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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Add seasonal color and shade to your landscape with Celebration maple. This fast grower provides beauty with less maintenance.
Celebration maple is one of the freeman maple varieties. The freeman maple hybrids display the best qualities of each parent while minimizing their less desirable traits. The red maple provides the better structure and fall color while the silver maple increases vigor and high pH tolerance.
Celebration is a more compact cultivar with good structure that is more resistant to wind, ice, snow, and storm damage. The red flowers add a touch of subtle color to the spring landscape, while the red and yellow fall color end the season with a blaze.
This heat, drought and pollution tolerant tree is hardy in zones 4 to 8, and possibly 9, and grows 45 to 50 feet tall and 20 to 25 feet wide.
A bit more information: Celebration® Maple (Acer x freemanii ‘Celzam’) is virtually seedless, so you will have minimal seeds (also known as helicopters) to sweep off the sidewalk. And those that are grown on their own roots will not heave walks and drives.
Increase this season’s harvest with a midseason fertilization.
The amount and type of fertilizer needed is dependent on your soil, past fertilization practices and the type of plants you are growing.
A soil test is the best way to get the information needed to develop a fertilization program for your garden. But until you have your soil tested, consider following these guidelines.
Select a low nitrogen slow release fertilizer like Milorganite to avoid damaging plants during hot dry summer weather.
Fertilize leafy vegetables when they are about half size. Wait until the tomatoes and peppers start producing fruit before fertilizing them.
Apply 1 pound of a low nitrogen fertilizer for every 100 square feet. Sprinkle granular fertilizer along side or around the plants. Gently rake it into the soil if needed. Liquid fertilizers are applied by a sprinkling can or garden hose.
A bit more information: Always read and follow label directions for the mixing rates and application methods for the fertilizer you select. And with proper care you will have plenty of produce for you, your family, friends and the hungry in your community. Contact Garden Writers Association’s “Plant a Row for the Hungry” program for information on donating extra produce to the hungry in your community. Call toll free 1-877-492-2727 or visit www.gardenwriters.org/.
If you ever get a chance to see Milwaukee from the water...do it! I don't know what it is about the water but everything looks beautiful when you're on the water. I took these over the weekend and just looking at them calms me. We have a beautiful city enjoy it and enjoy what's left of summer:)