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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.


Save Money and Still Have a Big Tomato Harvest

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

Whether you have a large or small planting budget, the more you save on each project means the more projects you can do.

Use 5-gallon buckets that contain non toxic materials or old nursery pots available from recycling bins at most garden centers, when growing tomatoes in containers. Be sure to fill the container with a quality potting mix.

Start with the smaller less expensive tomato plants. They will suffer less transplant shock, recover quickly and catch up or even surpass the larger transplants.

Split a six pack or flat of tomatoes with friends. It is often cheaper to buy larger quantities and you will all save money when you share.

Use handles of broken garden tools or other found items to support your plants. And don't forget to mulch the soil. Use evergreen needles or shred fallen leaves that most of us have on our property.

A bit more information: Be sure to drill drainage holes in the bottom of 5-gallon buckets or other items you recycle into planters. Or double pot plantings made in containers without drainage holes. Plant your tomato in a pot with drainage holes. Then place pebbles on the bottom of the pot that lacks the drainage holes. Set the planted pot on top of the pebbles inside the decorative container that lacks drainage holes. Be sure to pour off excess water that builds up in the bottom of the decorative pot as needed.
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com

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Pallets Add Function and Beauty to the Landscape

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

Upcycle old pallets into fences, compost bins, planters and even sheds.
 
You’ve probably seen pallet planters. Old pallets are lined with landscape fabric to hold the soil in place. Slits are cut into the fabric and plants inserted.
 
Use planted or unplanted pallets as dividers and fences. Dress them up a bit with paint or fill the empty space with interesting stones and moss.
 
Create the framework and dividers for your compost pile with old pallets. Wire the corners together and it is ready to go.
 
Or create a shed if your pile of pallets continues to grow. Check out the various websites that offer design options and constructions guidelines.
 
Many people are worried about the environmental impact of using pallets. Look for HT on the pallet and initials of the country of origin. This denotes the pallets were heat-treated.
 
A bit more information: Pallets with MB means they were treated with the pesticide methyl bromide. Avoid using these pallets and opt for those that have been heat treated. For more on this, click here.
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com

 
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A New Look for Your Landscape

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

Sometimes the easiest way to add a fresh look to your garden is to use your favorite plants in a new way.
 
The popular easy care wave petunia provides big impact with minimal care. This year use these or other trailing petunias in a new way.
 
Combine wave petunias with another vigorous growing vine like lamium, licorice plant or black eyed Susan vine.
 
Create a living candelabra with a hanging basket of petunias. Insert several 12 inch candles into your hanging basket of trailing petunias. Just be sure to replace the candles before they burn down to the flowers.
 
Plant trailing petunias in the ground and grow as an annual groundcover. These large petunias will quickly fill the bed and add color throughout the season.
 
Or go vertical. Train these vigorous growers up a wire frame to create a petunia tree or along a fence for a colorful screen.
 
A bit more information: Create a tower of petunia flowers with a bit of 20 gauge fencing, landscape fabric, and a flat of trailing petunias, lantana, verbena or other trailing plant. For directions, click here.
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com

 
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Stretch Your Planting Budget

Stretch your planting budget with each plant you buy.
 
When shopping, look for perennials and groundcovers with multiple shoots that fill the pot. Plant it as is for quicker results or divide the plant into several smaller pieces to cover a larger area. You’ll just have to wait a bit longer for the planting to fill in.
 
Roll or push on the sides of the container to help loosen the roots inside the pot. Slide the plant out of the pot. Use a sharp knife, drywall saw or other cutting utensil to divide the plant into several smaller pieces. Space the divisions according to the planting directions on the tag. Plant at the same depth it was growing in the container. Then cover the roots with soil, water and mulch.
 
Sound too brutal? Then leave the plant intact. Just loosen any encircling roots and plant. The larger plant will fill in more quickly for faster results.
 
A bit more information:  Another way to stretch your budget is to buy smaller scale plants. These are less expensive than their larger counterparts. It may take longer for them to fill in the space, but you’ll have fun watching them grow.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com

 
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Edible Chickweed Moves into the Kitchen

Pull ‘em out of the weed bucket and bring them into the kitchen. Chickweed, a vigorous weed gardeners have been battling for years can add a bit of flavor and health benefits to your meals.

This annual weed has small pointed leaves. The stems crawl along the ground, forming a mat that is eventually covered with white star shaped flowers.
 
You can find this weed throughout the growing season, but you’ll get the best flavor from early spring and mid to late fall harvests. It’s a good source of vitamin C, beta carotene, minerals and has anti-inflammatory properties.
 
All the above ground parts are edible. Chop it into bite-sized pieces before using. Eaten fresh, it tastes like corn on the cob and can be added to sandwiches, salads and bruschetta. Cooked, it may remind you of spinach.
 
Make sure its chickweed and that it has NOT been treated with weed killers or other harmful chemicals before eating.
 
A bit more information: For a few ideas on using this weed in your menu click here. And if you need help identifying this edible weed, you can check out this website.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com

 
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Low Maintenance Spring Beauty: Bearded Iris

Add various bearded iris to your garden for a long season of bloom.
 
These low maintenance spring bloomers come in a variety of sizes and colors. The miniature dwarf varieties are the first to flower. As the spring progresses, so does the blooming sequence. The standard dwarf bearded iris is next to flower, followed by the intermediate and finally the tall bearded iris. Repeat blooming iris will rest and then put on another flower show in late summer or fall.
 
But don’t limit yourself to these.  The early blooming netted iris and summer blooming Louisiana and Japanese iris are just a few of the other irises that can extend your enjoyment throughout the spring and summer.
 
Grow bearded iris in full sun and well-drained soil. Plant so the iris rhizome, that thick underground stem, is just below the soil surface. Planting too deep can result in root rot and poor flowering.
 
A bit more information: For more information on these and other irises click here. And, if you are doing battle with iris borer, I have some eco-friendly solutions for managing this pest – click here to listen.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com

 
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Hot and Cold Weather Tomatoes

Don’t let the weather ruin your tomato harvest. Select the variety best suited to your area.
 
Weather extremes can prevent tomatoes from forming fruit. When daytime temperatures rise above 90 degrees and night temperatures remain above 70 degrees blossom drop and poor fruit development can occur. Combine this with low humidity and the pollen is not viable. In hot and humid conditions the pollen’s too sticky and doesn’t move from the male to the female part of the flower. Without pollination, fruit will not develop.
 
Cool weather can also hinder fruiting. Night temperatures below the optimum 59 to 68 degrees will reduce the amount and viability of pollen that the plant produces.
 
Visit Bonnie Plants’ Tomato Chooser for help selecting the best tomato variety for your climate, growing space and cooking needs.
 
A bit more information: Don’t fret if your tomatoes are already in the ground. When hot weather does arrive be sure the plants receive ample moisture. Mulch the soil with shredded leaves, pine straw or other organic matter to keep roots cool and moist.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com

 
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Tax Relief through Garden Therapy

Just say the date - April 15th and most U.S. citizens cringe, unless of course you are one of the lucky ones getting a refund. Soften the blow with a bit of horticulture therapy.
 
Once the taxes are mailed, take a walk through your yard, neighborhood or nearby botanical garden. Walking and working in nature helps lower our blood pressure and improve our mood.
 
See what’s blooming and pick a few favorites to add to your landscape. That way you can look forward to these beautiful blooms each year. It’s a great distraction, redirecting your thoughts from tax day to gardening.
 
Or plant some seeds indoors or out. Check the seed packet for specifics. And if the weather is bad consider repotting overgrown houseplants or start some new plants from cuttings. These can be added to your indoor or outdoor container gardens as soon as they’re rooted and the weather permits.
 
A bit more information: My tax day planting includes winter aconite (Eranthis) and snowdrops (Galanthus). Most years they are in full bloom on tax day. These minor bulbs brighten my spring landscape and assure me the garden season has arrived.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com

 
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Celebrate National Gardening Week

Gardening is good for the mind, body and spirit, so let’s celebrate National Gardening Week by sharing this healthful and fun hobby with others.
 
The Royal Horticulture Society started National Gardening Week in 2011. The goal is to beautify communities, neighborhoods, green spaces and the environment through gardening. The 2015 theme is “Start Something Beautiful.”
 
You can start something beautiful with your family or a few friends. Organize a seed swap or plant exchange.  Or have a Round Robin Garden Clean up. It’s a great way to visit with friends while sprucing up each other’s landscapes.
 
Get involved with your community. See if your local Tree Board or Beautification Committee needs help on their board or special projects.
 
Or introduce a friend or neighbor to gardening. Help them plant a few containers or start some plants from seeds.
 
A bit more information: And don’t forget the youngsters in your life. Give them their own garden space or container to plant and tend. Gardening helps with creativity, focus and their studies.
For more ideas visit http://www.nationalgardeningweek.org.uk  
 
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com

 
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Keep Azalea Gift Plants Blooming and Healthy Indoors

Azaleas are a sure sign of spring indoors and out. They’re popular gift plants for the holidays and a great way to bring a bit of spring color indoors.

Grow your azaleas in a cool bright location. A sunny window or artificial lights can increase their health and longevity.
Keep the soil moist, but not wet. Use a dilute solution of flowering houseplant fertilizer once the plant is finished blooming. Repeat anytime the plants are actively growing and look like they need a nutrient boost. Pale leaves, lack of vigor or poor flowering may mean it’s time to fertilize.

You can move the plants outdoors after the danger of frost has passed. Gradually introduce them to the brighter light outdoors. Bring them back inside before the first fall or winter frost if your gift azalea is not hardy to your region. Isolate plants and monitor for insects before moving them in with your other indoor plants.

A bit more information: Flower buds of azalea, Christmas cacti, gardenia and other plants drop off when subjected to low humidity, blasts of hot or cold air and dry soils. Always wrap plants when transporting them in cold temperatures. 
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com

 
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