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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 December 2013


Create a Tool Cleaning Station
Make a resolution to keep your tools clean and ready for use by creating a tool cleaning station in your shed or garage. 

If it is easy and convenient you are more likely to do it. So set aside a small space where you can clean and care for tools.
 
You’ll need soap, access to water and a scrubby to remove dirt and grime from all your tools. Keep a jug of vinegar handy to help dissolve rust and mineral spirits to remove stubborn tree sap from pruners.
 
Include steel wool and wire brushes to help with soil and rust removal. Don’t forget the linseed oil for cleaning tools and lubricating oil for keeping tools working smoothly.
 
Buy needed sharpening tool and files and replacement blades for pruners with removable blades.
 
Make sure you have plenty of rags. And don’t forget safety glasses to protect your eyes from flying dirt and debris.
 
A bit more information: Reduce your workload by washing the dirt off tools after every use. Stop by the faucet and wash away the soil before stashing them in the shed or garage. And remove any plant debris wedged in the tools. This is a great place for disease organisms to linger and infest the garden with the next use. And always store tools inside to reduce rust and extend their life.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.
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December 23rd to January 1st Birth Tree the Apple
If you were born between December 23rd and January 1st your birth tree is the apple. It is said to represent scientific talents, charm and a carefree philosopher with imagination.

Give the gift of an apple tree or plant one in your own yard to honor a friend or loved one with this birth tree. You’ll need two trees or a nearby crabapple for pollination and fruit formation.
 
Look for disease resistant varieties. Consider dwarf apple trees that will fit the available space when mature and be much easier to harvest when it starts producing fruit.
 
Or consider a crabapple. These apple trees have smaller, less than 2” diameter, fruit. You’ll enjoy four seasons of interest while bringing in the birds for added color and motion in the landscape.
 
Look for disease resistant crabapples and those with persistent fruit for the greatest impact, fewer problems and less mess.
 
A bit more information: Look for these and other apple varieties listed as disease resistant. Liberty is a crisp and juicy dessert apple. Freedom was introduced in 1983, ripens a week before Delicious and is great for pies. Redfree is an early apple that has limited storage life, but is a good choice for home gardeners looking for an earlier producer.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.
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No Fruit on Holly – December’s Other Birth Flower
Holly is a popular plant in holiday displays, one of the birth flowers for December and a favorite evergreen in the landscape.

Holly as the birth flower symbolizes domestic happiness. In ancient times it was shared with friends and planted around homes to protect the occupants from lightening, poisoning and mischievous spirits.
 
But many gardeners complain their plants do not form the beautiful fruit they so desire. You need at least one male for every five female hollies for fruit to develop. Look for male plants listed as good pollinators for the female hollies you select. Some growers plant a male and female plant in the same container to insure you have both sexes. Only problem, if one plant dies, you must look at the flowers to determine which gender survived and which one needs replacing.
 
Make the needed changes and enjoy your holly, berries and all for seasons to come.
 
A bit more information:  Lack of maturity, late spring frost and poor growing conditions can also result in little or no fruit forming. Make sure to plant your holly in a sheltered location with moist well-drained soil. You may need to wait a few years for your plants to reach flowering and fruiting size. A close look at the flowers will reveal the difference. The male flower has a straight stem and a flower containing pin like structures called stamen. The female flower has a swollen base, almost vase like, in the center.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.
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Forcing December's Birth Flower – The Narcissus (Daffodil)
Celebrate December birthdays and have a bit of fun by forcing a few daffodil bulbs into bloom.
 
The daffodil, botanically known as Narcissus, is one of the birth flowers for December.  It symbolizes sweetness and the desire for your loved one to stay just the way they are.
 
All you need are a few daffodil bulbs, a container, and potting mix. If you don’t have any healthy left over bulbs go on-line. Many bulb companies are still selling spring flowering bulbs and some offer pre-cooled bulbs that are ready to bloom.
 
Place a layer of potting mix in the bottom of the container. Pack in as many bulbs as you can fit in the container for an impressive display. Cover the bulbs with potting mix and water. Then store the bulbs in the refrigerator or other 35 to 45 degree location. After 15 weeks, move the container to a cool bright location and water as needed.
 
A bit more information:  Add a little something extra. Once the bulbs are planted, sprinkle grass seed over the soil surface.  Lightly rake to insure seed-to-soil contact. Then water in.  The grass will remain dormant during the cold treatment and start growing once you bring the potted bulbs out of cold storage.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.
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Light up Outdoor Container Gardens
Light up your winter containers. Add some solar lights and accents to give your planters a bit more sparkle during the drab days of winter.

Use solar powered or battery operated optic lights, globes or lighted twigs as vertical accents, focal points or fillers in your outdoor containers. Just make sure whatever you choose is rated for outdoor use.
 
No containers, don’t worry you can quickly create a few. Just fill a weather-proof pot with potting mix or sand.  Purchase greens from your favorite garden center or trim a few from your landscape. Stick the cut end of the greens in the potting mix or sand to create an attractive display. Add some colorful berries, decorative twigs, ornaments and ribbon.
 
Then add some light to your winter containers with one of the many solar lights. Set your planter by the front entrance to welcome guests or on the balcony for you and your neighbors to enjoy.
 
A bit more information:  Change out the holiday adornments for more natural materials.  Adding ornamental grasses, more berries and decorative twigs collected from your landscape can keep your container looking fresh throughout the winter. And the solar accents will continue to welcome and impress evening visitors. Here are just a few of the many possibilities:
fiber optic solar lights or solar northern lights sphere.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.
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Evergreen ID - Look for an Evergreen Day (Dec. 19)
December 19th is National Look for an Evergreen Day. Don’t worry if you already have your holiday tree; take advantage of this unique holiday to get outside and look at the evergreens in your neighborhood.
 
As you walk through your neighborhood, nearby park or botanical garden try to identify some of the more common evergreens.  Evergreens with needles in bundles are a type of pine.
 
Spruce needles are short, usually stiff and individually attached to the stem. Remove a needle, with permission of course. Roll it between your fingers and feel the ridges.
 
Firs also have singular needles, but they are flat. Remove one of these needles and you will see a circular needle scar on the branch. The base of fir needles look like suction cups where they attach to the branch.
 
Now that you can identify more evergreens than most, if not all your friends and family, pass your ID skills along.
 
A bit more information: Hemlocks are a shade tolerant evergreen you may find in the landscape or natural spaces. They have short needles with 2 white stripes on the underside. For a closer look at identifying these evergreens watch my Melinda’s Garden Moment “Pine, Spruce or Fir, Their True Identity” video.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.
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Prevent Bud and Flower Drop on Christmas Cactus
The Christmas cactus is a favorite gift that often grows into a family heirloom. With proper care you can keep this holiday favorite flowering for 4 to 8 weeks.
 
Keep your flowering Christmas cactus in a cool bright location to extend its bloom time. Avoid drafts of hot and cold air, moisture stress and other changes in the environment. This can result in bud and flower drop.
 
Water the soil thoroughly and often enough to keep the soil slightly moist. This tropical plant may look like a succulent, but prefers a bit more water.
 
Fertilize with a dilute solution of flowering houseplant fertilizer once it has finished blooming. Then move it to a sunny window or under artificial lights with your other houseplants.
 
Rebloom your cactus by providing cooler temperatures, drier conditions and as some experts believe 14 hours of total darkness each night.  Start on October 1st for blooms next Christmas. 
 
A bit more information: The Thanksgiving and Easter Cacti look very similar to the Christmas cactus, though the bloom times vary.  For more information on identification and care of these plants - click here.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.
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Make Your Own Icy Luminaries
Fire and candles have long been used to guide and welcome travelers and guests. Give this tradition a twist by making your own icy luminaries this winter.
 
Use milk cartons, coffee cans, tins and buckets as a mold for your icy luminary.  You will also need a smaller container to create the space for the candle.
 
Fill the container with water. Add food coloring, glitter, berries or other decorations for a festive twist. Sink the smaller container in the water. Use stones to weight it down and keep it in place.
 
Set these in a spare refrigerator or outside in cold climates to freeze. Once frozen, and just prior to use, bring your luminary out of the cold and rinse with warm water to release it from the mold.  Remove the center container at the same time.
 
Place an outdoor light or votive candle inside the luminary and then set it outside to greet your guests. 
 
A bit more information: Sound like too much work? Consider purchasing a make-it-yourself kit like the Ice Globe Luminary Kit. All you do is add water to create your own family fun and holiday centerpiece or outdoor lighting.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.
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Dress Up the Table with Poinsettia - National Poinsettia Day (Dec. 12th)
Move those poinsettias out of their foil wrapper and onto your table for the holidays.

Use miniature poinsettias like Mini Star as a place setter. Some come in their own decorative pot or dress them up with a bit of festive tissue, wrapping paper or fabric and ribbon. Then send your guests home with their own mini poinsettia to enjoy throughout the holidays.
 
Or dress up each place setting with a cut poinsettia bloom. Simply cut the flowers off a potted poinsettia plant to the desired length. Sear the end over a flame and place it in a florist water pick. Tuck the bloom into a napkin, set it in a small bud vase or add a ribbon to dress it up.
 
Don’t have the heart to remove the flowers? Then place several potted poinsettias in the middle of the table. Cover the pots with greens. Then add some colorful pepper berries, cranberries, apples or ornaments.
 
A bit more information:  Use poinsettia flowers to add beauty to other holiday adornments. Individual cut blooms make great package adornments. Or use cut poinsettia flowers to create a centerpiece for the table. Combine with greens or display a single bloom in a decorative vase. Dress up your arrangement by adding some faux snow or filling the vase with cranberries, small ornaments or other colorful adornment.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.
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Holiday Tree for You and the Birds
Create a festive holiday tree outdoors for you and the birds to enjoy.
 
Dress up your evergreen trees or shrubs with strands of cranberries and popcorn. Add some orange slices for added color and food for the birds.
 
And keep small hands busy by making some birdseed ornaments.  Use cookie cutters to cut slices of bread into festive shapes. Punch a hole near the top. Then toast or allow the bread to dry.  Coat with peanut butter and sprinkle with birdseed. Run a colorful ribbon through the hole and hang it in the tree.
 
Or collect and decorate evergreen cones. Cover the scales of the cone with peanut butter or suet. Roll in birdseed.  Use colorful yarn to hang these from the tree.
 
Bird seed ornaments also make great gifts for gardeners and bird watchers. Wrap them in cellophane add a ribbon and you have a perfect gift. No dusting or batteries required.
 
A bit more information: Once the holidays are over, move your fresh cut Christmas tree outdoors. You’ll provide additional shelter for the birds and have another tree to decorate for you and the birds to enjoy. See my Family Fun Feeding the Birds video for more ideas.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.
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Growing Freesias Indoors
Add a bit of color and fragrance to the holidays with Freesias. The spikes of flowers come in a variety of colors from white to purple, yellow to red and even blue.

Check with your local garden center, favorite catalogue or order the corms on-line. Plant them in a well-drained potting mix with little or no perlite to avoid fluoride damage.
 
Set the corms pointed side up about one inch deep and 2 to 3 inches apart. Water thoroughly.
 
Precool the planted corms for 45 days at 55 degrees to encourage more compact growth. Move to a sunny location as soon as growth appears.
 
Grow in a cool, about 65 degrees, bright location. Keep the soil moist and fertilize with a dilute solution of flowering houseplant fertilizer.
 
Stake tall strappy leaves to prevent them from falling and keep your plant looking its best.
 
A bit more information:  Purchase ring stakes or make your own with bamboo stakes or twigs and twine to keep floppy leaves in check. Or set the plant in a tall container whose sides help support the leaves and flower stems.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.
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Create a Pest Management Calendar
Is your mailbox filling with next year’s calendars? Put them to use managing pests in the garden.
 
No, I’m not talking about smashing insects with the rolled up calendar. Instead, use them to develop a pest-monitoring calendar for next year.
 
Take a few minutes to review this year’s garden journal.  Look for notes on any pest problems you encountered. Make a note to watch for these pests in next year’s calendar. This helps with early detection; a key to successful control.
 
Consider adding notes about the weather and control measures you tried that were effective.  Try using preventative eco-friendly measures like barriers and traps to prevent problems. Covering your cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower before the cabbageworm moths are active allows you to prevent damage.
 
Setting out shallow cans of stale beer will help you minimize feeding damage by slugs and snails during wet weather.
 
A bit more information: No garden journal? This is a good opportunity to create one that includes your growing successes, failures as well as pest problems. Use a spiral notebook, three-ring binder or computer calendar or spreadsheet. Just make it easy and fun. That way you are sure to keep recording, referencing and putting your gardening experiences to work.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.
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Growing Sweet Potatoes Indoors
The pantry is full of fall favorites like squash, pumpkins and sweet potatoes. But busy schedules may find a few things growing in the back of the cupboard. Don’t discard those sweet potatoes that sprout in storage. Make it a fun gardening activity for the family.

Plant the sprouting sweet potato in a container of well-drained potting mix. Plant it with the growing point just below the soil surface or lay it on its side and cover with potting mix. Grow your new plant in a sunny window and water as needed. Sweet potatoes make a great indoor plant.
 
To see what goes on below ground, try growing your sweet potato in water.  Stick 3 or 4 toothpicks around the middle of the sweet potato.  Set the toothpicks on the lip of a water-filled glass.  Keep the water covering the bottom half of the sweet potato. Place it in a bright location out of direct sun for rooting.
 
A bit more information: Take a look at other kitchen scraps you can grow into houseplants. Plant the base of the celery used in your dressing or the top of your pineapple. It’s a great way to move the garden indoors and keep little hands busy during the holidays.
 
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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