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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 August 2013


Eco-friendly Weed and Moss Control
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.
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Plastic Lumber for the Landscape
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.

For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.
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Selecting the Best Mulch
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.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.
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Caring for Drought Stressed Houseplants
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.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.
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Eco-friendly Lawn Mowing
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.

For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.
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National Potato Day
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.

For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.
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Plant and Grow a Sound Barrier
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. 
 
For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.
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Verticillium Wilt
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.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.
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Vote for your Favorite Flower (American Garden Awards)
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.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.
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Eco-friendly Control of Bagworms
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.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.
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National Zucchini Day
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.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.
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Outdoor Vegetable Cleaning Station
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.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.
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Propagate Trees and Shrubs with Semi-Hardwood Cuttings
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.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to garden 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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Leaf Spot on Rudbeckia
Once thought to be the answer to low maintenance perennial gardens, Goldstrum Rudbeckia's reputation has been tarnished by several leaf spot diseases. A bacterial and several fungal leaf spot diseases cause purplish-black spots on the leaves of rudbeckia. Severe infestation can totally blacken the leaves and cause the plants to dieback a bit earlier in fall. Fortunately most of the diseases are cosmetic and the plants will continue to flower and return each year. Reduce the risk of this disease by providing adequate light and air circulation around the plants. Use a soaker hose or watering wand to apply water directly to the soil when needed. In fall, remove and destroy all diseased plant parts. If disease is a yearly problem, plant more resistant cultivars like Becky, Cherokee Sunset, Irish eyes, or Prairie Sun. A bit more information: Or keep the plants and hide the diseased leaves. Plant something slightly shorter in front of the Goldstrum Rudbeckia plants to mask the discolored leaves, but allow the flowers to show through. For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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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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