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!

December 9, 2015

Winter solstice occurs at almost midnight on December 21, marking the official start of winter. It is the shortest day and longest night of the year. Now the days will start to get longer and as the old adage says,”When the days lengthen the cold strengthens.” Even so, I appreciate seeing a brighter western horizon when I get out of work at 5pm. The sun has begun its climb toward summer and each day brings us one day closer to spring. Nearly every ancient culture had myths surrounding the... more

November 29, 2015

While most of us only think about Christmas trees in December, for growers of cut-your-own trees, it is a year-round commitment. Growing quality Christmas trees is a serious business requiring lots of hard work. Trees are fertilized in the early spring and late summer. Grass in the rows and between trees needs to be mowed. Pests such as balsam twig aphids and red spider mites need to monitored and dealt with. Many growers hand-shear their trees with a sharp machete-like knife and use clippers... more

November 23, 2015

No plant symbolizes Christmas quite like the poinsettia. More than 2 million of them will be sold this year, making it the largest potted flower crop grown in the US. Are you surprised that 80% of all poinsettias are purchased by women? There are over 100 varieties of poinsettias available in shades of red, pink, white,and yellow - solids, streaked, marbled, and multicolored. It makes it hard to pick just one! Some have even been treated with dyes, painted, or sprayed with glitter!... more

November 22, 2015

I had the great fortune to participate in The Old Farmer’s Almanac Garden Tour in June, 2015 and joined an enthusiastic group of folks from across the country for this fantastic 7-day 6-night tour.    We started the tour in Philadelphia. Our first garden to explore was the 300-acre Scott Arboretum at Swarthmore College. Established in 1929 the arboretum includes over 4,000 different plants and a spectacular rose garden featuring more than 200 species of roses. A very special place was the... more

November 15, 2015

It’s red berry time and with bunches of fresh holly leaves and berries or branches of winterberries going for $5-$10, it only makes sense to get a few of these beautiful and easy to grow shrubs established in our own yards. Growing Winterberry Winterberry, also known as black alder, is one of several native American hollies. It grows 5-15 feet tall depending on the cultivar, is deciduous, and though it has colorful fall foliage it is grown mainly for its berries. Winterberry is very cold... more

November 8, 2015

Everyone has heard of fast food but Thanksgiving is a time to think about slow food. No, I don’t mean the bad service you get at the local greasy spoon. Slow Food is a worldwide movement that celebrates the pleasure of eating fresh, locally grown food. What could be more local than the food you have grown yourself? The garden is like a seasonal supermarket. Thankfully we have apples, pears, potatoes, squash, onions, and garlic from the garden to use for this year’s feast. Kale and... more

November 1, 2015

One vegetable that I love but had never grown before this year is the sweet potato. Sweet potatoes are tropical vegetables so usually grown in southern states. My mother-in-law was a transplanted southern belle who longed to grow the foods she grew up with in the Deep South here in frigid New Hampshire. Sorry to say but she did not have any luck with lima beans, peanuts, okra, or sweet potatoes. A few years ago the University of New Hampshire experimented with growing sweet potatoes with... more

October 28, 2015

In some places, gladiolas can be left in the ground all winter. In colder climates, though, they would freeze and die. Gladiolus can be saved, though, placed in the root cellar and replanted in the spring. Here’s how. First, gently dig the entire gladiolus plant and place on newspapers in a shady spot that won’t get frosted. A porch is ideal. Let them sit there for a week or two until the stems easily pull away from the corms.  Next, separate the new corms from the old ones. Often, a... more

October 27, 2015

This Thanksgiving, display some unusual pumpkin and squash varieties.  Have you seen those warty pumpkins and gourds at farmers markets, orchards and garden centers?  The ones with growths that look like big zits or peanuts?  I first saw ‘Knuckle Head’, a slightly warty orange pumpkin, last year at a local orchard that also sells pumpkins, gourds and corn shocks.  Of course, I bought it, along with a half dozen bumpy gourds.  (However, I also quickly discovered that the pumpkin and gourds were... more

October 27, 2015

Here are five tips for making your backyard more bird-friendly. It takes more than just hanging a feeder or two. Small birds eat constantly during the day and they need to be able to find food 365 days a year.  And why do we want our feathered friends to visit? First, just being outside in the garden surrounded by birdsong is a wonderful way to spend the day. Listening to the chirping chickadees and loud laughing call of the pileated woodpecker while watching the goldfinches swoop from plant to... more


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