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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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Shopping Mayfair!

Bachrach has been outfitting men since 1877 and when you visit their Mayfair store this holiday season you will see what makes them so great. Bachrach is the store you can walk right into and instantly find a full outfit that will be perfect for any event this holiday season. Their expert staff will help you find what fits best for your style. Visit them today and let them know I sent you.
 
 
 
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10 Most Fascinating People Barbara FORGOT About

The Most Fascinating People Barbara Forgot About...
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Here's How To Make Your Home Beautiful!

If you want your home to look amazing this holiday season, you need to contact Pottery Barn at Mayfair! I was blown away by this FREE service they offer!
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Here's How To Make Your Home Beautiful!

If you want your home to look amazing this holiday season, you need to contact Pottery Barn at Mayfair! I was blown away by this FREE service they offer!
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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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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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So far, SO GREAT!
3 & 1/2 months and counting since my family and I packed up our stuff in NJ and made the trek to Milwaukee! Anytime you leave what you've "known" for years and years, you always worry that: It won't work It's not a great fit It'll take a LONG time to FIT IN Well, I'm here to say that all of those answers couldn't be farther from the truth! From DAY 1, my radio family here at The Mix has welcomed my family and I with OPEN ARMS (My favorite JOURNEY song btw) and it's like we've known each other forever! At the same time, my new family of radio listeners (ALL OF YOU reading this right now) have also made me so incredibly comfortable and happy and as stated above, it's like I've known you well, longer than the 3.5 months I've been here! You've helped my family and I find a place to live, great restaurants (my family and I love to eat), great places to visit to entertain my kids, a travel baseball team for my oldest son Anthony and of course, great karaoke so I can get my sing on! I will continue to ask for your advice on different things along the way and I know WITHOUT A DOUBT, you'll be there to answer whatever questions my family and I have! For that, I'm very grateful! Just wanted to take a few minutes to say THANK YOU for welcoming Me, my wife Sarah, and children Anthony and Benjamin with such warmth and kindness! We look forward to being a part of the community for a long time to come! Thank you for listening to 99.1 The Mix! I'm havin' a BLAST! Hope YOU are too! Sincerely, Mark Summers
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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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