Find Nichols Garden Nursery

I want all our  blog visitors to know we are now on facebook and you tube.

This is where we comment on gardening and keep you informed about what is happening here at our nursery/seed company:

Here is the first episode of our new series of short instructional videos on how to grow, care for and use herbs from your garden. This session is “How to Make a Lavender Wreath”.

Please visit our site, request a catalog if you don’t already have one and of course check out our online catalog. We are a 62 year old family seed owned seed company located in Albany, OR.

Happy gardening,

Rose Marie


Shortbread is such a classic favorite. Simple, easy to find ingredients, uncomplicated to prepare and always good, sometimes better , sometimes best, but always good.

Helen, who works at our nursery, created this four pepper shortbread and today a customer writes they’ve lost the recipe so here it is! We usually serve this at our annual Nichols Plant Day.


1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter at room temperature plus a bit to butter pan

2 1/2 cups presifted unbleached flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 teaspoons coarsely ground Nichols Four Pepper Blend

3/4 cup powdered sugar

2 tablespoons granulated sugar


Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Lightly butter a 10″ spring form pan, set aside

Stir together flour, salt and 2 teaspoons Nichols Four Pepper Blend, set aside

Put butter and powdered sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until fluffy, about two minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl as needed. Reduce speed to low and gradually add flour mixing just until combined.

Using spatula spread dough evenly into prepared pan, smoothing top. Lightly mark dough into wedges or cubes.Bake until shortbread is light golden brown about one hour twenty minutes. “I like to line pan with a circle of parchment paper.”

Transfer pan to wire rack. Immediately sprinkle with granulated sugar and remaining teaspoon of Nichols Four Pepper Blend. Remove spring form rim and place pan on a cooling rack. let cool, transfer to a flat surface and cut into wedges or cubes.

Turnips Pickled Pink

5 medium turnips, peeled
1 small beet
2 cups water
2 cups white vinegar
1 to 1.25 cups sugar
1.5 tablespoons salt

Peel and cut turnips into ½” x 2” sticks (approx). Does not need to be precise. Try to maintain a ratio of one beet to five turnips. Peel the beet and cut into sticks as well. Place turnips and beets into a large glass jar, layering as you work. In a non-reactive pot combine water, vinegar, sugar and salt and bring to a boil. Carefully pour the slightly cooled liquid over turnips & beets, covering completely. Cover with a loosely fitted lid.
Turnips will absorb color and show some shrinkage. Set on kitchen counter, should be ready in four to five days and store under refrigeration. This recipe has many versions, some without any sweetening. Do be careful to use tender non-woody turnips.

Black Friday

Visit the Nichols website you will discover all seed varieties containing the word black are discounted 50% until midnight Friday, November 26th.
Catalogs for 2011 are in the mail. Not on our list, please go to our catalog request form and ask us to send one to you. Check here and at the website for coming selections that made a seed crop too late to list.
Hope you have all had a great Thanksgiving. We had three generations gathered around our table, good food, good conversation, a trace of snow on the ground, we are moving to winter.
A few minutes ago there was a tapping at our back door, odd, it was a large raccoon. That, and the deer tracks up and down our snow covered street reminds us we are not alone in our city.

Gardening On The Edge 2010

Keane and I are still savoring the totally wonderful Saturday we spent in Newport. I was as unrealistic as ever when greeted by a gazillion, beautiful, well-grown plants and bought enough to keep us busy this holiday weekend. Forget barbeques, we’re just trying to plant and get the deck cleared.
One thing I love at these shows is seeing and talking with friends and customers. Mike Darcy of KXL 750 and “In the Garden” broadcast from the show. He generously invited me to talk for a bit and answer call in questions. Kym Pokorny of the Oregonian newspaper “Home & Garden” magazine, Ed Hume, Luci Hardiman and Jim Gilbert were all speakers and all are established plant experts. It’s a great little show and a fine place to spend a weekend in June. Hope to see you next year. Here Keane and I are with our friend Ed Hume, shown on the left, seedsman and fellow garden writer.
Kudos to Jim Myers who organizes this show and benefits Samaritan House, the only family shelter within three Oregon coastal counties. Samaritan House offers both emergency shelter and case management services. Serendipitously, this expo fosters community among Northwest gardeners and a great outlet for plant lust.

Oregon Coast Gardening Expo

Newport Garden Show June 26th, 2010
We’ve been exhibiting and occasionally speaking at this annual Newport show for several years. I always come home loaded with great plants, garden art, and pleasant memories. We’ll bring plants, seeds, Yacon plants, tools and are there to answer your questions
This is a benefit for Samaritan House Family Homeless Shelter in Newport where they serve an array of families and children in need, help them get on their feet and resituated. Here are the details.
The last big plant sale and show of the season happens at Oregon’s premiere coastal resort of Newport from 9:00a.m. to 5:00p.m. On Saturday, June 26th The third annual Oregon Coast Gardening & Landscaping Expo features over fifty Northwest plant sellers offering a wide variety of great plants, trees and shrubs including the unusual and rare. Plus the extremely popular gardening and landscaping seminars return with top guest speakers including the legendary Ed Hume, Kym Pokorny of The Oregonian, famed landscape designer Lucy Hardiman, Frances Hopkins, founder & owner of Stepables ground covers and many more! The Lincoln County Master Gardeners again be operating their Master Gardener Help Center featuring soil testing and readily available to answer your questions. Lunch is available and will again feature Mo’s Famous Clam Chowder. The Garden Expo will again be held at Newport Intermediate School, 825 NE 7th Street in Newport. Admission is only $5.00 and includes the seminars! This will be an terrific time to visit the ocean beach and attend one of the top Northwest gardening shows of the season. Special Garden Expo hotel rates of $79.95 for traditional room and $89.95 for deluxe room are available at the Newport Shilo Inn Oceanfront. Call 541-265-7701 and ask for the Oregon Coast Garden Expo rate. For updated information visit our website at

Nichols Plant Day 2010

Every May, we at Nichols, have our annual Plant Day, the Saturday after Mother’s Day. May 15th is the date for 2010. This is when we bring out unusual plants, run a good sale, and get our gardens spiffed up for company. Shopping is always interesting, we’ll have a huge selection of tomatoes, peppers and other veggies and flowering annuals.

Of course a few herbal or fresh from the garden treats keep your strength up as you watch Jennifer Ewing show how to build a raised bed in only a few minutes. I’ll demonstrate planting in straw bales. An addition this year is a herb spiral garden that is under construction. This is a great way to fit a large collection of herbs into a small space.

I’ll do a short demo on how to sow carrots. We all love those fresh from the garden carrots but they take their time in becoming established. It’s important to keep them moist and I’ll share a few tips with you.
Hope you can join us. Our gardens and retail shop are open Monday through Saturday, closed Sundays.

Anniversaries-Let Us Celebrate

Nichols Garden Nursery is celebrating our 60th year of offering seeds and plants by mail for home gardeners across the country. It’s been a joyous ride as our family has introduced and developed scores of unique selections for home gardeners. We’ve just returned from the Portland Yard, Garden, & Patio Show and are inspired by the vitality of a gardening renaissance that includes children to great grandparents.

Today Keane and I learned our good friends, Pat and Becky Stone, publishers and authors, have announced the 20th anniversary of their own publication, GreenPrints “the weeders digest”. This delightful quarterly has published articles from an array of some of our finest garden writers. I find reading it contributes about equally to an understanding of gardening and humankind leaving me feeling a bit better about both. Congratulations to the GreenPrints Team!

Plants, Plants, Plants

Spent the day packing plants for my Bountiful Container Gardening talk at the New York Botanical Garden on June 27th. Preparing for a cross country trip with more than a hundred vegetables and herbs in various stages of growth is a challenge. Fortunately, Helen, our nursery shipping expert has it all down. Last summer she test packed plants in various ways for shipping and took their temperature to learn the best way to avoid heat buildup. When shipping in warm weather ventilated plants arrive in good condition and grow best. There is a science to everything and healthy plants mean happy customers. My plants are vented, have ice packs, cushioning, and are separately boxed.
I am looking forward to my time at NYBG, it’s our first visit to this famed historical garden. Keane and I will be taking photos and will post them when I return. I’m taking Amy Stewart’s new book “Wicked Plants” to read on the trip and Keane and I will visit the poisonous plant collection at Cornell. It’s maintained by the veterinary science department and should be very interesting.

Bountiful Container Talk@New York Botanical Garden

The New York Botanical Garden, in the Bronx, has scheduled a summer long series on food gardening. See special admission offer below. The weekend of June 27/28th 2009 is the kickoff event. I’m very excited to do a talk and demonstration on how to NY botanical garden conservatorygrow the foods you like in containers. I’ll show how to plant a container garden for SE Asian cookery, a summer salad garden, a multi- season herb garden and more. My talk is at 3:00 on the 27th, mid-morning I’m participating in a Q&A session and at noon I’ll be signing copies of my book, McGee & Stuckey’s The Bountiful Container.

Gardeners can harvest fresh, organic, beautiful food in the smallest spaces with just a little know how. I hope some of our Nichols Garden Nursery customers and blog readers in the New York area can come to my talk and if not visit the New York Botanical Garden this summer. Edible gardening maven, Rosalind Creasy, has overseen the planting and design of a demonstration family food garden and Martha Stewart has been busy with a herb garden she has installed. This is a rare opportunity to learn and talk with a variety of horticulturists and garden writers who are experts dedicated to home food gardening.

The Metro-North Railroad Botanical Garden station is directly across from the Mosholu Gate. Harlem Line. Driving directions are here.

For a special offer to this event go to and enter code EGDIG09 Buy one adult ticket pay 1/2 price for the second. This is a summer long offer with this promo code.

Nichols Plant Day 2009

Nichols annual Plant Day is Saturday, May 16, 2009. I will demonstrate straw bale gardening. Our newest demonstration garden is a living example of food gardens from The Bountiful Container-a complete guide to growing veegtabels, herbs, fruits and edible flower in containers. It is still a work in progress but the basics are installed with a couple Adirondack Chairs for relaxing in a home garden-like setting. I will be available to sign and inscribe the Bountiful Container, a 400 page guide to growing food in containers.

Linda Zeidrich will sign her new books, The second edition of Joy of Pickling and The Joy of Jams, Jellies and Other Sweet Preserves 200 New Recipes Showcasing the Fabulous Flavors of Fresh Fruits.

Master Gardener Jennifer Ewing will demonstrate how to easily construct a nearly weed free raised bed and how to use the hoop system to support deer netting, shade cloth and plastic. These beds provide a new easy, efficient approach to raised bed gardening.

We will be offering a discount on all in store purchases. Come join us for a little garden time and light herbal refreshment.

Garden Talks

Keane and I are leaving for Central Oregon today where I will give talks on Successful Food Gardening in Central Oregon and a demonstration talk on Edible Container Gardening. Of course I’ll be signing copies of McGee & Stuckey’s The Bountiful Container. A few more talks are coming up, May 9th I’ll speak in Anchorage at a Master Gardening conference on “Growing Food in Containers & Small Spaces” and “Straw Bale Gardening”. June 27th I’ll be at The New York Botanical Garden for their kickoff event on a program series on edible gardening. I will present a demonstration and talk on growing “Food Plants, Herbs & Edible Flowers in Containers”. This speaking season then winds up with a talk at the annual Oregon State Master Gardener mini college on “Successful Food Gardening in Container & Small Spaces”, Thursday, August 7th.

Our annual Nichols Garden Nursery Plant Day is Saturday May 16th 2009. We always have an annual sale, light refreshment and demonstrations. This year I’ll be demonstrating straw bale planting and we are working on a new garden in the style of a home garden planted all in containers with a couple Adirondack chairs for visitors to sit, relax and enjoy the surroundings. As this comes along I’ll post photos.

It’s been a busy year and I’m so impressed with this renaissance in food gardening. There has been much interest in vegetables and cooking but now people seem to be taking it to their own homes whether it is the backyard or front yard they are planting gardens. A healthy well grown plant is always a thing of beauty whether it be a gorgeous muticolored ruffled lettuce or the latest petticoated heauchera. Gardening keeps us in contact with nature and that part of ourselves that grows a little more as we nurture our gardens, our loved ones, and ourselves.

Garden Palooza 2009

Keane and I will be at Garden Palooza this Saturday, April 4th. We will have a good selection of some of our top selling seeds and other products. This is always a terrific garden shopping show. I can never resist a few new plants or gardening items.

Garden Palooza is at Fir Point Farms in Aurora, OR. At 14601 Arndt Road just east of the Aurora airport. Hours 8:00 a.m. to 4p.m. Mention you saw this post and pick out a free packet of sunflower seed.

Portland Yard, Garden Patio Show

I’m in Portland at the annual YGP show at the Oregon Convention Center this weekend. If you’re looking for a jumpstart on spring and summer this is the place to be. What first caught my eye was  a fence of espaliered apple trees surrounding a flourishing potager garden. In the corner is a cozy chicken coop, one chicken laid an egg yesterday and happily announced her achievement to the world. However, my heart went pit pat when I saw all our Nichols Garden Nursery seed packets used as row markers for the peas, mizuna, mustards, lettuce and more. To our happy surprise the vegetable garden was planted entirely with Nichols seeds. We are not able to down load this photo until we’re back home but I do want everyone to have a chance to see how a productive urban garden can be packed with comfort and charm. This garden from Barbara Simon Landscape Design and Alfred Dinsdale Landscape Contractors received the prestigious “Best of Show Award” features an outdoor cooking and eating area and is an inspiring mixture of enchantment and practicality. Top garden speakers, a multitude of garden products, including Nichols Garden Nursery seeds, plants, bulbs and more  signal we are quickly moving  to the longer days for spring and summer. Come to the show to look, listen and shop and learn. I may even have found some beautiful concrete pavers to easily build a new patio.

Go  to this blog by Kym Pokorny, from the Oregonian for a wonderful garden photo with the potager somewhat hidden.     Since I’m not at home with some of my tools you may need to cut and paste this url.

I see it’s time to begin sowing tomatoes, peppers, celeriac, leeks, eggplant and in a couple of weeks get basil started so all will be ready for May transplanting. If you’re sowing leek, onion or shallot seeds go back and see Easy Gardening tips from March 4th 2008 for an easy start on these valuable vegetables.

Northwest Flower & Garden Show

We’re here in Seattle for one of our favorite annual events. If you are anywhere near Seattle come this week for the what may be the last hurrah at a truly great gardening show. The show gardens never fail to please, Judith Jones and her troop from Fancy Fronds has created a fantasy “The King and I” garden, with wonderful design, details, costumes, and a glorious abundance of  flowering plants, ferns, and shrubs. Judith is a recognized expert on ferns. Over at another garden space an artist  from Costa Rica is creating an intricately carved mask that he told us takes six days to complete. This garden is designed by The Northwest Orchid Society. Entering the show is a garden of four seasons with quilts and plants. It is my favorite entry garden of all the shows I’ve seen. I hope someone takes on this show where February blooms in Seattle. Duane and Alice Kelly, show founders are ready to move on to other things and this show would not be the class act it is without their passion and energy.

This morning I gave a talk on Practical Home Propagation, those who attended pretty much filled the available chairs and were all so gracious to sit through the talk and ask good questions at the end. I’m happy to see more gardeners growing vegetables,  growing from seed, and beginning to feel a little more confident. Only a few years ago I was seeing people’s eyes grow wide as they would say”me, grow from seed, I’m not sure I could do that”. My answer always is a hearty response ” of course you can, your ancestors have been doing this for thousands of years”. I haven’t heard this for awhile, so either gardeners are growing from seed with confidence or I’ve been giving a lot of talks on seed starting.

Nichols Plant Day 2008

Our annual Nichols Plant Day is Saturday, May 17th 2008 this year. It has been a busy week preparing for our annual event, readying the gardens and planting our annual garden. We are just north of Albany, OR and an easy exit off I5. I’ve planted new straw bales, we’ve built a new bed using the Nichols method how to grow carrots without a spade or hoe, our herb display garden is beginning to flower. We’re also fixing a few herbal recipes for you including our lavender ice cream and saffron lemonade.

When this is finished I’ll have time to post and plant my own garden. After a long cool spring, we’re expected to reach 95 today. This is not the energizing pre celebration weather we requested. Oh well! If you are traveling in Oregon you should know we have a display herb garden, an AAS display garden and garden demos. We’re closed Sundays, open Monday through Saturday and visitors are always welcome.

The Bountiful Container

I’m happy to announce the fourth printing of McGee & Stuckey’s, The Bountiful Container is now available. This 432 page book is a complete guide growing container gardens of vegetables, herbs, fruits and edible flowers. We’ve included recipes for using your home grown goods. Maggie and I researched soils, containers, fertilizing and every aspect of what gardeners encounter when growing in containers. I love experimenting with new techniques and varieties using pots and small space gardening. If your garden is horizontally challenged, think vertically! If you only have space for herbs, a few salad greens and a tomato in a large pot think how much flavor and variety you’ll add to your household.

This weekend, May 10th, I’ll be speaking and signing books at the Oregon City Farmers Market. Saturday, May 17, is the annual Nichols Garden Nursery Plant Day. If you’re in the area, drop by and enjoy light herbal refreshment, gardening demonstrations, tours of the herb garden and a great sale on plants and other gardening items.

Earth Day 2008

April 22nd marks Earth Day, a world celebration of our beautiful planet. With so many shared world concerns let us pause and enjoy what we have. Stop for a moment, get outdoors and look around at the amazing wonder of spring. Plant seeds, set plants and soon you have a garden.
With all the discussion and good reasons for eating locally, growing some of our own food in a garden is a first step. Indeed growing food a few steps from your door leaves no carbon footprint.
My parents, Nick and Edith Nichols, established Nichols Garden Nursery with a philosophy that guides us today. N.P. Nichols wrote “our purpose during these years has been to bring people closer to nature through gardening. Nothing can equal the sense of accomplishment that comes from growing hundreds of pounds of vegetables from a few ounces of seeds”. Celebrate Earth Day.


Tomorrow, Saturday April 5th, Keane and I will be at Gardenpalooza with seeds, and Yacon plants. Come to us with your gardening questions. Mention you’ve seen this note on The Gardener’s Pantry and select a free seed packet of your choice. Gardenpalooza is a yearly local event held at Fir Point Farms in Aurora, OR on Airport Road. We’ll be in the lovely big greenhouse with other nurseries and The Chinese Classical Garden. I always pick up new  plants at this show because there is such a great selection. For those of you who out of the area look for local garden events where you can directly ask the grower how to grow the plant and find interesting plants that never show up in the big box stores.

Boise Flower & Garden Show

Keane and I will be at the Boise Flower & Garden Show Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Friday at 11:00 a.m. I speak on Edible Gardening in Containers & Small Spaces. Saturday, it’s Seed Starting, What a Gardener Needs to Know, at 3:00p.m. If you live in the Boise area come to the show, please stop by our sales booth #101. If you mention The Gardener’s Pantry, we’ll invite you to select a complimentary packet of seeds.

This time of year it’s a steady round of garden talks and garden shows. Next Saturday, April 5th we meet up with many old friends for Garden Palooza in Aurora, Oregon at Fircrest Farms.

I’ll be back with a few recipes and gardening tips once things settle down a bit. Right now our arugula and kale are looking good. Walla Walla Onion plants have been transplanted. Cascadia Snap Peas are growing in straw bales and fava beans are blooming. Can spring and summer be far behind? Probably, we are leaving early for Boise to avoid driving in falling snow on the passes.

Last weekend, we were in the Bay Area to give a talk on Container and Small Space Gardening to the Montelindo Garden Club. We visited the Berkeley Arboretum, museums, friends and family. What was most astounding happened when we stepped out onto the street where our daughter lives. Keane noticed a tree he didn’t recognize and was trying to figure out what it might be. It had large clusters of round seed pods and glossy green leaves. As we looked at it, I noticed the backside of a large bird in the upper branches. We couldn’t see it’s head so were moving this way and that. Suddenly a voice from the window above, said “Do you want to know the story of this tree”? Of course we did! The fellow told us the tree was planted a few years before he arrived 25 years ago. It is a red flowering Eucalyptus. planted by a former president of the California Native Plant Society, much to his embarrassment today. Non native Eucalyptus have been over planted throughout California, and especially in the southern part of the state, they fuel wildfires. This one seemed like a nice street tree. Finally, the bird turned its head, and we were face to face with a falcon. A few hours later we passed by again and there was a pile of pigeon feathers at the base of the tree.

Northwest Flower & Garden Show

We’re heading north to Seattle for the annual Northwest Flower & Garden Show. This year the show runs now through February 24th. It’s showtime across the country, and it’s the best place to hear speakers, buy new plants and especially in Seattle we always find inspiration from the fabulous show gardens. I’ll be speaking and doing a 1:30 demonstration on edible gardening in containers at the NW Horticulture Society garden located in the entry. I can hardly wait to see this four part garden “Eat Your Vegetables! Garden to Table “.

I’ve designed and worked on gardens at this show. It’s pretty amazing backstage when trucks drive onto the fourth floor of the Washington Convention Center as construction begins. It’s a breakneck pace starting on Saturday and finishing at noon on Tuesday when judging begins. This year I’m a wide-eyed tourist and the show always makes me happy.

Garden from greenhouse

Our venture into straw bale gardening began with a garden promoting Plant A Row For the Hungry, a program of the Garden Writers Association. PAR encourages gardeners to contribute their surplus produce to local food banks, soup kitchens and shelters. These organizations are always short of fresh produce so look into sharing your surplus.

Portland Yard, Garden, Patio Show 2008

February 15th, 16th & 17th, you’ll find Nichols Garden Nursery at booth  #1386 at the beautiful Portland Yard, Garden, & Patio Show. Sunday, at 11:00 a.m. I’ll present a seminar on “Culinary Herbs: How to Grow and Use In the Pacific Northwest”. YGP, gets us enthused about the beginning of spring. With lovely display gardens,  free seminars, vendors offering fantastic selections of plants, seeds, bulbs, this is the place and time Oregon and Southern Washington gardeners gather to shop, learn, relax and plan their garden year.

The Oregon Convention Center has good parking, benches to relax, and such a nice ambience that the entire show makes me feel like I’m already in a garden.

Come by our booth and mention you’ve seen our blog or website and pick up a free packet of spinach or sunflower seed. We’ll have seeds, gardening products, catalogs and we’re ready to answer your gardening questions. If you have a little extra garden space and are concerned about local hunger issues, we’d like to explain Plant A Row For the Hungry, a program of the Garden Writers Association. We can offer you a choice of seed packets to get you started. Collectively, participants raise thousands of pounds of produce for local food banks and soup kitchens where fresh vegetables for those in need are always appreciated.

Pumpkin Regatta

Happy Halloween! As a garden writer, my email sometimes brings strange and wondrous things. This has been a bumper year for pumpkins in Western Oregon but here’s a bit of fall fun that sounds like a blast. Just follow this link to read about a pumpkin regatta.

Those Terrifying Thai Peppers

Some days begin with a good chuckle. This morning I opened BBC news and read about a terrorist alert in London. You can go to this url for the full story:Burning chilli sparks terror fear. It really does sound right out of Monty Python. However, since this blog is The Gardener’s Pantry, I remembered my container planting of Demon Red Thai Peppers surrounding a plant of Thai Basil. This container will move indoors for a few months as I continue to harvest those little red hots and basil.

Thai Pepper and Basil

When I bring a container indoors I check it for insects and anything that might be living near the drainage hole. Insects on peppers and basil aren’t usually much of a problem outdoors but may emerge inside your home or greenhouse. Keep an eye on plants and wipe off any eggs you see on the underside of leaves. if you see those little round pillbugs coming out of the drainage hole place the container on a tray filled with cornmeal. If something is flying around or on the leaves figure out what it is before trying to treat the problem.

Portland Yard Garden & Patio Show

February 23,24,and 25th, you’ll find us in Portland at The Yard Garden & Patio Show. Nichols Garden Nursery is at booth 812. Stop by and see us, if you mention The Gardener’s Pantry blog, we’d like you to have a complimentary packet of sunflower or spinach seed, your choice. This show is at the beautiful Portland Convention Center and is the show where Oregon and Southern Washington gardeners come together once a year to shop, attend seminars and get a jump start on the gardening season. The beautifully designed display gardens at this show have theatrical lighting. A popular new feature is a wine garden and many attendees enjoy a stroll through the gardens with a class of wine in the evening. I’ll be speaking at 12:30 Friday on Containers & Small Space Edible Gardening and at 3:30 Sunday it’s Seed School 101 for those who want to learn how to grow a garden successfully and economically from a few packets of seeds.