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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.


Space and Time Saving Garden Technique

Create a raised bed, compost and rotate your garden crops in one space using this convenient garden technique.

My friend Ray taught me this easy method. Measure out your garden beds. Create 4 feet wide beds and 2 or 3 feet wide paths. Rake the soil from the pathways into the bed area. This creates a raised garden. The simple act of raising the soil helps create better drainage.
 
Use the pathways to compost garden debris such as annual weeds that have not gone to seed, outer leaves of cabbage, greens from root crops and the like. This is a form of sheet composting. As you walk down the aisles to tend the raised beds, you’ll help break down the green debris and speed up decomposition.
 
Next year the pathway becomes your planting beds and planting beds your new pathways. So you’ll automatically be changing your planting location.
 
A bit more information:  Create permanent raised beds using naturally long lasting wood, plastic lumber, stones and blocks. Fill with quality topsoil and amend with compost as needed. This is a quick way to overcome poor soil and make your garden more accessible.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
 
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2015 All-America Selections Squash Winners

Nutritious, tasty and of course prolific are three words that describe zucchini. Add a pretty twist to your garden with Bossa squash and other 2015 All-America Selections vegetable winners.
 
Bossa summer squash produces cylindrical fruit with dark and light green mottling.  This makes it easier to find when harvesting as the lighter fruit stands out from the large green leaves. The compact plants produce fruit earlier and longer throughout the season.
 
If you’re looking for a new winter squash, try Butterscotch. The compact plants are perfect for containers, small space gardens or those looking to pack more plants in larger spaces. Plus, they’re more mildew resistant than most. Make preparation easy -- just pierce the skin, place the whole squash in the microwave for 12 minutes, then cut open, and remove the seeds.
 
A bit more information:  Another vine crop winner is the Parisian Gherkin cucumber. The fruit can be harvested at a small size for use as mini or gherkin pickles. It has good disease-resistance and is a fast grower and early producer.  This cucumber was selected as a regional winner in the NE and MTN/SW regions.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
 
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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.


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