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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 October 2013


Walnut, Birth Tree for October 24 – November 11
If you were born between October 24th and November 11 your birth tree is the walnut. It represents intellect, passion and confidence.

We all know our birthstones and perhaps birth flower, but often we don’t know our birth tree. Consider planting a tree in honor of a child’s birth, someone’s birthday or just for fun. And using their birth tree, if suited to the growing conditions, can make it that much more special.
 
Walnuts are the oldest known tree fruit dating back to 10,000 B.C. These highly nutritious nuts are prized for their omega 3-fatty acids.
 
The popular English walnut is native to southeastern Europe, the Himalayas and China and hardy in zones 6 to 9 and 10 in the western United States. Give walnuts plenty of room to grow as they can reach a mature size of 50 feet tall and wide. And be patient as it takes 7 or more years for them to start bearing nuts.
 
A bit more information:  In the past they were used for medicinal purposes, including reduction of inflammation, wound healing and even improving bad breath. Be sure to watch for signs of Thousand Cankers disease. This deadly disease has been found in Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico and now, Tennessee. Click here for more details.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.
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Halloween Has Gone Pink
Support the fight on breast cancer and add a twist to your Halloween and fall décor.

The Porcelain Doll Pink pumpkin is an eye catching deeply ribbed pink pumpkin. The unique color was part of the inspiration for the Pink Pumpkin Patch Foundation. Growers, retailers and organizations have teamed up to grow and sell these unique pumpkins in support of breast cancer research. A portion of every pumpkin sold goes to the foundation to support research in the fight against breast cancer.
 
The unique color made it the perfect breast cancer fundraiser and the delicious deeply colored flesh makes it a good purchase for gardeners and cooks.  Use this pumpkin for pies, soups and other dishes.
 
As a gardener you’ll appreciate the plant’s excellent performance.  It showed great powdery and downy mildew tolerance and productivity in trials across the country.
 
Visit the Pink Pumpkin Patch Foundation website for more details.
 
A bit more information: Want to grow your own Porcelain Doll Pink Pumpkin next year? All you need is a bit of sun, a container or fertile patch of soil and of course the Porcelain Doll Pink Pumpkin seeds. Start seeds outdoors once the soil is warm and you will be harvesting these unique pumpkins in about 100 days.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.
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Storing and Cleaning Pots
Fall is about clean up and preparation for the season ahead. Don’t overlook your containers when packing away summer garden supplies.

Fall cleanup can save you time during the frantic planting season. Removing organic matter and salt build up can increase the beauty of the container and reduce the risk of disease in future plantings.
 
Don your rubber gloves and start by soaking pots in a 9-part bleach to one-part water solution for 10 minutes. Move them to a solution of dish soap and water and then rinse with clear water.
 
Use steel wool to remove any lingering salt build up on clay pots and a scouring pad for plastic planters. This white often crusty, material is an accumulation of minerals from water and fertilizer. It can be unsightly and may be harmful to some plants
 
Rinse, dry and store the pots until you are ready to fill with fresh healthy plants
 
A bit more information:  Moss covered pots are considered a beautiful addition by some and something to eliminate by others. Conserve the moss coating by only cleaning the inside of the pot. Use a paint scraper and clean as described above if you want to eliminate the moss.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.
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Skip the Rubber Mulch
Gardeners are always searching for better looking, longer lasting and less expensive mulches.  Rubber mulch has been advertised as an attractive and permanent alternative. Think twice before using rubber mulch in the landscape.

Recycling tires is important, but the lack of performance in the garden and harmful qualities make rubber mulch undesirable in the garden and landscape.
 
Research found woodchips were more effective at suppressing weeds rather than rubber mulch. They also found it was one of the more flammable mulch materials and hard to extinguish once it caught fire.
 
Leachates from rubber also contain metal and organic materials that are known to be harmful to human health and the environment. They can cause skin and eye irritation, major organ damage and more. 
 
So stick with the organic materials that not only suppress weeds, but improve the soil as they decompose.
 
A bit more information: Save money and be kind to the environment by using fallen leaves as mulch in the garden. Shred the leaves with your mower and spread over the soil surface. They are great in annual gardens since they can be dug into the soil at the end of the season. For more on rubber mulch, click here.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.
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Fall Fitness for You and Your Garden
Stay fit as you work in your garden this fall.
 
Fall involves raking, planting and preparing for the season ahead.  Keep your back straight and movements close to your body to avoid strain. 
 
Look for ergonomic tools that allow you to work longer and avoid injury from repetitive motion. And keep your hands in a neutral position. You’ll be amazed at the difference this small change can make.
 
Reduce your workload by mowing, not raking leaves.  Small leaf pieces quickly break down and improve the soil. They can also be used as a mulch around perennials, trees and shrubs or as a soil amendment.
 
Your landscape will benefit by fall care and you’ll burn a few extra calories. Raking leaves burns up to 260 calories per hour and works out all the muscles of your upper body. And turning a compost pile makes a good workout for your oblique muscles.
 
A bit more information: Fall is a great time for planting.  Seeding the lawn or those bare spots left from a stressful summer can use up to 155 calories per hour.  You can burn as many as 260 calories per hour when planting spring flowering bulbs, pansies, mums and other perennials.  And those bigger plants like trees and shrubs need more muscle power and can burn up to 295 per hour when planting.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.
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Evergreen Needles Good for the Garden
Put pine, spruce and other evergreen needles to work in the garden.

Evergreen needles don’t make the soil too acidic. They do, however, add organic matter and nutrients to the soil as they break down.  And a look under your evergreens confirms they’re a great mulch.  The lack of plants and weeds growing under evergreens is due to the lack of light, limited soil moisture and the weed suppressing needle mulch.
 
So spread a layer of evergreen needles around trees, shrubs, flowers and edibles to suppress weeds and conserve moisture.  They are free and look good in the landscape.
 
Evergreen needles can also be added to the compost pile. Limit them to about 10% of the mixture for faster composting. The evergreen needles have a waxy covering, are very dry and take a long time to decompose, making them great as a mulch, but less so for fast composting results.
 
A bit more information: Many gardeners are reluctant to use oak and large maple leaves as mulch or in their gardens. These are great additives, but slow to break down. Shred them with your mower or leaf shredder before using them as a mulch or adding them to the compost pile.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.
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Managing Plants that Outgrew their Space
So, that small tree or shrub outgrew the ideal space where it was planted. Now what?  It’s time to decide whether to prune, move or sacrifice the plant and start over with something more suitable.
 
Pruning a large plant down to size takes an ongoing commitment to regular pruning.  This can reduce the health and beauty of the plant and certainly increases your maintenance.
 
Moving large shrubs and trees is difficult and heavy work.  The larger the plant, the larger the rootball needed for transplant success.
 
Consider hiring a professional to move large trees with sentimental value. Keep in mind large transplants are slow to recover and usually surpassed in growth by younger plantings.
 
Sacrificing a large tree or shrub is a difficult decision due to the money and time invested and attachment we have to our plants. It may, however, be the best solution for you and the plant.
 
A bit more information: If you decide to move it, fall after leaf drop and spring before leaves emerge are great times to transplant. Moving trees and shrubs at other times is possible, but a bit more risky.  Listen to my tip on transplanting shrubs by clicking here.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.
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Pentas for Indoor and Outdoor Beauty
 
Pentas, also known as Egyptian star cluster, are a great addition to both the indoor and outdoor garden.

Many of you may know this beauty for its heat and drought tolerance and butterfly appeal. Others may have grown this as a houseplant long before it gained popularity in the garden.
 
Take 4 inch cuttings from healthy plants. Remove any flowers and buds and the lower most leaves. Stick cuttings in a well-drained potting or similar mix to root. Place in a bright location and keep the rooting mix moist.
 
Once rooted, grow your Pentas in a sunny window or under artificial light. Water thoroughly when the top few inches of soil just starts to dry.  Pinch the tips off leggy stems to encourage compact growth.
 
And only fertilize actively growing plants with a dilute solution of flowering plant fertilizer.
 
With proper care and a bit of cooperation from nature you will be rewarded with flowers this winter.
 
A bit more information: Try growing other common outdoor plants indoors in a sunny window. Coleus, geranium, annual vinca (Catharanthus), and begonia are a few you might want to try.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.
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Convert Lawn to Gardens
Tired of mowing all that grass? Consider converting a portion of the lawn into a flower or vegetable garden.
 
If you have a healthy lawn, your soil is probably in good shape.  Simply edge the area you plan to convert into garden. Use a sharp spade or edger to cut through the grass roots. Then cut the grass you plan to eliminate as short as possible. Cover with several layers of newspaper or a layer of cardboard. Top this with shredded leaves, herbicide-free grass clippings, evergreen needles or woodchips.
 
The newspaper or cardboard layer provides an additional barrier to the weeds.  And, as it breaks down and the grass beneath dies and decomposes, they add organic matter to the soil below.
 
You can plant immediately, but you’ll need more effort to dig through the paper layer and freshly covered turf.  Or wait a few months for everything to decompose for easier planting.
 
A bit more information: You can also remove the existing sod with a sod cutter or flat shovel. Use healthy sections of grass to repair damaged areas in the lawn. Or place it in the compost bin, grass side down. It will eventually decompose into compost for use in amending garden soil.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.
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Time to Evaluate and Plan for Changes in the Garden
Stop and take a few minutes to evaluate the success, challenges and failures of the past growing season. Investing time now can save you additional time, money and frustration in next season’s garden.

Start by taking pictures, video or making notes on areas and combinations you like and may want to repeat. Note areas in need of extra color or seasonal interest.
 
And look for ways to decrease water and pesticide use while maintaining a beautiful garden.  Move struggling plants to a location that better matches their needs. Or make a note on the calendar to thin perennials like beebalm and phlox in the spring.
 
Move moisture lovers together to save time and water spent keeping them looking their best. And mulch or refresh mulch as needed to conserve moisture, reduce weeds and eventually improve the soil.
 
A bit more information: Thinning perennials like beebalm and phlox increases air circulation and decreases the risk of powdery mildew and some other diseases. It also encourages stiffer and sturdier stems. Proper spacing is another way to reduce the risk of disease and increase your plants health and beauty.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.
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Lawn Disease: Fairy Ring
A ring of mushrooms or one of dark green grass is a sign fairy ring disease has moved into the lawn.

The fairy rings can vary from a few inches to a few feet in diameter. This fungus feeds on old roots, thatch and stumps not the grass. It can, however, cause droughty patches in the lawn. The thick fungal mass prevents water from reaching the grass roots.
 
Living with the problem is the easiest solution. Water infested areas slowly, thoroughly and often enough to penetrate the fungal mat and combat drought stress. Rake or mow to destroy the mushrooms as they form to improve the appearance and reduce the temptation to kids and pets.
 
Determined gardeners can remove infested soil and replace with fresh disease-free topsoil. Carefully remove the soil 12 inches below and slightly wider than the ring being careful not to drop any infected soil on the lawn.
 
A bit more information: The name fairy ring is the results of many folktales and lore. Some cultures believe the fairy rings mark the spot where fairies danced while others believed there was a connection to witch dances and the devil.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.
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Celebrate National Apple Month
Celebrate National Apple Month with a trip to the farmers market or nearby orchard to purchase or pick-your-own favorite apples. 

Apples are a healthy choice. One apple provides up to 20% of the daily recommended fiber, 14% vitamin C, they’re high in antioxidants, contain no fat and are less than 100 calories.
 
Pick a few to eat fresh, cook with meat, sauces and stuffing and of course a few more for baking into your favorite apple dessert.
 
Be sure to store unwashed apples in the refrigerator to maintain their crispy texture. Wash just prior to eating and baking.
 
Buy your favorites and try a few of the newer introductions. Honeycrisp is relatively new on the market. Known as an excellent snacking apple, many cooks are finding it is also a great apple for baking.
 
Pink Lady is an all-purpose apple that can be eaten fresh or used for cooking, baking, and making apple butter.
 
A bit more information: Have a bit of fun and save a few apples to make applehead dolls and Halloween monsters. Listen to Scary Apple Heads for Halloween by clicking here for instructions on making your own.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.
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October Birth Flower – Calendula
An edible beauty serves as the birth flower for those born in October.  The yellow and orange blooms of calendulas were considered sacred by some and magical by other cultures of the past. And many used them for dyes, insect repellents and medicinal remedies.

In the garden, calendulas are easy to grow. They thrive in full sun, moist well-drained soil and cool temperatures. In hot weather they slow or stop blooming. Just continue to water as needed and wait for cooler temperatures and the flowers to return. And watch for seedlings in next year’s garden.
 
Brighten up your flower, herb or vegetable garden with these 12 to 18 inch tall flowers. And pick a few to enjoy in your cut flower bouquets.
 
Use the petals to brighten and spice up a salad or dry and brew as a tea. Or add them to soups and stews cooking in a pot. Thus, how they received their common name, pot marigold.
 
A bit more information: The botanical name Calendula officinalis provides insight to the plant and its uses. Calendula comes from Latin “calends” and the English “calendar”. It was said to bloom at the beginning of each month leading to its botanical name. Officinalis means medicinal and refers to the fact the flowers have been used in healing wounds and treating illnesses.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.
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Think Twice Before Staking Newly Planted Trees
Break out the shovel and get busy planting. Fall is a great time to plant trees. The soil is warm and the air is cool, reducing transplant shock.

And once the tree is properly planted resist the urge to stake the tree in place.  Trees allowed to sway in the wind develop a thicker and stronger trunk. They also have a more developed root system increasing their stability and ability to withstand wind damage.
 
Staked trees tend to grow taller, have thinner trunks and poor root development.  Once the stakes are removed the tree is more subject to breakage and toppling.
 
Only stake bare root trees, those subjected to extremely harsh winds, or trees with an extremely small root system and large canopy. If the tree must be staked, use stakes no more than 2/3 the tree’s height, secure the tree to the stake with flexible materials, and remove within the first year.
 
A bit more information: The scientific term for long term changes in a plant’s appearance due to repeated touching is Thigmomorphogenes. Repeated even gentle touching and wind can cause stouter stems in plants. Some avid gardeners use a fan to circulate air and increase the stems on transplants grown indoors.
 
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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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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