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!

May 6, 2017

Mulching is a common gardening practice done for a number of good reasons. Using the proper types of mulch and mulching techniques can have wondrous effects on your garden, but mulching incorrectly can do the opposite. Here’s how to get the most out of mulching. Advantages of Mulching Mulch has been called the gardener’s friend. It offers three major benefits: Suppression of weeds. Conservation of moisture in the soil. Moderation of soil temperatures, keeping it warmer on cold nights and... more

May 5, 2017

No, I’m not Rumpelstiltskin, the cranky gnome in a Grimm fairy tale; I can’t spin straw into gold.  But, straw saves me money, crops, and my sanity, which is golden to my thinking.  Straw bales are inexpensive gold for gardens. I only pay $4 a bale, and the straw saves me hours of weeding, watering, and worrying. Everything in the vegetable garden is mulched with a 6-inch layer, including blueberries, Alpine strawberries and cranberries.  I use a foot or two of straw atop the potato bed to grow... more

April 30, 2017

In your garden, you may have a microclimate—a small area that has a different climate than your broader growing zone. How do you work with a microclimate? Often, this niche or pocket climate is slightly warmer than the surrounding landscape. For perennial gardeners, the easiest way to encourage earlier blooms and more frequent blooms is to plant them in the warmest pockets in your landscape.  We all drive by houses where the crocuses and tulips seem to be up and blooming weeks ahead of our... more

April 24, 2017

We sell hundreds of vegetable starts each spring and always remind our customers to be sure to harden off the plants before planting them in the garden. Surprisingly, many people have no idea what hardening off means. Tough Love One of the most stressful transitions for a tender transplant is to go from life in a cozy greenhouse, where it has been sheltered from the elements, to life in the great outdoors. Our sales greenhouse is unheated so the plants have been subjected to some cold night... more

April 19, 2017

Blueberries are one the easiest fruit to grow. Here are some of the best blueberry varieties to add to your garden and a few tips for successfully growing blueberries. In the last six weeks, we’ve stuffed ourselves with berry tarts, muffins, pies, and jams to the point of gluttony! Now it’s time to freeze the bounty for later. (See simple blueberry recipes here.) Blueberry Varieties I have ‘Blue Crop,’ ‘Chandler,’ ‘Patriot,’ and ‘Pink Lemonade’ bushes, which are all high-bush blueberries that... more

April 19, 2017

Here are tips on how to plant a tree—from digging the hole to watering the tree properly once it’s planted. Spring is a great time for planting trees. The garden centers are stocked with container-grown trees, but the choices are often limited. Order a Tree By ordering trees from a mail-order nursery, you will have a lot more to choose from and, since you will be living with these trees for many years to come, you can get the ones you really want. Trees are dug up from beds in the nursery... more

April 11, 2017

When trees and shrubs become overgrown, it’s time to break out the pruning shears. With this guide, learn when to prune trees and shrubs to get the most out of your plants, and why pruning is such an important part of garden maintenance. Why prune trees and shrubs? Plant health is the primary reason for pruning. Look for the 4 “Ds”—dead, dying, diseased, or damaged branches—these should be removed. Also look for spindly or weak growth, as well as any branches that are crossed or rubbing.... more

April 5, 2017

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, tatsoi, pac choi, mibuna, santoh, and hon... more

March 25, 2017

Grow tomatoes by seed! Besides being 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 I grow oddities and heirlooms and have learned by experience the tricks of starting... more

March 21, 2017

Follow nature’s signs when planting in the garden! For centuries, farmers took their cues for planting times from observing what’s happening in nature—such as bird migration, the emergence of insects and amphibians (like peepers), and the flowering of native plants. Nature’s Signs: Phenology Watching for nature’s signs is called “phenology”, from the Greek for the” science of appearances”. Trees, shrubs and flowers are sensitive to temperature and day length and develop on a regular schedule... more

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