priorities for this company. Call 1-888-762-7333.
Johnny's Selected Seeds, Albion, Maine: Johnny's is a mainstay of the organic gardener. They have nearly everything, ship it quickly, and the seed is just great. Call 207-437-4301.
Other Seed Sources: You can pick up seeds in the spring just about anywhere, even the grocery store. Burpee has started their own line of heirloom seeds available in major retail outlets. Be aware that seed from some sources may contain chemical agents such as fungicides to keep seed from rotting in the ground. The above catalog sources do NOT sell treated seeds.
While it may be ultimately gratifying to grow your flowers, vegetables, and herbs from seed, purchasing plants is instant gratification. Knoxville is home to a couple of really great nurseries that provide good quality plants, rare varieties, native plants, and have salespeople who can assist you in your search for the perfect flowering shrub, or suggest a ground cover for the most difficult bald spot.
Stanley's Greenhouse in South Knoxville on Davenport Road provides quality plants, trees, and shrubs for your garden and yard. They have plenty of native plants, herbs, and perennials for your perusal. Drop by or call for a plant availability list at 573-9591.
Beaver Creek Nursery located between Powell and Halls is a quality nursery with a large selection of native plants, and rare and unusual trees and shrubs. Call ahead because they are open to the public only on certain days of the week: 922-3961.
Sunlight Gardens has a tremendous selection of wildflowers and native plants. A bit of a drive, they are worth a trip to Andersonville. 494-8237.
Honey Rock Herb Farm in Friendsville and Erin's Meadow near Oak Ridge offer plants and great workshops on how to use herbs to make your life brighter.
Forest Farm is a company in Oregon with a novel of an ornamental and useful plant catalog. If you are looking for something you just cannot find anywhere else, they probably have it. Call 541-846-9230 for their $4 catalog or to ask a specific question.
Tools, Supplies, Soil Amendments
There's nothing worse than reading a book full of exciting gardening ideas and suggestions, then realizing that you can't get any of that stuff in town. Organic Gardening supplies are hard to come by, but there are a few sources around.
Peaceful Valley Farm Supply, in Grass Valley, California, is an excellent source of soil amendments, amazing tools, seed potatoes, bulbs, garlic, grass mixes, wildflower seed, and organic pest control. The shipping from California can be steep, but sometimes they have exactly what you want. They sell the whole line of Real Swiss made garden tools. Call 888-784-1722 for their educational catalog.
Indoor Farms Greenhouses in Glade Spring, Virginia is a great place to find organic soil amendments. Just north of Abingdon, they are about a 2 hour drive, or will ship UPS cheaper than from California. They carry products like Planters II mineral fertilizer, Esposa's complete line of organic fertilizers, diatomaceous earth in 50-pound bags, greensand, rock phosphate, hot pepper spray, and other pest control items. Call 540-944-3665 for a product list and/or directions to the store. They'll even help you figure out what you need if you bring in a soil test analysis.
There are tons of gardening books out there. Here are a few of my favorites:
Ableman, Michael. On Good Land: An autobiography of an urban farm.
Ableman, Michael. From the Good Earth.
Coleman, Eliot. The New Organic Grower.
Coleman, Eliot. Four Season Harvest.
Byczynski. The Flower Farmer.
Gregson. Rebirth of the Small Family Farm.
Scweke, Karl. Successful Small Scale Farming.
Lopez, Andrew. Natural Pest Control: Alternatives to chemicals for the home and garden.
Other Knoxville Resources
Knox County, University of Tennessee Agriculture Extension Service. If it's information you want, they probably have it. You can drop by their office on the sixth floor of the City County Building and pick up publications on a variety of topics. They also offer Master Gardener classes, bee-keeping workshops, craft lessons, and food storage and preservation classes. 215-2340.
March 30, 2000 * Vol. 10, No. 13
© 2000 Metro Pulse