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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September 8, 2017

Every year in the fall, I suffer a bout of mum madness when garden centers and big boxes brim with chrysanthemums. They produce lovely fall colors, but when is the best time to plant mums? When to Plant Mums In autumn, mums and asters are everywhere, from six-inch pots to bushel baskets of orange, yellow, pink, and copper mounded behemoths. I want to buy everything and plant! Then I slap myself on the forehead, take a deep breath and cry “You should have planted these in May!” People start... more

September 8, 2017

It’s time to start on those fall garden chores. Here is a to-do list for fall vegetable garden cleanup. Last year, we did not get our first killing frost until mid-October, almost a month after the autumnal equinox, giving us a good long growing season this year. Check the frost dates in your area and find out how to predict frost yourself. Until that frost, even tender vegetables such as beans, cucumbers, radishes, lettuce, bok choy, and squash have time to mature and gave us a second taste... more

September 6, 2017

For several weeks we have seen monarch butterflies flitting around our gardens—stopping to take advantage of the nectar plants we have growing in abundance. We watched them turn from caterpillars to chrysalises to Monarchs! They really enjoy the goldenrod, but there are other nectar sources that they like as well, including the zinnias, coneflowers, Joe-Pye weed, liatris, bee balm, asters, phlox, mallows, mints, coreopsis, and rudbeckia. Of course the buddleia, aptly nicknamed butterfly... more

August 31, 2017

After Labor Day, I can feel and see the slowing of photosynthesis as plants wind down their season, heading towards dormancy or death.  It’s my cue to plant spring-flowering bulbs and trees so they can establish roots to take them through winter.  And, it’s time to think houseplants—which to bring indoors and those I want to buy.  September’s silent song drives me to do things fast, before the frosts of early October. Spring-Flowering Bulbs Buy or order bulbs now for the best selection and... more

August 30, 2017

If you are sneezing up a storm right now please don’t blame the goldenrod! Most allergies are caused by wind pollinated plants like grasses and trees. The major culprit in late summer is ragweed which produces pollen in great abundance. Its drab flowers often go unnoticed; it has no need to be attractive to insects because the wind does the work of spreading its pollen. Seen under a microscope, these tiny granules are studded with hooks. No wonder they cause us so much discomfort!... more

August 25, 2017

One unwelcome visitor to my garden at this time of year is powdery mildew. Here’s how to control this plant disease with natural remedies, including a homemade baking soda spray treatment. Signs of Powdery Mildew It starts as white patches on the leaves of squash, lilacs, phlox, bee balm, and other plants, making them look like they have been dusted with baby powder. Early on it wipes off or washes away only to return again. Eventually the affected leaves turn yellow and die on many... more

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

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