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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.


Limp and Yellowing Leaves on African Violets

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

Warm the water and eliminate the salt if your African violet has limp leaves that eventually yellow and drop off.

Use room temperature water to avoid cold damage to the leaves. Then check for a white crusty substance on the soil surface or plant container. This salt buildup is from the minerals in the water and fertilizer. African violet leaves are damaged and often drop when they come in contact with this material. Scrape off the crusty white substance. Then water the soil thoroughly with room temperature water. Allow the excess water to drain from the pot. Repeat this several times at 20 minute intervals. Leaching the soil like this will help wash any excess salts out of the soil.

Some growers cover the rim of the pot with foil or a similar material to protect the petioles from the salt laden container rim. Others raise their plants in plastic or ceramic pots, with drainage holes, to avoid this problem.

A bit more information: Once you correct this problem you may want to start more plants. African violets can be started from just a single healthy leaf. Listen to my audio tip for more details.

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

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More Herbs, Less Salt Day (August 29)

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

Put away the saltshaker and season your meals with herbs instead.

August 29th is National More Herbs, Less Salt Day. Substituting herbs for salt can increase the flavor and health benefits in your meals.

Use turmeric, fresh ginger and fresh garlic for added flavor and anti-inflammatory benefits.

Fans of savory flavors can add onions and garlic for a bit of kick. Try dill on potatoes, tomatoes, fish and green beans.

Season your tomatoes, chicken and green beans with oregano.

And add rosemary to lamb, chicken and potatoes and sage and thyme on beef and potatoes. Use marjoram in soups, peas and summer squash.

Get the most flavor from fresh herbs by crushing or rubbing them just before adding them to the dish. Use them as rubs or in marinades to increase flavor.

Plus, fresh herbs can make your meal look and smell more appealing.

A bit more information: Though we can't grow all possible salt substitutes, we can add a few to our pantry. Try using cinnamon in place of salt. Season your soups, squash, and carrots with nutmeg. Try cloves for seasoning fruit and beef and curry powder or cumin on corn, tomatoes, and fish.

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

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Faster Results with Trees and Shrubs

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

It's hard to imagine and even harder to wait for that stick of a tree or small potted shrub to grow into a much larger and beautiful addition to the landscape. But we can help speed up the process.

Fast growing species are an option, but unfortunately most tend to be weak wooded and short lived. Proper pruning starting at an early age can help establish a strong structure that is more resistant to storm damage.

Speed up the growth of slower growing trees and shrubs with proper care. Amend the whole planting bed, not just the planting hole, with organic matter when developing shrub beds and plant borders.

Keep the area around individual plants and throughout the planting beds free of grass and weeds that compete with the trees and shrubs for water and nutrients.

Mulch the soil around the plants and water thoroughly as needed.

A bit more information: Use a low nitrogen slow release fertilizer, like Milorganite, to promote drought tolerant growth without impeding flowering. Let the plant, soil and weather conditions, and your landscape goals act as your guide to how frequently you need to fertilize.

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

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Cancer Fighting Vegetables

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

Cancer prevention starts on your dinner plate. Well, actually it can start in the garden. Growing your own nutrient rich cancer fighting vegetables allows you to grow pesticide-free vegetables, harvest them at their peak and use them right away, insuring the highest nutrient value and best flavor.

Include some broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, and turnip greens. When cut or chewed these vegetables release cancer fighting substances that help fend off several types of cancer. Include these vegetables in your stir fries, as a side dish with meals or eat them fresh as a snack or appetizer. Three weekly servings of these vegetables can greatly reduce your cancer risk.

In the garden, grow these beauties during the cooler parts of your growing season for the best flavor and productivity. And don't worry about frost. These can tolerate a light frost, and for some, their flavor even improves.

A bit more information: Another popular and cancer-fighting vegetable, the tomato, can easily be grown in any size balcony or landscape. Whether eaten fresh, juiced, sauced or added to your favorite dish the lycopenes in this vegetable will help in the fight against cancer.

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

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Reviving Neglected Houseplants

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

Don't send that drought stressed houseplant to the compost pile just yet. You may be able to revive it.

Vacations and busy schedules may result in neglected houseplants suffering from a lack of water. Most potting mixes are soilless and contain organic materials like peatmoss that shrink away from the pot and harden when overly dry. Water runs over the surface, down the side of the pot and out the drainage hole without moistening the potting mix.

Start the recovery process by loosening the potting mix surface with a fork. Then set the pot in warm water until the potting mix is moistened and you no longer see bubbles in the water.

Remove the pots from the water and allow them to drain. Place in a cool well-lit location and wait for a few hours. If you intervened in time, the leaves will perk up in a few hours.

A bit more information: Busy gardeners and those that travel a lot may want to grow more low maintenance drought tolerant houseplants. Cacti and succulents are great for those with lots of sunny windows. Gardeners with low light conditions can grow snake plants, cast iron plant and ZZ plant.

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

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

August 19th is National Potato Day. This simple vegetable is the fourth largest food crop in the world with an interesting history.

The potato was first cultivated by the Inca Indians about 8000 BC and made its way to Europe, North America and most recently outer space.

In October of 1995 the astronauts on the Space Shuttle Columbia grew potatoes. They used a combination of an agriculture technique from China and controlled environment technologies developed at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The goal was to develop growing systems for feeding astronauts on long space journeys and eventually feeding future space colonies.

One medium size potato is only 110 calories. It is high in vitamin C, potassium, fiber, B6 and iron.

So take a moment to appreciate your next side of potatoes.

A bit more information: Growing potatoes and other plants is not just about the food supply. They also help replenish oxygen and remove excess carbon dioxide from the air. For more on potatoes grown in space visit http://www.nasa.gov/vision/earth/everydaylife/spacespuds.html

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

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Wooly Aphids on Trees and Shrubs

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

Aphids come in a variety of colors and some, like wooly aphids, look pretty bizarre with their white stringy protrusions.

Wooly aphids are small pear shaped insects covered with waxy strands that make them look as though they are covered in white wool. The waxy strands help protect them from predators.

They feed on a variety of deciduous and evergreen trees and shrubs. Like other aphids, they suck plant juices causing the leaves to discolor, curl and drop when populations are high. These insects secrete a clear sticky substance called honeydew on the leaves and objects beneath the plant they are feeding upon.

Their feeding is usually just cosmetic and not harmful to healthy established trees and shrubs. Natural predators like lady beetles and lacewings usually keep the problem under control.

Provide proper care to reduce the overall stress and the impact of the wooly aphid feeding.

A bit more information: A black sooty fungus forms on the honeydew secreted by these and other aphids. The fungus does not attack the plant but can block the sunlight reaching the leaves causing some leaf drop. For a fun look at aphids, click here.

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

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No Tomatoes? Check the Weather

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

No fruit on your tomato plants? Blame it on the weather. Tomatoes thrive in warm sunny conditions; but temperature extremes can prevent otherwise healthy plants from setting fruit.

When daytime temperatures rise above 90 degrees and night temperatures remain above 70 degrees, blossom drop and poor fruit development can occur.

Cool weather can also hinder fruiting. Night temperatures below 59 degrees will reduce the amount and viability of pollen and consequently fruit production.

The simplest solution is to wait for weather to change. Once this happens the plants will begin producing fruit.

When hot weather arrives 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.

If this is a yearly problem, look for tomato varieties better suited to your growing conditions.

A bit more information: With proper selection and care you will enjoy an abundant harvest in spite of less than ideal weather. Use recommendations from the local University extension service or use the Bonnie Plant tomato chooser guide to find heat tolerant varieties and those that best fit your gardening style and cooking needs.

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

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Grow Nutritious Goji Berries

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

Nutritious, flavorful, beautiful and easy to grow describes the goji berry. Consider adding one of these shrubs to your garden.

Goji berries are often called a superfruit because they're loaded with antioxidants, protein and Vitamin C. You can eat them fresh, cooked or dried. Just leave them on the plant until fully ripe for the best flavor.

This large shrub can quickly grow to 8 to 10 feet tall and nearly as wide. The long branches tend to crawl along the ground. You can stake or prune the plant to control the size and shape.

Grow goji berries in full sun and moist soil for the best fruit production. Plants will tolerate some shade and dry soil once established.

White or lavender flowers appear in early summer followed by elongated berries that turn bright red when ripe. The plant keeps producing flowers and fruit throughout the season.

A bit more information: Goji berries are self fertile. That means you only need one plant to produce a bumper crop of fruit.

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

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Low Maintenance Eco-Friendly Garden Tips

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

Reduce maintenance and be kind to the environment with a few simple changes in your gardening practices.

Be waterwise. Reduce water use by growing drought tolerant plants and mulching the soil to conserve water. And always water thoroughly and only when needed to encourage deep, more drought tolerant roots.

Reduce, reuse and recycle yard waste. Leave grass clippings on the lawn to add water and nutrients back to the soil. Shred leaves and use as a mulch around plants. Then convert the rest into soil enriching compost.

Manage pests in harmony with nature. Let the good bugs manage the bad bugs and handpick small populations of troublesome pests.

Use plantings to reduce energy costs. Plantings near the home, trees shading the roof and windows, and shrubs and vines that shade your air conditioner can reduce energy costs.

A bit more information: If nature doesn't take care of your pest problems, try traps, barriers and other eco-friendly options if further control is needed. For more ideas see my article on
Eco-Friendly Pest Control in the Garden.

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

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Edible Squash Blossoms

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

Try something new this season. Harvest and enjoy a few squash blossoms fresh from the garden.

The flowers of both summer and winter squash are edible. You can eat them raw, dipped in batter and fried, stuff with cheese and baked, served over pasta or in a quesadilla.

You can eat both the male and female flowers. Leave enough female flowers on the plant to produce the amount of fruit you desire. Always leave a few male flowers for pollination. Male flowers have a thin straight stem and the female flowers have a miniature fruit just below the flower petals.

Harvest squash blossoms midday when the flowers are open. Cut the stem one inch below the flower. Carefully rinse them in a container of cool water and store in ice water in the refrigerator. Flowers are best used fresh, but may last in storage for a day or two.

A bit more information: Click here for squash blossom recipes. And don't forget to enjoy a few summer squash. For the best flavor, harvest summer squash when they are small and tender. Pick zucchini and other long squash when it is two inches in diameter and six to eight inches long. Patti pan and other scalloped summer squash taste best when they are three to four inches in diameter.

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

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

Late summer through fall is filled with County, Provincial and State Fairs. These are great places to show off your green thumb and maybe even win a blue ribbon.

Start by reviewing the entry guidelines provided by the fair; then follow them. These tell you the number and way to exhibit your entry. Many high quality entries are disqualified because the gardeners did not follow the guidelines.

Select the best quality flowers and vegetables. This does not necessarily mean the biggest. Select entries that are uniform in size and exemplify the shape, color and ripeness for that group of flowers or vegetables.

Avoid specimens with blemishes caused by weather, insects or improper handling. Use a knife or hand pruners to avoid damage when harvesting. Carefully clean and trim stems as directed in the guidelines.

And bring along a few extras in case something gets damaged in transport.

A bit more information: And even if you missed this year's deadline, check out the competition and start preparing for next year's fair. For a list of State Fairs, click here.

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

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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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Melinda's Blog is brought to you by American Transmission Company.   Warm the water and eliminate the salt if your African violet has limp leaves that eventually yellow and drop off.   Use room temperature water to avoid cold damage to the leaves. Then check for a white crusty substance on the soil surface or plant container. This salt buildup is from the minerals in the water and fertilizer. African violet leaves are damaged and often drop when they come in contact with this material. Scrape off the crusty white substance. Then water the soil thoroughly with room temperature water. Allow the excess water to drain from the pot. Repeat this several times at 20 minute intervals. Leaching the soil like this will help wash any excess salts out of the soil.   Some growers cover the rim of the pot with foil or a similar material to protect the petioles from the salt laden container rim. Others raise their plants in plastic or ceramic pots, with drainage holes, to avoid this problem.   A bit more information: Once you correct this problem you may want to start more plants. African violets can be started from just a single healthy leaf. Listen to my audio tip for more details.   For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com  
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