Gardening Blogs

Welcome to the Almanac’s blog on gardening and gardens! Whether you’re a beginning gardener or a green-thumb, we’ve got lots of advice and inspiration to help you in your backyard. Look through this page for a variety of topics, including gardening with vegetables, herbs, fruit, flowers, containers, houseplants, and more!

February 22, 2017

Roses have changed, and it’s about time! Today, there are easy-to-grow types of roses—from David Austin old-fashioned roses to Knock Out landscape roses to Flower Carpet ground cover roses. You can truly plant and almost forget about them! They’re no longer intimidating prima donnas, which makes me very happy. Gone are the days when endless pruning, spraying and dusting were required to produce perfect roses. Now all you do is plant, fertilize and water. Your reward is healthy, beautiful bushes... more

February 13, 2017

I have been under the weather lately and one of the only things that seems to quiet my cough is echinacea. It got me to thinking about how much I love these coneflowers! I have always appreciated the plant for its rugged durability, able to withstand hot dry summers but hardy enough to survive the coldest winters. A native American plant indigenous to the central plains, Echinacea purpurea is virtually indestructible. We enjoy the color it brings to the summer garden with its large daisy-... more

February 6, 2017

Who doesn’t love a good story?  I am drawn to plants that have an interesting story attached to them. I love plant lore, and learning about a plant’s origins and how it got its plant name. I hope you do, too! Here are few of my favorite stories behind some heirloom plants. ‘Mostoller Wild Goose’ is a pole variety of horticultural bean named for Sarah Mostoller, a miller’s wife from western PA who found the beans in the crop of a goose her son had shot. Apparently she thought that what’s... more

February 3, 2017

Valentine’s Day is a popular time to give cut flowers as a gift. Consider a flowering plant! The instant flowers are cut, they begin their journey towards death. With a flowering plant, especially cold-loving cyclamen or hellebores, the gift is just the beginning! Both bloom for months and grow either again from a dormant tuber or outdoors in the shade. After enjoying hellebore flowers for a month or so, you can plant them outside when the ground thaws enough to dig a hole. They laugh at the... more

February 2, 2017

If you’re like me and can never have too many flowers, now is the time to plan a cutting garden so you can have your flowers and cut them too! To avoid stripping your front flower beds bare of bloom, plant an area of your garden just for cutting. If you have an empty spot out back or in the vegetable garden, why not fill that space with flowers? Your cutting garden needs to get at least 6 hours of sun a day for optimum flower production. If you are using a section of your veggie patch, it... more

February 1, 2017

Add flowers to your food! Here are the best edible flowers, based on first-hand experience in the garden and kitchen! I especially love adding small edible flowers to salads, which can be made even more attractive and special with their color and subtle taste. Many folks know about nasturtiums. Nasturium’s peppery blooms can be thrown in whole or torn into pieces to add to many dishes. They can be sown as seeds or bought as bedding plants in the spring. Some believe that they help keep... more

January 29, 2017

I love to swap horror stories with other gardeners, and recently some of us got to talking about our first gardens. Luckily for us, these bad experiences did not keep us from trying again … and again until we got it right. Pat was determined to feed her family of six from the garden. She had just read the book Five Acres and Independence and was feeling inspired so she had the whole backyard plowed up for her first garden. Unfortunately it was roughly the size of a football field! To cope... more

January 22, 2017

For the Chinese New Year (or any time), an auspicious gift is a lucky bamboo plant. Learn about the lucky bamboo meaning as well as growing tips. Native to Southeast Asia, the plant we call lucky bamboo isn’t a bamboo at all but rather Dracaena sanderiana. In Chinese lore the plant symbolizes good fortune and feng shui practitioners use it to attract positive energy. The number of stalks have meaning as well: Lucky Bamboo Meaning 2 stalks symbolize love or double luck 3 stalks bring 3... more

January 15, 2017

If one of your goals is to become a better gardener and contribute to your community, you should look into your local Master Gardener program. Usually sponsored by Cooperative Extension Services affiliated with state universities, there are Master Gardener programs in just about every state and Canadian province. These intensive horticultural training programs teach non-professionals about soil and composting, basic botany, pest management, plant diseases, animal husbandry, nutrition and... more

January 9, 2017

Ready for a healthy new tradition? Try fruit kvass with turmeric!  Just a splash of this fermented tonic each day improves health. Here’s more about it. Kvass is a traditional fermented beverage that’s growing in popularity due to its many health properties, especially as an aide for digestion. I wrote about my fruit kvass recipe last year.  Now, I am adding turmeric to my fruit kvass. Turmeric has been used as a spice and a medicine for nearly 4,000 years. During his travels, Marco Polo... more

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