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!

March 3, 2016

Container gardens are on my mind, as the winter chill is easing. I like to grow a few pots of various vegetables and flowers before the usual frost-free date here, May 15, to get a jump on summer. How to Make Potting Soil I learned long ago that it’s much cheaper to make my own potting mix and store it in an old trash can, rather than paying for big sacks of potting mix. I can customize the mix for various plants, too. The lighter the better when it comes to potting mix. Loose and porous... more

March 3, 2016

Ever tried sowed seeds outside in the hard winter ground? My friend, Jackie Caserta told me about this new idea and it sounded pretty easy so I decided to give it a try.  Granted, this is an experiment on my part, but the woman who wrote about it, Trudi Davidoff, said that these plants ended up being much hardier and healthier than anything started inside. It’s best to use cold-hardy plants so I decided to try some lettuce, broccoli and Swiss chard. The idea is that you sow seeds into mini-... more

March 1, 2016

Contemplating your first vegetable garden? How hard can it be? Just stick a few seeds in the ground and stand back, right? If only it were that easy!  Here are 10 gardening planning tips to consider before you dig in: Pick the right site. Most vegetables need at least 6 hours of sun a day. Some crops such as broccoli, lettuce, spinach, and other greens will grow well in your less sunny spots.   Keep it close to home. A location near your house will make it easier for you to tend your plot... more

February 19, 2016

Have you abandoned your compost pile because you’re tired of trudging outsideto dump your kitchen scraps onto a frozen pile? Do you feel guilty about adding biodegradable waste to the tons of trash already at the transfer station? How about using worms to turn your kitchen scraps into fertilizer. Called vermicomposting, having earthworms eat your garbage is an easy way to recycle food waste indoors year round. It is great science project for the kids and if you don’t get too attached to the... more

February 15, 2016

To save on heating bills, most of us have insulated our homes to the max, replaced drafty old windows, and plugged up any cracks that let in cold air. Without proper ventilation, it doesn’t take long for indoor pollutants to build up to unhealthy levels. Indoor pollutants come in two varieties—particulates such as dust, mold spores, and pollen and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs are airborne chemical gases that are released from paints, fabrics, wallpaper, carpeting, plastics, and... more

February 7, 2016

Winter is a great time for garden planning, We can make lengthy lists of plants we want to try growing, seeds to order, and drawings of new plot plans. Unfortunately a lot of this gets lost when the gardening season revs up and we are overwhelmed with work. Even though I start out the year with every intention of keeping close track of things in a garden journal, I am usually so busy by June that my record keeping has degenerated into hasty notes scribbled on muddy scraps of paper. Keeping a... more

January 20, 2016

A reader’s question about overwintering rosemary reminded me that it was something I wanted to write about. I have had mixed results with rosemary plants over the years but after killing a few I think I have finally gotten it right. Every fall at least one person heading south for the winter will come to me with plants that they can’t bear to let die. I am a sucker for a beautiful plant so if I have room I usually say yes. I have gotten some awesome plants that way—asmine, streptocarpella,... more

January 17, 2016

Between the cold weather and the football games on television, I have had lots of time to pore over the seed catalogs. Many offer special enticements if you order early but we are still working to finalize our orders. Some of the catalogs we receive should win awards for fiction; the glowing descriptions can not possibly be true. Do watermelons really grow on trees? The artwork also borders on fantasy, depicting plants that are far removed from reality. Read closely and you’ll find that... more

January 3, 2016

New seed and plant catalogs have been arriving in my mailbox almost daily and they make the wintery days much easier to take. The glowing descriptions and fantastic photographs are a welcome reminder that spring will come eventually. I’m a sucker for their horticultural hype and end up making long lists of plants that I can’t possibly live without. Fortunately, cooler heads prevail in my household and these lists will get whittled down considerably by the time we send in the orders.... more

December 20, 2015

If you are in need of some flowering companions to get you through the cold days of winter, look for a plant that hails from the southern hemisphere, the African Violet. African violets (Saintpaulia ionantha) are native to Tanzania and get their Latin name from a 19th century colonial official and amateur botanist, Baron Walter von Saint Paul, who was stationed in the east African country known then as Tanganyika. He sent specimens of these wild violets home to his father in Germany and in a... more

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