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Your USDA Hardiness Zone

Featured Articles!

Plants Need Their Rest Too

This is about the time of year I start getting inquiries from local media about why leaves turn colors in the fall. What they really want to know is the exact week of peak color to inform the leaf-peepers. I usually respond that the plants are preparing to enter dormancy and peak color depends on prevailing weather conditions and is often unpredictable.

But what exactly is dormancy and why is it crucial to plants? Like explaining why leaves change color, the answer is not straightforward and “depends,” which is not the answer most people want to hear. I’ll attempt to explain in layman’s terms an interesting facet of a plant’s life.

>> read “Plants Need Their Rest Too”       #Colorful   #Fall   #Orange   #Trees
Building a Scarier Scarecrow

If you have a garden, it’s more than likely that you also have a pest or three. It should be no surprise that pests and critters like our yards and gardens as much, or more, than we do. We are encouraged to invite wildlife into our yards and gardens because we love seeing them, and, in theory, they help balance our desire for our garden and nature to coexist. But what happens when they go rogue and start eating, digging and destroying all of our hard work?

Scaring them away, or we could say gently discouraging, wild and sometimes not-so-wild critters to “Step away from the garden,” is always a first and sometimes successful option.

>> read “Building a Scarier Scarecrow”       #Decorating   #Fall   #Pests
Plant a Delicious Fall Garden

I lucked into elderly neighbors who had gardened all their lives and thought everyone should at least grow a few peppers. In New Orleans, old Mr. Faulk shared with me the heat-resistant virtues of eggplant. A few years later near Tuscaloosa, Mr. Englebert told me to “wait for the September gales” to plant fall greens. I later realized that the September gales were the drenching rains from hurricanes, and there’s nothing like them to keep a fall veggie garden growing fast.

>> read “Plant a Delicious Fall Garden”       #Edibles   #Fall   #Vegetables
Better Late than Never

Traditionally, the Midwestern vegetable garden was considered a three-season affair, bounded by the last spring frost and the first fall freeze. True, cool-season gardens were popular in the spring and the fall, but the idea of year-round vegetable production definitely raised eyebrows. Recently, however, proponents of season extension, such as Elliot Coleman, have increased awareness of the possibilities, and enthusiastic gardeners across the region are embracing four-season vegetable gardening.

>> read “Better Late than Never”       #Fall   #Tools   #Vegetables
Soup-er Farmer’s Market Feast

In my mind, there is no better time to be in the kitchen than right now. The cooler temperatures cry out for warm, hearty meals that bring everyone together.

Normally I’m the only one in our house who will eat squash. But, there is something about this creamy, slightly spicy, butternut squash soup that makes it pass the test. Paired with a second season greens salad and a loaf of fresh bread – all purchased at the farmers market – it’s perfect for a fall lunch or dinner.

>> read “Soup-er Farmer’s Market Feast”       #Fall   #Recipes   #Holiday: Thanksgiving   #Vegetables
The Great Garden Cover up

Normally when you hear the term “cover up,” it refers to something that is either sinister or political in nature. When it comes to cover up in the garden, it is actually a great thing, because we are talking about cover crops. Cover crops are an important component of any home garden. They have multiple benefits including building the soil, controlling erosion, preventing weed infestation and limiting the spread of certain disease and insects. Cover crops are an extremely environmentally friendly practice that allows the garden to “rest” or leave the garden out of production for a short period of time. While cover crops are traditionally planted in the fall, they can also be used in the spring and summer.

>> read “The Great Garden Cover up”       #Beneficials   #Fall   #Fertilizing
Decorating Pumpkins Without a Knife

Here’s a kid-friendly project that won’t send shivers down your spine.

When autumn winds turn bone-chilling cold and children dream of becoming vampires, parents might want to have some crafty ideas in their bags of tricks. If you don’t feel like getting pumpkin slime all over the kitchen this year, try this DIY project that doesn’t require 30 minutes just for cleanup.

>> read “Decorating Pumpkins Without a Knife”       #Crafts   #Decorating   #Fall   #Kids
How To Start Vegetable Seeds

Today I'm going to show you how to get your seeds started for your fall vegetables. You can start vegetable seeds in just about any container you have available. Whether it's an egg carton or the containers from your grocery store delicatessen even to the flats and six packs you save from your spring and summer flowers that you buy at your garden centers.

The only requirement is the bottom of the container allow adequate drainage so we don't have seeds sitting in saturated soil . That'll lead to fungal issues and a condition called damping off as the seeds germinate. What I've done with this flat is line it with paper towels so it'll hold soil and allow adequate drainage at the same time. So, all we have to do is fill this flat with our soil until it's level and then pre-moisten the soil. And, again with compost and a mixture of vermiculite and promix, moistening the soil ahead of time won't be a problem.

>> read “How To Start Vegetable Seeds”       #Edibles   #Fall   #Propagation   #Seeds   #Video
Festive Fall and Winter Containers

Just because it’s fall and the temperatures drop, it doesn’t mean that gardening has to stop and you throw in the towel. Our plant palette changes with the seasons, and that means selecting the proper plants for this time of year, yet still fulfilling our desire for color and texture ...

>> read “Festive Fall and Winter Containers”       #Containers   #Design   #Fall   #Ornamentals
Fall Cleanup Tips
5 Simple Steps to Minimize Plant Diseases in the Spring

One of the most daunting garden tasks is fall cleanup. Most gardeners have spent the majority of the spring and summer planting, watering, fertilizing, weeding and, of course, bragging on their gardens to their friends, neighbors and family. When fall arrives, it’s time to enjoy some R & R… or so you thought ...

>> read “Fall Cleanup Tips”       #Fall
The Traditional Scarecrow

I was halfway through my childhood before finding the nerve to watch The Wizard of Oz without hiding at some point during the film. I suppose it was the witch (the wicked one from the west) — it would be an understatement to say that she intimidated me. The scarecrow was a much more pleasant fellow but, truth be known, he was also a bit unsettling to me ...

>> read “The Traditional Scarecrow”       #Fall   #Holiday: Halloween