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Your USDA Hardiness Zone

Featured Articles!

Peony Power

Peonies are one of the best perennial choices for a Midwest garden. The reason is simple: Peonies are hardy and extremely reliable. Once established these beauties are durable and low maintenance. Another admirable aspect of peonies is that, unlike some other perennials, the do not ramble. They come back reliably year after year with little care and produce huge flowers — even enough blooms for cut-flower bouquets.

>> read “Peony Power”       #Flowers   #Pink
Chives: Edible, Pretty and Easy to Grow

When I was a young, inexperienced gardener, I had the fortune of stumbling upon Martha Stewart’s Gardening. The title was deceptively simple, as the book contained intricate herb gardens and rose gardens, which stretched hundreds of feet. But the book became dog-eared as I shamelessly copied loads of ideas she had.

>> read “Chives: Edible, Pretty and Easy to Grow”       #Edibles   #Herbs   #Recipes
Japanese Style in the Garden

Japanese gardens have weathered the test of time.

Principles originating centuries ago still guide and inspire garden designers in search of harmony and beauty. Japanese gardens are often described as beautiful, simple, serene and harmonious. For the aspiring designer, intimidating also comes to mind. Some design principles are consistent across all design disciplines, while others seem new and challenging to a Western-minded gardener. Let’s explore the Japanese garden and discuss a few concepts that make this approach so enduring.

>> read “Japanese Style in the Garden”       #Design   #Themed Gardens   #Unusual
Natural Hardscaping
Using natural materials for your landscaping

More and more gardeners and landscapers are heading “back to the land.” In addition to self-sufficiency, less pesticide use, growing heirloom vegetable varieties, urban homesteading, hardscaping using natural materials is also becoming more popular. This provides a wealth of natural materials for landscaping and design work.

>> read “Natural Hardscaping”       #Design   #Hardscaping   #Natives
How to Build a Living Fence

Fences can fill a number of needs in the garden: They can enclose a space and define it, they can keep the dogs in or the neighbor’s cats out, they often tell the gardener where to stop planting. But they can also become part of the planting and design scheme itself. That is, they can support plants and allow their form to be seen in their best light. Of course, the typical cottage garden picket fence does a great job – but construction is not always easy or cheap. There is an alternative though – a wood and wire fence.

>> read “How to Build a Living Fence”       #Design   #Hardscaping   #How to
Unconstructed Play

How many times have you been to a child’s birthday party with a bunch of laughing, screaming kids and lots of toys, and what the children end up playing with are the cardboard boxes, ribbons and ties from the gifts, loose parts from one of the toys (and not as they were intended to be used), or a pile of dirt or rocks next door? OK, that proves it – all they really need to play is a dirt pile and a bucket; unstructured play is the secret to happiness.

>> read “Unconstructed Play”       #Kids   #Misc
Caterpillar Calamities

Every gardener has experienced it, usually more times than they can count. You walk into the garden and discover a plant that’s been defoliated or otherwise damaged by caterpillars. The canna leaves are riddled with holes, the cabbage leaves look like lace, half the tomatoes have worms in the fruit, or the azaleas have been stripped of their leaves. How could this happen so quickly?

>> read “Caterpillar Calamities”       #Pests   #Vegetables   #Wildlife
Cantankerous Cankers

The term “canker” refers to a lesion on a twig, branch or stem, usually caused by a bacterial or fungal pathogen. The appearance of cankers varies, depending on the host and the pathogen. Often, the bark of the affected stem or trunk is sunken and discolored. Fluids may ooze from a canker or fungal fruiting structures may appear on the bark covering or surrounding the lesion. In some cases, lesions remain small and isolated, causing no major problems for the host plant. In other cases, the canker spreads widely, causing death of twigs, branches or even the main trunks of trees. The best known example of the destructive potential of a canker disease is chestnut blight, caused by the fungus Endothia parasitica, which caused the virtual extinction of the American chestnut within 40 years of its accidental introduction to the United States in about 1900.

>> read “Cantankerous Cankers”       #Disease   #Pests   #Trees
Two for One Tomatoes

If you took a survey of home gardeners and asked them about their favorite vegetable to grow, most likely the tomato would be at the top of the list. Anyone who has grown tomatoes knows that the quality and flavor of homegrown far surpasses that of a store-bought tomato. Anyone who has spent time growing tomatoes also knows that at times they can be finicky and be a challenge, even for the most experienced gardener. If you happen to cherish the more flavorful heirloom varieties, you face even greater challenges when it comes to disease, insects and cultural problems. While the practice has been around for centuries, grafting has more recently become the rage in growing difficult tomato varieties more successfully. With the difficult task of growing these older varieties, grafting may give you the edge to get the job done in your garden.

>> read “Two for One Tomatoes”       #Edibles   #Propagation   #Vegetables
The Perfect Garden Soil

The problem most of us have to deal with is a soil that is less than ideal, especially in suburban residential neighborhoods. The lots have been cleared of vegetation and the layer of topsoil has been removed. When the home is finished, the builder brings in not the topsoil that was removed, but some other soil guaranteed to be of lesser quality. Remember, the plant roots do not grow through the soil, but around the soil particles. Without great soil there is little chance of having impressive plant growth.

>> read “The Perfect Garden Soil”       #Soil
Creative Containers

Repurposing all types of objects into creative and sometimes wacky planters is a major gardening trend so hop aboard and I will give you some of my ideas. I have long been a fan of this idea – whether antiques or something you discover in the attic or barn – repurposing provides a vessel with non-traditional flair. Nothing is out of bounds, often the quirkier it is the more impact it will have. So let your imagination run wild. Pursue the flea markets, rummage through grandma’s attic or go picking in farm outbuildings, any object is fair game.

>> read “Creative Containers”       #Containers   #Decorating   #Unusual
Hugelkultur

When I first heard about hugelkultur from Paul Wheaton, it was a true “aha” moment. Why are gardeners working so hard to keep their plants watered during the drought of summer when Mother Nature is doing just fine all by herself? No one is watering the plants in the woods during a drought! If there’s one thing that makes me want to throw in the gardening towel, it’s wrestling with a kinked hose when it’s 95 F and 100 percent humidity outside. Just imagine not having that nightmare to contend with anymore!

>> read “Hugelkultur”       #How to   #Irrigation   #Raised Beds   #Unusual
 
 
 

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