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!

June 14, 2017

Using your own garden weeds and grass, you can make homemade fertilizer tea. Here’s how. Yes, garden plants appreciate a spot of tea now and then too—just like I do—as a pick-me-up. No expensive Earl Grey or Darjeeling for them though, instead I make a free fertilizer tea from plants, weeds or grass that they appreciate even more. Compost tea and manure tea have been mainstays of the organic garden for a long time. It is not hard to toss some compost into a bucket of water and let it steep... more

June 7, 2017

Hydrangeas can sometimes be a tricky plant to care for, so it is important to learn how to prune and when to prune different hydrangea varieties. Properly pruning hydrangeas based on your hydrangea’s variety will allow you to have more blooms next year. Before you start pruning hydrangeas, it’s important to figure out which variety you have. If you prune at the wrong time, you could be cutting off next year’s blooms. Pruning Hydrangea Varieties Bigleaf Hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla) Even... more

June 7, 2017

Which plants repel mosquitoes and other insects in the backyard and garden? See our list to find out. It’s not just mosquitoes; gnats, biting flies, ants, and other pests can take the fun right out of any outdoor activity. Mosquitoes are more than a nuisance, too, as there are many mosquito-borne diseases out there, including viruses such as West Nile, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, Dengue, and now Zika. Block Insect Scent Receptors Mosquitoes and many other insects target their victims by... more

June 7, 2017

In late spring, the rhododendrons are blooming! Here’s more about this stunning flowering shrub—which are easy to grow as long as you have the right conditions. What Are Rhododendrons? Rhododendrons are actually the most popular woody landscape plant in the United States. There are over 800 species of rhododendrons ranging from spreading groundcovers a few inches high to 100 foot tall trees and many thousands of registered, named varieties. Twenty-four species of rhododendron are native to... more

June 7, 2017

Weeds are annoying, but they can also be great indicator plants, telling you what nutrients your garden is lacking or what it has in excess. Before you pull out the pesky weeds that are overtaking your cultivated plants, take a minute to notice what is growing. That’s right—read your weeds! They are excellent indicators of soil conditions and quality. If you have large patches of one kind of weed, your garden is trying to tell you something. Common Weeds and What They Indicate Amaranth (... more

June 1, 2017

No summer garden is complete without colorful zinnias. Is there an easier or faster flower to grow? Sprinkle them in full sun and you’ll have seedlings in days! While there are many flowers that may be more elegant, zinnias rank high in “happiness factor.” Nothing gladdens the heart quite like a bouquet of cheerful, crayon-colored zinnias. Plus, they’ll thrive during the long hot days of summer, when other flowers have given up, and continue to flower profusely until frost finally kills them... more

May 21, 2017

Cats can be useful around the garden, keeping unwanted rodents at bay, but they can be destructive as well. How do we keep cats away from the garden with natural deterrents and cat repellents?  My cat loves to dig in the soft dirt, especially after I have planted some tender seedlings, and just the thought of cat poop in the vegetable beds makes me nauseous. Not only disgusting, it can harbor many harmful pathogens and parasites.  Kitty Boy Floyd, my furry friend, in the garden. Wire -... more

May 20, 2017

Are some plants in your yard or garden crowding out (and even killing) other plants? They may be an invasive species which can be a big problem right in your backyard. Here are some common invasive plants and a few tips on how to manage them. Invasive species are truly “invader” who are not natural to your area. They were imported long ago, often from Asia, for their beauty or for other reasons without the understanding that they lacked the local insects, predators, or diseases that would... more

May 18, 2017

Keeping Chickens: An American Tradition Once upon a time, virtually all American households kept chickens. They were a basic necessity with their gifts of eggs for breakfast and baking. No family farm existed without fowl roaming about or roosters heralding the light of dawn. It was unthinkable. Perhaps that is the reason that we have so many sayings having to do with chickens. “Don’t count your chickens until they hatch.” “Nest egg.” “Cooped up.” “Cocky.” “Pecking order.” “Egg money.” “... more

May 17, 2017

It’s the season for ticks! Prevent Lyme disease by keeping yourself tick-safe with these precautions, learn about identifying Lyme disease symptoms to catch it early, and use these tips for tick removal and prevention. We welcome your tips, too! Tick bites aren’t just a nuisance: As many as 300,000 people may be diagnosed and treated for Lyme disease each year through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks. Typical Lyme disease symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and skin rash. If left... more

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