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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.


Saving Leftover Seeds for Next Season

Take a break and prepare for next season by organizing your left over and partially filled seed packets.

Saving left over seeds can save you money each year in the garden, but so many of us like to try something new or misplace our collections of old seeds and end up with a surplus. Take a few minutes to gather all of your left over seeds and organize them for the upcoming season.

Properly stored seeds can last from one to five years or more. Once they pass their average life expectancy you may see a reduction in germination. Start by checking the expiration date on the packet. Onions, parsley and parsnip seeds usually last one year. Corn, okra and peppers two years; beans and peas for three years; tomatoes, turnips, beets, chard and watermelon four years; and Brussels sprouts, cabbage, muskmelons, radishes and spinach last for five years.

A bit more information: And don't throw the old seeds in the compost pile. You can test their viability by wrapping a few in a damp paper towel inside a plastic bag. Wait a week to see what sprouts and determine the percent germination. For more information, listen to my audio tip by clicking here. Or turn expired seeds into artwork to frame or give as gifts.

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

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Snowberry

What a great time of year to talk about an old time favorite shrub, the snowberry. You may recognize this plant by its white snowball like fruit.

The snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus) is experiencing a renewal in popularity due to its shade tolerance and attractive fruit. It tolerates a wide range of soils and full sun as well as shade. It is native to North America and hardy in zones 3 to 7.

Though it may lack a refined growth habit, snowberry is deer resistant and suited to natural plantings, bird gardens and hillside plantings for erosion control.

Many of the new introductions are hybrids developed for better growth habit and fruiting. Amethyst has hot pink berries for a brighter display. Hancock is a cultivar of the closely related coralberry and produces pink flowers in summer and coral pink fruit in fall on a compact plant.

A bit more information: Snowberry grows 3 to 6 feet tall and wide. The leaves are bluish green and flowers are small, pinkish in color and form at the ends of the stems.

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

Looking for something different to grow? Try a blood lily.

This member of the amaryllis family produces softball size red flowers. The flowers appear in late spring or early summer and are followed by orange-scarlet berries.

Blood lily (Scadoxus multiflorus ) is reliably hardy in zones 8 to 10 and has been known to survive in zone 7 gardens with well-drained soil and winter mulch. Gardeners in colder climates need to bring this bulb indoors for winter.

Outdoors grow this plant in full sun or partial shade and organically rich well-drained soils. Make sure the soil stays evenly moist throughout the growing season.

Those gardening in colder climates should grow bulbs in containers, since these plants do not like their roots disturbed. Gradually reduce watering in late summer and move the containers indoors before the first fall frost. Store the dormant bulbs in a cool dry location.

A bit more information: This South African native attracts bees, butterflies and birds to the garden. Handle with care as all parts of this plant can cause a mild stomach upset if eaten and the sap can irritate the skin.

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

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​Keeping Your Christmas Tree Watered


Keep the Christmas tree stand filled with water and your tree will stay fresh throughout the holidays. This is easier said than done.

Try assigning someone looking to get on Santa's Good List to this task. They'll need to check stands with smaller reservoirs and freshly installed trees several times a day. Once a day should be enough for most stands after that.

Reduce your workload and increase your success by investing in a tree stand with a larger reservoir. The National Christmas Tree Association recommends using a tree stand that holds one quart of water for every inch of trunk.

Or purchase or make a Christmas tree watering system. Use a bucket or tin as an additional water reservoir. Employ tubing to move the water from this container to the tree stand as needed. Test the system before abandoning your daily watering schedule or leaving town for the weekend.

A bit more information: Put any spare branches to work in holiday centerpieces and decorations. Protect woodwork and furniture from sap that can drip from cut branches. Place paper or fabric beneath the branches for added color and protection.

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

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Celebrate National Pear Month

Celebrate National Pear Month by adding a few of your favorite pear dishes to your family meals.

Pears have been cultivated for thousands of years. They arrived in North America with the early colonists. They flourished until most of the plantings were wiped out by a blight. Fortunately the pears introduced to the great growing conditions of the Pacific Northwest were spared and these varieties still thrive there.

Pears are one of the few fruit that is harvested when mature, but not ripe. Leave freshly picked or purchased pears out at room temperature so they can slowly ripen to that sweet flavor you desire.

Gently press on the neck of the pear with your thumb when you think it's ripe. If it gives to the pressure, it's ready to eat. Once the pear is fully ripened you can move it to the fridge to maintain its flavor. It will last for about five days.

A bit more information: Pears are members of the rose family that includes apples, quince, plums and cherries. They are high in fiber, Vitamin C and only about 100 calories per serving. For recipes and more, click here.

For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Add a Small Scale Evergreen, Lemon Cypress, this Holiday Season



Add a small scale living evergreen to your holiday celebrations. The Lemon Cypress makes a great alternative to larger Christmas trees, especially when space is limited. Or use them to decorate your home, as a centerpiece for the holiday table or gift for a friend.

The fragrant chartreuse foliage of this dwarf evergreen can help brighten your winter décor. You can find them as topiaries or in their more natural form.

Grow them in a sunny window and turn the plants occasionally to insure all parts receive equal sunlight and grow evenly. You'll have the best results if you keep your plant in a cool location free of cold and hot air drafts.

Water your mini holiday tree whenever the top few inches of soil are dry. The warmer your house the more often you'll need to water.

Wait until spring when plants begin to actively grow and need a nutrient boost before applying fertilizer.

A bit more information: Avoid overwatering and do not allow your plants to sit in excess water that collects in the saucer that can lead to root rot. Reduce maintenance by placing pebbles in the saucer to elevate the plants above any excess water.

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

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Grow a Topiary Wreath for the Holidays

Grow your own holiday decorations using the ancient art of topiary.

All you need are a couple small trailing plants, a metal frame, potting mix, and a container with drainage holes. Wreaths are a traditional favorite form and small leaved English ivies are the most commonly used plants for indoor topiaries. But wire vine, Asian star jasmine, and other trailing indoor plants will also work.

Purchase or make a wire frame into the desired shape. Wreaths, holiday trees, stockings, your imagination, and wire bending abilities are your only limitations.

Securely anchor the form into the container. Then plant several small plants with long trailing stems in the pot alongside the form. Wind the vines up and through the form to get the living sculpture started.

Grow your topiary in a bright location and water as needed. Continue to train the plants to grow throughout the form and clip stray branches as needed.

A bit more information: English ivies are susceptible to spider mites. Proper care and an occasional shower of clear water is often enough to prevent problems. If populations build, try weekly applications of insecticidal soap. It's an organic control that is effective against mites, aphids and many other insects but safe for you, your children and pets.

For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Light up the Landscape with Holiday Lights

So you decided to brighten the winter landscape with a few lights.
Always use lights made for the outdoors. Test and detangle the strands before you start placing the lights. It's easier to replace a burnt out bulb on the ground than when you are on a ladder or the lights are in the plant.
Carefully drape the lights over the branches of your shrubs. Loosely attach if needed. The new lighted netting makes decorating shrubs much easier on you and the plants.
Lighting trees can be a bit more challenging. Many gardeners simply wrap the trunks as high as they can reach – keeping their feet firmly on the ground. Extend your reach using a pole pruner, fruit harvester, or broom handle to gently place the lights over the branches of smaller trees.
Larger trees may require a ladder. Use a sound ladder placed on level ground and consider enlisting a friend or relative to keep it steady as you work.
Make sure you remove the lights at the end of the season.
A bit more information: Always be careful not injure yourself or your plants when installing holiday lights. Try wrapping the strands of lights around your hand and bent elbow. This keeps them tangle-free and easy to move as you negotiate ladders and the plants. And, be sure to remove the lights at the end of the season. Undetected strands of lights can accidently be cut when pruning in the spring. This can be dangerous and dulls your pruning saw. Plus, tightly wrapped lights can girdle fast growing trees in just one year.

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

Brighten the indoors and get into the holiday spirit by adding a few poinsettias to your indoor décor.
Select poinsettia plants with deep green leaves and colorful bracts, the leaf-like structures we call flowers. Always wrap the plants when moving them in cold weather. Remove the protective sleeves as soon as they arrive to a warm location.
Next bend foil edges down so light can reach all of the leaves. Punch holes in the foil for proper drainage or place a few pebbles in the bottom of the foil wrapper to elevate the pot above any standing water.
Keep the soil moist not wet and place the plants in a cool, bright location free from drafts of hot or cold air.
If yellow leaves develop, do a bit of detective work. Make sure there is not standing water in the foil, basket or saucer. Dump any excess water that has collected. Adjust your watering schedule to avoid overly wet or dry soil. And, move the plants to a brighter location.
A bit more information: Once the holidays have passed, move your poinsettia to a sunny window. Continue to water thoroughly whenever the top few inches of potting mix are slightly moist. You can move the plant outdoors for the warm summer months and bring it back in before cold weather returns. Staring October 1st grow your plant in a sunny window, allow the soil to go slightly dry and each night give the plant 14 hours of total darkness. With luck, you will have colorful bracts for Christmas.

For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Selection and Care of Christmas Trees


The holidays are here and for many that means, it’s time to head out to the Christmas tree lot.  Selection is the first step to insuring a beautiful tree throughout the holiday season
Start by checking for freshness.  Run your hand along the stem. The needles should be pliable yet firmly attached to the branch.  If not, it’s time to move to the next tree.
Avoid trees with lots of moss, lichens, vines, broken branches and other signs of poor care.  Now check the trunk.  It should be straight and small enough to fit in your tree stand.
Remove at least an inch from the base of the trunk before setting it in the stand.  A straight or diagonal cut work equally well.  Fill the stand with water and check often.  Fresh trees can absorb as much as 2 qts of water in the first 24 hours.  Keeping your tree stand filled with water is the best way to keep your tree looking its best throughout the season.
A bit more information:  Research has shown that a tree stand kept filled with water is the best cut tree preservative.  Some like to add homemade or commercial preservatives to “feed” the tree and prevent the build up of fungus, mold and bacteria in the water.  You can make your own by adding a cup of clear sugary soda and a drop of bleach to the water.

For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com  
 
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And the Newest Kardashian is...
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Christmas Services - Saturday Night Live-Style
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Barbara Walters' Most Fascinating Person of 2014
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Adorable Holiday Tearjerker?
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Yup, It's Genetic
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The Sun May Not Come Out Tomorrow After All
The updated version of Annie hit theaters this past weekend, and according to The Hollywood Reporter, it's a hard knock watch. Starring Jamie Foxx as the billionaire and Quvenzhane Wallis as the little orphan, the new Annie was pretty much eviscerated: This one paragraph says it all: "Putting aside the grating performances, the clumsy direction, the visual ugliness and the haphazard development of story, character and relationships, the movie is hobbled by its intrinsic unsuitability for contemporary retelling." Of course, you never know with movies like this. Critics can often cripple a film - or just because of their shear nastiness, encourage people to go and check it out for themselves. So what do you think? Is it worth popping for $12 a ticket, plus the investment in the soda and popcorn and candy, to make your own determination?  
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