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The Garden Mix




Nationally renowned garden expert Melinda Myers helps everyday gardeners find success and ease in the garden through her Melinda’s Garden Moments radio segments. Melinda shares “must have” tips that hold the key to gardening success, learned through her more than 30 years of horticulture experience. Listeners from across the country find her gardener friendly, practical approach to gardening both refreshing and informative! On this page, Melinda shares some more extensive garden tips, which expand on the information provided in her one-minute radio segments.

New tips are added throughout each month, providing timely step-by-step tips on what you need to do next in your garden! Visit Melinda’s website www.melindamyers.com for more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and answers to your questions.


Flower Garden Design

Get out the catalogues, colored pencils, graph and tracing paper and start planning your new flower garden.

Start by drawing the basic outline of the garden on plain white or graph paper. Use tracing paper to start experimenting with plant selection and layout. Recycle your mistakes and start with a fresh piece of tracing paper. This method eliminates the need to recreate the base map every time you change your mind.

Once you have the basic design, check out the seasonal interest. Use one sheet of tracing paper to color in the spring blooming flowers. Use another one for summer, one for fall and one for winter. Evaluate the seasonal interest of your garden design and make changes as needed.

Or make it even more visual by cutting out pictures of the flowers from catalogues or printing them off the internet.

It's much easier to change things up on paper than once the plants are in the ground.

A bit more information: Once you decide on a plan, make needed adjustments as you purchase plants and place them in the ground. Garden designs are meant to be fluid from the beginning throughout the life of the garden. For more help on designing your garden, check out my How to Grow Anything: Your Best Landscape in 6 Easy Lessons DVD set.

For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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All-America Selections Flower Winners


Add some color to the garden with the 2015 All-American Selections flower winners.

Impatiens lovers and those gardening in shade may want to try Bounce impatiens. This downy mildew impatiens is covered with bright pink bicolor blooms that add lots of color to any sunny or shady location in your landscape.

Or try the spreading shell pink sunpatiens. The trailing habit, soft pink flowers and downy mildew resistance make it perfect for containers, hanging baskets or groundcovers in sun or shade.

Brighten up those sunny spots in the garden or containers with Trilogy red petunia. The Trilogy petunias form dome shaped mounds and are covered with large non fading blooms all season long.

Add Jewel white salvia to the garden or container. The compact plants are covered with blooms all season long, making them a standout in small and large landscapes.

A bit more information: All these winners will help attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds to the garden. Plus, the warm colors of the impatiens and petunias can be used to create a focal point in the landscape. The white spires of Jewel white salvia help brighten the nighttime landscape.

For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Transplanting Cacti, Pain-free

Move potbound cacti and succulents into a slightly larger container without injuring yourself.

Check before transplanting. Cacti and succulents have a small root system compared to their top growth. Moving them into a container much larger than their root system can result in root rot, decline, and even the death of your plants.

Transplant potbound plants into a slightly larger container. This can be a painful process for the gardener. Use tongs to handle the spiny cacti throughout the transplanting process. Or make your own by folding paper into a long thick strip. Wrap this around the spiny portion to make handling the cactus easier on your hands.

And remove any wayward spines that end up lodged in your hands with the help of white glue. Cover the spine-infested area on your hands with white glue and allow it to dry. Then peel away the glue and most of the spines come along with it.

A bit more information: Grow your indoor cacti and succulents in a cool sunny window for winter. A south facing window is the best. Water thoroughly, but only when the top few inches of soil are dry. This may be as seldom as once a month, depending on the cactus and temperature and humidity in your home.

For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Relay Planting for Bigger Harvest



Plan for a season long harvest of corn, beans and other vegetables with relay planting!

My friend Bob Polomski recommends this technique in his Month-by-Month gardening book for Alabama. The idea is to stagger the planting time of one crop over a long period of time instead of planting it all at once.

Let's take beans for example. Start the season by planting a couple rows of beans. Then two weeks later plant another row or two. Continue until the last possible planting date for beans in your area. This way you will have a long harvest period instead of one big harvest.

You can accomplish the same thing by using varieties that mature at different times. So let's say you plant beans that mature in 65, 80 and 95 days. Plant all these at the same time, but you will be harvesting over a longer period.

A bit more information: Further increase your harvest with space saving planting strategies. Interplant short season crops like radishes, beets and lettuce between long season crops like tomatoes and cabbage. For more ideas watch my video on this topic.


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2015 AAS National Pepper Winners


Add a bit of heat, color and sweet flavor to your garden and meals with a few of the 2015 All-America Selections National pepper winners. These plants were selected for their unique flavor, improved productivity or ornamental appeal.

Emerald Pepper is a very hot pepper perfect for grilling, stuffing and making salsa. It is the hottest of this year's winners. The compact plant produces an abundance of large dark green jalapeno peppers with thick walls.

Flaming Flare is a versatile less finicky fresno pepper. The fruit has a nice sweet flavor, but heats up the later in the season it's harvested. Cooks will enjoy the flavor and should plan on growing a plant or two.

The last national AAS pepper winner is Pretty N Sweet. This ornamental pepper produces sweet yellow, orange and red peppers on a compact plant. It's perfect for containers or in your flowerbeds.

A bit more information: Sweet Sunset pepper was a regional winner for the Southeast, Heartland, and West/Northwest. The pepper produces a large amount of fruit on a compact plant. The banana type peppers range in color from yellow, orange to red and are great for using fresh or canning.

For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Threadleaf Coreopsis



Threadleaf coreopsis is a long-blooming drought tolerant perennial that attracts butterflies and goldfinches to the garden. Add a few long time favorites and colorful new introductions to your landscape.

Moonbeam and Zagreb are long time favorites. These hardy plants produce yellow daisy-like flowers on compact plants and are hardy in zones 3 to 9.

Ladybird produces red flowers on compact plants. Hardy in zones 5 to 10, it provides a nice spot of color in the garden.

Buttermilk has light yellow flowers and grows 15 inches tall. It is hardy in zones 5 to 10 and like the other threadleaf coreopsis it prefers full sun and well-drained soil.

Consider buying just a plant or two when trying new introductions in the garden. You can evaluate how they perform in your garden before investing in more plants.

A bit more information: Showstopper coreopsis has bright rose-pink flowers on larger 20 inch tall plants. It is larger than Limerock and appears to be hardier.

For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Brighten up the Indoors with Houseplants


Brighten up the indoors with a few new houseplants. They not only add beauty, but also help clean the air and improve your mood.

Include some low maintenance plants like the ZZ plant, pothos, philodendron, Cast iron plant, snake plant and Chinese evergreen. These plants also tolerate low light conditions common in homes and office buildings.

Group plants to create an attractive display and create a better growing environment. Place several small pots inside a basket. Use a saucer filled with pebbles or plastic liner to protect your furniture and woodwork.

Use large potted plants as a focal point or large decorative feature in your living room.

No space? Don't worry – go vertical. The many new wall planting systems allow you to dress up your home with greenery. Create living art with an attractive mix of plants. Just make sure it is easy to reach and maintain your plants wherever they grow.

A bit more information: Grouping plants together not only looks good, it improves the growing environment. As one plant transpires (loses moisture through its leaves) the others benefit from the increased humidity.

For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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A New Invasive Insect Pest


Gardeners, be on the lookout for invasive insects. You've probably heard about the Asian Long horn beetle and more than 24 states and several provinces in Canada have found Emerald Ash borers (as seen in the photo here) feeding on native and landscape ash trees. The latest invader, the lanternfly, was discovered just outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in September.

Even if you don't live near Philadelphia, it's helpful to have as many people watching for this and other invaders that may infest our landscapes and natural spaces.

The colorful lanternfly is a moth like insect with black spots on a pair of tan wings and a second pair of wings that are red, white and black. It feeds on leaves and young stems of hardwood trees and grapes and has the potential to cause great economic and environmental damage.
The Emerald Ash Borer has been spotted in over 24 states in the U.S.

Contact your local extension service if you see this or a new infestation of other invasive insects.


A bit more information: Entomologists are continuing to evaluate the extent of the infestation. For more detailed information click here.

For information on Emerald Ash borer watch my Melinda's Garden Moment Video.

For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Managing Powdery Mildew on Beebalm


If you've grown bee balm you probably know about powdery mildew. This fungal disease produces a powdery white film on the leaves. This prevents sunlight from reaching the leaves that can eventually yellow and brown. Fortunately, you can reduce your problem with proper selection, siting and spacing.

Start by selecting powdery mildew resistant varieties whenever possible. The North Carolina State University found Claire Grace, Marshall's Delight and Stone's Throw Pink were most resistant early in the season. Marshall's Delight continued to show good resistance later in the season along with Blue Stocking, Cambridge Scarlet, Elsie's Lavender, Mahogany and Vintage White.

Reduce problems on existing plants by growing them in full sun. Give the plants plenty of room to increase air circulation and light reaching the plant. Improving the growing conditions can help reduce disease problems.

A bit more information: Further decrease the risk of powdery mildew with a bit of spring thinning. Remove about ¼ of the stems in early spring to allow more air and light to penetrate the plant. This will encourage sturdier stems and discourage disease problems.

For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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A Few of the AAS Vegetable Winners


The catalogues are pouring in and many of us have started our list of new and favorite vegetables we want to add to our gardens. Consider growing a few of the 2015 All-America Selections winners.

For the cooks and herbal enthusiasts consider Dolce Fresca Basil. This compact basil produces sweet tender leaves, making it an edible with ornamental appeal. It is drought tolerant and has great flavor.

Sandy lettuce produces an abundance of frilly oakleaf shaped dark green leaves. Harvest the outer leaves when 4 to 6 inches to keep it producing for a long time. Or allow the loose head to form and harvest the whole plant. Sandy lettuce has good disease resistance and is slow to bolt.

Roxanne Radish produces uniform bright red radishes with a creamy white center. The radishes remain firm and flavorful even when oversized.

A bit more information: All-America Selections also recognizes regional winners. Hestia Brussels Sprouts is only the second Brussels sprouts to ever be selected as an All-America Selections winner. It was selected for its suitability in the Southeast, Mountain/Southwest region of the United States. The bright green sprouts have a dense yellow center and uniform upright growth habit. It tolerates both warm and cool temperatures.

Bopak Pak Choi performs well in the Northeast, Great Lakes and Mountain/Southwest areas. The compact plant matures early and can be used as a vertical accent in a pot. Use the crisp sweet stalks as a celery substitute.

For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Start New Plants from Cuttings


Starting new plants from cuttings of existing plants is a great way to pass along family heirlooms and increase your indoor or outdoor plant collection.

If you've tried and failed, you may want to enlist the help of a rooting hormone. These products contain naturally occurring plant hormones that promote root development. Select the product labeled for the type of plants you are propagating.

Take a 4 to 6 inch cutting from the plant you want to propagate. Dip the cut end in the rooting hormone and place it in a moist well-drained potting or rooting mix.

In the past, gardeners created a rooting hormone from willows. They soaked several cut branches in an inch of warm water for several days. They would dip the cut ends in this willow tea before planting. Though research shows that the synthetic rooting hormones are more effective, it is fun to take a look at past gardening practices.

A bit more information: The shelf life for rooting hormones is about 3 to 4 years. Keep them in a cool dry location to insure their longevity. For more information on starting plants from cuttings visit http://www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/ho-37web.html and
http://urbanext.illinois.edu/houseplants/propagation_cuttings.cfm

For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com

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