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!
I’m able to trial the new flowers and plants a year or two before they come to the market. A few I’ve grown recently are stunners and will be in garden centers in 2011! In the spirit of full disclosure, plant producers send me their introductions to grow, hoping that I’ll write and speak about them. However, I’m a tough sell. My climate is severe, prone to late freezes and summer drought, plus the growing season is short, 100 days if we’re lucky. I’ve grown so many flowers and vegetables that... more
I missed it two weeks ago, but Sainsbury, the largest grocery chain in the United Kingdom, premiered heart-shaped cucumbers for Valentine’s Day customers. The grocery giant announced it plans to start selling star-shaped cukes this summer. A half of one sells for $1.66, which is equivalent to one English pound of currency. Both shapes have been sold in Japan for more than four years and soon will be available in U.S. stores. My first question was, “Is this more genetic tinkering?” Upon,... more
After the blizzards and sub-zero temperatures of the last two months, I’m more than ready for spring. I’m also depressed by the endless gray, cold days filled with intermittent snow storms. So, I’m banishing the blues by doing a few winter chores so I can hit the ground running when the first crocus pop. You can prune fruit trees any time it’s warm enough to be outdoors. Pruning needs to be done when the trees are dormant to control size and encourage fruit blossoms. Doing it now means I have... more
As you flip through seed catalogs assembling your wish list, think about dirt. It’s the most important element for success with fruit, flowers and landscape plants. Find out what type of soil is in your garden. It affects how and what will thrive for you. Despite living on a rocky glacier, my gardens thrive. Credit: Doreen G. Howard Eons ago the Rock River Valley, where I live along the Wisconsin-Illinois border, was carved out by the Wisconsin Glacier, leaving deposits of silt, sand, loam and... more
NASA calls it Sick Building Syndrome. I know it as a stuffy house that needs a good airing, as my Mom put it. By the end of January, if it weren’t for the forest of houseplants in my home, I’d open the windows, despite the snow and freezing daytime temperatures. I did open them before I learned that tropical houseplants clean indoor air of pollution. Houseplants help rid the home of toxins such as benzene, formaldehyde, carbon dioxide and trichloroethylene, all chemicals that off-gas from man-... more
The holidays are history, seed catalogs are piled in a basket next to a comfortable chair by the fire and I’m looking for lettuce to grow indoors. The quality of grocery store lettuce reaches its low in the dead of winter. Half-rotted, tasteless leaves and astronomical prices are prompting me to grow a decent salad indoors, because of the foot of snow on the ground and sub-zero temperatures. I usually start Bibb and Romaine seeds under lights in early March and set out seedlings in pots and... more