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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 May 2014


Grow a Pizza Garden
Add a little fun and flavor to your landscape this summer with a pizza garden. You can grow almost all the ingredients, except of course the cheese, sausage and anchovies, in your vegetable garden, amongst your flowers, or even in containers. And add to the fun by planting the ingredients in the shape of a pizza pie or just a slice.

You’ll want a Roma tomato or two for the sauce and as one of your toppings. Include a few green peppers, hot ones if you like a little heat, onions and any of your other favorite vegetable toppings.
 
Don’t forget the herbs. The low growing perennial oregano and upright basil are flavorful additions.
 
Add some red leaf lettuce for the pizza sauce color and to make a side salad to serve with your homegrown pizza.  And don’t forget the cheese. Consider planting yellow marigolds around the edge of your pizza garden to give it that cheesy look.
 
A bit more information: You can also grow your pizza garden in containers. A low, wide washtub with drainage holes filled with dwarf vegetable plants would work great. Or use individual pots of vegetables grouped together to form your pizza or set within existing plantings.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
 
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Learn About Composting Day
May 29th is National Learn About Composting Day. Celebrate by starting your first or adding an additional compost pile to your landscape.
 
And don’t let a lack of space stop you. My friend Ellen composts in pots on the rooftop of her Manhattan condominium. She saves time hauling plant debris out and compost in by converting her garden debris into compost one pot at a time. It’s good for her garden, the environment and her busy schedule.
 
Keep it simple and you will do it. Place plant waste in a heap and let it decompose. It’s as simple as that. The more carefully you build the pile, turn and monitor, the faster you’ll have compost.
 
The key to success is only composting insect- and disease-free plant waste. No perennial weeds or annual weeds gone to seed and no meat, fat or dairy products that attract rodents.
 
A bit more information: Fancy bins help keep the pile contained and dress up the process. They can also help with keeping multiple piles of compost decomposing quickly. A three-bin composter allows you to collect material in one bin. Then create a compost pile with layers of green (high nitrogen) and brown (high carbon materials) in the second bin.  Once this pile reaches peak temperatures and begins to cool, it is turned over into the third bin. The process is repeated until composting is complete.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
 
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From the Faucet to the Garden – Water for the Garden
No matter where you live we are all concerned about our precious resource – water. And whether you live in an apartment or you garden a large plot of ground – you can make a difference one bucket at a time.

Think of all the water that goes down the drain as we wait for our bath water to warm. Stick a 5 gallon bucket under the faucet to capture that fresh clean water. Remove when the water has reached the desired temperature.
 
Then, head out to the garden. Use this water for containers and moisture-loving plants. I know - it’s not the prettiest bathroom accessory, but with a bit of convincing and training you can get your family to help in the cause.
 
And don’t forget about the water dripping from your air conditioner or dehumidifier. This is great for outdoor gardens, containers and houseplants, especially those like spider plants, Ti and dracaenas that don’t like the chemicals in treated water.
 
A bit more information: Many communities are allowing gray water, water that’s collected from showers, washing machines and kitchen sinks, for use on ornamental landscapes.  Check with your local municipalities on related regulations before installing a gray water collection system.
A bit more information: Plant in clusters whenever possible. Groupings of several pollinator favorites are more attractive than single plants. But if space is limited you can still bring them in with a container planting or small space garden. For more information, click here.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
 
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Plant a Pollinator Garden
Give nature and your garden a helping hand this season by planting a pollinator garden.

Over 75% of the world’s flowering plants depend on bees and other pollinators to form seeds and fruit, that we eat, use for medicine and most importantly for the plants to reproduce.
 
Increase the number of pollinators visiting your garden by planting a variety of plants so you have flowers all season long. Include a variety of colors and shapes to attract a wide variety of pollinators. You’ll also enjoy the variety and long bloom your pollinator garden provides.
 
Use native plants suited to the growing conditions whenever possible. You’ll attract more pollinators and provide food for many of their offspring.
 
And skip the pesticides that can harm the very insects you are trying to attract. Use the pluck, drop and stomp method or wait for lady beetles, praying mantis, and nature’s other predators to take care of garden pests.
 
A bit more information: Plant in clusters whenever possible. Groupings of several pollinator favorites are more attractive than single plants. But if space is limited you can still bring them in with a container planting or small space garden. For more information, click here.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
 
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Simple Combination Attracts Goldfinches

 
What do cosmos and lettuce have in common? You can start them both from seed directly in the garden for you and the goldfinches to enjoy.

Sally Roth a frequent contributor to Birds and Blooms magazine shared this great combination.  One summer her lettuce had gone to seed. She soon discovered the goldfinches feasting on the seed.
 
This inspired the cosmos and lettuce combination that keeps her garden looking good and the goldfinches happy. She plants lettuce and cosmos together in her garden. She harvests the outer leaves of lettuce throughout the spring. As the cosmos grows it shades the lettuce, extending her harvest.
 
Once the heat of summer arrives and the lettuce bolts (or sets seed), the tall cosmos masks the view. The finches feed on the lettuce seeds and butterflies visit the cosmos. Once the cosmos sets seed the finches return for a late season feast.
 
A bit more information: Look for other unexpected bird and butterfly-attracting plants. You just may be surprised how many of these plants are already growing in your garden. For more bird and butterfly gardening tips and ideas from me visit http://www.birdsandblooms.com/melinda-myers/
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
 
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Time Vegetable Plantings for Greater Success
 
It’s all in the timing and that goes for planting vegetables.
 
The unusually cold winter, late spring as well as seasonal and long-term droughts have gardeners everywhere a bit anxious. One key to gardening success is timing your planting based on weather not the calendar.

Cool season crops can tolerate cool air and soil. The flavor is better and you’ll use less water if these are harvested before the heat of summer.
 
Warm season crops need warm soil and air to thrive. Waiting for the right temperature results in less transplant shock and faster seed germination. Beans and corn planted in cool soil are slow to germinate and more susceptible to root maggot.  Tomatoes and peppers planted too early can be stunted and your harvest delayed.
 
Use planting guides from your local extension service, along with the local weather forecasts and a soil thermometer to keep you on track when it comes to planting.
 
A bit more information:  Provide a bit of shade to extend the harvest of cool season crops. Gardeners in heat and drought stressed areas need to get their plantings in as soon as possible so the harvest can occur before the extreme temperatures of summer increase water use.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
 
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A Low Maintenance Perennial Garden
 
You can have a beautiful garden and still have time to relax and enjoy it.
 
Roy Diblik just released his new book The Know - that’s KNOW Maintenance Perennial Garden. The idea is to group plants of similar needs and assertiveness into communities. This is the basis of any attractive low maintenance garden. But he pushes the limits of our imagination and creates unexpected and attractive combinations.
 
In fact, he provides sample combinations and the grids for planting. Find one that meets your needs and repeat to fill the space available.
 
He also provides low maintenance tips. Roy recommends using a long handled Dutch hoe. You’ll be able to weed in an upright position, reducing back stress and time spent weeding. Spring cleanup of larger perennial gardens is reduced to several passes with the mulching mower. The plant debris is left in place to improve the soil – just like in nature.
 
A bit more information:  Roy developed this method from years of growing, tending and designing gardens. He has created these durable gardens at private homes and public gardens like the Art Institute of Chicago or his Northwind Perennial Farm in Burlington WI.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
 
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Preventing Floppy Growth on Sedum Autumn Joy
 
Tired of floppy sedums? A little grooming and the right location can improve their appearance and decrease your workload.

Sedums, including the ever popular Autumn Joy, prefer full sun and well-drained soil. They tend to flop when grown in the shade and overly moist soil.
 
Move your plant to a sunny location with good drainage if needed. Add organic matter to heavy clay soil to improve drainage and increase your growing success.
 
Avoid high nitrogen fast release fertilizers that promote lush succulent growth more likely to flop. Use a low nitrogen slow release fertilizer, like Milorganite, if your plants need a nutrient boost.
 
If the plants still flop, it’s time to get out the pruners. Prune plants back halfway when they are 8 inches tall. Or pinch out the growing tips. This encourages more compact growth. The flowers will be smaller, but you’ll have more of them to enjoy.
 
A bit more information:  Early season pruning is a useful technique for encouraging more compact sturdier growth on many late season perennials. Russian sage, coneflower, asters and mums are just a few.
 
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
 
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Growing Vegetables During Drought

 
Don’t let seasonal or long-term drought stop you from gardening. A few changes in your gardening habits can help you conserve water while growing fresh produce in your backyard.
 
Grow just what you need and will use. You’ll waste less produce and water growing vegetables that never get harvested and eaten.
 
Be sure to plant in blocks or wide rows. Leave just enough space for vegetables to reach their full size.  The plants will shade the bare soil, helping to conserve moisture. And you will harvest more from less space.
 
Improve your soil and you’ll use less water. Add organic matter to increase the water holding ability in fast draining soils and improve drainage in heavy clay soils.
 
And use an organic mulch like shredded leaves or evergreen needles to conserve water, suppress weeds and improve the soil as they decompose.
 
Grow drought tolerant vegetables like amaranth, eggplant, chard, rhubarb, and asparagus. Look for varieties listed as drought tolerant.
 
A bit more information:  Position your garden in a sunny, but sheltered location.  Reducing wind flowing over the plants will reduce moisture lost through transpiration (evaporation of water from the upper parts of plants). And that means less water needed. For more information on drought tolerant plants click here.
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Managing Self-seeding Perennials
Self-seeding perennials can be considered a gift or curse.  Put these plants to work for you in your garden.
 
Self-seeding perennials like blackberry lily, phlox, columbine, hellebore and purple coneflower are notorious self-seeders. Keep this in mind when adding these plants to your garden.
 
Otherwise, allow their seedlings to develop into large masses for an informal look when space allows. Dig and divide when they outgrow their location.
 
Or use seedlings to fill in bare areas and to start new planting beds. Trade extras with friends or donate them to community groups or gardeners on a budget.
 
Still too many? Then deadhead heavy seeders to prevent them from setting seed and propagating more plants than you need.
 
And always eliminate invasive plants, those self-seeders that jump the bounds of the garden and take over nearby natural areas.
 
A bit more information: Those with limited time or an aversion to thinning may want to avoid these plants. Look for sterile cultivars of your favorite flower or those marketed to be less prolific.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
 
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Garden Workout
May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month. And though gardening is not considered an Olympic sport, it is a great way to burn calories, increase strength and flexibility while creating a beautiful garden.

Start with gentle back stretches or light activities before digging, hauling and other more intense gardening activities. Once you get started gardening, alternate intense activities like digging with lighter activities like weeding. Mix up your gardening tasks to vary the muscle groups used. Prune a while, then plant, dig and rake.
 
Then take a break. Rest your muscles, admire your work and reassess what needs to be done next.  And be sure to drink some water and stay hydrated throughout your gardening workout.
 
Practice good posture and deep breathing as you garden. Keep your back straight and use your core muscles to extend your gardening time and avoid sore muscles. Invest in ergonomic tools for more pain-free gardening.
 
A bit more information:  Don’t let a bad back and sore knees stop you from gardening. Try raised beds or green walls for easier access. Invest in a garden bench, kneeler or other garden accessories that help ease the strain on painful joints.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
 
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Chemical-free Quackgrass Control
It seems to be everywhere – your garden, lawn and cracks in the sidewalk.  Quackgrass is that aggressive perennial grass that can quickly take over lawns and gardens.

Quackgrass spreads by a long white root-like rhizome.  Every piece of that rhizome that breaks off and lands in the soil can start a new plant. This makes control difficult. Cultivation with a hoe or tiller breaks up the rhizome resulting in more plants.
 
Twice monthly cultivation for at least one, preferably two, growing seasons can control this weed. You must be diligent or you will end up with more not less quackgrass.
 
Solarization is also an option. Remove your desirable plants. Check for and remove any quackgrass that may have infiltrated these plants. Edge the bed and cover with clear plastic for 6 to 8 weeks during the hottest part of the growing season. This is usually enough to cook the quackgrass and other weeds.
 
A bit more information:  Some of the new eco-friendly products use plant or soap based products to burn the tops of this and other plants. Unfortunately it will not kill the roots and rhizomes. Repeated use can eventually starve and kill the plant. But you must be more persistent than this weed. I find this strategy is fairly effective for controlling quack and other weeds in my walks and pavers.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
 
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Gardening on a Budget
Walking into a garden center filled with beautiful new varieties of plants is a temptation many gardeners succumb to. You can include some of the cool new plants in your landscape even when your plant budget is limited or you are trying to make it go further.

Add a few of the cool, usually pricier new plants to a container filled with less expensive favorites.  Or dig and divide some overgrown perennials. Use those with great foliage as fillers.
 
Shop with friends! It’s often cheaper to buy plants by the flat.  Buy in quantity and share the plants and the cost.
 
Start with smaller size plants or seeds. Perennials in quart size pots, trees and shrubs in gallon containers are cheaper. Just provide space for this small transplant to reach its full size.  Fill in the voids with annuals started from seeds. You’ll not only save money but, have fun watching the plants grow and fill in the space over time.
 
A bit more information:  Starting plants from seeds directly in the garden is not only economical, but can increase your selection. Just make sure the seeds you select will have enough time to grow and flower or fruit during your growing season.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Cutest Sibling Video EVER!
I can't even handle how cute this video is!!
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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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Wine Bottles – Out of the Recycling Bin and Into the Garden
Stop! Don't recycle those wine bottles, instead give them a second life in your garden. Use wine bottles to create a colorful edge along a path or around a planting bed. Set the bottle, top-side down in the ground. Individual bottles make great hose guides. Or create colorful outdoor lighting. Remove the bottom of the bottle with a glasscutter. Place over LED bulbs. Strategically place individual wine bottle lights throughout the garden or use multiple bottles over a string of lights. Put your glasscutter to work creating a planter. Remove a section from one side of the bottle. Lay the bottle on its side, secure in place, fill with soil and plant. Or remove the top of the bottle. Invert and place in the bottom of the bottle. The original opening is now your drain hole and the bottom of the bottle is your saucer. And of course you can always place them on a bottle tree. A bit more information: Convert wine bottles into watering devices. Punch a small hole into the soil of your container garden. Fill the bottle with water, invert and place into the soil. Plant Nannies are hollow terra cotta spikes that can be set into the soil to hold the wine bottle in place. For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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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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