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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 November 2013


Balsam Fir Christmas Tree
The smell of a freshly cut balsam fir is a fragrant part of many holiday celebrations.

The resin blisters on this fir give it the distinct fragrance and the resin inside has quite an interesting history. It was once used to mount thin specimens on microscope slides. It was also sold in confectionary stores as a precursor to chewing gum.
 
Civil War soldiers used a resin balm to treat wounds and resin knots as torches.
 
And still today you may find people stuffing pillows with the aromatic needles. Today it is used as a festive touch to the holidays, in the past the “pine pillows” were used as a deodorant.
 
This evergreen thrives in cooler climates and prefers moist slightly acidic soil and humid conditions. So if your landscape lacks these conditions, enjoy your balsam fir for the holidays and look for a more suitable evergreen for your backyard.
 
A bit more information: As you hike through native stands of balsam you may find wildlife like moose and deer munching on the needles and chickadees, squirrels and porcupines eating the seeds. And others find cover under the fragrant branches.
 
 
For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.
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The Ash Tree – November 22 – December 1 Birth Tree
If your birthday falls between November 22nd and December 1st your birth tree is an ash. You are said to be uncommonly attractive, very reliable and trustworthy.

The native white and green ash trees have long been an important part of native forests, urban landscapes and the lumber industry. The wood is used for sporting goods like bats and oars as well as furniture and flooring.
 
Unfortunately, the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) has found its way to North America and killed many native and urban ash trees. The adult beetle is metallic emerald green and feeds on the leaves. The immature worm-like larvae are the real troublemakers. They feed under the bark preventing the flow of water and nutrients between the roots and leaves. This eventually kills the plant.
 
Visit www.emeraldashborer.info to find out more about this pest.
 
A bit more information: You can help prevent and reduce the spread of this and other invasive insects. Don’t move firewood; instead buy it at your destination. Visit http://www.emeraldashborer.info for more tips on managing firewood, woodchips and other wood products. And look for local arborists, wood workers and communities converting EAB infested wood into pest-free bats, bowls and more.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.
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Winter Care for Unplanted Trees, Shrubs and Perennials
Fall plant sales and all those tempting new varieties have many of us buying more plants than we have time or space to plant.  Protect them over the winter and reduce your workload by heeling them in until you have time to find a permanent spot in your garden.

Look for vacant spaces and sheltered areas in your landscape. An annual flower or vegetable garden, newly established planting bed or one earmarked for renovation work great.
 
Dig a trench deep enough to cover the whole pot.  Set the plants pot to pot inside the trench. Cover with soil and water thoroughly to remove air pockets and moisten the roots. Water as needed throughout the winter.
 
Add an extra layer of insulation with mulch. Cover the soil surface with several inches of woodchips or shredded bark. This helps conserve moisture and protects the plants from our often fluctuating winter temperatures.

A bit more information: No vacant space in the garden? Group plants together in a sheltered location. Cover the pots with woodchips or other material to insulate the roots and conserve moisture. Those in colder climates can move plants into an unheated garage for winter. Be sure to water thoroughly whenever the soil is dry.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.
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Encourage African Violet Bloom
African violets are a favorite indoor flowering plant. Your mother or grandmother may have had windowsills filled with these flowering beauties. But getting them and keeping them blooming is not as easy as grandma made it seem.
 
Insufficient sunlight is the most common cause of poor flowering. Grow African violets in a warm location in front of a sunny window or under artificial lights. Avoid the intense mid-day sun if plants begin looking stressed. You will need a combination of natural and artificial light, a set of cool and warm fluorescent lights, grow lights or full spectrum lights to encourage flowering.
 
Allow the plants to become slightly potbound and fertilize with an African violet or flowering houseplant fertilizer. Water often enough to keep the soil moist, but not soggy. Use room temperature water and a gravel filled saucer to capture excess water. As this water evaporates it will increase the humidity around the plant.
 
A bit more information:  Do not use softened or highly chlorinated water. Both can cause browning of the leaves. Remove any salt buildup, the white crusty substance, which accumulates on the lip of the container. This can damage leaves and leaf stems, petioles, which come in contact with it.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.
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November 12 - 21 Birth Tree: The Chestnut
If you were born between November 12th and the 21st, your birth tree is the Chestnut.
 
It is an impressive tree that grew to heights of 100 feet tall and represents honesty. The American chestnut (Castanea dentata) is native from Southern Maine to Michigan and south to Alabama and Mississippi. It is the tree of holiday songs, you know, “chestnuts roasting on an open fire”. 
 
Unfortunately chestnut blight killed most of the native stands of chestnuts. Root sprouts from blighted trees may grow to 20 feet tall and a few isolated trees remain.  The American Chestnut Foundation is working to reestablish the chestnut. In 2005 they harvested what they hope will be the first blight resistant American Chestnut trees. They hope to reintroduce chestnuts to benefit wildlife and the environment.
 
The Chinese chestnut is similar and also produces edible nuts. These plants aren’t immune, but are resistant to Chestnut blight.
 
A bit more information:  A gift membership to the American Chestnut Foundation may make a great birthday gift for family and friends with a chestnut birth tree. The recipient will receive information on chestnut tree research, receive blight resistant seeds and know that they are supporting the reintroduction of their birth tree.

For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.
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Growing Orchids Indoors
 
Add exotic long lasting blooms to your indoor garden with the help of orchids. They’re much easier to grow than you think.
 
Orchid care varies a bit with the type of orchid you are growing.  But here are some general guidelines to get you started.  Grow your orchid in a sunny window. Don’t let the leaves touch cold windows and never trap the plant between curtains and the window in winter. 
 
Keep the soil evenly moist, but not too wet. City tap water is fine, but avoid softened water that can damage the plants.  Fertilize actively growing plants when the soil is moist.  Use a dilute solution of a complete fertilizer such as a 20-20-20 labeled for use on orchids or flowering houseplants.  Avoid excess fertilization that can cause damaged black root tips, green floppy growth, and no flowers. Most orchids prefer daytime temperatures around 70 and cooler at night.
 
A bit more information:  For more detailed information and culture sheets on yours and other orchids visit the American Orchid Society website
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For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.
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Bulb Forcing Project for all Ages and Experience
No matter your age or gardening experience - you can have a bit of fun growing your own mini bulb garden indoors. 
 
All you need is a small container with drainage holes, potting mix and a few bulbs. Short daffodils and tulips, crocus, squills or grape hyacinths work well.
 
Cover the bottom of the container with soil.  Set several bulbs, pointed side up, on top of the potting mix. Pack them in tight for an eye-catching display.  Cover the bulbs and fill the container with potting mix.
 
Now sprinkle some grass seed over the surface and lightly rake with your fingers.  Water thoroughly.
 
Set the planted container in your fridge for its 3 month chill. Make sure the soil stays slightly moist, but not soggy wet.  Bring the container out of cold storage, anytime after the 3 month chill. Move it to a cool sunny location in your home and watch the beauty unfold.
 
A bit more information:  Keep your bulbs away from apples and pears when chilling in the refrigerator. These fruits give off ethylene gas, a natural hormone that does not harm people, but can hasten ripening and interfere with flowering when susceptible fruits, veggies and flowers are stored in the same refrigerator compartment.
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For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.
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Scale Insects on Weeping Figs (Ficus benjamina)
Falling leaves on weeping figs is common with a change of season. It’s also a common response to insect feeding. 

Take a close look at the leaves and stems of your ailing weeping fig. If you find a clear sticky substance, your plant is being attacked by one of several insects.
 
Examine the stems, undersides of the leaves and the place where the leaf stem, petiole, joins the plant stem. Check for brown bumps that can be scraped off with your finger. These are adult scale insects, a common pest of weeping figs grown indoors. Gently scrape off the scale using your fingernail or an old toothbrush. Then spray the plants with insecticidal soap or Neem to kill the translucent immature scale that are sure to be present. Continue the treatment once a week or so until the scale are no longer present.
 
Persistence is the key to successfully controlling this pest.
 
A bit more information: Aphids and mites also secrete honeydew, but are less common problems on weeping figs. Dislodge small populations with a strong blast of water. Make several applications, one week apart, of insectidical soap or Neem if needed to control these pests.
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For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.
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National Sweet Potato Awareness Month
Celebrate National Sweet Potato Awareness month by including these tasty and nutritious vegetables as a main course, appetizer or side in your meals.
 
Sweet potatoes, also known as kumara have long been an important food crop in tropical and subtropical regions of the world. You’ll also find the golden skinned sweet potatoes labeled as yams in many locations. True yams are starchy, drier and less sweet. They have a tough black skin with white, purple or reddish flesh.
 
The true sweet potato is a relative of the morning glory. Those with golden skin and creamy flesh have a crumbly texture. The orange-fleshed varieties are soft, sweeter and higher in Vitamin A.
 
Don’t store your sweet potatoes in the fridge – you’ll reduce their sweet flavor. Instead, store them in the pantry with your baking potatoes. Extend their storage life to a month by keeping them in a cool dry location, like your basement.
 
A bit more information: For more ideas on growing, using and the nutritional value of sweet potatoes listen to these Melinda’s Garden Moment segments: Growing Sweet Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes Tasty and Nutritious.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.
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Take a Pass on the Tree Trunk Wrap
Skip the tree trunk wrap when planting and caring for your trees.
 
Research has shown that tree wraps are not effective at preventing sunscald, frost cracks or insect and animal damage. Some insects actually prefer the shelter of the wraps and many animals chew right through.  Plus, scientists found greater temperature fluctuations when certain wraps were used. These changes in temperature can contribute to frost cracks.
Protect your trees from animal damage with a fence of hardware cloth.  Create a protective cylinder at least 4 feet high around the tree. Sink the bottom few inches into the soil to keep out the voles.
 
Reduce the risk of frost cracks and sunscald with proper planting, pruning, and care. Plant trees with the rootflare at or slightly above the soil surface.  Water thoroughly as needed and don’t pile mulch over the base of the trunk. And when pruning, be sure to make cuts flush to the branch bark collar not the trunk of the tree. 
 
A bit more information: If you decide to wrap your tree, apply it in fall and remove it each spring. Wrapping the trunks year round or for more than 2 years can actually increase the risk of damage.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.
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Chrysanthemum (Mum) November Birth Flower
Born in November your birth flower is the chrysanthemum often called mum. This fall beauty symbolizes cheerfulness, optimism and friendship.
 
The word chrysanthemum comes from the Greek words chrysos meaning gold and anthemon meaning flower. But this popular cut, holiday and garden flower comes in many more colors. And the flower shapes vary from small button mums to daisy shaped to the large pompom chrysanthemums and more.
 
Grow your own mums in the garden or add a few container plantings to your fall landscape display.  And pick a few blossoms to enjoy indoors. Harvest them early in the day and just as they’re starting to open for the longest-lasting cut flower display.
 
Or stop by your nearby florist and purchase a potted plant or a few flowering stems. The variety of flower shapes and long-lasting vase life have made them one of the most popular florist flowers, second only to roses.
 
A bit more information: So celebrate yours or someone else’s November birthday with a bouquet of mums.  And when you grow potted mums indoors, you’ll help improve the indoor air pollution in your home.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.
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Croton Add Fall Color Indoors
Bring a little fall color indoors with the help of the tropical plant known as Croton.

The colorful leaves may be a combination of green, red, yellow, orange and purple. The leaf shapes can vary adding to its ornamental appeal. The colorful leaves can be broad or narrow, shaped like an oak leaf, twisted like a corkscrew, or somewhat pinched in the middle.
 
Grow crotons in a warm bright location free from drafts of hot and cold air. Water thoroughly and often enough to keep the soil slightly moist during the summer months. Cut back on watering slightly during the winter as growth begins to slow. 
 
Only fertilize actively growing plants with a dilute solution of houseplant fertilizer. Avoid cold temperatures, droughty conditions and drafts that can cause leaf drop. Just correct the problem and wait for new leaves to appear.
 
Start new plants from cuttings to expand your indoor garden or share with friends.
 
A bit more information: Add a little fall flare to your indoor garden with the help of flowering potted plants. Combine small potted mums and foliage plants in a decorative basket or sink a small pot into a large planter.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.
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Prepare for Winter Bird Feeding
 
Fall is a great time to prepare for the winter bird feeding season. A bit of house cleaning will help attract more birds and keep your winged visitors healthy.

Clean feeders regularly throughout the season. This helps reduce the risk of disease caused by bacteria and other disease-causing organisms that can develop in dirty birdfeeders.
 
Wear rubber gloves to protect yourself and use a stiff bottlebrush or old toothbrush to clean those hard to reach places. Use a one-part bleach and nine-part water solution, commercial birdfeeder cleaner or a mild solution of unscented dishwashing soap.
 
Wash the inside and outside of the feeder, perches and feeding ports. Once cleaned, rinse and dry before refilling
 
And don’t forget to clean the area around the feeder. Remove any damp and rotten seed and fruit birds may have dropped.  Then finish it off by adding a fresh layer of mulch to cover the droppings.
 
A bit more information:  Monitor your landscape for bird-friendly plants. Look for trees, shrubs and perennials that provide food and evergreens that provide shelter. Plan to add a few more along with feeders for future seasons.
 
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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