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!

June 25, 2015

In many parts of the country demand for water has already exceeded the supply leading to bans on car washing and watering lawns and gardens. The need to conserve water has made xeriscaping a popular concept in gardening. From the Greek word “xeros” meaning dry, combined with landscaping it is a commonsense approach to gardening using less water. Mother Nature can't be relied upon to supply us with the inch of water a week that most plants require. It doesn't sound like much but that 1 inch of... more

June 16, 2015

Allergy season started early for many gardeners this year and shows no sign of letting up. Depending on what triggers your allergic reactions—tree pollen, dust, mold spores, grasses, weeds, or strongly scented flowers—there are irritants present from early spring until hard frost. As hard as we try to eliminate the offending plants from our own landscapes, many of the worst offenders are windblown pollens that can be carried from plants blooming far away from our backyards. Help For An... more

June 11, 2015

This is the season for ticks! Prevent Lyme disease by keeping yourself tick-safe with these precautions. We welcome your tips, too! As many as 300,000 people may be diagnosed and treated for Lyme disease each year through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks. Typical symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and skin rash.  If left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system. It is a regional affliction with 95% of the cases occurring in 14 states in the... more

June 4, 2015

There are a multitude of reasons to have a backyard vegetable garden but for most of us the only reason we garden at all is to raise our own tomatoes and who can blame us. Is there anything better than a fully ripe tomato eaten while it's still warm from the garden? Tomatoes annually rank as North America's number one home garden crop. No vegetable has received more attention from plant breeders and seed savers which gives us lots to choose from. After much consideration you probably have... more

June 2, 2015

Whether you live in the South and are well into the vegetable gardening season or you live in northern regions and are finally starting to plant, I hope these planting tips will provide some timeless advice. If you get frost in your area, tomatoes, peppers, basil, cucumbers, eggplant, okra, paprika and summer and winter squash are all very sensitive to frost (for a free complete list to download, go to my website at: In my northern climate, I started planting the... more

May 26, 2015

The age-old practice of companion planting is based on the theory that certain plants can either enhance, or in some cases inhibit, the growth of others. Scientists have tested some of this folk wisdom and have found this type of interplanting to be beneficial in several ways. Some plants repel or at least confuse insects pests while others attract beneficial insects that aid pollination or attack the bad bugs. Some plants supply additional nutrients to the soil that affect the growth and... more

May 19, 2015

I love homemade whey, that cloudy liquid that remains after milk has been curdled or strained. Whey contains probiotics which are “good” bacteria that is good for your health, especially your digestive system.  I add whey to all of my fermented foods such as fruit and beet kvass, sauerkraut, ginger ale, mayonnaise, ketchup, pickles and kimchee. Our ancestors always fermented their condiments; this gives them not only probiotics but digestive enzymes as well. After two years of drinking beet... more

May 18, 2015

We sell hundreds of vegetable starts each spring and always remind our customers to be sure to harden off the plants before planting them in the garden. Surprisingly, many people have no idea what hardening off means. Tough Love One of the most stressful transitions for a tender transplant is to go from life in a cozy greenhouse, where it has been sheltered from the elements, to life in the great outdoors. Our sales greenhouse is unheated so the plants have been subjected to some cold night... more

May 11, 2015

The peepers are singing! This is as sure a sign of spring in my neck of the woods as the sparrows returning to Capistrano. Peepers aren't birds though, they are tiny frogs that trill loudly in the evening to attract a mate. For centuries farmers worldwide have taken their cues for planting times from periodic natural phenomena such as bird and animal migration (like those swallows), the emergence of insects and amphibians (like my peepers), and the flowering of native plants. Watching for these... more

May 5, 2015

If you are new to vegetable gardening, don't let the fear of making mistakes hold you back. You might lose a few plants but that is how we all learn what works and what doesn't. Not Another Learning Experience The first big vegetable garden I planted (way back in 1976) struggled to survive. The soil was terrible—just gravel with little topsoil and no organic matter. I didn't realize that my backyard was also the leach field for our septic system! We lived on a 250 acre farm and could have... more


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