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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.


Bats – Nature’s Pest Controller

Paper silhouettes of bats mounted on the wall, carved into pumpkins or hanging from the ceiling are a common sight around Halloween. But they really should be considered a good friend to gardeners.

Most North American bats only eat insects. As night feeders their diet consists mainly of moths and mosquitoes. But they also eat gnats and larger beetles. A colony of bats can eat as much as 100 tons of insects in a season.
 
Invite bats into your landscape by supplementing their food source, insects, with water and shelter.
 
A pond with an opening for the bat’s to swoop down for a drink or an elevated bird bath can provide a good source of water.
 
Consider buying or building a bat house for your yard. Visit the Bat Conservation International website at www.batcon.org for plans. Fasten the house on the south side of a pole about 12 to 18 feet above the ground.
 
A bit more information: Some bat species eat fruit and nectar. They help in pollination and seed dispersal of some of our native plants. For more information on creating a healthy yard for bats, bees, birds and butterflies click here.

For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.
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Sea Lavender (Limonium latifolia) – a drought tolerant cut flower

Add sea lavender to your list of must-have cut flowers. The light airy flowers blend nicely in any garden and the flowers are great for fresh and dried arrangements as well as craft projects. 
 
Sea-lavender, also known as statice and wide-leaf sea-lavender is heat, drought and salt tolerant.   It is hardy in zones 3 to 9 and grows best in full sun with well-drained soil. It can flop and need staking when grown in heavier clay soil. 
 
Plant it in the proper growing conditions right from the start, as it does not like to be moved.
 
The wide green leaves form a low mound. The light blue flowers are held high above the leaves, creating a misty look and feel in the garden.
 
Harvest a few stems to use in dried flower arrangements and crafts. Cut the flower stems just before the flowers are fully open. Hang upside down in a shaded airy location to dry.
 
A bit more information: Statice (Limonium sinuatum) has bolder flowers of rose, red, apricot, yellow, lavender and white. It grows best in full sun and is also heat and drought tolerant. Most gardeners grow it as an annual unless gardening in zones 8 to 10.

For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.
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Recycle Fall Leaves in Your Landscape

Put fall leaves to work improving your garden soil.

Fall is a great time to improve your garden soil whether you are able to plant a winter garden or just want to get a jump start on next spring.
 
You may want to try lasagna gardening, an intense form of sheet composting. You'll create a raised bed from layers of shredded leaves, compost and other organic matter.  
 
Or shred your fallen leaves and dig them into the top 8 to 12 inches of soil in new or annual flower and vegetable gardens. Add an inch or two of finished compost or peat moss at the same time.
 
Store extra fall leaves and evergreen needles to use as a summer mulch. This helps conserve moisture, moderate soil temperatures and suppress weeds. And as the mulch breaks down over summer it will improve the soil below.
 
Make adding leaves and mulching an ongoing part of your gardening efforts. You’ll be amazed at the difference it will make.
 
A bit more information:  Shred and bag fall leaves and then spread a one to two inch layer over the soil surface around perennials in fall. You’ll save time by putting the leaves to work immediately in the garden.
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For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.
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Grow Your Own Indoor Salad Garden

Grow your own salad indoors for fun and flavor.
 
Find a container with drainage holes that will fit near a sunny window or under artificial lights.  Fill it with a well-drained potting mix.
 
Sprinkle seeds of your favorite leafy greens over the soil surface. Lightly cover the seeds and moisten the soil.
 
Once the seeds begin to sprout make sure your salad garden receives plenty of light. Move it to a sunny window or under artificial lights. Keep the artificial lights about 6 inches above the top of the plants.
 
Your salad garden will thrive in cool brightly lit locations. Check your potting mix to see if it contains a long lasting fertilizer. If not, fertilize with a dilute solution of any indoor plant fertilizer every few weeks or when plants need a nutrient boost.
 
Once the plants reach full size begin harvesting the outer leaves. Use these for sandwiches, garnish or salads.
 
A bit more information: Grow a few sprouts or microgreens to add some zest to your fresh salad. You need very little space and only a few days to see results. Listen to my audio tip for more information.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
 
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Caring for Indoor Plants in Low Light Conditions

Don’t let the gray days of winter or limited window space prevent you from gardening indoors.
 
Select plants suited to lower light conditions. Pothos, philodendron, cast iron plant, Chinese evergreens and snake plants are a few to consider.
 
Turn plants regularly, so all sides of the plants benefit from available light.
 
Place plants in the brightest location available. Increase your growing locations by rotating plants from higher to lower light areas. Regularly moving the plants will help all of them capture the needed sunlight throughout their lifetime.
 
Water thoroughly, but only when needed. Plants growing in low light use less water and need less frequent watering. Pour off any water that collects in the saucer or elevate the pot above the water with pebbles.
 
Limit or eliminate fertilization. Only fertilize actively growing plants in need of a nutrient boost.
 
A bit more information: And if this all has not helped, consider supplementing natural sunlight with artificial light. Individual spot lights or grow light set ups can help increase your gardening possibilities and success.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
 
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Making Flavored Vinegars

Liven up your meals and extend your garden enjoyment with flavored vinegars.
 
Gather glass jars and bottles free of nicks and cracks. Use non-corrodible metal or plastic screw on caps or new pre-sterilized corks.
 
Wash and rinse thoroughly then sterilize the bottles by immersing them in boiling water for 10 minutes. You’ll fill the bottles while still warm.
 
Place 3 or 4 sprigs of washed fresh herbs in each container. Wash the herbs and blot dry. Then dip in a 1 teaspoon bleach and 6 cup water solution, rinse with cold water and pat dry.
 
Heat the vinegar to about 190 degrees and pour over the herbs in your warm clean jars. Leave about ¼ inch of space between the vinegar and jar opening. Wipe the rims and attach the lids.
 
Store them in a cool dark place. Allow to sit for 3 to 4 weeks, strain and rebottle.
 
A bit more information: Don’t stop with herbs. Try creating fruit flavored vinegars. For more details on this and safely preserving your garden harvest, click here.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
 
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Drying and Preserving Hot Chili Peppers

Don’t let those hot chili peppers go to waste. Use them fresh, preserve or give as gifts.
 
Chili ristras are not only decorative, but a traditional way of drying and storing hot red chili peppers for future meals. Create your own ristra with cotton string, red chili peppers and a series of knots to secure the peppers onto the string and eventually the twine.
 
Or dry your peppers in a dehydrator or on a foil lined cookie sheet in the oven. Wipe the peppers clean and spread in a single layer. Speed up the process by slicing through the peppers or dicing into smaller pieces.
 
The peppers are dry and ready for storage when they are dark red, shrunken, but still flexible.
 
Thoroughly dried peppers can be crushed into flakes.
 
Or try canning, freezing or pickling a few peppers to enjoy throughout the winter.
 
And be sure to wear gloves and wash hands thoroughly when you’re done.
 
A bit more information: Always label peppers at harvest. Some hot peppers, like Hungarian half sharp peppers, look just like the banana pepper. Try using separate harvest pails or labeled plastic bags to separate the sweet and hot peppers.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
 
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Landscape Plans & Planting Records

Fading plant labels and disappearing tags can make planning and maintaining your garden a bit challenging. Avoid these frustrations by writing it down.
 
Use a piece of paper and sketch out the shape of your garden. Don’t worry about the artistic value or scale. Right now you just want to capture the general location and name of the plants in your garden. You can fine tune the design when time allows.
 
Write the name of the plant at its approximate location. Or better yet use numbers for each plant and create a list to accompany the plan.  You may want to record additional information about each plant such as where it was purchased, when it was planted and the like.
 
If you still have the plant tags you may want to keep these for future reference. Place them in a page protector or container or attach them to the garden map.
 
A bit more information: Put your cell phone camera to work. Use it to take pictures of your garden, plants and tags throughout the season. It is a convenient way to record the information while in the garden.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
 
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Tips for Proper Tree Planting

 
Fall is a great time to plant trees. Follow these important planting tips to insure the health and longevity of your plants.

Make sure the root flare, the place where the roots flare away from the trunk, is at or slightly above the soil surface.
 
Dig the planting hole the same depth as the distance between the root flare and bottom of the root ball. Digging deeper can result in the soil settling and creating a water collecting depression around your tree.
 
Roughen the sides of the planting hole to avoid glazed soil that can prevent roots from growing into the surrounding soil.
 
Water thoroughly whenever the top 4 to 6 inches of soil are crumbly and slightly moist.
 
Spread a 2 to 3 inch layer of wood chips over the surrounding soil. And pull the mulch away from the trunk of the tree to prevent rot and disease.
 
Wait a year to fertilize your newly planted tree.
 
A bit more information: No need to stake most newly planted trees. Staking should only be done for bare root trees, trees with large canopies and small root balls, and those exposed to high winds.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
 
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Colorado Blue Spruce

Colorado blue spruce are a favorite tree of many gardeners. Their bluish green needles and pyramidal shape are a nice addition to the landscape. But several diseases can kill branches and distort their beauty.
 
One such disease is Needle cast. It’s usually not deadly, but it ruins the beauty and screening value the trees provide. Promptly remove and destroy infected branches to help slow the spread of this disease. Disinfect your tools with a one part bleach and nine parts water or 70% alcohol solution between cuts.  Make sure your trees receive sufficient water during dry periods, mulch the soil and give them plenty of room for light and air to reach all parts of the plant.
 
Copper containing fungicides are listed as effective against needle-cast and some formulations are considered organic. Proper timing and thorough coverage are critical for effective control.
 
A bit more information:  One of the other common disease problems on blue spruce is cytospora canker. There is no effective chemical control. Removal of diseased branches, mulching and proper watering can minimize the damage.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
 
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Halloween in Hollywood
Live From 30 Rock!
Bats – Nature’s Pest Controller
Pee Wee's Back
Peter Pan's Clock is Ticking
Hey, Nice Gourds!
Too Much Wine on Your Hands?
Earning a Black Bear Belt
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