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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.


Epimediums (Barrenworts) for Moist and Dry Shade Gardens

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

Forget the grass, instead grow Epimediums, also known as barrenwort or bishop's hat, under trees and in other shady spots in the landscape.

Delicate in appearance, but hearty by nature you can find Epimediums for zones 3 to 9. There are clump forming and spreading types and varieties with white, yellow, pink, purple, rose, orange or red spring flowers. Some are deciduous, others hold onto a few leaves through winter and the rest are evergreen.

Most have heart shaped leaves and some have a beautiful red fall color. Trim back the tattered foliage early in the season for a tidier and unobstructed spring flower display.

Most prefer moist organic soil and full to partial shade. Established plants can tolerate dry shade, making them a perfect option as a groundcover under trees. Check the plant tag to make sure the variety you select will tolerate your growing conditions.

A bit more information: These plants combine nicely with other shade tolerant perennials like ferns, hostas and lungworts. Divide only as needed in spring or fall for best results.

For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Jewelweed Pain Relief for Stinging Nettle and Poison Ivy

Melinda's Blog is brought to you by American Transmission Company.
 
Take the sting out of stinging nettle and itch out of poison ivy with the help of Jewelweed.
 
This North American native plant can be found growing in moist partially sunny areas like moist woodlands, floodplains, woodland edges, swamps, and roadside ditches.  It is a member of the Touch-me-not family that includes the popular shade tolerant bedding plant, impatience.
 
This wetland plant grows 2 to 5 feet tall in moist soils and partially shaded areas. It has orange flowers with darker orange spots. You’ll find hummingbirds and bees enjoying the flower’s nectar.
 
Gently touch the mature seedpods in fall and watch the seeds shoot out into the surrounding area. This is how the plant disperses it seeds into new locations.
 
Hikers, gardeners and outdoorsman have used the sap of jewelweed to sooth the pain of stinging nettle and poison ivy. The sap has also been used to treat athlete’s feet.
 
A bit more information: You may occasionally see swallowtail butterflies visiting the flowers of jewelweed. Watch for the caterpillars of several moths feeding on the leaves and a variety of game birds that feast upon the seeds.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
Photo by Rob Routledge, Sault College, Bugwood.org
 
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Give Houseplants a bit of TLC this Summer

Melinda's Blog is brought to you by American Transmission Company.
 
Even your houseplants need a bit of protection from the heat, air conditioning and intense sunlight of summer.
 
The longer days and more intense summer sun streaming through your windows can scorch some houseplants. Watch for brown leaf edges and stunted growth. Close shears, adjust blinds or move plants away from harsh sunlight as needed.
 
Keep houseplants away from air conditioning vents. The cold drafts can cause damage.
 
Protect plants summering outdoors from strong winds and harsh sunlight that can dry the leaves and soil more rapidly. Move plants to a sheltered, more shaded location if possible.
 
Adjust your watering regime to meet the change of growing conditions during summer. Plants summering outdoors or growing in more intense sunlight indoors or out will need more frequent watering. Plants growing in cooler air-conditioned homes may need less.
 
A bit more information: Be careful when transporting houseplants in the summer. Provide shade for the plants when traveling in the car. And avoid leaving plants in a hot car with the windows closed. The heat can damage, even kill these plants.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com

 
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Scarlet Lily Beetle

Melinda's Blog is brought to you by American Transmission Company.
 
Holes in lily leaves may mean the scarlet lily leaf beetle has moved into your garden.
         
This European native was first discovered in North America in Montreal Canada back in 1945. The Asiatic lily is most susceptible. Dayliles and some Oriental lily varieties appear to be resistant.  You may also see this pest feeding on Solomon seal, potatoes, Smilax and flowering tobacco.  

The adults overwinter in the ground and emerge in spring when they begin feeding on leaves and mating. The bright red beetles are less than ½ inch long. The females lay their eggs on the underside of the leaves. The eggs eventually turn red before hatching into larvae that resemble slugs. 
 
Control these pests by removing and destroying the adult, larvae or egg masses as soon as they are found. Larger populations can be controlled with organic pesticides.
 
A bit more information:  Always read and follow label directions carefully when using any pesticide, organic, natural or synthetic. If this is a new pest in your area, consider contacting your local extension office. This will help them track the spread and monitor the populations of this pest.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com


Photo by Charlesjsharp (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

 
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Starting Clematis from Seed

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

Looking for a way to expand your clematis, or should I say as some prefer KLEM-a-tis collection? Try starting new plants from seeds this summer.
 
Once the seedheads turn brown, shake out the seeds and collect the fatter, swollen ones for propagating. Remove the feathery attachments.
 
Pack the seeds in a plastic bag filled with a mix of equal parts of perlite and damp peat moss. Place in the refrigerator for at least three months.
 
Plant the seeds in a flat or shallow container filled with a seed starting mix or mixture of equal parts damp peat and perlite. Keep the soil moist and move the flat to a sunny location as soon as the seedlings appear.
 
Be patient, it can take up to several months for seeds to sprout. Transplant the seedlings into individual pots, once they have at least one set of true leaves.
 
Your new plants may not look like the original, but the surprise results add to the fun.
 
A bit more information: You can also expand your collection while maintaining the clematis’s original features by layering. This method helps the plant form roots on the stem, while still attached to the parent plant.  Listen to my Melinda’s Garden Moment audio tip on this topic for more details.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com

 
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Improve your Lawn and Save Time by Sharpening the Mower Blades


Melinda's Blog is brought to you by American Transmission Company.
 
Save time, fuel, water and improve the look of your lawn by sharpening your mower’s blades.

Dull blades tear the grass instead of making a clean cut. This results in a dull or brownish cast to the lawn. This also increases the risk of disease as the tears close more slowly than a clean cut, providing an entryway for disease.
 
Sharp blades also save time as you can cut more efficiently when the blades are sharp. And speaking of savings, you’ll consume 22% less fuel and the lawn will use up to 30% less water when using sharp blades.
 
Sharpen blades at least twice a season. Always remove the spark plug before removing the blades for sharpening. Make it easier to implement this change of habit by investing in a second set of blades. That way you will always have a sharp set ready to install.
 
A bit more information:  Avoid cutting grass when it’s wet and more likely to tear or during extended dry periods that can further stress the lawn. For tips on safely sharpening and balancing mower blades, click here. 


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

 
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Downy Mildew on Basil


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

Yellowing along leaf veins, black spots and fuzzy gray growth on basil may mean downy mildew has infected the plants.

This fungal disease is carried on seeds, infected transplants and diseased leaves. It rapidly spreads from infected to healthy plants during damp weather or by overhead irrigation.
 
Reduce the risk by growing basil in sunny locations with plenty of room to grow into their mature size. The extra space allows sunlight to reach all parts of the plants and the added air movement quickly dries the leaves.
 
Avoid overhead irrigation whenever possible. Instead, use soaker hoses, drip irrigation or a watering wand that allows you to apply the water directly to the soil.
 
Remove and destroy infected leaves as soon as they are discovered. Remove and destroy infected plants at the end of the harvest season. 
 
A bit more information:  Sweet basil tends to be more susceptible than the red leaf, Thai and other more exotic types of basil. Growing less susceptible types, purchasing healthy plants and changing the location of your basil plantings each year will help reduce the risk of downy mildew. For more information, click here.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com

 
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Blanching Cauliflower and Celery

Melinda's Blog is brought to you by American Transmission Company.
 
Cover the heads of cauliflower and stalks of celery for that creamy white appearance and less bitter flavor.
 
This technique, called blanching, prevents sunlight from reaching these parts of the plant and turning them green. Unblanched vegetables are edible – but have a bitter flavor.
 
Cover the leaf stems of celery with soil or wrap them in paper or cardboard at least 10 days before harvest. Some gardeners use boards alongside the rows of plants.
 
Use the large leaves of the cauliflower plant for blanching. Start when the flower bud is less than 2 inches in diameter. Tie the outer leaves over the center of the plant with rubber bands or string. Check your plant often. The cauliflower head will be ready to pick in 7 to 12 days when it reaches 6 to 8 inches in diameter.
 
Many of the newer cauliflower varieties are self-blanching, eliminating this task. The upper leaves naturally fold over the center of the plant, blocking the sunlight.
 
A bit more information:  Blanching is also the technique used for growing white asparagus. Soil or a container is placed over the young spears. The lack of sunlight interferes with cholorphyll (green pigment) production, resulting in white tender asparagus spears.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com

 
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Managing Picnic Beetles

Melinda's Blog is brought to you by American Transmission Company.
 
Don’t share the harvest with picnic beetles this summer. Regular harvesting and sanitation can help reduce problems with this garden pest.
 
Picnic beetles are small, up to ¼” long, brown or black oval-shaped insects that have a knob on the end of each antenna.
 
These insects feed on fruits and vegetables in the garden such as corn, tomatoes, raspberries, strawberries and muskmelons. They’re usually secondary pests, meaning they feed on the fruit that was already damaged by another insect or disease. The picnic beetles are attracted to the fermenting fruit and vegetables. Once in the garden, they may also feed on undamaged produce.
 
Regular harvesting and removal of damaged fruit from the plants and surrounding soil will eliminate their food source and reduce damage.
 
You can reduce their populations with traps of overripe fruit, stale beer or a molasses-yeast and water mix. Empty the traps and replace the bait every three to four days.
 
A bit more information: Skip the pesticides. Since these insects are present during harvest, spraying is not practical. The wait time between spraying and harvest means you will have more overripe fruit and vegetables in the garden. And that means more food to attract the picnic beetles.
 
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com

 
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Anthracnose on Ash, Maple and Oaks

Melinda's Blog is brought to you by American Transmission Company.
 
Irregular shaped brown spots on the leaves of maple, ash, oak and sycamore trees could mean your tree has anthracnose.  This disease is caused by several different fungi and is common in years with cool wet springs.
 
Anthracnose usually infects younger growth and can be more prevalent on the lower leaves. The leaf spots usually occur along the veins. Severely infected leaves may even curl and fall off.
 
Fortunately, this disease is usually not harmful to healthy mature trees.  Sycamores are the exception since twig and branch dieback can occur.  Avoid the problem by growing resistant Sycamore varieties like ‘Bloodgood’, ‘Columbia’ ‘Liberty’ or the London plane tree (Platanus x acerifolia).
 
Reduce the risk of disease next season by raking and destroying fallen leaves. Bury or burn, if your municipality allows, infected leaves. Only compost infected leaves if your compost pile reaches 140 degrees.
 
A bit more information: Several other diseases can cause leaf spot on trees. Oak wilt usually occurs at the top of the tree. The leaves turn pale and brown from the leaf edges in. Verticillium wilt can infect maples, ashes and other trees, shrubs and vegetables. The damage usually starts as wilting on a few upper branches. The leaves then turn pale and eventually dry.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com

 
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