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How to Grow Citrus in Iowa

While an imported orange from Florida or California might hit the spot, imagine the satisfaction of biting into an orange from your own personal grove! Some citrus trees do very well as houseplants, so you can grow them yourself right here in Iowa! All you need to grow citrus is a little patience and care. You’re not limited to just oranges either—lemons, limes, and even kumquats are all on the list of citrus fruits you can grow in containers!    

How to Choose A Citrus Tree

The most important thing to know is that you’ll have to keep your tree indoors for the winter, so choose a dwarf variety. The added bonus of dwarf citrus trees is that many of them also produce fruit at a younger age. 

Meyer Lemons are among the best options. They grow up to about 4′ in height, and they will even produce fruit on young plants that are barely 2′ tall!

Dwarf Key Lime is another fantastic choice. It grows 4-6′ tall and will bear delicious fruit in 1-3 years. Be patient, don’t give up on it, and it will eventually come through with a bounty of limes for your pies, mojitos, tacos, and more!

Nagami Kumquats do well here, too. They can get up to 8′ tall. If you’ve never tried a kumquat, it’s like a small tangerine that has a lovely sweet flavor. Even better, the flowers are amazingly fragrant!

Citrus Tree Growing Conditions  

Citrus trees like acidic soil (no surprises there!), so your citrus tree will do best in a specific citrus soil mix. It’s also important to fertilize with citrus fertilizer once a month from April to September. 

Citrus trees need 8-12 hours of bright sunshine every day. They’ll do best near a large sunny south-facing window. In the winter, you’ll need to supplement with strong grow lights. They like consistent temperatures of about 65ºF, and they don’t appreciate drafts.

One way to give your citrus tree a boost is to let it enjoy a summer vacation outdoors! It’s critical to transition your citrus tree outdoors slowly, once overnight temperatures are consistently above 55ºF. The process is similar to hardening off your plants, but it should be a 2-3 week process. Start transitioning back inside when overnight temperatures are dropping below 65ºF; it should take another 2-3 weeks. Keep your eyes peeled for pests when you bring them inside in the fall. If you spot any, make sure to keep your tree isolated from other plants in the home until the pest problem is resolved.

Citrus Leaf Drop

Don’t be too alarmed if you see leaves falling off your citrus tree in the winter. They can go into a semi-dormant state and may defoliate. Any unripe fruit will continue to ripen slowly, even if the plant loses many leaves. Cut back on watering if you notice leaves falling.  

Watering Citrus Trees

All citrus trees like high humidity and evenly moist soil. Water your tree when the top of the soil feels dry to the touch and cut back on watering a bit during the winter months. Humidity is critical, and your citrus tree will need a humidifier to sustain it through the winter.  


Citrus Tree Pollination  

Pollination might be the most important, and most frequently overlooked, part of owning a citrus tree. Indoor trees are self-pollinated, so you don’t need two trees. But, you do need to do the pollination yourself. Run a Q-tip or small paintbrush all over the inside of a flower, especially around the greenish center. Then, repeat the process on each of the other flowers to spread the pollen that will allow them to produce fruit. This is the job that bees do in the wild, so go ahead and treat yourself to some honey once you’ve finished!

If your citrus tree is going to spend the summer outside, the real bees will take care of this process for you. Luckily, they’re always grateful for the work!


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Following these care steps and you will be enjoying Iowa grown citrus no time. Stop by our garden center to pick up a citrus tree of your own today!

 

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The Best Flowering Shrubs for Des Moines

weigelias-ted lare

Flowering shrubs are an excellent addition to any yard. They add structure and depth to your landscaping, they can be used for hedging or as accents, and when in flower, they add gorgeous color and even fragrance to your yard!

Here are a few of our favorite flowering shrubs that thrive in Central Iowa. 

Summersweet

Aptly named, Summersweet features clusters of sweetly fragrant white flowers that open in the middle of summer. It’s perfect for full to part sun conditions and grows up to 4′ high and wide. 

 

Rhododendrons

Evergreen shrubs feature purple or pink flowers that open in mid- to late spring, depending on the variety. These shrubs do well in part shade to mostly shade. They range anywhere from 5′ tall and 5′ wide to 2′ tall and 3′ wide.        

Forsythia

Thousands of bright yellow flowers cover forsythia shrubs every spring; it’s a real showstopper! Be sure to choose an Iowa flower bud hardy variety. These do well in full sun to part sun and grow to be about 4-5′ tall and wide.        

 

Hydrangeas

These are an excellent choice for large beautiful blooms in the summer season. Some Hydrangeas like the full sun while others are better suited to the shade. Colors range from pink to white and even blue, depending on the variety and the soil pH. They range in size from 3′ tall and wide to 5′ tall and wide.

Weigelias

An awesome late spring bloomer, tiny trumpet-shaped flowers cover these shrubs around May each year. Hummingbirds enjoy these blooms. Some Weigelias are up to 6-7′ while others are short and compact, staying closer to 4′ tall and wide. Flower colors range from pinks to reds to white.

 

Lilacs

Known for their marvelous fragrance, these shrubs can perfume an entire yard with a sweet scent that seems to float on a light spring breeze. Some get rather tall—up to 12′!—and would work great as a privacy screen. Dwarf varieties stay closer to 4-5′ tall and wide. Most lilacs like full sun, but can tolerate up to half the day in the shade.            

Viburnums

While some are grown for their fall leaves, many Viburnums have beautiful flowers. Some varieties are fragrant, others are not, and some have unique flower clusters that look almost like snowballs. Viburnum’s clusters of flowers coat the shrub during spring to early summer. Spring bloomers are quite fragrant, similar to Lilacs. Viburnums range from 3-4′ tall up to 12′ tall, depending on the variety. They are quite adaptable and will enjoy full sun or mostly shady conditions.  

 

Hardy Hibiscus

If you are looking for a shrub with extra-large dinner-plate-sized flowers, this is it. Hardy Hibiscus shrubs have blooms that look like they belong in the tropics. These shrubs need a little extra patience in the spring as they can be late to come up. The colors are usually two-toned, with one color on the outside and another in the inner part of the flowers. Color options range from white to pink to red. These beauties really love a hot, full sun location! They get to about 4-5′ tall and bloom in the middle to end of summer. 


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If you’d like to add any of these beautiful flowering shrubs to your yard this summer, give us a call, or stop by the garden center to pick out the ones you love the most.      



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Container Garden Inspiration for Your Patio

Container gardens have made gardening more accessible to many people. They’re perfect for people who only have a patio or porch, for those with mobility issues, beginner gardeners, and even kids. If you have a container garden with herbs and vegetables right outside your door, it’s nice and easy to pop out and grab a couple of things to add to your meals every day. It’s also a little easier to control issues like weeds in container gardens. Whatever your experience level, a container garden is a great way to get gardening. 

Among the best parts of container gardening is that you can get really creative with your arrangements. There are endless ways to arrange your containers on your patio and endless plant combinations you can grow together in containers. Your container garden can be completely different from one year to the next! You can combine veggies with flowers, you can do a color theme for each container, or you can go for an overall style and theme. Stumped for ideas? Here are a few Iowa container garden design ideas that you can recreate!

Container Vegetable Garden

If you’d like to grow mostly vegetables in your container garden, the most important thing is to decide what you’d like to grow, and then look for containers appropriate for the vegetables you want. Potato bags work quite well for growing potatoes on a patio, but you can also grow them in deep plant pots. For carrots, you’ll want a fairly deep planter as well. Strawberries, on the other hand, can be grown in quite shallow containers or hanging baskets. Peas and beans also don’t need too much soil depth, but they do need a trellis, canes, or wires to climb. If you’re short on space but want to grow lots of herbs, you can adapt a used shipping pallet into a vertical garden and turn the slats into shelf-style planters for a variety of herbs. 

You can also do some companion planting in a container garden. You can grow lettuce and spinach underneath tomatoes and peppers, radishes at the bottom of the peas, and green onions with kale or cabbage. 

 

Alpine Rock Garden Containers

If you love the look of rock gardens, you can recreate the alpine esthetic on a smaller scale with a container garden. Clay, concrete, and terracotta pots are great for recreating rock gardens. Alpine plants generally thrive in soil that is very rocky and have very few nutrients, so you don’t need standard potting soil for an alpine container garden. Cactus soil or orchid mix is a good base. Add in some attractive gravel, decorative stones in a few different sizes, and some of your favorite succulents.

You could also create a tiered look with terra cotta pots in three different sizes. It’s a good idea to use some bamboo stakes to stabilize your pots. Fill the largest pot with soil and place your decorative rocks. Then place your next size smaller pot on top of the soil in the first pot. Push your bamboo stake down through the hole into the soil of the first pot for stability. Make sure the bamboo is small enough not to block the drainage hole completely, and then fill that pot with soil. Then do the same with the next smaller pot on top of that. You could also use pots that may have broken to add an interesting look. Once you’ve got your pots arranged in tiers, start adding in your plants.

Some plants that are great for rock gardens include sedums, sempervivum, echeverias (also known as hens and chicks), creeping thyme, and dianthus (also called pinks or Sweet William). 

 

Container Cut Flower Garden

If you’d like to grow an assortment of flowers in containers for making your own bouquets, you’ll want to plan it out based on bloom times. Growing a variety of flowers that bloom all season, and at different times throughout the season means you’ll always have a variety of flowers to choose from. You can plant an assortment of different flowers together in a pot so that when you do cut some blooms, your containers still look colorful and abundant. 

Flowers that are excellent for cutting, and grow well in pots in sunny locations include zinnias, cosmos, and snapdragons. Basil or oregano can do double duty as a culinary herb or greenery in bouquets. Container gardens with partial shade could host hellebores, columbines, and astilbes. Lambs ear is a lovely greenery plant for part shade containers. For locations with all-day shade, consider bleeding hearts, coleus, foxgloves, and hostas.


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If you’d like to put together a container garden, give us a call for concierge shopping or order online. From containers to soil, decorative stone to plants and seeds, we can help you set up a beautiful container garden of your own! We can prepare your order for curbside pickup or delivery within the Des Moines metro area.

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The Best Landscape Border Materials for the Long Haul

When you plan your landscaping, you are planning for the long term. You want everything, especially border edging, to last as long as possible—no matter what Mother Nature throws at it. Since landscaping is often one of the most significant investments you’ll make in your property, it can feel like you’ve wasted money if products break down, decay, or start to look dingy after just a few years. 

There’s a wide variety of products you can use for border edging. Here are the pros and cons of a few of the most common edging options available, and what we recommend for the longest-lasting hardscapes in Iowa

Plastic Edging

Plastic edging is a very affordable option, and it comes in a variety of colors and styles. However, plastic edging is a true case of “you get what you pay for.” Plastic edging degrades very quickly when exposed to the elements. Sun fades its color and weakens the material while snow and freezing temperatures make it even more brittle. Then it starts to crack, break, and look bad in just a few seasons. The plastic edging looks cheap, and it only gets worse with time. While plastic edging may seem like a great deal, you’ll be replacing it pretty frequently, and cleaning up all the bits and pieces from your yard can be difficult. We don’t recommend plastic edging to anyone. 

Spade Edging

A clean-cut line of spade edging looks fantastic. It’s minimalist, it’s definitely the most affordable option, and it allows strong landscaping to stand on its own without distraction. However, it is a high-maintenance approach. To keep it looking nice, it needs to be cleaned up at least once per year, and perhaps a second time depending on how crisp you want to keep the edge.  

Metal Edging

Metal edging products are very utilitarian and leave very clean lines. With that said, they’re not particularly attractive or creative, and they don’t bend well. These products are most useful in straight lines for commercial applications and utility areas of your home.

Natural Stone Border

One of the best and longest-lasting options is a natural stone border. Natural stone has a classic, timeless look, and fits into any landscape beautifully. As edging, natural stone is extremely durable, and weather and sunshine won’t drastically affect the look or texture. If you’re going with stone, avoid soft stone, like Iowa Buff, as it will discolor and degrade very quickly. Choose a dense stone that will stand up well to wear and tear over time. 

Stones that are at least 6″ wide and 2-3″ thick are the best for durability. If you have areas that see regular traffic from lawn equipment, like around pathways and patios, choose larger stones. Natural stone can be cut to custom sizes and installed end-to-end for a tighter or looser fit, depending on the look you’re going for.

Paver Stones

Paver stones are also a top option for landscape borders. These days, there are so many varieties, styles, sizes, and colors available to choose from! They’re also very durable and will last for a very long time. Similar to stone, we recommend larger and thicker pavers—at least 6 inches wide—for high-traffic areas.


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If you need help choosing and installing a landscape border, one of our landscaping pros would be happy to give you their opinion and some pricing for your home.  

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Top 10 Tomatoes for Your Iowa Garden

Tomatoes are a gardening favorite across the US and around the world. They’re tasty, they produce a lot of fruit for the size of the plant, and they’re pretty easy to grow. But there are literally thousands of different types of tomatoes to choose from, so how do you choose which ones to try for yourself?

Here’s a list of 10 tried-and-true favorites that have fantastic flavor and grow well here in Iowa. You’ll be sure to get excellent tasting tomatoes growing any of these varieties!

  1. Sun Gold is a beautiful golden orange cherry tomato. This popular variety is a very vigorous producer, and its branches will be loaded with super-sweet tomatoes all season! They bloom quite early and are easy to care for. Sun Gold tomatoes win our Tomato Festival taste-testing contest every single year!

 

  1. Black Krim is a unique heirloom tomato that is popular with gourmet chefs. It has a complex flavor combo of sweet, smoky, and a little bit salty. Black Krims are quite large, weighing anywhere from 8-12 ounces, and they’re particularly delicious with basil, fresh mozzarella, and a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Black Krim is a top favorite among our staff members.
  2. Gold Medal tomatoes are a large and delicious yellowish-orange heirloom variety. They practically melt in your mouth and have a sweet, rich flavor. These are perfect for tomato sandwiches!

 

  1. Green Zebra is another heirloom variety, and they’re as beautiful to look at as they are tasty. These have striking bright green stripes that will catch your eye right away. Green Zebras are very rich, with just the right amount of tomato tang. They are also very popular with gourmet chefs. Green Zebras mature a little late, but they produce very prolifically.
  2. Amish Paste is a Roma tomato, and they might be the perfect option for canning or eating fresh. They have a wonderfully rich flavor that is perfect for sauces and soups. They do get quite tall and produce prolifically right into the fall, so they will need to be trained on strong stakes to support their heavy crop. 

 

  1. Martino Roma is a prolific producer with lots of flesh and very few seeds. These dense little tomatoes are excellent for canning, making salsa, or in fresh bruschetta. They produce prolifically but may fall off the vine when they get ripe, so keep an eye on the ground to prevent fallen fruit from bruising!
  2. Italian Heirloom produces huge tomatoes, weighing in from 12-20 ounces. They are a perfect balance of sweet and acidic, with meaty flesh and very few seeds. This is your ideal sandwich tomato; you should only need one slice to cover an entire piece of bread. They make great sauces as well and are resistant to many tomato diseases.

 

  1. Early Girl, as their name implies, is one of the earliest ripening varieties of tomato available, maturing in just 57 days! These are a little bit smaller than other varieties at 4-6 ounces each, but they still pack a delicious flavor and are excellent for salads and sandwiches. They produce abundantly through mid-summer, though they do taper off in early fall. 
  2. Sweet 100 is a cherry tomato with a vivid, bright red color. These are the perfect size for picking and snacking on while they’re still warm from the sun, and they have a delicious sweet flavor. Sweet 100 produces long clusters of tomatoes right into the fall. They’re perfect for salads or Caprese salad skewer appetizers.

 

  1. Celebrity Tomatoes are a hearty producer, giving you lots of flavorful fruit that can be used in any recipe that calls for tomatoes. The plants’ average 7-ounce fruits that are resistant to cracking. 


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If you’d like to add some tomato plants to your garden this year, give us a call! We’ve got curbside pickup available or delivery within the Des Moines metro area. We can set you up with the variety that will be perfect for your yard. Don’t forget to check out our
tips for growing amazing tomatoes when you pick up your selections for the year!

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Ted Lare’s Top New Annuals for 2020

Every year we try to bring in some new and exciting annuals to keep your garden fresh and interesting. This year is no exception! We’ve got some unique and beautiful options this year with beautiful flower colors, striking variegated leaves, and simply unique features. Here are our top new annuals for 2020!

Coleus ‘Splish Splash’

Speckled yellow leaves add a splash to any container! Reaching up to 2′ tall and wide, this colorful Coleus works well as the backdrop of any container arrangement or in the garden. ‘Splish Splash’ is great for part sun to full sun areas.

Coleus ‘Under the Sea Clownfish’

Each leaf on this Coleus offers a trio of colors; lime green, pink, and burgundy. The leaves have a slightly serrated edge, offering a different look compared to other varieties. Not quite as tall as other Coleus, this variety reaches about 1′ tall and wide. It does great in full sun to mostly shade. 

Calibrachoa ‘Can Can Bumblebee’

This Calibrachoa has pleasant pink tones with a yellow star in the center. They work well in hanging baskets or the front of containers and prefer full sun to part shade. They grow about 6-7″ tall and wide and blend beautifully with other annuals.

Calibrachoa ‘Neo Double Orangetastic’

This Calibrachoa has ruffled double blooms that are colored a pretty shade of orange with reddish centers. Like other Calibrachoas, this one prefers plenty of sunlight, but it will tolerate a bit of shade. It gets about 6-7″ tall and wide and works well in hanging baskets or as a spiller in container gardens.

Petunia Supercal ‘Carmel’

True yellow petunias are hard to find, but this seems to be the closest to a true yellow variety we’ve ever seen! The yellow trumpets are nicely complemented by darker reddish centers. This petunia truly makes a statement in hanging baskets or containers. Supercal ‘Carmel’ reaches about 12″ tall and wide in sites with full to part sun. 

Purslane ‘Rio White’

An all-white single-blooming Purslane variety. These beauties like full hot sun and prefer to be on the dry side, making them much lower-maintenance than other annuals. This blooming groundcover creeps low to the ground, reaching about 8″-10″ wide, but only a few inches in height. Excellent in hanging baskets and as a spiller in containers. 

Petunia Supercal ‘Sunray Pink’

Unlike any ordinary Petunia, ‘Sunray Pink’ is an intense shade of neon pink with a yellow throat. A great performer that doesn’t need deadheading. Grows about 1′ tall and wide, and acts as an excellent spiller in containers or hanging baskets. Performs best in full sun to part shade.


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Petunia ‘Starry Sky Burgundy

A newer Petunia release that is similar to ‘Night Sky,’ this variety offers a white star in the middle and comes in a striking deep red color. ‘Starry Sky Burgundy’ is another low maintenance petunia that doesn’t require deadheading. Reaches about 8′ tall and wide, and works great in full sun to part shade in containers and hanging baskets.

Rex Begonia Vine ‘Cissus Discolor’

This neat plant features striking foliage in a combination of green and silver with purple undersides. ‘Cissus Discolor’ is a vining plant that grows to about 2′ wide, and can be trained to climb up a trellis or left to hang gracefully over the sides of a larger pot. This plant works well in part to full shade.

 

Thunbergia ‘Tangerine Splice-A-Peel’

This plant is also known as Black-Eyed Susan Vine, but this variety has orange flowers outlined in yellow for a stunning warm combo! The vine can be trained to climb up a small trellis and can also be grown in a hanging basket. It reaches about 2′ wide and works great in full sun to part shade.

Cuphea ‘Starfire Pink’

These tubular flowers are small but bloom in abundance! This Cuphea variety works well as an accent plant in any container or in the garden. It grows to about 8″ tall and 5″ wide. Works great in full to part sun!

Dipcliptera Suberecta 

Also called Firecracker plant, this Dipcliptera variety has red tubular-shaped flowers that are popular with hummingbirds. This is a larger plant, reaching a mature height of around 2-3′, so it works well in the center of containers or as a backdrop in the garden. It prefers full to part sun.

 

If you’d like to add any of these awesome new options to your collection, simply head over to our online shop or give us a call for personalized concierge shopping. All of our plants, tools, and gardening supplies are available for delivery in the Des Moines metro area or for curbside pickup!

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Working with a Landscape Pro- Your Questions Answered

When it’s time to consider a new landscaping project, you need to know the basics of how to work with a landscape professional. What is the consultation process? How long will it take? And how much is all of this going to cost? 

Our resident landscape expert Keegan Lare, shares his advice on what to expect when you work with our professional team here at Ted Lare.    

The First Step: The Phone Consultation  

After you call in to start a project, we organize a phone conversation with one of our designers. This typically happens within 24-48 hours of the initial call, depending on what part of the season we’re in. 

During this call, we answer any questions you may have, and we try to get a feel for the projects you’re looking for. If it seems like a solid fit for both sides, then we schedule an on-site consultation at your home or your business if it’s a commercial job. 

 

Next Steps: The On-Site Consultation

We usually meet for up to an hour to check out your residence and discuss our initial thoughts on your project. 

We charge $100 for consultations in the Des Moines Metro area, but this $100 gets credited back to you if we do the work. Depending on the complexity of the job, we may charge up to $200-500 to account for some of our design time. This will all be discussed on-site and agreed upon before we move forward. You will also receive that amount back in credit if you decide to carry out the project.

Most importantly, the on-site consultation is a time for you to ask questions, so don’t be shy!  

 

Common Questions during the Consultation 

Here are some of the questions you can expect us to discuss with you when we visit your property for the first time. 

 

What are your goals? 

In general, we like to ask homeowners what their top 3 goals are for their outdoor spaces. These goals help us focus on what is most important to you and allows us to develop a plan that meets your aspirations.

 
How do you live? 

We’ll also ask for general information about your lifestyle. For example, how big are the gatherings you expect to have on your new patio? What does a typical weekend look like for you? Do you love the sun, or prefer to hang out in the shade?

 

What are your tastes? 

Any images that show your taste in materials (patios, walls, etc.) always help us get an idea of what you like. Providing any previous plans for the property also helps us save time creating a base plan from scratch. 

 

What is your budget? 

Discussing a budget range is very helpful so that we know any limitations on the project. We’ll generally give options with different price points, as clients find it beneficial to have a few choices.  

 

Information Gathered for Design 

When at your site, we capture all the data we need to create an initial design. This includes several photos of the yard and home, critical measurements of the space, and information on accessibility, powerlines, and obstacles. 

This process can be quick or rather extensive, depending on the existing conditions of the location. New homes without a lot of previous installations are easy to measure and capture. Older homes with many existing hardscapes and plantings can take longer to document. 

Design Timeline 

We try to respond with design ideas and a preliminary budget within two weeks of the first meeting, but this time frame depends on the complexity of the project. If there are many construction elements to design and price out, it may take longer.  

 

Moving Forward 

After we provide you with an initial design, the decision is in your hands on how to move forward and set a schedule. Often there are different phases of work to choose from, such as tree removal, garden preparation, installation of hardscapes, etc. We are happy to do it all at one time or phase it in over a few years. Usually, it makes sense to do as much construction as possible in one trip to limit the cleanup expenses involved in multiple trips over several years. 

Once the project scope of work is agreed upon, we work to schedule the project in the near future.  If it is a simple planting, it may only be a few weeks before we can complete the work. If the project involves a lot of construction, it might be a few months before we can start a project. Once we start a job, we see it through to completion.  Our install crews are some of the best around and you will love working with them.


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The landscape consultation process is often that simple. For a small fee and in short order, you can have professional designers guide you towards your ideal renovation. If you have any further questions on the landscaping process, or would like to start a project, please don’t hesitate to contact Ted Lare Design & Build. We would love to hear from you!

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Easy Vegetables To Grow for New or Seasoned Gardeners

Whether you’re new to vegetable gardening or have been at it for years, having some easy to grow vegetables in your garden plots allows you to maximize your yield without adding extra work to your schedule. In strange times like these, growing your own food is a great way to support your family by avoiding grocery store trips, while also giving you some garden therapy to help you relax. Growing some easy veggies ensures you a successful harvest, even if you’re busy entertaining kids, working from home, or just feeling overwhelmed. A tiny bit of effort now will pay dividends this spring and summer!

Here are 5 vegetables that are super easy to grow in Iowa and require very little maintenance or attention. Plant them, water them, and soon you’ll be harvesting your own homegrown produce aisle!

Beans

Green beans, purple beans, pole beans, and yellow beans are all super easy to grow. Beans are pretty resilient and self-reliant. If you choose a climbing type, make sure they have something to climb like a lattice, poles, chicken wire, or a fence. Beans are also a great way to get kids involved because the seeds are large enough for little hands to space out properly in furrows. Beans also grow pretty fast, so you’ll be eating them fresh in no time. 

Carrots

Carrots are another easy grower that pretty much take care of themselves. Because carrot seeds are tiny, it may be challenging to space them well. Once they are about 4 inches tall, it’s a good idea to thin out the seedlings a bit. Look for the tiniest seedlings and pull them out. Give each seedling a little more space, aiming for an area about the width of your thumb in between seedlings.

Cherry Tomatoes

Cherry tomatoes are delicious, and like beans, they don’t require much maintenance. Because they are considered determinate tomatoes, also called bush varieties, cherry tomatoes don’t need any pruning. They will do better with support of some kind, like a tomato cage, but otherwise, you can simply make sure they’re watered and fertilized regularly. Before too long, you’ll have some delicious baby tomatoes for salads or snacking on straight off the vine.

Lettuce

Lettuce is super easy to grow, and this one you can even do indoors near a south-facing window. There are many different varieties of lettuce available, from red leaf to romaine. Kale, spinach, and arugula are also very easy to grow. If you plant a new crop of seed every two weeks, you’ll have fresh lettuce for sandwiches and salads all year long, even through the winter. 

Cucumbers

Cucumbers are also quite easy to grow. There are many varieties available for eating fresh or pickling. Cucumbers do tend to spread, so make sure they’ve got lots of space in the garden bed. Giving them a structure to climb, like a lattice or wire hoops, will make it easier to pick them later and keep them off the soil where they may start to rot. It’s a good idea to wear gloves and long sleeves when you’re harvesting cucumbers, as they have rather prickly stems and leaves.

The most important thing to remember when growing these veggies in Iowa is to keep an eye on the soil moisture. Tomatoes especially tend to be thirsty plants, so make sure they’re getting watered regularly if it’s not raining much. During Iowa’s hot mid-summer days, you’ll need to water more or less every day unless it rains. That’s another activity kids are usually more than happy to help with, so get the whole family involved in your gardening efforts!


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If you’re feeling inspired, why not try adding a few herbs to your easy-grow garden as well? Herbs like chives, parsley, mint, and oregano are just as simple to grow as the veggies above. Whatever you need to get started growing, from containers to soil to seeds to plants, we can help you out. With curbside pickup or delivery, just call ahead and tell us what you need, and we’ll get it ready to load straight into your vehicle.   

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Garden Therapy: Reduce Stress and Improve Your Wellbeing

A little garden therapy can help reduce stress, improve mental health, boost our mood, release endorphins and engage our creativity. In these challenging times, it’s even more important to look after our mental health. Gardening can also help give us more of a sense of stability and security since we can take an active role in growing some of our own food. 

While the Ted Lare garden center is not currently open for browsing, we still want to support you to try some “garden therapy” for yourself. We’ve adapted our operations to still allow you to safely shop for the things you need for your garden—from plants, to tools, to soil.

 

Curbside Pickup

We’re implementing a curbside pickup option for orders. Currently, you can view a variety of items we have available on our Facebook or Instagram. Keep your eyes on our social media, as we’ll be posting daily videos of the exciting items we have in-store.

Local Delivery

We’re offering free local delivery for all purchases of $50 or more in the Des Moines metro area and surrounding suburbs.

 

Options for Ordering

Ordering On the Phone: We want to make it as easy and safe as possible for you to get what you need for your garden. To that end, we have arranged a dedicated cell phone and concierge service so you can shop from the comfort of your home. You can text us, FaceTime us, or phone us, and we’ll walk through what you need. We’ll then put your order together, get it set up for curbside pickup or delivery, and give you the total for your order and then we’ll take payment over the phone.  Once your order is ready to go, we’ll give you a call to let you know it’s ready for pickup, or to schedule delivery. 

Online Ordering: We are in the process of uploading all of our products to our website for online shopping. We’re adding more items every day, so keep checking back. If you don’t see the product you’re looking for, give our concierge a call at 515-205-6985.

Gift Cards: If you’re not sure what you quite yet, or if you’re looking for a great gift idea, consider a Ted Lare gift card! We’re currently offering our gift cards on a 20% off sale. Whether you want to purchase later in the season, stop by once we open to the public again, or give a gift to cheer up a friend, gift cards are a great option for everyone. You can purchase them online via our website, or you can call our concierge to get set up.  

Garden Therapy: Sensory Gardens

Sensory Gardening is a great way to engage all five senses to help you be mindful and present. A sensory garden generally includes plants that can trigger each sense: touch, sight, sound, smell, and taste. Sensory gardens can also fit spaces of any size. Whether you have a corner of the yard to work with or a single pot on the porch, you can create a sensory garden.

Herbs can often do double duty, stimulating your senses of taste and smell, as can easy-to-grow vegetables like tomatoes and peppers. 

Plants with larger leaves that rustle together in the wind add a gentle, soothing sound. Water, whether in a large water feature or a small tabletop fountain, also creates calming white noise to help you stay in the moment. 

Brightly-colored flowers, like pansies, add that hit of brilliant color for an energizing visual effect. In the gardening world, there’s no shortage of options for creating a visually beautiful design! For the best effect, choose the colors and shapes that you feel most drawn to. If it makes you feel happy, it’s good for you!

Plants with interesting textures beg to be touched. Try wooly thyme, dusty miller, lambs ear, or chenille plant, which all have wonderful soft and fuzzy flowers or foliage. 

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We’re committed to keeping our community of Des Moines safe, and encouraging positive mental health care during this time. Give us a call if we can help you get set up for some garden therapy. By supporting each other, we can make it through!

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Best Patio Veggie Varieties

Ted Lare Best Patio Veggie Varieties

Getting in our daily serving of vegetables can be a challenge, and when your produce from the supermarket tastes less than stellar, it can be even harder. Having delicious, fresh edibles straight from the garden makes getting your daily servings a whole lot easier. With a patio garden, you’ll have all of the best garden flavors as close as possible to your kitchen— you’ll barely even need to leave the house to pick tomatoes straight from the vine! Get your fresh produce from plant to table in record time by growing your favorite flavors on the patio.

fiddle-leaf figs placed indoors

Container Gardening with Vegetables:
Gardening trends are always evolving and vegetable gardens are not immune to the growing understanding of the “best” way to go about growing your freshest flavors. These days, our homegrown produce isn’t limited to rows upon rows in a garden bed in the backyard. You can grow food just as delicious in containers, mixing up your gardening routine to something a little more convenient.

Container gardening has lots of advantages that make the most of their space. This growing style offers simpler upkeep, is easy to place wherever is most convenient, reduces the amount of work needed, and often even boosts the flavor of your edibles!

Best Patio Vegetables:
Patio gardening has traditionally been confined to little plants, like herbs. While herb gardens are still a valuable part of your patio garden repertoire, there’s so much more that you can do just outside your door! Container gardens are surprisingly flexible and there are lots of ways to bring beautiful and functional edible gardens to your home:

fiddle-leaf fig plant

Herbs
For edible garden beginners, home chefs, and those that like to keep things simple, herb containers are the perfect place to get started. They are low-maintenance, filled with delicious herbs that will elevate your cooking to the next level, and are adaptable to fill your balcony, patio, or windowsill with lush and fragrant foliage ready for the picking.

Each plant has its own unique set of needs, but many of the most popular herbs are happy growing in a smaller container and don’t grow to an unmanageable size. Simply ensure proper drainage, use good quality potting soil, and find a watering schedule that is right for your plants. Then, get ready to enjoy their delicious flavors in your cooking!

There are lots of herbs that pair well together in dishes and in containers for growing, as they have similar needs. We love the fragrant and lush look of rosemary, oregano, and thyme together for a Mediterranean blend, or a combination of basil, parsley, and mint for a container for more temperate homes.

fiddle-leaf fig plant

Tomatoes
These are one of the garden staples that simply can’t be forgotten when putting together your patio containers. We’re lucky that this delicious vegetable staple absolutely flourishes in containers, making it easy to care for and perfect for the patio. You’ll instantly be able to taste the difference between your homegrown tomatoes and those you pick up from the supermarket—and these lush plants dripping ruby jewels of produce for you makes for a pleasant addition to your backyard.

Determinate tomatoes are the best choice for containers because of their more compact growing habit that doesn’t require as much maintenance to keep upright. These plants ripen quickly and need only a little support from a trellis or cage. Choose from a variety of sizes for all of your snacking, salad, and sandwich needs.  

The key to impressive tomato flavor is consistent watering. Keeping the soil evenly moist, but not waterlogged, will give you produce that is the envy of your whole neighborhood. Try using self-watering containers for a stress-free way to keep your plants hydrated, or develop a schedule that has you checking your plants regularly in the mornings.

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Peppers
Given the right love and care, some peppers actually grow better in containers than they do in the garden, thanks to their need for warmer soil temperatures. Bushy plants with small, delicate—and brightly colored, ornamental-looking—fruits are perfect for container growing.

Keep your peppers in a sunny spot where they can soak up all the heat that they can. Especially important for hot peppers, a little heat is important while they are growing to bring out the spice in them! Keep your peppers well hydrated to help them make the most of the constant heat and exposure.

Don’t be shy to repot your peppers as they grow and flourish into gorgeous mature plants. With a pot that’s a little bigger than normal, you’ll have a much easier time keeping their roots well hydrated even in the hottest days of the summer. For the best, tastiest, and prettiest pepper results, fertilize with a water-soluble fertilizer every 1-2 weeks.

fiddle-leaf fig plant

Leafy Greens
There’s nothing quite as satisfying or healthy as a fresh, crisp serving of greens from the garden. Favorite leafy greens, like lettuce, spinach, and kale, are extremely popular options that really fill out a container garden. Not only will you enjoy the easy access to get them into your kitchen, but you’ll also love that their proximity to your home in containers discourages backyard critters from nibbling away at them before you have the opportunity to!

Most leafy greens are vegetables that prefer growing in the cool season, thriving in the spring and fall, but diminishing in the heat of the summer. These vegetables are perfect for grazing on and pulling a little bit to eat at a time rather than harvesting it all at once.

These greens grow with roots that are shallow and spread out, so planting them in a fitting, wide, and shallow container is ideal. This is a great way to add visual interest to your container garden, too, with a bit of a new size and dimension to enjoy. Plant lettuce, spinach, and kale with lots of sunlight so their broad leaves can soak up the rays. Plant with good quality soil and in a container with drainage, and keep them consistently moist for the lushest and tastiest results.

fiddle-leaf fig plant

Bulbs
Bulbs do most of their growing work underground, so bulb edibles aren’t naturally the first option people think of with their container gardening. However, they’re actually a perfect fit for containers, which actually keep them very low maintenance and just as delicious. Onions and garlic are great container garden options as they are key ingredients in so many of our favorite dishes.

Plant garlic in the fall, with a bit of time to get established before the first fall frosts arrive. If you missed the fall planting, you can still plant in the spring, but you won’t get to experience end results that are nearly as big. Make sure that you use new, bagged soil and not recycled soil from the garden with your garlic so that you will have fewer problems with pests and disease. Place the container in a sunny part of your patio and watch it flourish with very little work from you!

While you can plant onion from scratch it’ll be much more worth your time and patience to start from sets. Plant them in a large and wide container so that you can get more harvest, and keep consistently moist.

Vegetable gardening doesn’t have to be an overwhelming task and you don’t have to commit large parts of your landscape to gardening to be able to enjoy the most delicious produce. You can have a source of tasty, fresh edibles that are good for you and your family and bring unparalleled flavor to your kitchen. With plants that grow lush, green, and often adorned with beautiful produce, you won’t even need to sacrifice aesthetic to have it all this summer.