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The Garden Mix



Make plans now to join Melinda on her famous Garden Walks at Boerner Botanical Gardens in 2014!

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.
Posts from April 2013


Year of the Gerbera Daisy
 
It’s the fifth most used cut flower in the world, comes in single, semi double, double and spider type flowers and is the 2013 Flower of the Year.  Did you guess? It’s Gerbera Daisy.

It’s no surprise that this popular cut flower has moved into the garden. Plant gerbera daisies in full sun or morning sun locations.
 
Grow these in moist, well-drained slightly acidic soil. Watch for leaf yellowing, chlorosis, in high pH soils and black spots on the leaves in very acidic soils. If either extreme is a problem, consider growing these in a container.
 
Use a low nitrogen slow release fertilizer, like Milorganite, in the soil at planting and if needed a second application mid-season. You reduce your work load and won’t have to worry about interfering with flowering or fertilizer burn.
 
Increase bloom by thinning out large leaves that prevent light from reaching the center of the plant.  The more light the growing point receives the more flowers that will be produced.
 
A bit more information:  The National Garden Bureau plants of the year are selected by representatives of the horticulture industry.  Each year they select one flower, one vegetable and one perennial to be showcased.  Featured plants are chosen for their popularity, ease of growing, adaptability, diversity and versatility.  For more information, click here.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Reviving a Flower Garden
 
Don’t panic if your spring garden lacks the vim and vigor the past.  You can improve the health and beauty of your garden without starting over.
 
Remove any existing weeds and spread a one to two inch layer of compost over the soil surface in the garden.  Earthworms, ground beetles and other insects will move it through the soil and eventually down to where the bulbs and flowers are growing. You can speed up the process with vertical mulching.  Purchase one of the bulb planting auger bits.  Drill holes into the soil between existing bulbs and perennials.  This aerates the soil while moving the compost into the root zone of the existing plants.
 
Then mulch the soil surface with shredded leaves, pine needles or other organic matter. As these materials break down they too will be moved into the soil to improve the growing conditions for your bulbs and other plants.
 
A bit more information:  Give perennials plenty of room to recover and reach their full size.  Temporarily fill in voids with annuals like Blue Horizon ageratum, Profusion zinnia and other annuals for instant beauty.  They add season long color and compete with weeds until the perennials fill the space.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Flowers Fail to Bloom
 
Summer heat and drought can be hard on our plants and impact our gardens beauty and productivity.  We can’t change the weather but we can help our plants through these stressful times. 

Stressed plants often fail to flower.  Extreme heat or cold prevents tomatoes from setting fruit and causes peppers to drop their blossoms.  The same goes for many of our ornamental plants.  Some flowers like sweet alyssum and lobelia tend to stop flowering during hot weather.  Grow more heat tolerant varieties like Snow Princess and the variegated Frosty Knight alyssum as well as Laguna and Techno lobelia. 
 
And when the heat sets in, reduce the stress on your plants. Mulch the soil to keep roots cool and moist during hot weather.  Water thoroughly but less frequently to encourage deep roots that are more heat and drought tolerant.  And don’t apply high nitrogen quick release fertilizers than can damage stressed plants.
 
A bit more information:  Proper soil preparation and fertilization will improve the overall health and vigor of your plants making them more heat and drought tolerant.  Use a low nitrogen slow release fertilizer like Milorganite (miklorganite.com) at the start of the season. If the season turns hot and dry, it will not damage your plants.  Consider using a plant strengthener like JAZ Spray (jazsprays.com)to increase your plants natural defenses making them more resistant to heat and drought stress as well as insect and disease infestations.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Celebrate Earth Day – Everyday
 
Make everyday Earth Day and commit to managing your landscape and gardens in tune with nature. 
Working with nature means less work for you in the long run, a better looking landscape and more produce from your gardens.  Prepare a good foundation for your plants by incorporating organic matter such as compost into the top 6 to 12 inches of soil.  It improves drainage in heavy soil and increases the water-holding ability of sandy soil.
 
Then, select the right plant for the growing conditions.  Make sure the plants you purchase are low maintenance, suited to your gardening style, and will fit the available space when mature.  And choose the most disease and insect resistant varieties available.  You’ll avoid problems and minimize, if not eliminate, the need to manage these problems.
 
Recycle fall leaves and evergreen needles into moisture-conserving, weed-suppressing mulch. Once established, your plants will need minimal care.
 
A bit more information:  For more ideas see my Low Maintenance Eco-friendly Landscape in 5 Easy Steps tips.  You’ll find tips on being water-wise, making compost and more.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Limbing Up (pruning lower branches) Trees
 
Put away the saw and enjoy the beauty of your mature evergreen. 
 
Removing the lower branches, called limbing up or crown raising, is done for our convenience not the health of the tree.  Municipalities and homeowners often remove the lower limbs for pedestrian and vehicular clearance or to let the sun shine in for grass to grow.
 
Mature trees, especially evergreens, benefit when healthy lower branches are left intact.  Removing large limbs can increase the risk of decay.  And over pruning removes many of the energy producing needles and leaves.  This can greatly stress and negatively impact the health and vigor of the tree. 
 
Consider extending the mulch bed around the tree to make maintenance easier. If you must remove lower branches do it over a longer period of time to reduce the stress on the plants.
 
A bit more information:  You can be kind to your trees and have an abundance of greenery.  Consider growing drought and shade tolerant perennial groundcovers around and under your trees.  These plants will thrive with minimal care once established.  You will need to provide sufficient water the first few years to get these plants established.  Listen to my Melinda’s Garden Moment Dealing with Surface Roots for tips on planting under and around trees.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Starting Plants from Kitchen Discards – Seeds
 
Keep your green thumbs busy starting new plants from kitchen scraps. 
 
Kitchen scrap gardening is about the fun and challenge of starting new plants from dinner discards.  It is not about growing the most productive plants.  Anytime we collect seeds from hybrids the offspring will usually look and taste different than the parent.

I always look at climate where the original plant grew when deciding how to sprout its seeds. If the plants are native to cold climates, the seed probably needed a cold treatment to sprout. Plants native to tropical areas do not.
 
You may want to start with seeds from apples, pears or cherries.  Collect and clean the seed. Place in moist vermiculite or damp peat moss inside a plastic bag in the refrigerator for at least 2 to 3 months. Or plant the seeds directly outdoors in fall. Chilled seeds can be started indoors in spring and transplants moved outdoors once the danger of frost has passed.
 
A bit more information:  Or go topical and try seeds from avocado, oranges, lemons and other fruit native to warmer parts of the world. Skip the chill and plant in a moist well-drained potting mix.  Or try growing potatoes that sprouted in the pantry or the tops of sweet potatoes.  Check out my other related tips at:
http://www.melindamyers.com/Radio-Growing-Vegetables-and-Fruits/growing-vegetables-and-fruits/kitchen-scrap-gardening.html
 
http://www.melindamyers.com/Radio-Growing-Vegetables-and-Fruits/growing-vegetables-and-fruits/growing-new-plants-from-kitchen-scraps.html
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Grow Your Own Bouquet
 
Make this the year you add a few flowers to your outdoor garden for your indoor enjoyment. 

Start by selecting a variety of bulbs, annuals and perennial flowers that bloom at different times for a season of fresh cut flowers.  Combine spring flowering bulbs with pansies, snapdragons and other cool weather annuals. Peonies, Solomon seal and Siberian iris are just a few of the spring blooming perennials to consider.  Summer and fall are filled with many choices, including the billowy flowers and long-lasting seedheads of ornamental grasses.
 
Include a few plants like hosta, coleus, papyrus, and lady’s mantle that also provide foliage.
 
Add a few fragrant beauties like stock, tuberoses, peonies and roses for a bit of aromatherapy.
 
And don’t forget the trees and shrubs.  Colorful or flower covered stems make a nice addition to any arrangement. 
 
A bit more information:  Display your flowers in creative homemade vases.  Shorter wildflowers and pansies can be displayed in old spice jars.  Repurpose pasta, pickle and other glass jars into vases for larger cut flowers.  Add a ribbon or a bit of paint to dress them up.
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For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Convert Mailbox into An In-garden Tool Storage
 
Decrease wasted time and increase your gardening efficiency by keeping your tools and gloves handy whenever gardening. 

I always keep a pair of gloves, pruners and a Dee Weeder by each entrance to my house.  That way I can grab the needed tools, gloves and do a bit of weeding whenever I have a few minutes or more to work.  These short bursts of intensive maintenance quickly make a big impact on your garden’s appearance.
 
For those with larger landscapes consider converting old newspaper or mailboxes into small-scale garden storage.  Place these discards right in the garden and fill with commonly used hand tools and a pair of gloves.  This small addition will eliminate many unplanned trips and wasted time trekking back to the garden shed for a forgotten trowel, weeder, or pruner. 
 
And dress them up with a little paint to make it both attractive and functional.
 
A bit more information:  Look for further ways to maximize your gardening efforts and increase your enjoyment.  Pull non-flowering annual weeds and tuck them under your shrubs out of sight.  They act as a mulch and eventually decompose, improving the soil.  And leave grass clippings on the lawn.  Short clippings break down quickly, adding organic matter, nutrients and moisture to the soil.
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For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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2013 Year of the Wildflower

The National Garden Bureau declared 2013 Year of Wildflower.  Celebrate by including a few wildflowers in your garden. 

Some say a wildflower is a plant that was not intentionally planted nor needs cultivation to survive.  Others feel the place of origin is critical in the definition.
 
No matter what definition you use, these plants can add beauty to any landscape, large or small.   Plus wildflowers that originated in your location are the best source of pollen and nectar for bees, butterflies and the beneficial insects that help us grow food and keep our plants healthy
 
Select wildflowers that will thrive in the light, soil and other growing conditions in your garden.  Many can be started from seed.  Purchase quality seed from a local source for best results. 
 
A bit more information:  Many garden centers, garden catalogues and on-line sources are selling wildflowers.  Select those suited to your location.  And only buy plants from reliable sources that are not exploiting our natural areas.  Visit the National Garden Bureau’s website for more information.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Plan and Plant a Row for the Hungry
 
Make a difference one row of vegetables at a time. 
 
Gardeners always seem to have extra produce to share with family and friends.  So the Garden Writer Association’s members and their foundation decided to encourage gardeners to share their surplus garden produce with hungry people in their community.
 
Since 1995 gardeners have donated more than16 million pounds of produce, providing over 60 million meals to food pantries, soup kitchens, and service providers. 
 
Now I’m asking you to do the same.  It’s simple.  Just share the extra produce from your garden with food programs in your community.  Or better yet, plan and plant an extra row or two specifically for this purpose.  Include familiar, easy to use and long storing vegetables like peas, beans, peppers, squash, tomatoes and carrots.  And include some nutritious greens as well.
 
A bit more information: Contact Feeding America or other food programs in your area for more details on donating fresh produce. Or visit the Garden Writers Association’s website or call the Plant a Row (PAR) Hotline at 1-877-492-2727 for more details on donating or organizing a PAR program in your area.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Child’s Pool Becomes Valuable Garden Tool
 
Don’t throw away that worn and leaky kid’s swimming pool.  Instead, put it to work in your garden. 

The flexible pools make great tarps for dragging leaves and weeds to the compost pile.  Or set them in the trunk or back of your car when transporting plants and other messy items.
 
The rigid plastic pools slide easily over grassy beds and mulched paths.  Simply attach a rope handle and you’re in business.
 
Use these for transporting plants.  Set the pool into the back of a van or SUV when heading to the garden center.  Then get a friend to help carry the pool full of plants out of the car and into the garden.
 
Or use them when hardening off your transplants.  Fill them with plants in early spring.  Make sure there are drainage holes.  Cover the plants or slide the pool, plants and all, into a protective location when there’s a danger of frost.
 
A bit more information:  Look for other creative uses for discarded items.  Old boots, kids rain boots, popcorn tins and colanders make great planters.  Play structures can create a perfect trellis for your favorite vine or support for an adult size swing.  And old plates and garden tools can be worked into garden art.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Child’s Pool Becomes Valuable Garden Tool
 
Don’t throw away that worn and leaky kid’s swimming pool.  Instead, put it to work in your garden. 

The flexible pools make great tarps for dragging leaves and weeds to the compost pile.  Or set them in the trunk or back of your car when transporting plants and other messy items.
 
The rigid plastic pools slide easily over grassy beds and mulched paths.  Simply attach a rope handle and you’re in business.
 
Use these for transporting plants.  Set the pool into the back of a van or SUV when heading to the garden center.  Then get a friend to help carry the pool full of plants out of the car and into the garden.
 
Or use them when hardening off your transplants.  Fill them with plants in early spring.  Make sure there are drainage holes.  Cover the plants or slide the pool, plants and all, into a protective location when there’s a danger of frost.
 
A bit more information:  Look for other creative uses for discarded items.  Old boots, kids rain boots, popcorn tins and colanders make great planters.  Play structures can create a perfect trellis for your favorite vine or support for an adult size swing.  And old plates and garden tools can be worked into garden art.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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National Gardening Association- National Garden Month
 
Join the National Gardening Association and celebrate the joys and benefits of gardening this month – National Garden Month. 

Gardeners know and now research confirms that gardening is good for our minds, bodies, and spirits.  You’ll lower your blood pressure and elevate your mood when you get out and garden.
 
Make this the year to get involved.  If you have never gardened, try growing a container of flowers or a tomato and herbs in a pot.
 
And if you are an experienced gardener consider inspiring someone, young or old, to pick up a trowel and dig in.  You’ll find lots of pleasure when you see your garden through a fresh set of eyes.
 
Lack space to plant?  No worries.  Rent a community garden.  Many municipalities, botanical gardens and extension services provide space for people to grow their own food.  Or help green your community by getting involved with the tree board, beautification or other greening committee.
 
A bit more information:  Get the whole family involved in gardening this month.  Grow a grass head, start new plants from old or build a terrarium from two-liter soda bottles.  Visit my website for directions for these and other gardening activities. 
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Great visit from Mom-Mom!
My Mother-In-Law's been in town for the last 10 days, visiting from Phoenix. There are 2 reasons that Mom-Mom came to visit: to see her Grandchildren and …to see her grandchildren! Seriously! That's perfectly fine, we KNOW she loves us too! Wait, make that 3 reasons…our house is spotless now too…THANKS MOM! I think we've shown Mom a great time during her visit. Sarah and the kids took her to the Milwaukee County Zoo, then a pool day at Cool Waters and the last thing we did was Festa Italiana! THAT was her favorite! Festa Italiana was AMAZING! We went on Friday night and HOLY RICEBALLS! And lasagna sticks! And zucchini sticks! And eggplant sticks! And calamari! And CHOCOLATE CANNOLIS! SOOOO many great foods to eat, music to hear, things and people to see…was a great experience! Can't wait for next year! As always, THANK YOU for reading and for listening to 99.1 The Mix! Hope you have a GREAT week! -Mark Summers
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4th Of July Weekend 2014...AWESOME!
4th Of July Weekend 2014 was one for the ages! LOVED having my daughter and our adopted son Cameron (not really, but kinda) here for the fun! Here's how it went down: Friday: First Summerfest experience for the family and I and it didn't disappoint! Food, FUN, laughs, music and just a great time enjoying a MILWAUKEE SUMMER DAY…it FINALLY showed up! Saturday: Used bumpers and STILL got beat by a 3-year old, two 14-year olds, a 15-year old and my wife Sarah. I'm NOT GOOD at bowling! Sunday: Spent the day in Lake Geneva and ya' know…NO BIG DEAL… just drove a speedboat for the FIRST TIME EVER! WHAT A RUSH! Can't wait to do it again! Kids jumped off the boat and swam around for a bit and we just relaxed for a couple of hours…was PEACEFUL & AMAZING! I hope you and yours had a GREAT holiday weekend as well! As always, thanks so much for reading and THANK YOU for listening to 99.1 The Mix! Have a great week! -Mark Summers
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4th Of July Weekend 2014...AWESOME!
4th Of July Weekend 2014 was one for the ages! LOVED having my daughter Alyssa and our adopted son Cameron (not really, but kinda) here for the fun! Here's how it went down: Friday: First Summerfest experience for the family and I and it didn't disappoint! Food, FUN, laughs, music and just a great time enjoying a MILWAUKEE SUMMER DAY…it FINALLY showed up! Saturday: Used bumpers and STILL got beat by a 3-year old, two 14-year olds, a 15-year old and my wife Sarah. I'm NOT GOOD at bowling! Sunday: Spent the day in Lake Geneva and ya' know…NO BIG DEAL… just drove a speedboat for the FIRST TIME EVER! WHAT A RUSH! Can't wait to do it again! Kids jumped off the boat and swam around for a bit and we just relaxed for a couple of hours…was PEACEFUL & AMAZING! I hope you and yours had a GREAT holiday weekend as well! As always, thanks so much for reading and THANK YOU for listening to 99.1 The Mix! Have a great week! -Mark Summers
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Crown Rot Causing Sudden Wilting and Death on Ajuga (Bugleweed)
Sudden wilting, yellowing and death of ajuga, also known as bugleweed, means crown rot may have invaded the planting. This fungal disease is most common in warm wet or humid weather. It first appears as sudden wilting and dieback in colder climates and yellowing and death of plants in warmer areas. The stems of infected plants turn brown or black and rot. This disease can be introduced into the garden on infected plants or soil or spread by tools and water. Since the disease is in the soil it is difficult to eradicate. Remove and destroy infected plants and the surrounding soil immediately. Be sure to disinfect your tools with a one-part bleach and nine-part water solution during and after the process. If the disease continues to spread or has destroyed much of the planting, it is time to start over in a new location with disease-free plants. A bit more information: Reduce the risk of crown rot to healthy plantings by thinning groundcover plantings every few years or before they become overcrowded. And avoid planting crown rot susceptible plants in the bed where the Ajuga died. Consider amending the soil with compost, peatmoss or coir to improve drainage before planting. For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Cool Splash Diervilla Shrub for Shady Gardens
Brighten up the shade with a Cool Splash Diervilla. This cultivar of the southern bush honeysuckle was selected for its creamy to yellow leaf margins. The variegated leaves are topped by fragrant yellow flowers in midsummer. They help attract hummingbirds and butterflies to your garden. Cool Splash is hardy in zones 4 to 8 and grows equally well in full sun or partial shade with moist well-drained soil. Once established, it is heat and drought tolerant. This small-scale shrub suckers, forming a dense mass of cascading branches. It eventually reaches 2 to 3 feet tall and wide, making it suitable for small space gardens as well as mixed borders and shrub beds. Use it to mask leggy stems or visually anchor taller trees and shrubs to the ground. And don't let the common name honeysuckle fool you. Though a member of the same family, this is not the invasive honeysuckle taking over our woodlands. A bit more information: Combine Cool Splash with shade tolerant perennials. Hosta, astilbe, Brunnera, coral bells and ginger are just a few. For more shade tolerant shrubs watch my Shrubs Made for the Shade video. For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Smart Irrigation Month – Planning a Watersense Irrigation System
Watering our landscapes properly can save water and improve our plants' health. And if you decide to invest in an irrigation system make sure to get the best value and water savings by doing your homework first. Look for systems that include EPA approved WaterSense irrigation controllers. These are like thermostats only they're for your irrigation system, adjusting watering schedules based on weather and soil moisture instead of the calendar. Select a system zoned to water plants at different rates. Established trees require less frequent watering than annuals. Use drip irrigation or low volume sprinklers in gardens to apply water slowly and right where it is needed. And consult a certified Irrigation specialist that understands how irrigation works, the local environment and will help you comply with any building codes. A bit more information: Your time invested in research before investing in an irrigation system can reduce water use, repair costs and plant replacement. Experts estimate we could reduce water use by 50% just by eliminating improper watering. If you already have a system, inspect it regularly. Check for and repair any leaks, clear clogs, adjust direction and repair damaged sprinkler heads. For more information visit these web sites: http://www.irrigation.org/Certification/Certification_Splash.aspx http://www.epa.gov/WaterSense/products/controltech.html For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Grow Star and Heart Shaped Veggies
Add a little star power to your meals with the help of cookie cutters and veggie molds. Cut cucumbers into ¼ inch thick round slices. Use a small heart shaped cookie cutter to remove the center of the rounds. Use these in salads, on sandwiches or relish plates. Save the outer ring. Slide two grape or cherry tomatoes onto a toothpick so they resemble a heart. Place them in the center of the outer ring of the cucumber and secure in place. Or grow heart and star shaped fruit. Cover immature fruit with vegetable molds. Use twisty ties to hold the fruit filled mold onto the vine or support. Check the fruit regularly as some may be ready to harvest in as few as 5 to 7 days. Once the fruit has filled the mold and is fully colored, it is ready to harvest. Creating heart and star shaped vegetables will dress up your meals and may encourage everyone to eat more veggies. A bit more information: For more information on vegetable molds visit http://www.veggiemold.com. And watch for postings on my Facebook page as I grow a few star powered vegetables of my own. For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Less Mowing and Hand Trimming, Better for You and Your Landscape
Eliminate hand trimming around garden statues, playsets, narrow spaces and individual trees and shrubs. Invest a bit of time now to eliminate time spent on these tasks in the future. Create mowing strips around raised beds and stonewalls to eliminate hand trimming. You can purchase and lay pavers and other edging materials or just remove a narrow strip of grass and cover with mulch. Run one set of your mower wheels on the mowing strip and cut the grass right up to the structure. Connect individual trees and shrubs with mulch beds. The trees will benefit from the mulch and you will spend less time trimming around each plant. Plus the mulch bed protects the plants from weed whips and mowers that injure the plants as we try to cut the grass as close as possible. And if this is too much mulch, try filling the area with perennials and groundcovers for added beauty and seasonal interest. A bit more information: Mulching around trees also eliminates the frustration of surface roots. For more ideas watch Melinda's Garden Moment video Dealing with Surface Roots http://www.melindamyers.com/Pasquesi-Landscape-Care/landscape-care/dealing-with-surface-roots.html For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Taming Floppy, Leggy and Less-Than-Attractive Annuals
Break out the pruners and groom your unsightly annuals back to their original beauty. Some annuals tend to develop long leggy stems with few flowers. Regular deadheading and removing the top few inches of the stem encourages more compact growth and continual flowering. Don't worry if your busy schedule allowed your plants to get out of hand. Just cut back the stems halfway. Try staggering severe pruning to keep your garden looking good throughout the renewal process. Do this by pruning back only one third of the plants in a flowerbed or one third of the stems on individual plants at one time. Repeat each week. By the time you prune the last few stems the first group will be producing new flowers on more compact stems. Reduce your workload next season by selecting annuals bred for long bloom and compact growth. You'll have better-looking plants all season long with less work. A bit more information: Regular grooming can help keep foliage plants like coleus looking their best. Remove the coleus flowers as soon as they form to prevent leggy growth. Prune back leggy plants as described to keep these beauties looking their best. For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Grow a Pickle in a Bottle
Add some mystery and fun to this season's harvest by growing a pickle in a bottle. Just like the ship in a bottle, finding a large cucumber in a clear bottle with a small opening will keep friends and relatives guessing. Start by selecting a small immature cucumber. Leave it attached to the plant and slide it into a bottle. Leave your bottled cucumber tucked under plant leaves or create a little shade with cloth or newspaper to prevent it from overheating and rotting in the sun. Check your cucumber regularly and watch it grow. Cut it off the vine just before it fills the bottle. Your cucumber in the bottle will only last a few days, but will provide lots of fun. Preserve it to extend the fun. Boil 2 cups of vinegar mixed with 2 cups of hot water and 3 tablespoons of pickling salt. Cool and pour the mixture over the cucumber and seal the jar shut. A bit more information: Add some more fun to the garden by scratching your name, design or a message into the rind of winter squash. Take a sharp object and lightly scratch your idea into, but not through the rind of an immature winter squash. As it grows, matures and hardens your message will become clearer. For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Upcycle Pool Noodles into the Garden
Don't throw away those worn out or forgotten pool noodles. Put them to work in the garden. Make a lengthwise cut halfway into the noodle. Then use it to top a chicken wire or hardware cloth fence or plant cage. It prevents cuts from sharp wires and adds a bit of color and whimsy to the garden. Or bend and insert the noodle into a lawn bag to hold it open. Adding green debris for recycling will be much easier, especially when it's a one person job. Cover ½ inch PVC to create colorful structures in the garden. Stand on end and securely anchor in the ground for a trellis. Or create colorful arches for added interest or fun for the smaller gardeners in the family. Or cut the noodle to the desired length and cover with ribbon, flowers, pine cones or other materials to create a wreath for your front door, garden entrance or shed. A bit more information: Create a raised bed with the help of old window well sections and noodles. Bolt two window wells together. Top with a noodle to protect you from the sharp edges. Set in place, fill with soil and plant. For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Plan and Plant Now for a Bountiful Fall Harvest
Now is the time to plan and plant vegetables for a bountiful fall harvest. Start by looking for vacant spaces in the vegetable garden that are left after harvesting lettuce, spinach and other early maturing crops. Expand your search to other plantable areas in flowerbeds and mixed borders. Sow seeds of beans, cucumbers, carrots, beets and other short season vegetables. Simply count the number of days from planting to the date of the average first fall frost in your area. Then check the back of the seed packet for the number of days needed from planting until harvest. As long as you have enough time for the seeds to sprout, grow and produce before frost, they can be added to the garden. Or extend the season with coldframes and floating row covers. Those in frost-free areas can plant longer season crops that benefit from maturing during the cooler months of fall. A bit more information: Wait for the soil to cool before planting lettuce and other vegetable seeds that require cooler temperatures to germinate. Or start the plants indoors and move them into the garden as transplants. Help keep the soil cool by mulching plantings with shredded leaves, evergreen needles or other organic mulch. For more ideas and information on late plantings watch my Melinda's Garden Moment "Still Time to Plant" video or listen to the audio tip on this topic as well as the "Grow a Bountiful Harvest All Season Long" audio tip. For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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WHAT A WEEKEND!
If I had to pick JUST ONE WORD to describe this past weekend, it'd be: AMAZACRAZYAWESOME! (I totally just made that word up) Spent the weekend with the family at Key Lime Cove and WE HAD A BLAST! Alyssa, Anthony, Ben and Cameron had the time of their lives on the water slides! Sarah and I LITERALLY DID NOTHING on the lazy river, which I think is the idea when you're on that LOL. Embarassing moment alert: I fell asleep on my tube and some random kid cruisin' down the river decided he'd flip me over (that's HARD to do)...that was a fun way to wake up! It really was a GREAT family getaway…FUN & RELAXING! Highly recommend! As always, thank you for reading and thank you for listening to The Mix! -Mark Summers
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LIFE.IS.GOOD.
WHEW!  Now that the U.S./Germany game is over and the U.S. backed into the KNOCKOUT ROUND of the World Cup, I can write about how AWESOME the last few days have been and HOW MUCH FUN the next 2 weeks are gonna be!   On Tuesday, my daughter Alyssa came to visit for 2 weeks from NJ!  Yesterday, Neon Trees came by before their SUMMERFEST performance…then Jonathan Jackson from the hit show “Nashville” came to the radio station and did his thing for us.  Last night, we sat around the dinner table and played Apples To Apples.  FUN GAME!   This weekend, my son Anthony has a baseball tourney in Crystal Lake, IL and his games are on Saturday & Sunday.  Soooo, what are we gonna do IN BETWEEN?  Glad you asked!   Key Lime Cove for the ENTIRE WEEKEND and just a GREAT TIME as a FAMILY, TOGETHER!  Sorry, CAPS LOCK is broken LOL (not really)   What MORE could I ask for?  That’s right, not much.  I already have what I need…including YOU!  Thanks as always for listening,  thanks for reading this and most importantly, thanks for allowing me to be a part of your daily life!  Means SO much to me!   Have a GREAT WEEKEND! -Mark Summers
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Bike Ride
Bike #selfie 
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