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.
Tired of cutting or pulling weeds and scraping moss out of the cracks in your patio and walkway pavers? Enlist the help of some of the new more eco-friendly products.
Many of the organic weed killers use vinegar, soaps and plant oils to burn the tops off unwanted plants. Once the tops die the weeds can more easily be removed. Repeat applications are needed as new weed seeds sprout and perennial weeds grow new tops from their roots that were not killed by these products.
Similar products are available to manage moss. Just keep in mind that unless you eliminate the cause, which is usually excess shade, the moss will return. If you can’t eliminate the cause, you may want to embrace the moss as part of the walkway.
Eco-friendly products are good solutions for those seeking a more eco, pet and child friendly weed control options. As always be sure to read and follow label directions carefully.
A bit more information: Many gardeners are replacing the sand in between their pavers with new products like EnviroSand and Joint-Lock that resist washout and prevent weeds from sprouting. Evaluate cost and time of installation when deciding if this is the best option for you.
For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.
While “milk does a body good,” its’ recycled cartons can also do some good in the garden.
Consider using all plastic lumber, wood/plastic composite or fiber-reinforced plastic lumber for your garden construction projects. Plastic lumber is constructed from 100% recycled plastic and is often used for docks and decks.
Wood/plastic composites are usually made from 50% recycled plastic and 50% sawdust or other recycled fiber and often made with a wood-grain texture. Fiber reinforced is a mix of plastic and chopped or strands of glass fiber. This is the most expensive, but the strongest of the three.
All three come in a variety of colors, sizes similar to standard lumber, and never need staining.
And consider giving milk jugs a second life before recycling. Use them to make a hands-free harvest basket, cloche or soil scoop.
A bit more information: Use a milk jug to make a hands-free harvest basket to use when picking raspberries and strawberries. Enlarge the opening at the top, but leave the handle intact. Secure the milk jug around your waist by running a rope or belt through the handle. Now you have two hands free for harvesting and a safe place for your harvest.
You can suppress weeds, conserve moisture, improve soil and save time with one garden resource. And that’s mulch.
Consider function and beauty when selecting mulch for your garden. Organic mulches like woodchips, evergreen needles and shredded leaves keep the soil cool and moist in summer, suppress weeds and improve the soil as they break down.
A 2 to 3 inch layer of wood mulch is great around trees and shrubs and for pathways. Woodchips were found to perform well and the mix of bark, twigs and leaves make them more resistant to compaction. Some mulches, like cedar, are naturally long-lasting, extending the time between applications.
Consider shredded leaves and evergreen needles for perennials and annual flowers and vegetables. These products look good, break down quickly to improve the soil and do not tie up the nitrogen when incorporated into the soil.
A bit more information: Consider price and availability when making your selection. Additional types of mulch may vary by region. Choices may include waste products from local products like cracked pecan shells, oyster shells and peanut hulls. See this Washington State University publication “Woodchip Mulch: Landscape boon or bane” for more information.
Summer often has our attention focused outdoors on the garden and other fun activities. Houseplants can often be overlooked and suffer from a bit of neglect. Revive water stressed houseplants with a little TLC.
Most houseplants are grown in peat based soilless mixes. Once these dry out, they’re hard to rewet. You may have noticed the water running over the surface and down the side of the pot.
Start by gently loosening the soil surface with a fork or chopstick. Then place the pot in a bucket of warm water. Allow the soilless mix to absorb the water. The potting mix will feel moist and there will be no more bubbles.
Allow the excess water to drain. Store stressed plants in a cool bright location until they perk up.
In the future, use your finger to monitor soil moisture. Water thoroughly when the top few inches of potting mix are slightly moist.
A bit more information: Make proper watering easier. Place the potted houseplant on a saucer filled with pebbles. The gravel-filled saucer captures and stores excess water below the planter. There’s no need to pour off the excess water. As the water evaporates it increases the humidity around the plant, improving its growing environment.
Mow your way to a fit body and healthy environment.
Using a push mower instead of a power mower can help reduce CO2 in the atmosphere by as much as 80 lbs a year. Plus, you burn more than 300 calories for each hour you mow.
Or consider an electric mower for larger lots. And if a new mower isn’t in the budget, keep your old gas powered mower running properly to reduce fuel consumption and pollution.
Change the oil, replace spark plugs, clean the air filter and sharpen the blades before the start of each mowing season.
And use a funnel when filling your mower. According to the EPA, 17 million gallons of fuel, mostly gasoline, are spilled every year while refueling lawn equipment. Even small spills can contaminate our soil, water and air. And even a few ounces of spilled gasoline may be enough to contaminate a nearby well.
A bit more information: Save yourself some time and further reduce the impact on the environment by growing a No Mow Lawn or Habiturf. No Mow lawns are a mix of fescue and can be mowed monthly to form a stand of turf, once a year, or not at all. Click here for more information. HabiTurf™ is a mix of native southwestern grasses that tolerate extreme weather and was tested by the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.
Whether you prefer them baked, mashed or fried, include them in today’s meal in celebration of National Potato Day. They are the fourth largest food crop in the world.
These nutrient rich vegetables are not only tasty, but high in potassium and calcium. And, if you limit the toppings, you will get all the benefit without added fat, sodium and cholesterol from the potato itself.
Harvest a few from the garden. Use a garden fork to carefully lift a few or all the tubers out of the soil. Once the tops are brown and dried, the potatoes have reached full size and should be harvested.
Or visit the farmer’s market if you didn’t grow your own. Support your local farmers and enjoy freshly harvested potatoes.
And consider adding this vegetable to next year’s garden. They grow great in containers, raised beds and planting bags. All you need is 6 or more hours of sun and well-drained soil.
A bit more information: Red, white, blue and yellow describe some of the potatoes you’ll find at the store or can grow in your garden. Use thin skinned round, red and white potatoes for boiling and stewing. New potatoes are freshly harvested, have a sweet flavor and are also good for boiling and stewing. Russets are a favorite for baking and mashing.
Tired of hearing the drone of passing traffic? I have a beautiful and effective solution. Plant a sound barrier of shrubs, trees and evergreens.
Plants are effective at absorbing the high frequency sounds, the ones that are most annoying to our ears.
You’ll need two to three rows of shrubs and trees to be effective. Start with a row of shrubs roadside. Back it with tall trees. Mix in some evergreens for year round screening. Once the planting is dense enough to screen the view, it will also block much of the sound.
Use a mix of plants. This makes it easier to replace any plants that die along the way. Use ornamental grasses or fast growing trees and shrubs as temporary fillers. Remove these as the other plants reach maturity and start to crowd them out.
Plant your sound barrier on a berm for greater noise reduction. It will seem about one third as loud.
A bit more information: Always match the plant with the growing conditions. Consider using deciduous trees and shrubs with multi-seasonal interest. Look for those with flowers, fruit and fall color. Add in evergreens for a colorful year round backdrop and noise barrier.
Sudden wilting and death of individual branches of maples, redbuds and other susceptible trees may mean verticillium wilt has infected the plant.
The dead branches may occur on one side of the tree or be scattered throughout the crown. Have a professional diagnose the problem since the symptoms can be confused with other disorders.
Though verticillium wilt is fatal you can prolong the plant’s life with proper care.
Remove grass growing under the tree and replace it with a three inch layer of woodchips or other organic mulch. You’ll remove the competition for water and nutrients, while keeping the roots cool and moist. Water trees thoroughly as needed during dry periods.
Prune out dead branches as they occur. Disinfect your tools with a one part bleach and nine parts water solution between cuts to reduce the risk of spreading the disease.
Do not replace dead trees with wilt-susceptible plants
A bit more information: Do not use woodchip or leaf mulch collected from susceptible plants. These are a source of future infection. Do replace infected trees and shrubs with resistant species. Here are a few of the verticillium wilt resistant trees and shrubs to consider: Apples, crabapples, pears, hawthorns, ginkgo, hackberry, honeylocust, katsura tree, birch, beech, oak, azaleas, dogwoods, holly, and flowering quince.
Be a part of the American Garden Awards and vote for your favorite annual flower now through the end of August.
Some of the world’s most prestigious breeders are showing off a few of their best at seventeen highly respected public gardens.
These include the Compact Electric orange sunpatiens. Good in sun and shade the vibrant color is a standout in containers or gardens. Cherry Zahara Zinnia is a fast growing, long blooming annual that has good disease resistance and is drought tolerant. Surfinia Summer Double Pink petunia is heat and rain tolerant. And the unique red and white flower pattern of Verbena Lanai Candy Cane inspired this varieties name.
Stop by a participating public garden and text or mail in your vote. Or visit http://www.americangardenaward.org to see photos of the entries, find out more about each plant and to cast your vote.
A bit more information: Last year’s winner was the Santa Cruz Sunset Begonia. This cascading plant is perfect for hanging baskets, containers or mass plantings. The plentiful scarlet/orange blossoms brighten your garden and the plants are tolerant of full sun and partial shade, heat, drought and rain. For more information on last year’s winners, listen to my Melinda’s Garden Moment audio tip.
Check your trees and shrubs for clusters of needles or leaves bound by silken threads. These are the homes of bagworms. The worm-like immature stage of these insects feed on over one hundred varieties of plants. Early detection and removal will help limit the damage in an eco-friendly way.
Fortunately, nature helps keep these pests under control. Birds will feed on the larvae. And the much smaller parasitic wasp and flies also help control these pests. If bagworms are an ongoing problem, consider planting asters and daisies near those plants. The flowers help attract the beneficial insects to the plants and help keep the bagworm populations under control.
Remove the bags when they are found. You’ll have the best results by removing them fall through early spring before eggs hatch. Each bag contains 300 to 1,000 eggs, so a bit of handpicking can have major benefits.
A bit more information: Bacillus thuringiensis (kurstaki strain) is a naturally occurring bacterium that only kills leaf and needle eating caterpillars. It is most effective against the young (1/2 inch or smaller) bagworms.
Celebrate National Zucchini Day, August 8th, by adding fresh zucchini to your relish tray, frying it with onions as a side or by leaving a few of the baseball bat sized fruit on your neighbor’s front porch. Just be sure to ring the bell and run.
Zucchini is high in vitamin C and very low in calories. Harvest zucchini when the fruit are 6 to 8 inches long. The rind will be tender, seeds small and flavor at its best. Regular harvesting will keep these plants producing. Use larger fruit for zucchini bread and pancakes. And try a few blossoms breaded and lightly fried.
Don’t worry if you didn’t grow zucchini in this year’s garden. Stop by your local farmer’s market. You can store unwashed zucchini for up to a week in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. But try to use it within 2 to 3 days for the best flavor. And plan to add zucchini to next year’s garden.
A bit more information: Zucchinis are bush-type summer squash. They work well in containers, mixed with other plants or in a more traditional vegetable garden. Try Butter Blossom for maximum flower production. This variety produces lots of firm male flowers perfect for eating. Remove the female flowers to prevent fruiting and increase production of flowers.
Don’t let your garden soil end up in the kitchen. Instead create a produce cleaning station outside near the garden.
You can purchase a harvest basket or make your own. The idea is to rinse your freshly harvested vegetables in the garden instead of the kitchen sink. This way the soil stays in the garden instead of plugging up your plumbing.
Keep in mind many fruits and vegetables store best unwashed. So lightly brush the soil off these before storing. Then take them back outside for a shower right before using them.
Consider placing your cleaning station near the kitchen door. Simply replace the bottom of a wooden container with hardware cloth. Secure the cloth to the sides of the wooden crate.
Set the vegetables to be cleaned in the container and rinse. Place the crate over the lawn or a plastic container to catch rinse water. Use this to water containers or other garden plants.
A bit more information: Proper care of homegrown or purchased vegetables can improve your enjoyment and increase food safety. Make sure your counters are clean when cutting and preparing food. Wash produce right before use to avoid bacteria that can form on produce in storage. Trim away and compost damaged leaves. Visit http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/foodnut/09380.html for more tips on handling fresh produce.
Expand your collection of trees and shrubs with semi-hardwood cuttings.
Take cuttings when the new growth has started to harden and turn brown. Use sharp pruners to cut 4 to 6 inch pieces from the stem. Remove flowers, seedpods, the lowest leaves and about an inch of bark from the bottom of one side of the cutting.
Dip the cut end into a rooting hormone for woody plants. Place the cuttings in a container filled with a mix of coarse sand and peat moss or a similar mixture. Space the cuttings so the leaves do not touch. Water thoroughly and cover with plastic to conserve moisture. Place in a shaded location.
Roots should begin forming in several weeks. Gently tug on the cutting. If it resists, roots have started to form. Now remove the plastic bag, separate the cuttings and repot into their own individual containers.
Harden off rooted cuttings and plant in the garden at the end of the season or next spring.
A bit more information: Abelia, Artemisia, Camellia, Caryopteris, Deutzia, Viburnum, and Weigela are a few of the shrubs that can be propagated this way. You may choose to leave the rooted cuttings in the container for the first winter or summer after propagating. Those gardening in cold climates will need to provide winter insulation. Simply sink the pot in the ground or move it to an unheated garage. Water whenever the soil is thawed and dry.
If you ever get a chance to see Milwaukee from the water...do it! I don't know what it is about the water but everything looks beautiful when you're on the water. I took these over the weekend and just looking at them calms me. We have a beautiful city enjoy it and enjoy what's left of summer:)