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!

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August 21, 2017

Gardeners are often given the advice to sprinkle diatomaceous earth (DE) around plants to deter pests. Not surprisingly, we’re asked, “What is Diatomaceous Earth?” We’ll explain … What is DiaTOmaceous Earth?  Diatomaceous earth (DE) is actually the fossilized skeletons of microscopic single-celled aquatic organisms called diatoms. Their skeletons are made of a natural substance called silica—which makes up 26% of the Earth’s crust by weight. How Does DiaTOmaceous Earth Deter Garden Pests?... more

August 14, 2017

I say “tomayto” and you say “tomahto” but however you say it, tomato time is here! Along with the luscious fruits that we gardeners await, we have the tomato disorders and diseases that the flesh is heir to—tomato flesh that is. Blossom-End Rot In my area, we have had enough rainfall this summer so no problems with blossom-end rot this year. This usually begins as a sunken spot on the blossom end of the fruit which turns black and leathery as it grows larger. Often you don’t notice it until... more

August 6, 2017

Every gardener who has grown zucchini knows that this time of year vines go crazy producing hundreds of tiny squash.  They quickly grow to gargantuan size if not picked. That’s why Pennsylvanian Tom Roy designated August 8 as National Sneak Some Zucchini onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Day. To celebrate it, you simply wait until the dead of night and quietly creep up to your neighbors’ front doors, leaving plenty of zucchini for them to enjoy. It is a way to rid yourself of the avalanche of long,... more

July 26, 2017

If you love Siberian and bearded irises, you have to give their Japanese cousin a try. They bloom much later than the tall bearded irises, extending the iris season from mid-July into early August. The blossoms of Japanese iris (Iris ensata) differ from those of bearded iris mainly because they do not have the tall, upright petals (called standards) in the center of the blossom. They have small standards and wide falls (the petals that hang down), giving the blossoms a flatter appearance. (It... more

July 20, 2017

No other flower in the cutting garden glows with cheerfulness quite like calendula. Irresistible waves of bright yellow and orange daisy-like flowers greet me on my morning rounds, lifting my spirits even on the worst of days. Included in a mixed bouquet, calendula are sure to gladden the hearty of the recipient. Not only colorful and a good mood elevator, calendula blossoms are edible. Whether eaten fresh in salads, added to rice, or dried and used as a poor man’s saffron, calendula petals... more

July 20, 2017

A crop that can be planted often is lettuce. This is actually my husband’s favorite so I plant lettuce early and often in the spring, starting two weeks before frost. In fall, I start sowing again eight weeks before the fall frost. The trick is to stagger plantings every 10 to 14 days so you don’t have all your lettuce at once. See your average frost dates for spring and fall. Here are seven tips and tricks on growing lettuce—so that your garden space yields the maximum harvest! Lettuce is best... more

July 17, 2017

Beet kvass is a fermented vegetable drink that is easy to make and loaded with probiotics. Learn how to make beet kvass here! What is Fermentation? Canning and freezing—as methods to preserve food—are relatively new in the Grand Scheme of Evolution. Our ancestors (who did not have the advantage of electricity) largely fermented their crops in order to eat them at a later date. Pickles, relish, ketchup, mayonnaise, sauerkraut and mustard were all originally fermented. Depending on the... more

July 16, 2017

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

July 14, 2017

Add flowers to your food! Many gardeners forget that flowers not only are beautiful, but also can be raised to eat. Here are the best edible flowers based on firsthand experience in the garden and kitchen. I especially love adding small edible flowers to salads, which can be made even more attractive and special with their color and subtle taste. Flowers can also be added to soups, cassroles, and other dishes.  Best Edible Flowers Many folks know about nasturtiums. Nasturiums’ peppery... more

July 14, 2017

By canning tomatoes, you can enjoy that garden-fresh tomato taste in sauces, soups and stews all year long! Here’s how to can tomatoes, step-by-step. 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, tomatoes will continue to ripen in the box or on the counter, so it’s best to purchase your canning tomatoes a few days in... more

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