Garden Journal

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About this Blog

Get inspired by Robin Sweetser's backyard gardening tips. Robin has been a contributor to The Old Farmer's Almanac and the All-Seasons Garden Guide for many years. She and her partner Tom have a small greenhouse business and also sell plants, cut flowers, and vegetables at their local Farmer's Market.

March 26, 2018

Growing your own salad greens will put a world of fresh ingredients at your fingertips. Whether you are a gourmet salad lover who likes to experiment with interesting greens or just want some homegrown lettuce, your choices are only limited by the seeds you can find and the space you have. Types of Salad Greens We always think of spinach and lettuce as spring greens, but there are many more to choose from. Look to the east—Asian greens such as napa cabbage, tatsoi, pac choi, mibuna, santoh,... more

March 23, 2018

Interested in planting a flower garden? Here are some planting tips for flower beds—plus, suggestions on which flowers to grow. We all dream of a lush, lovely flower bed full of colorful blooms all season long. What we end up with is usually a different story. Does your color run out when the heat hits? Do the plants clash and give the impression of clown pants? Do the tall plants crowd out the short ones? Is it all looking shabby by late summer? Sun and Soil First assess your sun and soil... more

March 21, 2018

Do you want to improve the landscape design of your yard and property? Here are some tips for coming up with a design plan and getting started. I’ll be honest—I’m not much of a planner, and this lack of forethought is reflected in my gardening style. My flower beds are in a constant state of change depending on what new plants I acquire each season. Many are planted and moved several times before they land in a suitable spot or die. To avoid making the same mistakes that I do, here’s some... more

March 20, 2018

Spring has sprung and Easter is just around the corner. Early flowers are starting to appear for sale in the garden centers and grocery stores—and that means pansies!  See 10 pansy varieties we love. Growing Pansies Often gardeners overlook pansies as being temporary “throw-away” plants but most are actually half-hardy annuals meaning you should get at least two seasons of bloom from them. Plant breeders have been working to make them not only larger flowered but longer lasting and more heat... more

March 16, 2018

Grow tomatoes by seed! Besides finding them a fraction of the cost of grocery-store tomatoes, you can experiment with all kinds of delicious flavors. I grow beef-stakes, grapes, hollow ones and plenty of heirlooms to eat fresh and freeze as salsa and tomato sauce for winter. Heirloom and hybrid tomatoes that are homegrown offer much more variety, flavor and nutrition than those purchased. Photo by Doreen G. Howard Tomato Varieties to Grow From Seed I grow oddities and heirlooms and have... more

March 11, 2018

Maybe I should have planted my snap peas while I still had bare ground in my garden! Now we are expecting our third nor’easter in two weeks. Fortunately, snow is good for growing snap peas. I had a neighbor years ago—an old farmer who always planted his peas as soon as the ground could be worked in the spring. Many years his newly planted pea rows were soon covered by a foot or more of wet spring snow. He would calmly remark that it wouldn’t bother the peas and in fact was helpful. “Poor man’... more

March 11, 2018

I used to be a snob of sorts when it came to my garden palette, preferring cool blues and purples mixed with pinks, white, and pale yellow. I had very little red and no orange, thank you—except for the tawny daylilies. There were just too many of them to even think about replacing them with another color. When seed shopping, I would avoid any description that could be interpreted as orange. You know how they like to trick us by calling a flower apricot, tangerine, salmon, or peach. They... more

March 9, 2018

Two weeks ago, I had 10 inches of snow in my yard, with more snow predicted. Last year, the daffodils were blooming. So, I set up to experiment with the best way to warm the soil for spring planting!  We run a plant business and our season is short so it’s important to plant seeds as early as possible. I hope my advice helps you with spring planting, too. I put down squares of 1. black plastic, 2. clear plastic, 3. wood ashes, and 4. coffee grounds and tested each for how quickly they... more

February 26, 2018

Follow nature’s signs when planting in the garden! For centuries, farmers took their cues for spring planting times from observing what was happening in nature. Here are some key observations. Phenology: Following Nature’s Signs The idea of watching for nature’s seasonal signs is called phenology. For gardeners and farmers, this involves studying natural phenomena to know when to plant crops in the spring.  Trees, shrubs, and flowers are sensitive to temperature and day length, and develop on a... more

February 25, 2018

Be sure to select the most nutrient-dense vegetables to grow in the garden. Not all are created equal! We found vegetable varieties bred specifically for better health, from tomatoes to carrots to zucchini. Bring good taste and good health to your garden and table! We all want to provide our families with the most nutritious meals we can and if you are growing your own vegetables you definitely are eating the freshest possible produce you can get. One way to increase the nutritional content... more

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