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Your USDA Hardiness Zone

Featured Articles!

Cactus Collecting
This is the year to get hooked by cacti

Cacti (singular cactus) catch the eye of many hobbyists. They are easy and rewarding to grow, fun to display, and readily available. People are often hesitant to grow them because they fear the reputation of these desert denizens. Here are a few tips that will hopefully de-mystify the collecting of cacti.

>> read “Cactus Collecting”       #Plant Profile   #Xeriscaping
The Joys of Garden Journaling

Once the explosion that is summer comes to a screeching halt, gardeners are susceptible to “garden fatigue.” Ah, but fall is for reflection — on the successes and failures of the year’s garden, on the “bones” of the landscape, on the cyclical nature of life. It is a time for slowing down, observing, writing snippets of poetry. It is the perfect time to start a garden journal.

>> read “The Joys of Garden Journaling”       #Fall   #Misc   #Tools
Harvesting and Storing Veggies and Fruits
Save the garden’s best to brighten winter.

My neighbor, we call him “Farmer Mel,” does something I find baffling. He practices serious delayed gratification. Throughout summer and into fall, he freezes about 50 quarts of homegrown, luscious, sweet, red, ripe raspberries. He, his wife, grown kids and grandkids enjoy them all winter.

>> read “Harvesting and Storing Veggies and Fruits”    
Organize a Plant Swap

Plant swaps are a fun, organized way to share an abundance of plants. It is also a good way to make sure you have new varieties of plants that you want without having to buy them.

Here are some suggested guidelines for organizing a plant swap.

>> read “Organize a Plant Swap”    
It’s All the Buzz: Basic Beekeeping
Ever considered keeping bees in your garden?

Spurred by worldwide honeybee declines, more gardeners are learning how to keep honeybees. Overuse of pesticides, diseases and disappearing habitat have all contributed to honeybees’ record losses since 2006, when historically-stable U.S. honeybee populations first plummeted.

>> read “It’s All the Buzz: Basic Beekeeping”       #Beneficials   #How to   #Insects
Get Your Green Fix

Now that fall has arrived and there are fewer garden chores, you may be wondering what to do now. If you miss taking care of plants, purchase a houseplant to get your green fix inside. Houseplants not only add some green, but some believe that houseplants may improve your mood.

>> read “Get Your Green Fix”    
High Tunnels and Low Tunnels

My vegetable garden is a place of exercise and relaxation, but my ultimate goal is to grow food. Unfortunately, inclement weather, spring and fall frosts, insects, bird pests and deer reduce my garden’s productivity. Through the use of inexpensive and easily-built high and low tunnels, I can address these challenges that face all vegetable gardeners in the Midwest.

What is a tunnel? Basically, a support system, anchored to the ground, that holds a protective covering above the vegetables. High tunnels are often a semi-permanent part of the garden, covering a larger area and allowing the gardener to work within the tunnel. Low tunnels generally cover a single row or bed, and are easily placed and removed as needed.

>> read “High Tunnels and Low Tunnels”    
Plant an Awesome Autumn: Trees for Fall Color

Autumn is the time for football and to relish the most beautiful of our four seasons. Many trees have been waiting to show off their foliage. One of the great things about living where we do is the ever-changing seasons. For a few weeks, nature puts on one of its most spectacular displays as trees complete the growing season in a brilliant display of fall colors.

>> read “Plant an Awesome Autumn: Trees for Fall Color”       #Fall   #Orange   #Trees
A Buffet of Choices
for Easy, Edible, Accented Arrangements

Last spring I attended a floral arrangement demonstration program at Myriad Botanical Gardens that changed the way I look at creating floral arrangements. The instructor, Dundee Butcher of Russian River Flower School in Healdsburg, California, created arrangements that were simple, yet sophisticated and beautiful, using edibles – from puckered dark green kale to cauliflower to purple carrots to eggplants, these arrangements were unique and lovely. Since that class, when I go to the grocery store or farmers’ market, I see not only what to make for dinner, but also what I could use to make the centerpiece.

>> read “A Buffet of Choices”       #Decorating   #Ornamentals   #Vegetables
Odd Tools for Odd Jobs

By the time we hit the hot months of July and August, most folks would rather be sipping cold tea in their air-conditioned homes rather than working out in their gardens or mowing their lawns. By this time, garden chores such as mowing grass, weeding flowerbeds and tending to our vegetable garden have been a major part of our schedules throughout the spring and early summer months. While most gardeners are usually equipped with the proper tools to accomplish necessary tasks, there are a few oddball tools out there that may be worth taking a look at. Many of these tools are designed to accomplish specific jobs that would otherwise be very time consuming and much more frustrating. The right tools can definitely make the job easier and more enjoyable. Here is a quick look at some of the equipment out there and how to decide what you really need.

>> read “Odd Tools for Odd Jobs”       #Summer   #Tools   #Unusual
Biochar to the Rescue!
A permanent amendment to improve soil and air

Biochar – you may have never heard of it, but in many research circles, and in a few select backyard lots, biochar is the stuff dreams are made of, particularly given our need for better soils, better air, better plants, and better climates. Biochar is a type of charcoal very unlike the grill’s charcoal briquettes, which are a mixture of powdered devolatilized coal, a small portion of raw or carbonized sawdust, and intentional ash additives. Biochar is the result of heating biomass under the exclusion of air – a process known as pyrolysis. Renewable lignin-based resources from nut shells to manures to wood, switchgrass, wheat straw, corn shucks and other green materials, can be the fuel used to create a very stable, very porous carbon rich product that can last hundreds of years. Biochar’s primary use is for soil enrichment, but it can do much more than that.

>> read “Biochar to the Rescue!”       #Environment   #Fertilizing   #Sustainability and Self-Sufficiency
Make it Last
Freezing fruits and vegetables to extend your harvest

There is a fine line in a productive summer garden where the harvest goes from plentiful to growing “out your ears.” Of course, you can give extra produce away or donate it to a local soup kitchen, but another option is to freeze the abundant harvest. I grew up on a rural farm where food preservation was a way of life. From snapping green beans for canning to washing blackberries for freezing, we learned to help from a young age. Here are tips to help you get started with freezing produce at home.

>> read “Make it Last”       #Edibles   #Fruit   #Recipes
 
 
 

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