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 24, 2015

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. The extreme weather we had last winter did a number on my hydrangeas. Even though my area is hardy to zone 5, my ‘Endless Summer’ mophead hydrangea—which usually has huge blue blossoms all summer long—was killed to the ground. Luckily, it has the wonderful ability to bloom on both old and new wood so even though they may be late in... more

August 15, 2015

With canned tomatoes, enjoy that garden-fresh tomato taste in sauces, soups and stews all year long! Here’s how I can tomatoes: First, when it comes to canning tomatoes for the rest of the year, I like to let my tomatoes get super-ripe on the vine. Farmers really don’t have this luxury as the fruit becomes too easy to bruise at this stage. However, they will continue to ripen in the box or on the counter so it’s best to purchase your canning tomatoes a few days in advance of the processing. I... more

August 12, 2015

The quintessential summer flower, sunflowers (Helianthus) are a truly native American plant and are honored as the state flower in both Kansas and Nebraska. There are about 70 species of sunflowers. Most are native to the Great Plains, Mexico, and Peru. The Hopi Indians, who believed the sunflower warmed the earth and brought rain, carved wooden sunflowers as sacred objects to help enrich their harvests. They used the seeds for food, ground them into meal and flour, and used the oil for... more

August 10, 2015

Harvesting is in full swing and gardeners are enjoying the fruits of their labors. If you wish you had room for more edibles, take another look around your yard. There are many creative ways to sneak more edible plants into your landscaping without sacrificing good looks. Beautiful Enough to Eat If you have room for another shrub or two try planting highbush blueberries. These tidy shrubs have pretty bell-like flowers in the spring, tasty fruit in the summer, fall foliage colors ranging from... more

August 9, 2015

Ah, those things we call weeds. Many are not only edible but far more nutritious than the crops that we plant. Purslane is one of those. It has seven times the beta-carotene of carrots and six times more vitamin E than spinach along with fourteen times more Omega 3 fatty acids. Originally from India, immigrants brought it with them to our shores where it has escaped into gardens and backyards everywhere. Purslane is eaten today in soups and salads in the Mediterranean area; in Mexico, it's a... more

August 4, 2015

The beauty of the summer garden is fleeting, so take full advantage of it by having bouquets of freshly cut flowers in every room. Just a few old-fashioned roses, a sprig of honeysuckle, or one Oriental lily can scent an entire room. To avoid having boring bouquets, try to pick a variety of flower forms, shapes, sizes, textures, and colors. Spiky shapes like astilbe, liatris, snapdragons, delphinium, salvias, and veronica add height to your arrangements. Composite flowers like asters, daisies... more

July 21, 2015

Blueberries are easy to freeze. Anyone can do it! Whether you grow blueberries, pick them, or find them at the market, try freezing these super-nutritious fruits for year-round enjoyment.  We have bushes that we planted over 30 years ago and they are now about eight feet tall and ten feet wide. If you do wish to grow blueberries, all you have to do is keep them weeded—which is fairly easy as they shade their own soil (meaning not many weeds grow there anyway). Our goal was to have so many... more

July 20, 2015

Maybe it's because I live in the frozen north but in the summer I love hot weather. Bring it on—the sweatier, the better!  I know I am in the minority though when I hear other gardeners complaining about the heat and humidity. Whether you like it hot or not, it is important to take care while working outside. Here are a few tips to help you beat the heat: Do your heaviest work early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Take a cue from South American and Mediterranean countries where it... more

July 14, 2015

Have your peas pooped out? Did your lettuce go to seed? Now is a good time to plant more of these veggies and other traditional spring crops to harvest this fall.  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. Timing is Everything To plan what to plant in your fall garden consult the Almanac to find the first frost date for your area... more

July 10, 2015

This time of year you can't turn your back for minute without the weeds ganging up and trying to take over the garden. Did you think you had things under control and it was safe to go away for a few days? Did you come home to find that weeds had taken your garden hostage? Before you resort to weapons of mass destruction to eradicate them, take a closer look at the invaders. Our ancestors harvested many of the plants we call weeds right along with their veggies for use in salads and as cooked... more

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