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.
The holidays are here and that means the flower shops, garden centers and many homes are filled with poinsettias. No need to worry, this plant is non-toxic.
Yes, it’s true. Research by Universities and Poison control centers reveal this plant is non-toxic. You still shouldn’t eat it, but you can enjoy this beauty throughout the holidays.
It was named for Joel Poinsett, a U.S. Ambassador to Mexico in the 1820’s. He happened upon a blooming poinsettia shrub while in Mexico and brought cuttings back to the United States.
The legend of the Poinsettia is also of Mexican origin. It is said on the first Christmas two small children wanted to visit the baby Jesus, but were too poor to buy him a present. So they picked weeds along the road to decorate his crib. The other children made fun of their gift, that is, until their gift of love, turned a beautiful red.
A bit more information: The part of the poinsettia we call the flowers are really gracts, modified leaves. These holiday favorites were first grown and sold by nurseryman John Bartram. In the early 1900’s the Ecke family in Southern California started growing and selling them as landscape and cut flowers and became the leading poinsettia producer. I was lucky enough to spend a summer propagating, caring for and shipping poinsettia cuttings for this company.
When you contemplate a winter holiday meal, stuffing seasoned with sage may be on the menu. This herb has long been used for culinary and medicinal purposes.
For centuries, people believed and modern evidence suggests sage has antibiotic, antifungal, astringent and other benefits. In fact, the botanical name, Salvia, comes from Latin and means “to save” referring to its medicinal properties.
Grow sage in full sun and well drained soil for best results. It is a hardy perennial in zones 5 to 10 and can be grown in containers, edible and herb gardens or added to flower beds for its texture, color and edibility.
And when extreme heat or cold drives you indoors, consider growing Dwarf sage (Salvia officinalis ‘Compacta’). The smaller leaves and more compact plant make this a great addition to small spaces, containers and indoors in a windowsill herb garden.
A bit more information: Add a bit of additional beauty and interest with the colorful leaves of purple and tricolor sage. The large leaves and compact habit of Biergarten sage makes a nice foil for annual and perennial flowers.
Houseplants make a wonderful addition to the indoor décor of our homes. But those with young children and pets may be concerned about the safety of these green beauties.
Fortunately, there are many non-toxic houseplants to choose from. Popular flowering plants like African violet and Christmas cactus are non-toxic. Even though the poinsettia can cause irritation it is not poisonous. Baby tears, prayer plant, spider plant, snakeplant and coleus are also safe. Visit the ASPCA website or talk to your pediatrician for a more complete list of safe plants.
Reduce problems and calm your fears by keeping all plants out of the reach of children and pets as much as possible. Know the names of your plants so if one is ingested and you are concerned about poisoning you have the needed information for the doctor or vet.
A bit more information: Other kid and pet friendly plants include: Aluminum plant, Boston and birds nest fern cast iron plant, dragon tree and Janet Craig dracaenas, grape ivy, hoya (wax plant), jade plant, kalanchoe, lipstick plant, Norfolk Island pine, ponytail palm, sensitive plant, Swedish ivy, and wandering Jew. Increase your family’s gardening enjoyment by teaching children to never eat any part of a plant without the advice of a trusted and knowledgeable adult.
Need a break from all the holiday festivities? Put your family and some of those recycled materials and cast-aways to work by building your own terrarium.
All you need is a 2-liter bottle, well-drained potting mix, some small stones, shells or figurines and a few houseplants cuttings, small tropical plants, moss or other slow growing small scale plants.
Create the terrarium from a soda or water bottle heading to the recycling bin. Remove the label using a hairdryer set on low to melt the glue.
Use a pair of scissors or utility knife to cut the bottle into a base and cover. Make the bottom deep enough for planting. Slice several vertical cuts in the cover to make it easier to slide the top into the base.
Fill the base with a well-drained potting mix, plant, and then moisten the soil. Add a few decorative features and cover with the top of the bottle. Vent as needed.
A bit more information: For more detailed directions click here. And check out Bottle Biology at http://www.bottlebiology.org/ for more ways to put 2-liter bottles to work growing, composting and learning about science and the environment.
Sweet potatoes have long been a part of many family Thanksgivings and now are expanding into our meals year round.
This outstanding source of beta-carotene provides 35 to 90% of the recommended daily amount of Vitamin A. Plus, the colorful sweet potato is loaded with vitamin C, potassium, and contains more fiber (when eaten with the skin on) than oatmeal. A good source of antioxidants, this anti-inflammatory vegetable is also a good food source for those suffering from arthritis and asthma.
And try the young leaves in soups, stews or steamed and served with fish, okra and chile peppers. They are a great source of nutrients, iron, fiber and more.
Try growing your own next season. Those gardening in cooler regions and areas with a shorter growing season may want to use raised beds and black mulch to warm the soil and speed growth.
A bit more information: And don’t discard those sweet potatoes that sprout in storage. Make it a fun gardening activity for the family. Plant the sprouting sweet potato in a container of well-drained potting mix. Grow in a sunny window and water as needed. They make a great indoor plant or take cuttings and start new plants for your garden.
Get the family involved and look for fun, quick and easy ideas for decorating your Thanksgiving or fall dinner table.
Create a quick and edible centerpiece with seasonal apples. Place them in a low decorative container, overturn a small rustic basket and have them spill onto the table or scatter them on colorful fall leaves down the middle of the table.
Use one or two small pumpkins as a flower vase for your favorite fall flowers. Carve out the center and tuck a small vase filled with water and flowers inside.
Or break out your tiered dessert tray. Fill it with acorns, colorful leaves, twigs and fall flowers.
And don’t forget to look for seasonal fruits and vegetables in your region while grocery shopping. Acorn and other winter squash can fill in for pumpkins. Pomegranates, persimmons and kumquats combined with large glossy leaves and a few colorful napkins are sure to grab the attention of your guests.
A bit more information: Take a walk outside and move a few of those small pumpkins and gourds from the front steps or garden onto the dining room table. Or pick up a few on this week’s visit to the farmer’s market or garden center. Place in a basket or arrange in an attractive manner on the table.
Tough as nails is the description often given the plant you may know as snake plant, Mother-in-laws tongue or Sansevieria.
This easy to grow plant tolerates a wide range of growing conditions. Hardy outdoors in zones 10 and 11, it can be grown just about anywhere indoors. You can grow it in low light, but it thrives and will even flower in brightly lit indoor locations. Plant in a well drained potting mix and water thoroughly whenever the soil dries.
Look for some new twists on this old favorite. Moonshine sansevieria has solid silvery-green leaves with a very slight deep green edge around the leaves.
Black coral is tall with dark green almost black narrow leaves covered with gray-green wavy lines.
And look for Twist, another new cultivar with short twisted leaves edged in yellow.
A bit more information: The Cylindrica has just that cylindrical leaves. African spear has cylindrical leaves that grow in a fan shape pattern. Look for this and other new Sansevieria varieties at garden centers and florists as well as on-line sources, specializing in unusual indoor plants.
One of the last flowers of fall, the goldenrod, adds color to landscapes across North America.
You often find these and asters growing together in natural settings. These beautiful native plants make a nice combination in nature and the landscape.
An old legend speaks to this beautiful combination. It says two young friends, one with blonde hair and one with blue eyes were asked what they wanted to do when they grew up. The blonde hair girl wanted to make people happy and the other wanted to be with her friend. An old lady gave them magic cake and made their dreams come true by turning them into asters and goldenrod flowers.
Besides their beauty, these native plants provide food for butterflies, birds and beneficial insects, increasing their value in the garden.
Try adding a few of the tamer goldenrod varieties in your perennial or natural gardens.
A bit more information: Fireworks goldenrod grows 3 to 4 feet tall and 2 to 3 feet wide and the flowers explode like fireworks above the leaves. Golden Thumb is a shorter goldenrod variety. Its yellow flowers top one-foot plants.
Grow these and most other goldenrods in well-drained soil and full sun. Avoid over fertilization and harvest a few flowers to enjoy fresh or dried indoors.
Enjoy the beauty and a bit of the history of the Indian corn used in your fall decorations.
Indian corn was a food source not decoration for Native Americans. It was also grown and used for centuries in China, India and South America.
But before you get ready to cook up this decorative corn be aware the starchy kernels are not sweet like the corn on the cob we are used to eating. Instead these kernels are ground into flour, cornmeal or used for popping.
The beautiful multicolored ears of decorative Indian corn is a more recent attribute, resulting from more than 50 years of hybridizing.
Try growing your own next season. Make sure to keep it separate from edible varieties or stagger harvest times so there is no risk of cross pollination, ruining the flavor of your sweet corn.
Allow the husks to dry before harvesting Indian corn used as decoration.
Abit more information: Don’t worry if you didn’t grow your own or purchase Indian corn this fall. You can make your own from pipe cleaners, beads, ribbon, and straw. Gather a variety of beads reminiscent of Indian corn. String the beads on the pipe cleaner to create mini ears of corn. Adorn with straw and ribbon and your homemade decoration is complete.
Take a walk through the neighborhood or nearby botanical garden for ideas and inspiration for using ornamental grasses in your landscape.
Hardy noninvasive ornamental grasses add motion, texture and interest to the fall and winter garden. Many also provide food and nesting materials for birds and nectar for the butterflies.
Tall varieties make great living screens and dividers from summer through late winter. Place them in front of evergreens and add a few ornamental shrubs for a great year round combination.
Scatter a few medium sized grasses amongst lower growing annuals or perennials for a vertical accent that gives the look and feel of a water fountain.
Add them to your perennial garden. Use taller ones as a backdrop for your flowers. Or combine with flowers for texture and motion. And try weaving them throughout a planting bed as a unifying feature.
A bit more information: Always select grasses suited to your growing conditions and climate. And make sure they are noninvasive and their mature size will fit in the available space and your landscape design.
Dress up your landscape with a decorative suet feeder and the colorful birds that are sure to visit.
Make your own suet from this or your favorite recipe. Simply melt and mix 1 cup of shortening and 1 cup of peanut butter in a saucepan on low heat. Stir in 2 cups of oatmeal, 2 cups of yellow cornmeal, 1 cup of all purpose flour and 1/3 cup of sugar. Stir in raisins and bird seed as desired.
Now comes the fun part. Pour into a small Bundt pan, jello mold, or other circular mold. Allow to cool.
Or break out the metal cookie cutters. Place the cookie cutters on a waxpaper covered cookie sheet. Press the warm suet into the cookie cutter. Use a chop stick to punch a hole in the top for hanging.
Once cool, add a colorful ribbon or yarn for hanging the decorative suet feeder in a tree for the birds to enjoy.
A bit more information: Follow this advice from the Audubon Society. Place birdfeeders in sheltered areas out of the wind, with good nearby cover and minimal hazards.
Witchhazel has long been used as a soothing rub for aching muscles, itchy bug bites and scrapes. This wonder compound is derived from the Witchhazel plant and can still be found in your local drugstore.
Witchhazel is also a beautiful and useful landscape plant. The north American native, Common witchhazel, adds a splash of color to the fall and winter garden. The large green leaves turn yellow. And as they drop they reveal the beautiful fragrant yellow flowers that can persist for several weeks. This large shrub is hardy in zones 3 to 9 and tolerates full sun and shade and somewhat dry soil.
Vernal witchhazel is the late winter or early spring bloomer. Yellow, orange, or red flowers appear sometime between January and March and last for several weeks. Native to Missouri, Louisiana and Oklahoma, this durable plant is hardy in zones 4 to 8 and provides fall color and winter blooms.
A bit more information: Chinese witchhazel is the most fragrant of these. Grow it as a large shrub or small tree and place it where you can enjoy its beauty and fragrant flower in February or March.
Gardeners across the country cast their ballots and selected their favorite of six new flower varieties entered in the American Garden Award competition.
Santa Cruz sunset begonia received the most votes. This cascading plant is perfect for hanging baskets, containers or mass plantings. The plentiful scarlet/orange blossoms are sure to brighten your garden. Tolerant of full sun and partial shade this begonia is heat, drought and rain tolerant.
Coming in second for voters, though I must admit – my favorite was Big Kiss white flame gazania. The extra large white and rose striped flowers covered this robust plant. A low maintenance heat loving and drought tolerant plant it is a good choice for hot dry summers. And the numerous bright flowers light up the garden.
Coming in third was another beauty, Surfinia deep red petunia. A truly deep red petunia that requires no pinching or pruning.
A bit more information: The American Garden Award is now in its fourth year. Several new varieties are selected and planted and put on display at the participating gardens. The public was invited to vote on their favorite using one of several voting methods.
They Got To Me...
The two guys from A Great Big World stopped by the Mix studios to sing their hit, "Say Something" and it happened...I cried.
If you have not listened to the song yet...well...I suggest you do, but don't cry :( These guys are very nice and I wish them nothing but success!
I recently spent some time a La Reve...want to see what I enjoyed?
#yum #alist #wisn
A-List: Best French Cuisine
12 News Contributor Kidd O'Shea stops by La Reve, 2012 A-List winner for the
Which One Is Your Favorite?
I am getting a custom made suit from Richard Bennett at Mayfair and I need your help. Which one do you like best? Did you know that Richard Bennett makes tailor made suits? This means you will looking amazing this holiday season because you are wearing something that is made just for you. You will feel great knowing you look great and that is when you play great! Visit them today inside Mayfair and let them know I sent you.
Which one is your favorite?
Create a Pest Management Calendar
Is your mailbox filling with next year's calendars? Put them to use managing pests in the garden.
No, I'm not talking about smashing insects with the rolled up calendar. Instead, use them to develop a pest-monitoring calendar for next year.
Take a few minutes to review this year's garden journal. Look for notes on any pest problems you encountered. Make a note to watch for these pests in next year's calendar. This helps with early detection; a key to successful control.
Consider adding notes about the weather and control measures you tried that were effective. Try using preventative eco-friendly measures like barriers and traps to prevent problems. Covering your cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower before the cabbageworm moths are active allows you to prevent damage.
Setting out shallow cans of stale beer will help you minimize feeding damage by slugs and snails during wet weather.
A bit more information: No garden journal? This is a good opportunity to create one that includes your growing successes, failures as well as pest problems. Use a spiral notebook, three-ring binder or computer calendar or spreadsheet. Just make it easy and fun. That way you are sure to keep recording, referencing and putting your gardening experiences to work.
For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.