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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.


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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Moss in the Lawn

Moss gardens are a beautiful trend in the gardening world. But for many gardeners moss in the lawn and garden is a source of frustration.

Moss, like other lawn weeds, is an indication of poor growing conditions. This unwanted plant thrives in shade as well as compacted, poorly drained, acidic soil. Correct the cause and you will eliminate the problem for years to come.

Improve drainage and reduce compaction by adding several inches of compost or other organic matter to the top 6 to 8 inches of soil. Core aeration of the lawn can also help with compacted soil.

Increase the light reaching the grass by having a certified arborist thin the crown of overhead trees. Only use lime if a soil test indicates your soil is too acidic.

There are moss killers on the market, but if you don't eliminate the cause you will be fighting this weed for years.

A bit more information: If it is too difficult or impossible to eliminate the cause of the problem, consider embracing moss as a part of the landscape. Many gardeners pay money for the very plant you are trying to eliminate. Add a few steppers for a walkway or add a few stones and call it a moss garden. Many gardeners in your situation have quit fighting the moss and embraced it as a groundcover. In fact, you will see moss for sale from several gardening sources.

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


Blame it on the weather. This could be one cause for a poor garden harvest.


Late spring frosts can damage the flowers preventing pollination. Cool wet weather reduces bee activity and extremely hot dry weather can also prevent flowering or cause blossom drop and all can reduce our harvest.

But we also can be the culprit.

Overfertilization promotes lots of leaves and stems and discourages or prevents flowers and fruits. Growing plants in too much shade can also prevent flowering and fruit production.

Some plants need a male and female or two different varieties to insure pollination, fertilization and fruit production.

Don't let all this dissuade you from growing your own produce. Just do a bit of reading and be sure to check the plant tags and seed packets when planning your garden and purchasing your plants.

And if things don't work out – just blame it on the weather.

A bit more information: Not sure if you have a male or female plant? Take a closer look at the flowers. Female flowers contain a swollen vase-like structure called a pistil. Male flowers have long, thin filament or pin-like structures called stamens. Some flowers are "perfect" and contain both the male and female parts.

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New Ways to Display Pumpkins

Fall is pumpkin time. Find new ways to display these fall favorites.

Scoop out the inside and use it for a planter. Fill with potting mix - you'll have a biodegradable pot for the compost pile when finished - or set a planted container inside. Try an ornamental cabbage, short ornamental grass or trailing pansies like cool wave for a fun fall container.

Or carve an opening in the side of your pumpkin after removing the center. Create a fall or Halloween display inside. Use faux moss, figurines and your imagination.

Scoop out the insides of small pumpkins and use them for vases to create a fun fall centerpiece for your table. Or use them as soup bowls for butternut squash or your other favorite fall soup.

Or leave them intact and set them in your container gardens to fill voids or add some fall interest to your plantings. And add a few to your indoor planters as well.

A bit more information: Large pumpkins and squash make great additions to the fall garden. Set them in voids, in containers or on top of hanging baskets that are a bit thin on top. For more ideas, visit http://www.countryliving.com/crafts/projects/pumpkin-decorating-1009#slide-10

For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Plant Some Animal Resistant Bulbs this Fall


Don't let flower hungry wildlife stop you from planting spring flowering bulbs. Plant a few animal resistant bulbs in your garden this fall for added color and beauty next spring.

Start off the season with a few minor bulbs. Winter aconite and snowdrops are some of the first bulbs to appear in spring. Mix grape hyacinths with daffodils to double your flower power and pop in some Siberian squills for a bit of blue in the spring garden.

Try little Tommies, botanically known as Crocus tomassinanus. Garden catalogues claim and I have found them to be resistant to squirrels.

Daffodils are well known for surviving hungry animals and now there are lots of new varieties to choose from.

And don't forget to try some alliums you may know as ornamental onions. There are small and large flowered varieties and those that bloom in spring, summer or fall.

A bit more information: Consider Camassia with blue flower spikes that resemble hyacinth, but tolerate partial shade. Snowflakes (Leucojum) Autumn crocus (Clochicum), Fritillaria and of course hyacinths are a few other animal-resistant bulbs. Southern gardeners need to select low chill varieties or use precooled bulbs if their winters are too warm for forcing spring flowering bulbs into bloom.


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Vote for your Favorite Flower


There is still time to cast your vote for your favorite flower.

The American Garden Award program is your opportunity to vote for your favorite of several beautiful flowers bred for the home garden. Some of the most prestigious flower breeders have chosen their favorites to enter in the competition.
 
Celosia Arrabona Red is a plume type cockscomb and it was selected for its easy care, drought tolerance and long bloom.
 
Cuphea Sriracha Violet is heat tolerant and covered with unique violet blooms from spring through summer.
 
Illumination Flame Digiplexis is a foxglove hybrid with spikes of red-pink flowers with flaming orange throats.
 
Last but not least is Petunia Anguna radiant blue. This new hybrid has blue flowers with a white throat.
 
So visit www.Americangardenaward.com today and cast your vote.
 
A bit more information: The 2013 winner was Verbena ‘Lanai® Candy Cane’ with red and white striped blooms. Santa Cruz Sunset Begonia was the 2012 winner. This cascading begonia is perfect for hanging baskets, containers or mass plantings. This is the sixth year for this program. Check out information on previous winners and contestants at www.americangardenaward.com.
 
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Making Flavored Vinegars
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Colorado Blue Spruce
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Elizabeth Kay on National TV!
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