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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 June 2013


Harvesting & Enjoying Roses
Enjoy your roses outdoors in the garden and indoors in a vase.  Proper harvesting and deadheading will keep your repeat blooming roses beautiful throughout the season.

Cut roses for arrangements in the morning just as the top of the bud is starting to open. Make the cut above an outward facing, 5 leaflet leaf.  Cut flowers back to a 3 leaflet leaf on young plants that may not tolerate or be large enough for this amount of pruning.  Remove the lower leaves, recut the stem on an angle and place in a vase of fresh water.
 
Remove faded flowers to encourage new bloom.  Deadhead single-flower roses back to the first 5 leaflet leaf to encourage stouter and stronger stems.  Remove only individual flowers as they fade within a cluster.  Once all the flowers are done blooming you can remove the flower stem back to the first 5 leaflet leaf.  Always leave at least two, 5 leaflet leaves attached to the plant.
 
A bit more information: Extend the vase life of your garden-fresh cut flowers.  Recut stems on an angle and place in a vase filled with fresh warm water and floral preservative. Set in a cool dark place for 12 hours or overnight.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Creative Staking for Gladiolus, Dahlias and Iris
Stately and beautiful describes flowering gladiolus, dahlias and iris. As long as they are upright and standing that is.  Give them a lift this season with creative staking. 

 Keep glads looking their best with a small piece of lattice and metal or wood supports.  Place the lattice parallel to the ground on short stakes anchored in the ground.  Paint the lattice for added color or to help blend the structure into the surrounding plantings.  Allow the glads to grow through the holes and wait for the flowers and visiting hummingbirds to appear.  
 
Use bamboo stakes to help keep your dahlias and iris upright.  Carefully place the stake next to the plant making sure to avoid the underground tuberous roots and rhizomes. Loosely tie the plant to the stake using twine.  Make a figure eight looping the twine around the stake and the other loop around the plant stem.  Add additional ties as the plants grow.
 
A bit more information: And get creative!  Dig through undiscovered treasures in the garage, shed or basement.  You might find the perfect decorative support.  One gardener put an old slinky to work supporting some of her garden plants.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Pull Now – Benefit Later; Controlling Ragweed
Give your hayfever a break this season.  Celebrate National Ragweed Control Month by removing these unwanted weeds before they flower. 

You, like me, may be one of the many people that suffer from hayfever.  And most cases are caused by ragweed.  Pulling this weed now, before the offensive pollen forms will not only help our allergies this season, but will also reduce next year’s crop of these weeds.
 
Ragweed has dissected leaves on plants that can grow from one to three or more feet tall.  The small green flowers often go unnoticed.  You’ll find these plants in gardens, along roadsides, alleys and any disturbed, dry and other difficult areas where it can outcompete desirable plants. 
 
Most of us keep the weeds under control in our yards and gardens. Many communities have weed outs for invasive plants and might be willing to add this to their list.
 
A bit more information: Enlist the help of friends and neighbors.  Scour alleys, common ways and other disturbed sites where ragweed likes to grow. Always ask permission before entering and weeding on private or public property.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Disbudding Dahlias
Trying to grow those dinner plate size dahlia blooms?  Selection and disbudding will help you achieve your goal. 

Select one of the dinnerplate dahlias like Who Dun it Dinnerplate Dahlia.  This 2013 Dahlia of the Year is hardy in zones 3 to 10.  Those gardening in zones 7 and colder will need to store the tuberous roots indoors for winter. These 3- to 5-feet-tall plants are loaded with flowers that transform from lilac to mauve to lavender-blue and then finish with a display of white petals.
 
Increase the size of these and any dahlias with a bit of disbudding. Remove side buds if you are looking for one large, knock your socks off, bloom per stem.  Disbudding reduces the number of flowers, but increases their individual size. 
 
Going for quantity? Then leave all the buds intact.  You will have a lot more flowers, but they will be much smaller.  Both methods create a colorful display.
 
A bit more information:  Tall dahlias and those with large flowers need staking.  Put the stake in place at planting to avoid damaging the underground tuberous root. Make sure it is anchored securely in the ground.  Tie lengthening stems to the stake with a soft cloth.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Managing Picnic Beetles
Eat up and clean up to keep those little black beetles from enjoying your harvest.
 
Known as picnic beetles, sap beetles, or little black bugs, these scavengers can be found in overripe strawberries and raspberries, cracks in ripe tomatoes, ears of corn and more.
 
Since they are attracted to overripe and damaged fruit, regular harvesting and sanitation will help keep these pests at bay.  Avoid pesticides that require a waiting period before you can continue to harvest as this delays picking and will result in even more overripe fruit that attracts more beetles into your garden.
 
Some gardeners find trapping effective. You may want to try this popular recipe:  Mix 1 cup water, 1 cup dark corn syrup, one cake of yeast, and a spoonful of vinegar. Place the mixture in a container outside the garden. Use it to attract the beetles away from the garden, trap and drown them.
 
A bit more information:  Any fermenting plant juices will also work. Some gardeners report success using ripe bananas and melon to attract and trap these insects.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Eat All Your Vegetables Day – June 17th
Load up your plate with fresh-from-the garden produce as you celebrate Eat All Your Vegetables Day on June 17th
 
Use this day to inspire new additions to your vegetable garden while encouraging reluctant veggie eaters to try something new.  Once they try some fresh vegetables they may be willing to make them a regular part of their diet.  And, if you get them to grow their own, they are even more likely to partake.
 
Once you’re inspired, look for extra space to add more vegetables to the landscape.  Start by calculating the number of days left in your growing season.  Simply count from the anticipated planting date to the average date of the first fall frost in your area.  Check plant tags and seed packets for the number of days needed from planting until harvest.  Make a list of these vegetables.
 
Then look for vacant spaces in flowerbeds, mixed borders and containers.  And train vines crops up decorative trellises and fences.
 
A bit more information:  Here are a few short season crops you may want to consider.  Plant seeds and be ready to harvest radishes, leaf lettuce, spinach and chard in 40 days.  Beets, bush snap beans, cucumbers and kohlrabi are ready to harvest in 50 to 60 days. Carrots, Chinese cabbage, and turnips take about 10 days longer.
 
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Visit a Farmer’s Market and Plan Your Garden
Farmers Markets are on the rise as more and more of us are looking for locally grown fresh produce.  You may be surprised to find one or more popping up near your home. 

Get the most out of your visit with a little advance planning.
 
Check out the internet for a list of farmer’s markets in your area.  Confirm the dates and hours of operation.  Many include a list of vendors with links to their website and the week’s featured produce.
 
Gather those cloth bags used when buying groceries. It makes managing all the produce easier and you will reduce the number of plastic bags headed to recycling or the garbage. 
 
Take cash and lots of small bills.  This makes it easier for the farmer and speeds up shopping.  And you’ll have more time to visit every single booth.
 
Look for and try new and different vegetables.  It will help you plan future additions to your edible garden.
 
A bit more information: Eat first so you buy less or go hungry and plan on staying for a meal or snack.  Many markets serve coffee and pastries or tasty meals.  And take the whole family to enjoy this shopping experience. Many have kids’ activities and music for all to enjoy.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Weed Your Garden Day – June 13th
Break out the cupcakes and balloons and get ready to celebrate Weed Your Garden Day on June 13th.

The thrill of the party may wane a bit when family and friends discover your true motivation.  But, adding a festive spirit to garden tasks can make it more fun and you’re more likely to make them happen.
 
Try a round robin of eating and weeding with friends.  It is a great way to work in some social time and help each other tackle the weeds in the garden.
 
Barter a bit of weeding for a home cooked meal, pie, photography or other hobby or skill you prefer over weeding.
 
Hire some help – it’s ok to admit the weeds won this round.  Once under control, it will be easier for you to keep up with weeding and other garden care.
 
Once the garden is weeded, mulch it to reduce future weed infestations. Shredded leaves and evergreen needles are perfect for flowerbeds and vegetable gardens.
 
A bit more information:  Woodchips and shredded bark make nice mulch around trees, shrubs and pathways.  Do not put fabric weed barrier beneath these and other organic mulch.  As the mulch decomposes it provides a great environment for weed seeds to sprout and grow through.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Nudge Your Bougainvillea Into Bloom
Nudge your potted bougainvillea into bloom with proper growing conditions and proper care. 

Grow these blooming beauties in full sun.  You’ll get the best flower display during the shorter days of early spring and early fall. Plus the cooler night temperatures of 60 degrees or cooler will also promote bloom.
 
Keep your bougainvillea potbound to further encourage bloom.  Repotting too soon results in lots of leaves and stems and delays flowering.  During the growing season, allow the plants to dry slightly before watering again. 
 
Use a low nitrogen slow release fertilizer with phosphorous, like Milorganite, to meet most of your plants season-long needs.  Or apply a soluble flowering plant fertilizer to moist soil once a month.
 
Prune away any unwanted growth throughout the summer.  And occasionally pinch out the growing tips to encourage more compact growth.  Wear gloves and long sleeves to minimize direct contact with the thorns.
 
A bit more information:  Start new plants from 4 to 6 inch long cuttings.  Stick the cut end into a moist well-drained potting mix or mix of peatmoss and perlite.  Roots should appear in 4 to 6 weeks.  Repot if needed in a slightly larger container.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Shade Combinations for Attracting Hummingbirds
Don’t let shade stop you from attracting hummingbirds to your garden.  Include a few hummingbird favorites in the garden or container plantings. 

Fuchsia is a favorite of shade gardeners and hummingbirds.  Try using one of the upright types like Thalia, Gartenmeister or Firecracker with its variegated leaves.  Add a fern for texture and wire vine as a groundcover in the garden or spiller in the container.
 
Consider adding a few or quite a few Dragon wing begonias to the garden.  The large plants put on a show all summer long with the red and pink flowers.  They combine nicely with impatiens, another hummingbird favorite. And surround this combination with a groundcover or trailer of Silver Falls Dichondra. 
 
Include a backdrop of summer long bloom you and the hummingbirds will enjoy. Train a honeysuckle vine onto a fence or decorative trellis for screening and hummingbird appeal.  Try the mildew resistant Major Wheeler.
 
A bit more information:  For more ideas on attracting birds and butterflies to your garden visit www.birdsandblooms.com . See projects and ideas on attracting wildlife to the garden and you’ll find my answers to common garden questions. Also, be sure to look for my article “Make Room for Hummingbirds and Butterflies” in the June/July 2013 issue of Birds & Blooms magazine.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Buttered Rum, Southern Comfort - Colorful Perennials for the Garden
How about a bit of Buttered Rum or Southern Comfort in the garden?  No, I am not talking about a drink, but rather a few colorful perennials. 
 
Heucherella ‘Buttered Rum’ is a hybrid with coral bells, known as Heuchera. And foamflower, called Tiarella as its parents.  The maple shaped leaves have a caramel edge and are topped with white flowers in spring.

Southern Comfort coral bells have cinnamon peach leaves that mature to amber.  The white flowers on this plant appear in summer.
 
Finish off your planting with a little dessert.  Peach Flambe coral bells have bright peach leaves in the cooler months of spring and fall.  The leaves turn a softer peach in summer and plum purple for winter.
 
Use a combination of these and other coral bells and foamflowers to create a tapestry of color in your partial shade to full sun gardens. Be sure to keep the soil slightly moist throughout the season.
 
A bit more information:  Add some Dolce® Key Lime Pie to the dessert buffet.  This coral bell has chartreuse foliage all season long. The heart shaped leaves are mottled with lime green.  Mix a few with dark green or blue-green hostas for an eye-catching combination.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Reduce your Risk of Skin Cancer when Gardening
Cover up before going out.  Protect your skin from Ultraviolet radiation as you get out and garden. 
 
May is National Skin Cancer Awareness Month.  And since gardeners, like our plants, enjoy the outdoors we need to be aware of the risk.  Fortunately, this is a cancer we can help prevent with a few simple precautions.
 
Wear a wide brimmed hat and UV blocking sunglasses.  Cover up your skin with brightly colored clothing made of densely woven fabrics. 
 
Apply a broad spectrum UVA & UVB sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day.  Apply it 30 minutes before going outdoors to garden and every two hours.  You’ll prevent sunburn and skin damage while making it easier to return to the garden each day.
 
Do a monthly skin exam from head to toe and follow up with your physician if you see any suspicious changes.  And consider seeing a dermatologist, like I do, on a regular basis.
 
A bit more information: Consider gardening in the morning or late afternoon to reduce your exposure to the sun.  The Skin Cancer Foundation shares this tip “if your shadow is shorter than your are, the sun’s harmful UV radiation is stronger, if your shadow is longer, UV radiation is less intense.”  Visit their website for more tips on keeping your skin healthy as you garden throughout the year. 
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Low E Glass Impact on Houseplants
You can conserve energy and still grow healthy houseplants. Light, water and nutrients are the keys to growing healthy plants. Many energy conscious indoor gardeners are concerned when considering replacing their windows with Low-E glass. Fortunately it only reduces the visible light needed by our plants by an additional 5 to 10%. A side benefit to your plants is the Low-E glass moderates temperatures indoors keeping plants, especially those growing near windows, warmer at night and cooler during the day. And no matter what type of glass is in the windows – keep them clean to maximize the amount of light reaching your plants. Adjust your watering and fertilization practices to match the indoor growing conditions. Less light, lower humidity and the type of potting mix and containers used all impact the watering frequency and fertilizer needs. A bit more information: Plants need a variety of light (color/wavelength) for proper growth and flowering. Blue light promotes leaf and stem growth, while red combined with blue promotes flowering and bud development. For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Don’t Let Aggressive Bargain Plants Take Over the Garden
So you've found a plant that blooms all season, tolerates a wide range of growing conditions and needs little maintenance. Sound too good to be true? It probably is. Lots of fast growing easy care plants are overly aggressive. They crowd out their more timid neighbors and often need concrete barriers or regular weeding to keep them in check. Invasive plants go one step further. These plants leave the bounds of our landscape and invade our natural areas. They crowd out native plants that provide food and shelter for wildlife. These should be eliminated from gardens in regions where they are a threat. And beware of bargain backyard plant sales. These are often filled with aggressive plants that have overrun the seller's garden. Ask the seller about the aggressive nature of the plant before purchasing. Years of weeding is not worth the money saved on bargain plants. A bit more information: A good example is common yarrow (Achillea millefolium). This perennial flower can be found in both weed and perennial books. It tolerates hot dry conditions and readily reseeds and spreads. Select less aggressive species and cultivars that do not reseed. For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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So far, SO GREAT!
3 & 1/2 months and counting since my family and I packed up our stuff in NJ and made the trek to Milwaukee! Anytime you leave what you've "known" for years and years, you always worry that: It won't work It's not a great fit It'll take a LONG time to FIT IN Well, I'm here to say that all of those answers couldn't be farther from the truth! From DAY 1, my radio family here at The Mix has welcomed my family and I with OPEN ARMS (My favorite JOURNEY song btw) and it's like we've known each other forever! At the same time, my new family of radio listeners (ALL OF YOU reading this right now) have also made me so incredibly comfortable and happy and as stated above, it's like I've known you well, longer than the 3.5 months I've been here! You've helped my family and I find a place to live, great restaurants (my family and I love to eat), great places to visit to entertain my kids, a travel baseball team for my oldest son Anthony and of course, great karaoke so I can get my sing on! I will continue to ask for your advice on different things along the way and I know WITHOUT A DOUBT, you'll be there to answer whatever questions my family and I have! For that, I'm very grateful! Just wanted to take a few minutes to say THANK YOU for welcoming Me, my wife Sarah, and children Anthony and Benjamin with such warmth and kindness! We look forward to being a part of the community for a long time to come! Thank you for listening to 99.1 The Mix! I'm havin' a BLAST! Hope YOU are too! Sincerely, Mark Summers
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Invite Frogs and Toads into the Garden
Celebrate National Frog Month by inviting insect and slug-eating toads and frogs into your garden. Start by providing water. A pond at least 20 inches deep with gently sloping sides will work. Include water plants that provide oxygen, shelter from predators and weather and breeding sites. Include a few rocks or logs in the pond for basking and a few alongside the water for shelter. Build a rock pile in the garden. Select a location that receives sun and shade each day. Position the rock pile in more sun if your summers are cool and more shade if your summers are hot. Line the bottom with stones for added protection from winter cold and leave cavities between some of the bottom rocks for nesting, shelter and hibernation. Use a pipe 1 to 2 inches in diameter and less than 2 feet to create an entryway. A bit more information: Look, but do not touch the frogs and toads you attract to your landscape. Bug repellent, lotions and oils on your skin can harm these creatures. For more information see Oregon State University Extension's publication Attract Reptiles and Amphibians to Your Yard. For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Grow Potatoes in the Garden or Container
What is white, red or yellow, can be eaten fresh, fried or even raw and is one of the most important staples of the human diet? If you guessed potato, you are right. Grow your own in the garden, planting bag or containers. You can plant small potatoes or pieces of larger potatoes to start new plants. These contain "eyes" that grow into potato plants. You may have seen this happen on potatoes stored in the pantry. Buy certified seed potatoes at garden centers or from garden catalogues. Cut whole or large seed potatoes into smaller pieces containing at least one good "eye". Plant them in a 2-3 inch deep furrow, 10 to 12 inches apart, leaving 24 to 36 inches between the plants. As the plants begin to grow, mound the nearby soil over the tubers until the rows are 4 to 6 inches high. Keep the planting weeded and wait for the harvest. A bit more information: Save space and have some fun by growing your potatoes in a planting bag. Fill the bottom few inches of the bag with potting mix. Set the potato pieces on the mix. Cover with several inches of soil. As the potatoes grow, continue adding a couple of inches of soil at a time until the bag is full. Harvest by dumping the bag and lifting out your potatoes. For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Brown Needles and Leaves on Evergreens
A walk through your garden this spring may reveal browning on both needled and broadleaf evergreen trees and shrubs. Winter winds and sun, exposure to deicing salt and record low temperatures are likely the cause. Evergreens continue to lose moisture through their leaves and needles throughout the winter. The winter sun and wind increase moisture loss. Those gardening in areas with frozen soil are likely to see the most damage. But even those in warmer regions may see winter scorch on newly planted or exposed evergreen plants. We can't turn the needles and leaves green, but we can provide proper care to speed recovery. If the branches are pliable and buds plump you should see new growth this spring. Broadleaf evergreens will replace the brown leaves with fresh new growth. Brown needles will eventually drop and the new growth this spring may mask the damage. Wait for warmer weather to see what if any new growth appears. A bit more information: Once plants have started to show signs of new growth, you have a decision to make. Is the plant healthy and attractive enough to nurture and keep? Or, would you be better off starting with a new plant and one better suited to the growing conditions. A difficult decision, but one that can save you time, money and frustration in the long run. For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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A Multi-Season Beauty – The Fringetree (Chionanthus virginicus)
Add seasonal interest and bird appeal to your landscape with the white fringetree (Chionanthus virginicus). This slow growing small-scale tree can grow up to 20 feet tall and wide. The slightly fragrant white flowers cover the plant in spring. The male plants produce slightly larger and showier flowers, but the female plants produce an abundance of blue fruit in late summer. Though the fruit is somewhat hidden by the leaves, the birds seem to have no problem finding and devouring it. But don't worry however as they won't leave behind a mess. The fall color can vary from a good yellow to a yellowish green. And the smooth gray bark become ridged and furrowed with age. Fringetree is hardy in zones 4 to 9, grows well in full sun to part shade and though it prefers moist fertile soil, it is adaptable to a much wider range of conditions. It can be found in nature growing along stream banks and the woodland edge. A bit more information: Use fringetree as a small tree or large shrub, as a specimen plant, near buildings, or in mixed borders as an understory. And be patient in spring as it is late to leaf out. For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Daisy – the April Birth Flower
Celebrate April birthdays with a bouquet of daisies. This April birth flower symbolizes childhood innocence or according to the Farmer's Almanac they were given between friends to keep a secret. Many flowers share the common name daisy. It comes from the English name "days eye" referring to the fact many daisy flowers open during the day and close as the sun sets. Bellis perennis, known as English daisy, is most often designated as the April birth flower. It is hardy in zones 4 to 8, grows about 6 inches tall and flowers from spring through mid summer. You will find this plant listed as an attractive perennial or nasty weed. In the south the plants often burn out after flowering during the heat of summer. In cooler climates they are often dug after flowering to maximize enjoyment and minimize spread. The young leaves can be eaten in salads or cooked. A bit more information: Sweet peas are also considered the April birth flower. This is especially true in April. This flower represents modesty and simplicity. For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Garden Longer with Less Aches and Pains – It’s National Garden Week
Avoid sore and strained muscles that often arise after a long day in the garden. A few simple changes in your gardening habits can keep you gardening longer and with fewer aches, pains and strains. Use long-handled tools to extend your reach and minimize bending and stooping. And if you need to get a bit closer to the ground, try placing only one knee on the ground or using a stool and keep your back straight. Keep your tools handy by wearing a carpenter's apron with lots of pockets or using a tool caddy. An old wagon, wheeled golf bag or trash can make moving long-handled tools a breeze. Use foam or wrap your tool handles with tape to enlarge the grip and reduce hand fatigue. Or better yet, invest in ergonomically designed tools with larger cushioned grips. They are designed to position your body in a less stressful position, allowing you to work longer. A bit more information: Further extend your energy by taking frequent breaks. Use sunscreen, wear a hat and drink lots of water. For more ideas, check out my 10 Pain-free Gardening tips. For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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