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!

August 12, 2016

Letting all that milkweed grow around my yard has paid off and we have some monarch butterfly caterpillars in there chomping away. Though we don’t recall seeing any adult monarchs flitting through the garden, they must have visited long enough to deposit some eggs. We have seen plenty of tiger swallowtails and always grow extra dill for the larvae of the black swallowtails to eat. These big black and green striped caterpillars are actually quite pretty! Adult butterflies live for only a... more

August 2, 2016

Who doesn’t love hummingbirds! Learn all about the beautiful ruby-throated hummingbird and how to attract hummingbirds to your garden. The Ruby-Throated Hummingbird In my neck of the woods we have only one type of hummer—the ruby-throated hummingbird. Take a moment to listen to the call of the ruby-throated hummingbird. They are fascinating little creatures. Barely 3 inches high with long slender bills almost half as long as their bodies, these tiny dynamos fly at great speeds, beating... more

July 31, 2016

It is easy to add depth to your flower garden by using plants with dark colored leaves. Burgundy foliage creates a backdrop for the flowers growing around it and adds variety to a sea of green. Plants with dark maroon leaves not only take center stage when they are in bloom but continue to be interesting even when they are not blossoming. Dark colors mix well with silver-leaved and variegated foliage plants as well as with green. Black is a rare color in plants but many dark colors come close... more

July 18, 2016

Which plants repel mosquitoes and other insects in the backyard and garden? And it’s not just mosquitoes. Gnats, biting flies, ants, and other pests can take the fun right out of any outdoor activity. Mosquitoes are more than a nuisance, too, as there are many mosquito-borne diseases out there including viruses such as West Nile, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, Dengue, and now Zika. Block Insect Receptors Mosquitoes and many other insects target their victims by odors and gases we give off -... more

July 15, 2016

You don’t need chemicals to get rid of pesky garden pests: Companion planting, natural remedies, and attracting predators to your garden can save you money and also save your plants. As gardeners, we often find that various insects can be found eating our crops. This is disturbing and frustrating. Broccoli looks disgusting when it is covered by small worms along with their poop. Cucumber beetles eat holes in the leaves of the plants and spread disease from one to the next. Cutworms strike at... more

July 13, 2016

Let’s explore some smart ways to save water in the garden. An inch of water a week, is that too much to ask for? It doesn’t seem like much but that is the optimum amount for growing most vegetables and ornamentals. If you spread that inch of water out over a 10X10 foot space it equals 62 gallons! The National Drought Mitigation Center reports that right now 44% of the country is experiencing conditions that are abnormally dry or worse. What’s a gardener to do, especially when some areas... more

July 10, 2016

Weeds can be great indicator plants and tell you about your garden. Before you pull out the pesky weeds that are probably overtaking your cultivated plants, take a minute to notice what is growing. Read your weeds! Yes, weeds are a constant annoyance, but they are also excellent indicators of soil conditions. If you have large patches of one kind of weed, your garden is trying to tell you something. Common Weeds and What They Indicate Amaranth (also called red root pigweed) grows in rich... more

July 5, 2016

Plan a fall garden, especially if you have gaps in your garden after harvesting some of your crops.  Yes, I know that summer is not even half over, but it is never too early to plan for fall. Many gardeners consider fall to be a four letter word but it doesn’t have to spell the end of fresh from the garden food.  In fact, in warmer regions, many crops grow just as well in the fall as the spring, especially spinach, Swiss chard, broccoli, and kale. In colder climates, many of these same... more

June 29, 2016

Every time I open a plant catalog or see a television commercial for sale-priced $99 raised garden bed kits, I cringe! You don’t need to spend that kind of money to build your own four-by-four-foot bed or even a 20-foot-long one. My husband builds mine. He buys two 1 x 8-inch cedar boards, which don’t rot with age. They come in 8-foot lengths, which is perfect for 4 x 4-foot beds. Cut each plank in half, so that it is 4-feet long. Or, you can have a home improvement/lumber store make the cuts... more

June 27, 2016

Hydrangeas can sometimes be a tricky plant to care for, so it is important to learn how to prune them and when to prune them. Properly pruning hydrangeas based on your hydrangea variety will allow you to have more blooms next year. Before you start pruning hydrangeas, it’s important to know which variety you have. If you prune at the wrong time, you could be cutting off next year’s blooms. Pruning Hydrangeas Based on Variety The extreme weather we had last winter did a number on my hydrangeas.... more

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