Thursday, February 27, 2020



In a world full of bagged soils, each one claiming to be better than the next. You may be left in a cloud of dirt and confusion. After all, it's dirt. Why does it have to be so complicated?
Most people don't look at the ingredients of the bag. Again, it's dirt! Believe it or not, every soil that is marketed has a different set of ingredients that makes it good for some uses and maybe not so good for others. But, chances are you never thought about that. If its intended use is not in its title then most assume it's good for all things. The reality is, the names and titles are vague at best. Potting mix, potting soil, planting mix, garden soil, it all seems very ambiguous at best.

Here at the nursery, we have many different types of soil as well, but we want to take a moment to explain the difference so you can make an informed decision. There are many additives you can purchase to combine with existing soil to make it more hospitable for new plantings. Understanding your needs is key to making a great home for new roots.

We carry Daddy Pete's soils and Jolly Gardener products as well.
Daddy Pete's is a local company and we try to support local as much as we can. Without local businesses, Mainstreet America will fade into the past. But, that's a blog for another time.

Planting Mix

Planting mix, generally speaking, is a mixture of composted cow manure and finely ground pine bark. The combination of this composted organic matter makes the soil very nutrient-rich so it is a superb choice for adding to the native soil when planting trees and shrubs or enriching the soil of a tired flower bed or garden spot. It also helps with drainage and water penetration.

Lawn and Garden Soil

This is a combination of composted manure, finely ground pine bark, sand, and garden gypsum (calcium sulfate). This is a good choice for amending gardens and raised beds which may have exhausted the nutrients from the soil and need some revitalization.

Raised Bed Mix

This is a well-balanced combination of composted cow manure, finely ground pine bark, sand, perlite, and gypsum (calcium sulfate). As the name says it is best used in raised beds and containers or vegetable gardens as it promotes good drainage and nutrients for good growth.

Moisture Mate* Planting Mix

Moisture Mate is a Jolly Gardener product that is used for containers. It contains polymer crystals that help to maintain moisture in containers. It also helps prevent over-watering with its superb drainage properties. Moisture Mate also contains timed release plant food that will feed your new plantings for up to four months.

  1. a form of obsidian characterized by spherlulites formed by cracking of the volcanic glass during cooling, used as insulation or in plant growth media.

Perlite used as an additive helps to keep soil from becoming too compacted and aids in drainage.
While widely used as a soil amendment for planting, it has become popular as a stand-alone planting medium for hydroponic growing. acting as more of a support for the plants while keeping the tops of the plants relatively dry, thereby preventing rot.


  1. a yellow or brown mineral found as an alteration product of mica and other minerals, used for insulation or as a moisture-retentive medium for growing plants.

Vermiculite is widely used as an additive in soil because of its water retention properties. Making it supreme for plants that need a lot of moisture. You can purchase this separately to add to existing or native soil or you can purchase bagged soil that already has it added. Percentages of content can usually be found on the outside of the bag.

Peat Moss
Peat Moss is an organic decomposed moss with extremely good water retention properties. Peat moss is added to soil that has a high sand content so that it can aid in keeping the soil moist and loose. Most bagged soils have some percentage of peat moss added. check your ingredients. the higher the Sphagnum content, the more water that will be retained in your pot or area. Peat moss can be added to your native soil to keep it more workable for planting. 

Composted Cow manure

You really don't want to put fresh manure on a new bed or garden just before you plant but you can add it for the next season. However, you can buy composted cow manure by the bag and add it just before planting to act as a fertilizer for your plants. It is no secret that any composted organic matter makes your soil more nutrient-rich and gives your young plants the solid start they need.

In short, you can purchase bagged soils that already have what you need, or you can purchase additives to make your existing soil better. I recommend that very poor soil be amended with bagged soil when planting new shrubs and trees. and occasionally to beds and gardens. If you have already used some bagged soil in your area and just need to freshen it up, you can add a singular additive based on your needs. Or find the perfect combination for your plans. Either way, it is good practice to know what the needs of your plants are, then make your purchase based on that.  The key to successful gardening starts at ground level. Soil is key to plant health and crop abundance.
 Get in the dirt, good dirt looks rich and feels food to the fingers and the soul.




Cook 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts.
Add salt to the water when boiling.

Drain and chop cooked chicken into small cubes
Add 1/4 cup of pickles (I prefer sweet pickles)
 2 Tbs. of mustard
1 cup of salad dressing mayo.
1/4 cup chopped celery- optional
2 boiled eggs chopped- optional

Mix well and chill.

This makes a large amount of chicken salad. Perfect for a gathering or pot luck dinner.



Herbs are becoming very popular for a myriad of reasons, ranging from culinary purposes to insect repellent and essential oils that can be rendered from the plants.
No matter what your reasons for buying herbs, they are a beautiful addition to even the smallest areas. Container gardening is a growing trend hitting urban America.
Herbs are the quintessential cure-all for what ails us. In this article, we will dive into the best herbs to grow individually and together to best suit your needs.

Insect Control

For insect control, we recommend any herb with a very pungent scent or anything with a citrus smell such as citronella, lemon thyme, lemon verbena, oregano, orange mint, lemon grass, catnip, lemon balm, lavender, bay laurel, rosemary, and dill. All of these possess some insect repelling properties. Citronella is often used in candles, oils, and even sprays that keep mosquitoes at bay while we are outside.
You should consider a mixed pot with about 3 different herbs to get the maximum effect. You could add citronella, lemon grass and rosemary for a nice combination of textures and aromas, or dill oregano and lemon balm. Use plants that complement each other, but have a powerful effect on the winged biters. I would never recommend insect-repelling plants to keep things away that are beneficial to our environment. So, please be mindful of the pollinators. If you are planting herbs for repelling insects please use them sparingly and only in your living or entertaining areas. Try not to place them where your pollinators will be repelled from nearby blossoms and blooms.

Italian Cooking

If you are like me, you never turn down a great Italian meal. Fresh herbs really bring out the flavors for these dishes. You can plant a pot combination for this purpose. Combine basil, thyme, and oregano for your tomato-based dishes or if you like Alfredo and wine sauces you could pair fennel, rosemary, and sage. I personally don't use extra sage in my Italian dishes that include Italian sausage, but to each their own and a kitchen is a laboratory experiment!

Chicken Recipes

If you eat a lot of chicken and are into all-natural and organic eating, then you may want to try these combinations for optimal flavor. Cilantro, rosemary, and garlic blend nicely for light grilled meals and tarragon, sage and thyme are great for baked or fried chicken. These look lovely together in a container as well.

Fish Recipes

Fish is such a delicate flavor you do not want to have herbs paired with it that will overpower its light flavor. A container with lemon balm, parsley, and dill will make quick work of a delicious meal for your family or if you fry your fish, you can season your batter or your sides with a combination of mint, chives, and basil.

Beef Recipes

For seasoning red meat, beef, pork, lamb, and venison, you may want to try a combination of chives, basil, and cilantro. Or, for a lighter taste, you may opt for parsley and garlic with rosemary. No matter what your preference you could easily grow these cook ready combinations to use and be the envy of the neighborhood or family.

Of course, if you eat veggies all the time you already know how important herbs can be in making your dishes very tasty. You can never go wrong with cilantro and dill in fresh salads or basil and garlic in your sauteed meals. Even if you are frying your vegetables, it's a delicious choice to add thyme, chives, and oregano.

Planting your combination planters according to your cooking habits will make it so easy to cut as you need or to dry in combination packs. Why pay big bucks for dried herbs when you can do it yourself?

Growing your insect repellent is much more cost-effective and visually pleasing. While a lot can be said of the oil burning tiki torches and the tabletop candles adding to the ambiance, nothing can compare to the natural aspect of live plants in your outdoor living spaces.

If you're growing your herbs simply because you have a deep-seated affection for the plants then any combination is fine, but I recommend lavender, eucalyptus, and lemon balm if your goal is simply aromatherapy and a love of all things natural.

Have fun building your combinations. Ultimately, the choice is yours.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

How to plan the perfect flower bed or vegetable garden

Planning for Planting

In the last few weeks of winter, we are more than ready to get on with spring. If you find yourself stuck in the house because it is simply just too cold to try to be outside right now you might want to sit down with a cup of hot cocoa and browse the internet for local plant nurseries. Once you find one, eh hem - " I hear King, North Carolina has one of the best around, just saying".  You should start to visualize your dream. Scope out your locations. Check out the available lighting in each place and begin to plan what you will put into each area. Note if the area is facing north, south, east, or west, paying attention to where the sun rises and sets. Also note if it is shaded by buildings or trees and has tree roots. Tree roots extend as far as the branches. It is helpful to draw it out on paper with measurements. You do not have to be an artist. It isn't like you are going to hang it in the local art gallery.

Trees and shrubs can still be planted now. Take advantage of warmer days to put them into the ground.

 Be sure to plan for blooms at different times throughout the season. Do not be tempted to plant an explosion of color. Your flower gardens will be more visually pleasing if you choose just a few colors and carry that theme throughout your entire landscape. Your vegetable gardens will produce better if you are mindful of the placement and lighting. For instance, you don't want your trellised beans to block the sun from your tomatoes and likewise, you don't want your tender lettuce in full sun, so you want to put this in the shadows of something larger.
 There is a myriad of apps available for download for IOS and ANDROID to help you along the way through the planning process.
are just a few that have really captured my attention.
 Soon you will be able to hit your local garden center and begin to fill your spaces with plants and in no time you will have the beautiful blooms you have waited all winter to see once again.
I cannot stress enough that you can never measure too much. Lay your boundaries and measure, measure, measure. you don't want to get your garden too full. If you don't take the time to plan you can easily get too much going on and by the end of the season, things will look overgrown instead of lush and beautiful. Do some research on the plants you want. Make note of how tall and wide they will be at maturity and keep in mind that the width of a mature plant reflects your spacing between plants. For example, if your mature plant will reach 18 inches across, then you need to space your plants 18 inches apart.

Now you are ready.
As soon as the threat of frost has passed for your area you can start putting your gorgeous gardens together. Whether its vegetables or flowers, planning will make the planting go a lot quicker and smoother. It will eliminate the guesswork and prevent regret later.

I hope this helps a bit as we enter into the new planting season.

Getting Your garden in Tip Top shape

Getting Ready...

Now is the time to start preparing for spring. Begin by turning soil and pulling remnants of last season out of the ground. If the soil that you are working in does not hold any perennial promise for this spring, turning the soil is good practice. This will allow you to add organic compost and get it worked in prior to the planting season. Each growing season depletes the soil of nutrients. By adding composted organic matter back to it, you are adding food for your spring plants. If you do not have your own compost, it is readily available for purchase. We sell Daddy Pete's that is made here in the Piedmont.

 If you are just planting a small area you can turn the soil with a shovel or a hoe. Remove all of the old roots and work in some new soil or compost with the existing soil. This will allow further decomposition of your compost prior to new plants being added. If you are working in a larger area you may want to til your soil to loosen it and then rake all the old root matter out. Some root matter is good. You just don't want to have too many old root systems hampering the new ones. 
 If you choose you can add a thin layer of mulch to your area to help keep the soil moist and loose until planting. Pine needles or shredded leaves make excellent mulch.
 If you are starting a new area, you will need to remove all the sod. Loosen the soil that is left then add compost or planting mix and be sure to mix it up well, to a depth of at least 6 to 8 inches.
 As I sit here writing this informative piece for this blog, I am haunted by the fact that I have not yet done any of this for myself. We are all very busy in today's world and if you are like me, you don't get to spend as much time being one with nature as you would like.
 So I have broken this down into a printable shareable chart that will allow you to get it done before spring and not have to work yourself to a near-death experience all in one weekend.
Click here for PDF
 Be sure that anything from last season goes into your compost to aid in feeding the garden next year.  You can even compost weeds if you use the hot compost method. This method kills the seeds and most pathogens so there is no need to worry about this causing weeds in your soil later, though they will show up uninvited by other means I am sure. I personally like to add my kitchen scraps (plant-based and eggshells but no oils or fats) and my old potting soil to my compost heap.

When you begin to use your compost be sure that it has reached a satisfactory level of decomposition. You should see dark rick soil within the heap, probably closer to the bottom of the pile but if you have been turning your compost regularly then it should have a fairly uniform level of decomposition throughout.

Adding compost to your soil is very important before planting. Especially if you are using the same area or the same pots as last year. That soil has been depleted of most of its nutrients that are vital for healthy plant growth. I cannot stress enough, when you are planting new plants it is imperative that you prepare the area before you plant to give your plants the best chance at surviving and flourishing.

Find more information on composting at the link below.

Happy Gardening!

White Chocolate Cherry Cake

White Chocolate Cherry Cake

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 large eggs
1/2 cup veg oil
1 cup buttermilk
1 tbsp vanilla

Other ingredients:
6 oz. white choc. chips
2 cans cherry pie filling
1 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup cool whip

Pre-heat oven to 350.
Spray 2 nine-inch cake pans or 1 11x13 sheet cake pan.
Melt white choc chips using a double boiler or the microwave.
If you are using a sheet cake pan - pour half of the batter in the pan and spread evenly, add one can of cherry pie filling and distribute as evenly as possible without stirring. then add the remaining batter and spread evenly.
If you are using round layer pans- omit the cherry pie filling for now.
In a large bowl whisk together all dry ingredients except sugar. In a separate bowl whisk the eggs until fluffy, add vegetable oil and sugar and whisk again until light. Add vanilla and buttermilk to the mixture. Fold in the melted white chocolate. Add dry ingredients a little at a time folding in gently.
layer pans - 35 minutes
sheet pan - 45 - 55 minutes. Times will vary with altitude and individual ovens. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted into the middle come out clean.

Mix cream cheese, 1/2 cup sugar, and 1 cup cool whip until smooth. Set aside.

Let the cake cool completely.
Add cream cheese mixture to the top of a sheet cake or to the top of both layers then add 1 can of cherry pie filling to the top of each, stack, cut and enjoy.

I baked this in a sheet cake pan. I believe the layer pans might be a better choice for this particular recipe.
The cake is very dense and moist.
Great texture and flavor.

Gifts of Love

Gifts Rooted in Love
Spider Plant; Airplane Plant
spider plant

Calla lily(top)primrose (bottom)

  The season of love is upon us. Valentine's Day is approaching fast. Men and women everywhere are scrambling to find the perfect gift. So as hoards of people inundate the local flower shop or the fresh flower kiosk at the grocery store, equally as many are staring blankly at the lacy heart-shaped boxes of mystery chocolates. Stop the madness! What better time to consider visiting your local garden center? There you will find a plethora of living plants that are sure to make someone happy. You could choose to go with a simple succulent that doesn't take up much room and does not require lots of attention. Or if your loved one is more impressed by a plush garden look, you can find many, many choices among the hanging baskets and climbing plants. Keep in mind, just because it is in a hanging basket, it does not have to hang. You can remove the hanger from the basket and place it on a tall plant stand to produce a great look. Some may prefer a tropical look. You will find a variety of tropical options available from colorful and lush to minimalist.
The key to great gift-giving is knowing your recipient. Put that knowledge to use and you are sure to find the perfect gift.

succulent hawarthia

Succulents are growing in popularity. Some people are beginning to 'collect' them like some collect stamps. If your loved one is one of the many that have started their own collection, you cannot go wrong with the gift of a succulent. Or, maybe you have heard them talk about the desire to own one. Either way, these plants are so easy to take care of and some are even hardy outside. They don't take up a lot of space and some need very little light and water. It is best to gather your information on the succulent of your choice to judge if it is a good choice for your loved one.

 Hanging Baskets
Mixed hanging basket
mixed hanging basket

Hanging baskets are so versatile. You can hang them or put them on a plant stand or even sit them in an empty chair. They can easily be set into the top of an ornate urn or nice clay pot that seems too tall for anything else. Maybe you could make it a combo. Buy a nice pot and then something to add to it. There are so many varieties of plants that you will find in hanging baskets, it would be hard to name them all. So, we will just mention a few. A spider plant offers variegated foliage and produces long shoots that have smaller plants at the end. The smaller "babies" can be cut off and easily rooted in a new pot or shared with others. These are also excellent natural air purifiers.
If you want something with a little more color you could go with a variety of wandering jew. A fern is a beautiful option for someone who has an ample light source and ability to water frequently.

House plants

Chinese evergreen
   House plants of any variety can bring joy to any plant lover. It allows the recipient to bring a little nature into their house. There are so many different choices that we could never name them all. But, trending right now are pothos in all of its varieties, snake plant, ZZ plant, monstera, and Chinese evergreen because of the ease of care. I personally like the variegated varieties because it offers more dimension to the surroundings. There is a snake plant here at the office that is over 30 years old! Technically a house plant is any plant grown in the house. Some plants can be either indoor or outdoor. or some may only be inside plants during the colder months.

Trees and Shrubs

butterfly bush shrub
butterfly bush
   A gift of a plant does not have to be limited to indoor options. If you look for a tree or a shrub instead, that will be a gift that will be around for many years, maybe even generations. If you really want to give a great gift, buy a tree or a shrub and go the extra mile to plant it too! If your recipient has limited space, there are many outdoor options that do well in a pot. You can find dwarf varieties in a lot of outdoor shrubs and trees. Trees can live in a pot, but not for many, many years. As they become root-bound they will need a larger pot or they will need to be put into the ground. You can get more time out of your pot if you start with smaller specimens.
 So this Valentine's Day, walk past the chocolates, cut flowers, and stuffed animals. Visit your local nursery or garden center and give a flower or plant that will continue to remind your loved one of your generosity for a long time to come.

Give a gift that is rooted in love.