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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.


Algae Control in Water Gardens

Melinda's Blog is brought to you by American Transmission Company.

Keep the algae at bay and your pond water clear with a few strategies to keep your water garden in balance.

It may be easier said than done, especially early in the season when the water plants are just starting to grow.

Only feed the fish what they will eat within 3 to 5 minutes. Any uneaten food can decompose and encourage algae. And if the fish are hungry they will be nibbling on the algae, plants and insects, helping to keep your water clear.

Make sure you have enough plants to cover at least 50 to 75 percent of the water surface. Shading the water surface helps reduce algae.

Consider adding a pump or aerator to keep water moving and reduce problems. Biological filters can also help.

But once your water garden is back in balance, it will be much lower maintenance and provide even more enjoyment.

A bit more information: If algae is an ongoing battle, you may need to reduce the number of fish, change your water garden plant mix and adjust your fish and plant feeding schedule.

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

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Prepare your Lawn for Summer with late May Fertilization

Melinda's Blog is brought to you by American Transmission Company.
 
Help your lawn prepare for the stressful summer season with a late May application of a low nitrogen organic fertilizer like Milorganite.
 
A healthy lawn is your best defense against insects, disease and weeds. And proper fertilization is part of keeping your lawn healthy. Using the right fertilizer is critical to encourage healthy root and shoot growth without promoting excess growth that needs more frequent mowing and is more susceptible to pests and less drought tolerant. These formulations also reduce the risk of burn from over-fertilization or when hot dry weather arrives.
 
Slow release fertilizers feed the lawn over time. If the weather turns hot and dry, the nutrients remain intact in the soil. Once the conditions are right for the grass to grow, the nutrients will again be available to the plant when it needs them.
 
A bit more information:  Use the holiday fertilization schedule for a healthy lawn. Northern gardeners can fertilize Memorial Day, Labor Day and sometimes between Halloween and Thanksgiving before the ground freezes. For those growing warm season grasses, fertilize Easter after the grass starts growing, Memorial Day, and Labor Day. For more on fertilization rates and schedules visit www.milorganite.com      
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com

 
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Flaky Growths (Lichens) on Trees and Shrubs

Melinda's Blog is brought to you by American Transmission Company.
 
Don’t panic when you find flaky gray, green, white or yellow substances, known as lichens, on the trunk or branches of your trees and shrubs. These growths do not damage the plant, but may indicate your tree and shrub needs a bit of TLC.

Lichens are composed of a fungus and green or blue-green algae. The algae provides the photosynthesis to produce food, while the fungus supplies water and minerals and protects the algae. This mutually beneficial relationship allows them to withstand harsh environmental conditions.
 
Although the lichens usually do not harm the plant they reside upon, they are most common in declining trees and shrubs where branches have died, allowing the sunlight to reach the lichens.
 
Reduce the problem by providing plants with proper care. Expand the mulch beds around trees and shrubs. Remove dead and damaged branches and water plants thoroughly when needed.
 
A bit more information: Further increase the health of your trees and shrubs by expanding the mulch beds. This will make maintenance easier for you and improve the growing conditions for the plants. Use organic mulches like woodchips and shredded bark that conserve moisture, suppress weeds, reduce competition from grass and improve the soil as they decompose. For more information on lichens, click here.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com

 
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Managing and Enjoying Reseeding Perennials

Melinda's Blog is brought to you by American Transmission Company.
 
More is often considered better, except when it comes to unwanted seedlings. Self seeding perennials mean lots of free plants to move to other gardens in the landscape, but sometimes it just means more unwanted plants to control.

Purple coneflower and Black-eyed Susan are two popular perennials that can quickly fill your garden with their offspring.  You can reduce the problem by removing faded flowers and thus eliminating the seeds. The downside, the birds will miss eating the seeds and you’ll miss the winter beauty and bird activity the seeds provide. I choose to leave the seedheads intact, enjoy the birds and share the seedlings with friends, community organizations or my compost pile.
 
Garden phlox is another prolific seeder. Deadheading – removing the faded flowers - reduces reseeding, but also encourages additional bloom.
 
A bit more information: Plume poppy, Northern sea oats, columbine and blackberry lily are other perennials that tend to self seed. Share your extra seedlings with friends. Keep a few old pots or plastic bags and a trowel on hand. When your gardening friends come to visit, hand them a trowel and container and let them dig a few of their favorites. You’ll have fewer seedlings and they’ll have more plants for their garden. 
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com

 
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Save Money by Starting Plants from Seeds Directly in the Garden

Melinda's Blog is brought to you by American Transmission Company.

Maximize your plant budget and enjoyment by starting plants from seeds right in the garden.
 
Select flowers and vegetables suited to the growing conditions. This includes sunlight, soil, temperature and the length of your growing season. Check the back of the seed packet for the best time to plant the seeds directly outdoors. Also look for the number of days from planting until harvest. Make sure the seeds you sow will have time to flower or fruit before the end of your growing season.
 
Radishes, lettuce, cucumbers, and beans are a few of the vegetables that are relatively quick maturing and easy to start from seed in the garden.
 
Annuals like ageratum, bachelors button, sweet pea and sweet alyssum can be started in the garden as soon as the soil is workable. Wait until the danger of frost has passed to plant cosmos, French marigolds, nicotiana and sunflowers.
 
A bit more information: Further maximize your plant budget by swapping plants and seeds with friends. Buy the large economy package of seeds and divide it amongst your gardening friends. As you dig and divide perennials swap divisions, so everyone ends up with something new for their garden. Best of all, the plant will be a great reminder of your friendship.
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com

 
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Plant A Row for the Hungry in Your Community

Melinda's Blog is brought to you by American Transmission Company.
 
Gardeners are some of the most generous people I know. They love to share their ideas, passion for gardening and of course produce. So when you are overwhelmed with tomatoes, peppers, greens and zucchini, contact a nearby food pantry or meal program that can get these vegetables to people in need. 
 
You may be surprised to discover there are hungry people in all our communities. Many are children and seniors who greatly need the nutrition that fresh produce provides.
 
Consider making a difference in their lives by planting a few extra tomatoes, row of greens or zucchini plants so you have plenty to donate.   It is a great way to justify buying more seeds and plants as well as convincing your family that you need a larger garden.
 
Contact your local food pantry and visit www.gardeners.com resource page on Share the Harvest for more ways you can share your produce.
 
A bit more information: Garden Writers Association and Garden Writers Foundation launched the Plant a Row for the Hungry program in 1995. Since then, gardeners have donated over 20 million pounds of produce. To join the effort contact Plant a Row for the Hungry at http://gardenwriters.org/gwa.php?p=par/index.html or call 1-877-492-2727.
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com

 
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Clover; a Sustainable Lawn Grass Alternative

Melinda's Blog is brought to you by American Transmission Company.

Once included in lawn mixes as a nurse crop, then considered a weed, clover is now being considered as a low maintenance, lawn grass alternative.
 
If you have tried to rid your lawn of clover, you know it is a persistent plant. Like other legumes, clover is able to capture nitrogen from the atmosphere and move it into the soil, making it available for plants to use.  The deep roots make it drought tolerant and female dog urine won’t discolor it.
 
Clover attracts honeybees, bumble bees and other beneficial insects. This is great for our gardens, but may not be good for barefoot kids running through the lawn. Plus, it is not as tolerant of heavy foot traffic as lawn grass.
 
Before converting your lawn to low maintenance clover, start with a small patch where lower maintenance is needed and increased bee activity will be appreciated.
 
A bit more information: Consider a mixed lawn/clover lawn for areas with moderate to high foot traffic. You can overseed an existing lawn with clover. It will act as a nurse crop, adding nitrogen to the soil to feed your lawn. The lawn grass will tolerate dogs, kid play and sports activity better. Just be prepared to manage the clover stains that can be difficult to remove.
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com

 
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Gardening Advice in your Pocket: Mobile Apps

Melinda's Blog is brought to you by American Transmission Company.

Whether you are planning, planting or tending your garden, a bit of expert advice is always helpful. Now you can take this advice to the garden center, your garden or just about anywhere you need it. And best of all, it fits in your pocket.
 
More and more garden related mobile apps are now available. Just visit the app store and explore the many options. Universities are providing mobile apps to help gardeners and professionals identify plant disease and insect problems. Garden companies are using apps to help gardeners plan their landscape or select plants while shopping at the garden center.
 
A new one for this spring is Homegrown with Bonnie Plants. It is the most comprehensive app I have found for vegetable gardening. You can access information on various vegetable varieties, search for pest problems and even create your own garden journal using the app.
 
A bit more information: To find out more about Homegrown with Bonnie Plants mobile app see their User's Guide at http://bonnieplants.com/app/ or click here
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com

 
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Low Maintenance Waterwise Gardening with Irrigation

Melinda's Blog is brought to you by American Transmission Company.

Reduce your workload, increase productivity and be water wise.
Container gardeners may want to make a one-time investment in a drip irrigation system, like the Snip-n-Drip Pot and Planter Soaker System especially designed for container gardens.

Drip irrigation and soaker hoses are also a great way to water in-ground and raised bed gardens. These irrigation systems apply the water directly to the soil, reducing water lost to overspray, evaporation and runoff. They also reduce the risk and spread of disease by preventing water from settling on the leaves of the plants.
 
Opt for a micro irrigation system if your water has a high mineral content that tends to clog soaker hoses. 
 
Correctly installed, irrigation systems can help conserve water by ensuring that you water properly and only when needed.
 
A bit more information:  Raised bed gardens will also benefit from irrigation systems. Elevated gardens often dry out more quickly than their in-ground counterparts and need more frequent watering.  Some, like the Raised Bed Snip-n-Drip soaker system (gardeners.com), are easy to assemble and allow you to water when needed. Further save time by using preformed corners with built-in spigots when constructing raised beds. Simply slide the boards into the metal corner pieces to create the raised bed. Some corner systems, like Aquacorner, have built-in spigots to make irrigation even simpler.
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com

 
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May is National Physical Fitness Month: Get the Kids Outdoors

Melinda's Blog is brought to you by American Transmission Company.

Celebrate National Physical Fitness Month this May by getting the whole family out into the garden. It is a great way to stretch, increase muscle strength, reduce stress and improve your mood.  And if your garden includes some vegetables you will be increasing your health and fitness with nutritious and flavorful homegrown produce.
 
And don’t forget to bring the children along to the garden.  Allowing children to explore nature in a garden, natural setting or your backyard will help them focus and do better in school.  Give them a pile of dirt to explore; leaves, twigs and cones to create fairy gardens; branches to construct a hideout; and most importantly give them time and space to explore the outdoors.  Unstructured outdoor play is important for mental, physical, emotional and social development.
 
Need some ideas? Check out these kids gardening projects.


A bit more information: For more ideas on helping kids connect with the outdoors see conservationtool.org’s Nature Play booklet. Part 1 explores the essentials of nature play. Part 2 provides actions that organizations can take to help put nature play back into children’s lives. You’ll read about how to create spaces and features to include for nature play no matter what your budget is.
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com

 
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Can You Get More Grey?
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Is This Any Way to Sell a Book?
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