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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June 26, 2017

Plan a fall garden, especially if you have gaps in your garden after harvesting some of your crops.  Yes, I know that summer is not even half over, but it is never too early to plan for fall. Many gardeners consider fall to be a four letter word but it doesn’t have to spell the end of fresh from the garden food.  In fact, in warmer regions, many crops grow just as well in the fall as the spring, especially spinach, Swiss chard, broccoli, and kale. In colder climates, many of these same... more

June 25, 2017

Everyone would like a yard full of flowers, but we often don’t have the right space or enough time for a traditional garden. Container plantings and window boxes allow us to indulge our love of plants in new, creative, and exciting ways. If you have a troublesome spot where nothing will grow, try planting an instant garden in a container. A dazzling display of plants in a pot or hanging basket can transform a set of steps or an ordinary doorway into an inviting entry. If you lack sunny... more

June 22, 2017

So, you just got your soil test results and they are recommending that you use things like greensand and sul-po-mag. What is this stuff? Here are some commonly used organic soil amendments explained. Minerals Aragonite sounds like one of the three musketeers but it is a source of calcium found in mollusk shells. Since it is low in magnesium it is good to use if your soil needs calcium but does not need any extra magnesium. Too much magnesium can “tie up” other nutrients, making them... more

June 21, 2017

One of the most magnificent mainstays of the garden is the common herbaceous peony (Paeonia lactiflora). While September is the preferred time to plant peonies, it’s fine to plant container-grown peonies anytime. Showy and fragrant, peonies will make excellent cut flowers—and the plants are so long-lived that it is commonly said that peonies will outlive the gardeners who plant them! Even when they are not in bloom their dark green, glossy foliage and shrub-like appearance make them handsome... 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

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