Notes from the Nursery – Winter 2023

Notes from the Nursery - Winter 2023

I haven’t known life without greenhouses since nearly back in the 1900s! I’m going to start using phrases like that as I get older and more gray hairs start showing up. Greenhouse structures make growing plants a breeze: controlled temperatures, mist systems, heated tables, and the list goes on and on. You really should have one in your garden!

But when you look at your small yard or start looking into everyone’s favorite subject, zoning regulations, you might find that your own magical greenhouse isn’t feasible. Such is life. But don’t let that stop you!  There is plenty of hope for people who want to propagate more plants without a greenhouse.

One of our nursery volunteers, I’ll use the pseudonym Ned Hall to protect the identity of a fellow plant propagator, comes in each week and while helping out, he learns little propagation techniques he can use at home. Ned has used small hoops to make small cold frames to extend the season for cool season crops. He has started succulents from leaves that have fallen off mature plants in the nursery, and even taken the cuttings from coleus that we pinched back in late winter to start his own crop at home.



A great way to start new plants at home is to use a simple grow light to allow you to start your cole crops (brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, etc. to name a few) indoors in late February – or your tomatoes in early April. Using artificial light you can also start enough cuttings off of your houseplants to start a farmer’s market stand! And that is all before our last frost of the year!

Much of our nursery propagation and growing at Yew Dell happens outside in the summer,  and without a greenhouse. Dividing  a clump of perennials in late winter can pay big dividends. A tiny division given a good potting mix, ample water, and fertilizer, will grow much faster in a container than just being plopped back into a garden bed. But you can simply divide and replant right away and still have excellent results.

Whether it’s starting veggies inside under lights in winter or dividing perennials to build your garden, it’s all about growing more plants – with or without a greenhouse!

As for me, and probably Ned, we’ll be happy to write a letter to your zoning board about how a greenhouse is way cooler and more beneficial than a swimming pool!

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