Tag Archives: Gardening

Caterpillar climbing on lettuce

All About Leafy Greens: Common Leafy Green Insect Issues

The delicate, edible leaves of leafy green vegetables, as one might imagine, are particularly susceptible to damage from insects. Keep an eye out for these common pests. Continue reading

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All About Leafy Greens: Common Leafy Green Diseases

Disease is a particularly important consideration when growing leafy greens because – as their name indicates – the delicate leaves are the part of the vegetable you’ll most likely want to eat.

Keep an eye out for any of these common diseases affecting your leafy green crop. Continue reading

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All About Leafy Greens: Growing Leafy Greens in Your Hardiness Zone

Though leafy greens might seem too fragile for cooler temperatures, fall is in fact the best time to plant them in most United States hardiness zones as many varieties prefer cooler weather. Continue reading

Assorted squash

ALL ABOUT SQUASH: Squash Varieties

Squash Varieties

Originating in Mexico and Central America, people have been eating squash for more than 7,500 years. Native Americans shared squash seeds in different varieties with European explorers, who then took the new crop back to their lands to grow. Continue reading

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Plant of the Month: Chrysanthemum

Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum indicum)

Commonly known as a mum, the Chrysanthemum is a hardy plant has become the standard fall flower for many gardeners in cooler climates. The mum’s ability to be winter-hardy in zones 5 and up, and, with a little extra care, in zone 4, makes it a very versatile and reliable addition to any garden. However, make sure to plant your mums in the spring to ensure that they are well-established, in order to have them survive the winter. Mums even work well in container gardening!

Mums typically are anywhere from 2-4 feet high, and are available in a large variety of different colors. Choose blooms in bright reds, oranges, yellows, purples, and pinks! Exhibition varieties of chrysanthemums can also be found in a variety of different flower types as well, but these may not be has hardy as the the non-exhibition type, so be sure to read your label to check zone hardiness. Make sure and dead head these as well so that you can enjoy a healthy plant.

Do you have any experience with mums in  your outdoor living space?

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Fall Flower Boxes

Enhance your fall outdoor decorating and extend your gardening season with fall flower boxes and hanging planters.

The first brisk fall evenings crash through summer’s warmth and abruptly awaken our senses to the season’s arrival. It seems like one day we are enjoying long days and cookouts, and the next day it’s football and early morning frost. Those crisp nights also tend to foretell the end of our gardening season.

Fall mumsThe thought of all your hard work disappearing steadily with each falling leaf, though inevitable, is a disappointing end to the summer. So don’t let it be the end of your garden season! Take back the fall with your flower boxes and hanging baskets, because they are a great way to extend your gardening season past Halloween and even continue to have garden color into Thanksgiving. Once your summer annuals are done blooming, its time to start to research some plants and flowers that will last a little longer in your hardiness zone. Don’t forget that there are some plants that will look great in your flower boxes even after the first frosts, and will provide color late into the year.  Less hardy plants start to wither up and die and your garden starts to turn brown.

Chrysanthemums, or mums, are a very common and colorful fall flower. There are many different variety’s available to today’s gardener, including some very hard plants that can be perennials all the way in to Zone 5! Mums also make excellent container plants, and will work superbly for a flower box. Select 2-3 different colors to provide a nice, diverse showing. If you prefer, use a palette of fall colors like orange, yellow, and dark-red. They match up superbly with your traditional Halloween and Thanksgiving decorating.

Pansies

Pansies are an excellent way to add some vibrant color to your fall flower boxes. While pansies are not hardy enough to last as perennials in winter zones, they thrive in the cooler weather that fall provides, with some varieties even being able to survive light snow. The incredible color variety that is available with pansies make them a great option for filling in empty spaces in your flower boxes or hanging baskets.

Ornamental cabbages and kales provide nice leafy centerpieces to build your fall flower boxes and hanging baskets around. There are a handful of different varieties, all with different shapes and sizes. As the weather gets colder the color in the center of these plants become brighter and really provide a nice base of color for fall flower boxes and hanging baskets.

Don’t let fall be the end of your beautiful gardens. With a little research, and a little extra care, you can have flower boxes and hanging baskets that will extend your growing season, and give your outdoor decorating an extra touch of color and beauty at a time of the year when most people have given up.

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Eggplants: Grow ‘Em, Cook ‘Em, Eat ‘Em!

These plump, often purple, veggies are believed to have originated in India and are known for their meaty texture. They are used throughout the world in various dishes from China, to Middle East, Asia and Africa.

Oddly enough, folks here in the U.S. and Europe once thought they were poisonous plants belonging to the nightshade family (Solanacae). Thank goodness they were wrong!

Eggplant seedlings can be difficult to start, but you do have a larger variety to choose from. If you’d like to buy a transplant, you’ll need a spot with at least 6-8 hours of warm sunshine. Transplant eggplants at a temperature of at least 70 degrees F during the day, and at least 45 degrees at night.

Fertilize your soil well and plant them 2 feet apart. Water them weekly. Remember to mulch the surrounding area properly to prevent weeds, and to maintain soil temperature.

Once eggplants begin to grow and mature you will need to stake the plants or cage them for added support and proper growth.

Beware of beetles, common pests of eggplants – fabric row covers can help with this issue. Spraying the plants with water in the morning can help with mites and aphids, or you can try an organic insecticidal soap.

What eggplant variety should I grow in a container or in a smaller urban area? Try ‘Hansel’ and ‘Gretel’ – these varieties are perfect for smaller spaces. For common, western varieties, try ‘Black Beauty’ or ‘Florida High Bush.’

Have fun and happy gardening!

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Plant of the Month: Moss Rose

Moss Rose. This annual flower is perfect for hot and dry areas. It makes the perfect ground covering plant as well, so if you have large areas that you need to cover, Moss Rose is an easy plant to utilize in this situation. Moss Rose comes in many colors as well – so there are many choices available no matter what color palette you have planned for your yard or garden.

Choose blooms in bright reds, oranges, yellows, purples, and pinks! Moss rose grows 4-8 inches tall and spreads up to 2 feet.  Interestingly enough, the newer batches of this flower stay open longer during the day – the older batches open at noon and close at dusk. When its cloudy, they may stay closed all day.

Again, choose a hot, dry area. This plant needs full sun, at least 6-8 hours daily. Rock gardens, between pavers, along driveways, walkways and sidewalks are good spots. Keep in mind, they also need good drainage.

Make sure and dead head these as well so that you can enjoy a healthy plant.
Fertilize Moss rose twice – once in mid-summer and once in late summer.

Happy gardening!

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Easy-to-Grow Indoor Herbs

Growing herbs indoors should not only be fun, but easy! Herbs are perfect to grow indoors in the colder months because you don’t have to go outdoors to reap the benefits. If you plan on growing your herbs in your kitchen, that’s even better. You can make so many delicious dishes with fresh herbs – you will be amazed.

Below is a list of the five best and easiest herbs to grow indoors.

1)    Chives – this is a must have herb. It is very versatile because of its mild onion flavor, and can be used in many savory dishes. The flavor of white or yellow onions can often be a bit on the strong side, but chives are perfect for those who just want a hint of onion flavor. Snip them back often so that they don’t get too out of control.

2)    Thyme – is a great, all around herb that can be used in just about anything – even desserts! Most all varieties of thyme are easy to grow. Remember to trim this herb regularly. The more you trim the better the flavor. Thyme is known for its slight lemon flavor. It is perfect for fish, chicken, or vegetable dishes. You can also use thyme in hot tea.

3)    French tarragon – French tarragon has a terrific flavor, similar to basil. Its hints of licorice are a bit stronger, but goes great with many things. From frittatas to chicken dishes to bruschetta – tarragon makes a tasty addition. No tricks to growing this herb just plant it and watch it grow.

4)    Sweet marjoram – this herb is closely matched with the flavor of oregano, yet not as robust or bitter. Sweet marjoram is great on pizza dishes and in home made breads. It also holds up nicely when used to season the hearty flavor of steak. Anyone who loves herbs will appreciate marjoram.

5)    Sage – Sage is one of those must have herbs. It is very easy to grow, versatile and packs quite the flavor punch! Sage is great around Thanksgiving, because it goes nicely with turkey and other poultry dishes. It is also great to use in vegetarian meals when you want to add some flair to your dinner. Use this herb in tea for sore throats and colds. Sage comes in many varieties, so feel free to choose more than one!

When to Water

For the casual gardener, knowing how to care for plants can be a source of frustration. In no case is this more true than on the question of watering. As too many folks have learned, plants are more likely to be killed by watering too much than too little.

For most gardens, an inch of water per week (a combination of rain and irrigation) should be sufficient. An inch of water will penetrate about six inches of soil.

Make sure you supply ample water to new plants, but lessen the amount once they become established. Providing one inch of water in one deep watering will encourage deep rooting, and leads to strong, healthy plant growth. Check every few days early in new planting to assure a sufficient water supply. For established plantings, deep, infrequent watering is recommended. In most cases, that one inch of water per week should be enough.

To check that your plants are sufficiently watered, poke your a finger an inch or two Continue reading