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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December 18, 2017

Of all the plants used as Christmas decorations, none has the long and interesting history of mistletoe. Discover the meaning of mistletoe, fascinating folklore, and why people kiss beneath it. What is Mistletoe? A shrubby evergreen plant with yellow flowers and white berries, mistletoe is a parasitic shrub usually found in fruit trees, maples and sometimes oaks. Mistletoe is most easily seen in winter. Look for ball shaped green masses on otherwise bare tree branches. How do they get there... more

December 14, 2017

Even though many seed companies have gone digital, I’m amazed at how many catalogs we still receive in the mail. If you think there are too many seed catalogs now, back in the late 1880s there were thousands of small seed companies. Although the cultural information and descriptions in old catalogs are helpful if you are researching heirloom plants, the artwork is the draw. Many of the pictures in the old-fashioned catalogs and on the seed packets themselves were hand painted from nature.... more

December 14, 2017

Contemplating your first vegetable garden? How hard can it be? Just stick a few seeds in the ground and stand back, right? If only it were that easy! Here are 10 garden planning tips to consider before you dig in:   10 Tips to Starting a Garden Pick the right location—ideally, a sunny site! Most vegetables need at least 6 hours of sun a day. Some crops such as broccoli, lettuce, spinach, and other greens will grow well in your less sunny spots.   Keep it close to home. A location near... more

December 11, 2017

We finally had our first snow of the season. Whatever you may think of snow (and snow removal!), remember the old saying, “A good winter with snow makes all the plants grow.”  This new storm began way down south. Places in Texas and Louisiana that rarely see snow got several inches of the white stuff days before we saw our first flake here in New Hampshire. I had almost forgotten how pretty the snow can be, hanging in the trees, blanketing the ground, covering up all the outdoor projects... more

December 7, 2017

Have you decked the halls? Consider your backyard and garden for a ready source of interesting greenery, berries, dried flower heads, and seedpods. If you don’t think it is worth the effort, check prices online and you’ll find that the green in Christmas refers to the color of money! It is time for nature’s green to make a comeback. Take a holiday from spending and head out to the garden to see what nature has to offer. Let’s start with the common evergreen branches—which will enhance any... more

December 7, 2017

Our Christmas cactus is blooming its heart out right now. Did you know: A Christmas cactus is one of three popular holiday cacti: Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas. You can probably guess by their names when these plants usually bloom. So if your “Christmas cactus” is not blooming during the winter holidays, it may be a Thanksgiving cactus or Easter cactus. What’s the difference? Three Types of Holiday Cacti The Easter cactus (Rhipsalidopsis gaertneri) blooms in the spring and sometimes... more

December 7, 2017

The winter solstice falls on December 21, marking the official start of winter. It is the shortest day and longest night of the year. The days will start to get longer and as the old adage says,”When the days lengthen the cold strengthens.” Even so, I appreciate seeing a brighter western horizon when I get out of work at 5pm. The sun begins its climb toward summer and each day brings us one day closer to spring. Nearly every ancient culture had myths surrounding the return of light after... more

December 4, 2017

While most of us think about Christmas trees only in December, for growers of cut-your-own trees, it is a year-round commitment. Growing quality Christmas trees is a serious business requiring lots of hard work. Trees are fertilized in the early spring and late summer. Grass in the rows and between trees needs to be mowed. Pests such as balsam twig aphids and red spider mites need to monitored and dealt with. Many growers hand-shear their trees with a sharp machete-like knife and use clippers... more

November 30, 2017

Ruby-red poinsettias signaled Christmas to me as a child, especially growing up in balmy southern California. But why is it a classic Christmas flower in North America? And are the plants poisonous? A week or two before Christmas, my Dad always gave my Mom a potted poinsettia wrapped in shiny foil. And my Aunt Dodo had a nine-foot-tall one growing next to her front door. Bracts on it started turning pinkish around Halloween, then red, and remained ablaze until after Valentine’s Day. After... more

November 29, 2017

What is hugelkultur, anyway? When I first heard the word, I thought it must be a new kind of yogurt, but no—it is a raised garden bed. What Are Hugelkultur Beds? A centuries-old, traditional way of building a garden bed from rotten wood and plant debris, hugelkultur (pronounced “hoo-gull culture”) means “hill culture” in German. If you have downed trees that are too punky to make good firewood and fallen branches headed for the brush pile consider using them to make a new garden bed. How to... more


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