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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.


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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Go Green and Easy with Landscape for Life

You can have a beautiful landscape and productive garden while working in concert with nature.

Start small. You'll be amazed the difference a few change of habits can make in your garden and maintenance schedule.

Capture rainwater in barrels or cisterns for use in containers and the garden when water is scarce. Check with your municipality first, as some cities prohibit the use, while others offer rebates.

Compost kitchen scraps and yard waste into valuable soil amendment. Use woody trimmings to create wattle fences, arbors and more.

Plant a few trees to shade your house and reduce cooling costs. Add shrubs and ground covers near your home to further conserve energy.

Don't know where to start? Get help and guidance from the free program Landscape for Life sponsored by the United States Botanic Garden and Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at the University of Texas at Austin.

A bit more information: The free Landscape for Life program is geared to anyone gardening and landscaping in the city, suburbs or on a larger or more rural plot of land. It provides information, a workbook and links to useful websites to help you design and manage a sustainable landscape. Visit their site to download the information or find a class in your area.
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com

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Be Kind to Spiders Week


Whether you find them fascinating, creepy or annoying, spiders are an integral part of keeping our gardens and homes pest free. To improve their image and our appreciation, the first full week of April is designated "Be Kind to Spiders" week.

Spiders are not insects, but arachnids related to scorpions, ticks and mites. There are more than 35,000 known species worldwide with 3,000 in North America.

Spiders eat a variety of insects, many of which carry diseases or damage our garden plants.

And while they're busy eating bugs many invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles and even humans are busy eating them. They are a great source of protein and considered a delicacy in many countries.

So next time you feel the need to squash a spider, consider relocating it carefully out of your view and nearer to their food source.

A bit more information: Spiders may also hold the secret to better health. Researchers are also evaluating the benefits of spider venom for treating memory loss after a stroke, arthritis and some heart diseases.

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

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Naturally Dyed Eggs

Decorated eggs are part of many springtime and religious celebrations. This year consider using natural materials to dye your eggs.

Start by gathering vegetables, flowers and herbs to make the desired dye. Use one cup of blueberries for purple, 2 cups of chopped red cabbage for blue, 2 cups of chopped beets for pink and a handful of carrot tops or 2 TBSP of turmeric for yellow. A handful of onion skins will give you gold, while 2 TBSP of coffee grounds or 4 tea bags make a brown dye.

Place each dye ingredient in 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Strain off the plant material and allow to it cool. Then add 2 tbsp of vinegar.

Dip cooled hardboiled eggs in the cup of dye. Leave it submerged until you have the desired color. And if it doesn't turn out, keep experimenting.

A bit more information: Put eggshells to work as planters. Fill them with a bit of potting mix, plant a seed or two, cover and water. Once the seeds sprout, move them to a sunny window. Then crack the egg shell and place the plant in its eggshell pot in garden when the time is right.

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

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Learn More & Celebrate Daisy Flower Month

Brighten up your day and celebrate Daisy Flower Month with a visit to your favorite florist.

Daisies are members of the largest plant family known as Asteraceae (formerly Compositae).

Though we call the perky white bloom with the yellow center a flower, it is really a collection of flowers. The center of the daisy is a collection of tubular flowers known as disk florets. These are the less showy, but fertile, reproductive parts of the flower that can produce seeds. The showy parts we call petals are really ray florets. Together they make up the inflorescence known as a head or capitulum.

Now that you know what you are looking at, you may also be interested in knowing that daisy flowers stand for innocence and purity as well as new beginnings.

So go out and buy a bouquet of daisies. Be sure to pick up a few extra flowers, so you and the youngsters in your life can make a few daisy chain necklaces and crowns.

A bit more information: Mums and asters are other popular members of the Asteracea family, formerly known as the Compositae. This plant family has over 23,600 species of herbaceous plants (flowers, herbs, vegetables), shrubs and trees.

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

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Native Steeplebush Adds Beauty and Attracts Butterflies

It’s not your common spirea found in many commercial and home landscapes; but rather it’s less utilized relative and North American native shrub known as steeplebush or hardhack (Spiraea tomentosa).

This adaptable shrub is hardy in zones 3 to 8.  It prefers full sun, acidic sandy soils with wet to moist conditions, but it will tolerate light shade and a wide range of soils.
 
Steeplebush grows 2 to 4 feet tall and much wider as its suckering nature allows it to form colonies. This makes it a great choice for pond side plantings, hedges, natural areas, rain gardens and bank stabilization.
 
The spires of pink flowers appear from mid-summer into fall. Light deadheading will encourage more bloom. The attractive flowers help attract beneficial insects like bees and butterflies. It’s a nectar source for the rare Karner Blue butterfly and the leaves are a favorite food for several caterpillars and moths.
 
A bit more information: Another native spirea, Meadowseet (Spiraea alba), produces spires of white flowers and is hardy in zones 3 to 7. It makes a great cut flower and is a butterfly favorite.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com

 
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Managing Invasive Plants



Buckthorn, honeysuckle and Tree of Heaven are just a few of the landscape plants that have left the garden and invaded our natural spaces.
These aggressive plants outcompete and crowd out our native plants, destroying the food and habitat needed by wildlife. They also invade our gardens, crowding out desirable plants.

Many gardeners are reluctant to remove them as they provide privacy or screen a bad view. Plant a garden or hedge to take its place and get busy removing these invaders.

Pull or dig small seedlings as soon as they appear. Or remove a 6 inch strip of bark around the base of the plant.
You can also cut the plant to the ground in fall and treat the stump with a brush killer recommended for this purpose. Or paint the bottom 12 inches of the trunk with a brush killer. This prevents the roots from re-sprouting.
As always read and follow label directions carefully.

A bit more information:  Aggressive plants, unlike invasive plants, crowd out their neighboring plants, but do not leave the bounds of the landscape.  Avoid aggressive plants, if space and time are limited. Or limit aggressive plants spread by growing them in small contained beds or containers. And do not plant invasive plants that will take you years to eliminate in your yard and nearby natural areas.  For a list of the more common invasive plants, click here.  
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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