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The Garden Mix




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 April 2014


Maximize Your Sweet Corn Harvest
Nothing beats fresh from the garden corn on the cob. But this is one vegetable that takes up a lot of space for a small harvest.  Each plant usually produces just one ear of corn.  A healthy pest free plant may produce two.  So get the most out of your harvest with proper planting and care.
 
Plant one of the newer cultivars that has sweeter longer-lasting flavor.  Then plant the corn in blocks.  This will improve the wind pollination and that means a bigger harvest. 
 
Plant the seeds in rows an inch deep and 9 to 12 inches apart.  You can maximize your planting with wide rows. Just leave 12 inches between plants and make sure you can reach all the plants within the wide row. Protect seeds from birds and speed germination by covering with floating row covers.
 
And before you know it you will be boiling that pot of water or stoking up the grill to cook your first ear of corn. 
 
A bit more information:  Poor germination or weak misshapen seedlings are usually the result of corn root maggot. Prevent the problem by planting at the proper time. Planting seed in cold wet soil slows germination and increases the risk of damage. Replant as needed.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com

 
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Growing Fruit in Small Spaces
No space for a garden?  Don't worry you can add fruits to your patio, balcony or other small space landscape.

Try growing strawberries as a groundcover. The white flowers, edible red fruit and brilliant red fall color add sparkle to your landscape. Or grow them in a pot on your balcony or deck.  They’ll be close at hand and easy to harvest a few for your breakfast cereal or afternoon snack.
 
And plant breeders are adding lots of new compact fruit varieties for small and large space gardeners to grow.
 
Raspberry shortcake is a small 2 to 3 feet tall and wide thornless plant perfect for small space gardeners and containers. You’ll be picking fresh tasty raspberries for most of the summer.
 
The new compact blueberries add pretty flowers, edible fruit and great fall color to your container and in-ground plantings. And the narrow upright Urban apple trees make managing and harvesting apples a breeze.
 
A bit more information: Expand your fruit garden by growing citrus in pots. The fragrant flowers and tasty fruit make a nice addition to the garden and your favorite beverage. Those in colder climates will need to move the plants indoors for the winter.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com

 
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Low E Glass Impact on Houseplants
You can conserve energy and still grow healthy houseplants.
 
Light, water and nutrients are the keys to growing healthy plants. Many energy conscious indoor gardeners are concerned when considering replacing their windows with Low-E glass.  Fortunately it only reduces the visible light needed by our plants by an additional 5 to 10%.
 
A side benefit to your plants is the Low-E glass moderates temperatures indoors keeping plants, especially those growing near windows, warmer at night and cooler during the day.
 
And no matter what type of glass is in the windows – keep them clean to maximize the amount of light reaching your plants.
 
Adjust your watering and fertilization practices to match the indoor growing conditions. Less light, lower humidity and the type of potting mix and containers used all impact the watering frequency and fertilizer needs.
 
A bit more information: Plants need a variety of light (color/wavelength) for proper growth and flowering. Blue light promotes leaf and stem growth, while red combined with blue promotes flowering and bud development. 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com

 
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Don’t Let Aggressive Bargain Plants Take Over the Garden
So you’ve found a plant that blooms all season, tolerates a wide range of growing conditions and needs little maintenance. Sound too good to be true?  It probably is.

Lots of fast growing easy care plants are overly aggressive.  They crowd out their more timid neighbors and often need concrete barriers or regular weeding to keep them in check. 
 
Invasive plants go one step further. These plants leave the bounds of our landscape and invade our natural areas.  They crowd out native plants that provide food and shelter for wildlife.  These should be eliminated from gardens in regions where they are a threat.
 
And beware of bargain backyard plant sales.  These are often filled with aggressive plants that have overrun the seller’s garden.  Ask the seller about the aggressive nature of the plant before purchasing.  Years of weeding is not worth the money saved on bargain plants.
 
A bit more information: A good example is common yarrow (Achillea millefolium). This perennial flower can be found in both weed and perennial books.  It tolerates hot dry conditions and readily reseeds and spreads. Select less aggressive species and cultivars that do not reseed.
 
 For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Invite Frogs and Toads into the Garden
Celebrate National Frog Month by inviting insect and slug-eating toads and frogs into your garden.
 
Start by providing water. A pond at least 20 inches deep with gently sloping sides will work. Include water plants that provide oxygen, shelter from predators and weather and breeding sites.
 
Include a few rocks or logs in the pond for basking and a few alongside the water for shelter.
 
Build a rock pile in the garden. Select a location that receives sun and shade each day. Position the rock pile in more sun if your summers are cool and more shade if your summers are hot.
 
Line the bottom with stones for added protection from winter cold and leave cavities between some of the bottom rocks for nesting, shelter and hibernation. Use a pipe 1 to 2 inches in diameter and less than 2 feet to create an entryway.
 
A bit more information: Look, but do not touch the frogs and toads you attract to your landscape. Bug repellent, lotions and oils on your skin can harm these creatures. For more information see Oregon State University Extension’s publication Attract Reptiles and Amphibians to Your Yard.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
 
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Grow Potatoes in the Garden or Container
What is white, red or yellow, can be eaten fresh, fried or even raw and is one of the most important staples of the human diet?  If you guessed potato, you are right.

Grow your own in the garden, planting bag or containers. You can plant small potatoes or pieces of larger potatoes to start new plants.  These contain "eyes" that grow into potato plants.  You may have seen this happen on potatoes stored in the pantry.   Buy certified seed potatoes at garden centers or from garden catalogues.
 
Cut whole or large seed potatoes into smaller pieces containing at least one good "eye". Plant them in a 2-3 inch deep furrow, 10 to 12 inches apart, leaving 24 to 36 inches between the plants.  As the plants begin to grow, mound the nearby soil over the tubers until the rows are 4 to 6 inches high.  Keep the planting weeded and wait for the harvest. 
 
A bit more information: Save space and have some fun by growing your potatoes in a planting bag.  Fill the bottom few inches of the bag with potting mix. Set the potato pieces on the mix. Cover with several inches of soil. As the potatoes grow, continue adding a couple of inches of soil at a time until the bag is full. Harvest by dumping the bag and lifting out your potatoes.
 
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
 
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Brown Needles and Leaves on Evergreens
A walk through your garden this spring may reveal browning on both needled and broadleaf evergreen trees and shrubs.
 
Winter winds and sun, exposure to deicing salt and record low temperatures are likely the cause.  Evergreens continue to lose moisture through their leaves and needles throughout the winter. The winter sun and wind increase moisture loss.  Those gardening in areas with frozen soil are likely to see the most damage.
 
But even those in warmer regions may see winter scorch on newly planted or exposed evergreen plants.
 
We can’t turn the needles and leaves green, but we can provide proper care to speed recovery. If the branches are pliable and buds plump you should see new growth this spring. Broadleaf evergreens will replace the brown leaves with fresh new growth. Brown needles will eventually drop and the new growth this spring may mask the damage.
 
Wait for warmer weather to see what if any new growth appears.
 
A bit more information: Once plants have started to show signs of new growth, you have a decision to make. Is the plant healthy and attractive enough to nurture and keep? Or, would you be better off starting with a new plant and one better suited to the growing conditions. A difficult decision, but one that can save you time, money and frustration in the long run.
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
 
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A Multi-Season Beauty – The Fringetree (Chionanthus virginicus)
Add seasonal interest and bird appeal to your landscape with the white fringetree (Chionanthus virginicus).

This slow growing small-scale tree can grow up to 20 feet tall and wide. The slightly fragrant white flowers cover the plant in spring. The male plants produce slightly larger and showier flowers, but the female plants produce an abundance of blue fruit in late summer. Though the fruit is somewhat hidden by the leaves, the birds seem to have no problem finding and devouring it. But don’t worry however as they won’t leave behind a mess.
 
The fall color can vary from a good yellow to a yellowish green. And the smooth gray bark become ridged and furrowed with age.
 
Fringetree is hardy in zones 4 to 9, grows well in full sun to part shade and though it prefers moist fertile soil, it is adaptable to a much wider range of conditions. It can be found in nature growing along stream banks and the woodland edge.
 
A bit more information: Use fringetree as a small tree or large shrub, as a specimen plant, near buildings, or in mixed borders as an understory. And be patient in spring as it is late to leaf out.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
 
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Daisy – the April Birth Flower

Celebrate April birthdays with a bouquet of daisies. This April birth flower symbolizes childhood innocence or according to the Farmer’s Almanac they were given between friends to keep a secret.
 
Many flowers share the common name daisy. It comes from the English name “days eye” referring to the fact many daisy flowers open during the day and close as the sun sets.
 
Bellis perennis, known as English daisy, is most often designated as the April birth flower. It is hardy in zones 4 to 8, grows about 6 inches tall and flowers from spring through mid summer.
 
You will find this plant listed as an attractive perennial or nasty weed. In the south the plants often burn out after flowering during the heat of summer. In cooler climates they are often dug after flowering to maximize enjoyment and minimize spread.
 
The young leaves can be eaten in salads or cooked.
 
A bit more information: Sweet peas are also considered the April birth flower. This is especially true in April. This flower represents modesty and simplicity.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
 
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Garden Longer with Less Aches and Pains – It’s National Garden Week
Avoid sore and strained muscles that often arise after a long day in the garden.  A few simple changes in your gardening habits can keep you gardening longer and with fewer aches, pains and strains.
 
Use long-handled tools to extend your reach and minimize bending and stooping. And if you need to get a bit closer to the ground, try placing only one knee on the ground or using a stool and keep your back straight.
 
Keep your tools handy by wearing a carpenter’s apron with lots of pockets or using a tool caddy. An old wagon, wheeled golf bag or trash can make moving long-handled tools a breeze. 
 
Use foam or wrap your tool handles with tape to enlarge the grip and reduce hand fatigue. Or better yet, invest in ergonomically designed tools with larger cushioned grips.  They are designed to position your body in a less stressful position, allowing you to work longer.
 
A bit more information: Further extend your energy by taking frequent breaks. Use sunscreen, wear a hat and drink lots of water. For more ideas, check out my 10 Pain-free Gardening tips.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
 
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Celebrate National Dandelion Day – It’s not just a weed
Stop, don’t pull those pesky yellow flowered dandelions popping up in the lawn and garden. These beautiful flowers have not only been used as bouquets for mom and crowns for children, but have a long medicinal and edible history.

On April 5th, Dandelion Day, celebrate the benefits and beauty of this perennial plant many consider a weed.  You’ll find this adaptable plant growing in a wide variety of locations.
 
The name dandelion comes from the French “dent de lion” meaning lion’s tooth. This refers to the leaves with their jagged tooth-like edges.
 
Dandelions are high in Vitamins A, B, C and D and were used by Native Americans for kidney disease, swelling and skin problems.
 
Harvest the young leaves in spring and add them to a salad or sauté with onions.  Brighten up a salad with just the yellow portion of the flowers or ferment them into wine.
 
A bit more information: Dandelions are also known as 'wet-the-bed'. This refers to the old belief that just touching a dandelion can cause bed-wetting. This may be tied to the fact that dandelions have been used as a diuretic.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
 
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Celebrate National Celery Month - Grow Your Own Celery Indoors or Out
Celery, an unassuming vegetable has long been used as a flavorful ingredient in soups, stews and casseroles. You’ll also find it fresh on a relish tray or as a crunchy low calorie snack. Its value is being recognized and celebrated during April, National Celery Month.

This long season vegetable is difficult to grow in many areas. The plants are slow to germinate and the young transplants will bolt if subject to cool periods.
 
Grow celery in full sun with moist organic soil. Provide ample moisture and mulch to keep the soil moist throughout the season. Wrap or cover the stalks two weeks before harvest to blanch the stems for a milder flavor.
 
Or have a bit of fun and grow some celery from kitchen discards. Next time you chop up a bunch of celery for soup or stew, save the base and grow a new plant.
 
A bit more information: It’s easy to grow your own celery from kitchen discards. Save the base of the celery in a shallow dish of water or bury the bottom half in a well-drained potting mix to root. Set in a bright location. Keep water in the saucer or the soil mix moist until new growth  appears. Pot up and move to a sunny location.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Plant Some Animal Resistant Bulbs this Fall
Don't let flower hungry wildlife stop you from planting spring flowering bulbs. Plant a few animal resistant bulbs in your garden this fall for added color and beauty next spring. Start off the season with a few minor bulbs. Winter aconite and snowdrops are some of the first bulbs to appear in spring. Mix grape hyacinths with daffodils to double your flower power and pop in some Siberian squills for a bit of blue in the spring garden. Try little Tommies, botanically known as Crocus tomassinanus. Garden catalogues claim and I have found them to be resistant to squirrels. Daffodils are well known for surviving hungry animals and now there are lots of new varieties to choose from. And don't forget to try some alliums you may know as ornamental onions. There are small and large flowered varieties and those that bloom in spring, summer or fall. A bit more information: Consider Camassia with blue flower spikes that resemble hyacinth, but tolerate partial shade. Snowflakes (Leucojum) Autumn crocus (Clochicum), Fritillaria and of course hyacinths are a few other animal-resistant bulbs. Southern gardeners need to select low chill varieties or use precooled bulbs if their winters are too warm for forcing spring flowering bulbs into bloom. For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Vote for your Favorite Flower
There is still time to cast your vote for your favorite flower. The American Garden Award program is your opportunity to vote for your favorite of several beautiful flowers bred for the home garden. Some of the most prestigious flower breeders have chosen their favorites to enter in the competition.   Celosia Arrabona Red is a plume type cockscomb and it was selected for its easy care, drought tolerance and long bloom.   Cuphea Sriracha Violet is heat tolerant and covered with unique violet blooms from spring through summer.   Illumination Flame Digiplexis is a foxglove hybrid with spikes of red-pink flowers with flaming orange throats.   Last but not least is Petunia Anguna radiant blue. This new hybrid has blue flowers with a white throat.   So visit www.Americangardenaward.com today and cast your vote.   A bit more information: The 2013 winner was Verbena ‘Lanai® Candy Cane’ with red and white striped blooms. Santa Cruz Sunset Begonia was the 2012 winner. This cascading begonia is perfect for hanging baskets, containers or mass plantings. This is the sixth year for this program. Check out information on previous winners and contestants at www.americangardenaward.com.   For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com  
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Plant Some Animal Resistant Bulbs this Fall
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AWESOME Inspirational Speech!
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