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!

March 13, 2017

The first vegetables many of us start from seed indoors are onions and shallots. Learn which onions are best for you. Sure, we could just buy onion sets and plant those but there is not a wide choice of varieties available as sets—mostly ‘Stuttgarter’ or ‘Ebenezer’ and often they form a thick-necked onion that wants to go to seed instead of forming nice, firm bulbs.  Which Onion is Right for You? Growing from seed offers the widest range of varieties: reds, yellows, or whites; round, flat,... more

March 10, 2017

Blueberries, cherries, and other small fruit shrubs produce faster in big tubs and pots! Here are some varieties I recommend. First, I already have four fruit shrubs in the ground. About a third of the berries are eaten (mostly by me) in the garden while picking.  Another third is used fresh for tarts and fruit salads.  The remainder is frozen for later use.  Obviously, my frozen stash didn’t carry through the winter.  I’m running out of ground, so I’m going to containers. Why pots?  Fruits... more

March 7, 2017

The right potting soil is one of the secrets to gardening success. I learned long ago that it’s much cheaper to make my own potting mix! Container gardens are on my mind, as the winter chill is easing. I like to grow a few pots of various vegetables and flowers before the usual frost-free date here, May 15, to get a jump on summer. How to Make Potting Soil I learned long ago that it’s much cheaper to make my own potting mix and store it in an old trash can, rather than paying for big sacks of... more

March 1, 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

February 23, 2017

The age-old practice of companion planting is based on the theory that certain plants can either enhance, or in some cases inhibit, the growth of others. Scientists have tested some of this folk wisdom and have found this type of interplanting to be beneficial in several ways. Some plants repel or at least confuse insects pests while others attract beneficial insects that aid pollination or attack the bad bugs. Some plants supply additional nutrients to the soil that affect the growth and... more

February 22, 2017

Roses have changed, and it’s about time! Today, there are easy-to-grow types of roses—from David Austin old-fashioned roses to Knock Out landscape roses to Flower Carpet ground cover roses. You can truly plant and almost forget about them! They’re no longer intimidating prima donnas, which makes me very happy. Gone are the days when endless pruning, spraying, and dusting were required to produce perfect roses. Now all you do is plant, fertilize, and water. Your reward is healthy, beautiful... more

February 22, 2017

I have been under the weather lately, and one of the only things that seems to quiet my cough is echinacea. It got me to thinking about how much I love these coneflowers! I have always appreciated the plant for its rugged durability, able to withstand hot dry summers but hardy enough to survive the coldest winters. A native American plant indigenous to the central plains, Echinacea purpurea is virtually indestructible. We enjoy the color it brings to the summer garden with its large daisy-like... more

February 6, 2017

Who doesn’t love a good story?  I am drawn to plants that have an interesting story attached to them. I love plant lore, and learning about a plant’s origins and how it got its plant name. I hope you do, too! Here are few of my favorite stories behind some heirloom plants. ‘Mostoller Wild Goose’ is a pole variety of horticultural bean named for Sarah Mostoller, a miller’s wife from western PA who found the beans in the crop of a goose her son had shot. Apparently she thought that what’s... more

February 3, 2017

Valentine’s Day is a popular time to give cut flowers as a gift. Consider a flowering plant! The instant flowers are cut, they begin their journey towards death. With a flowering plant, especially cold-loving cyclamen or hellebores, the gift is just the beginning! Both bloom for months and grow either again from a dormant tuber or outdoors in the shade. After enjoying hellebore flowers for a month or so, you can plant them outside when the ground thaws enough to dig a hole. They laugh at the... more

February 2, 2017

If you’re like me and can never have too many flowers, now is the time to plan a cutting garden so you can have your flowers and cut them too! To avoid stripping your front flower beds bare of bloom, plant an area of your garden just for cutting. If you have an empty spot out back or in the vegetable garden, why not fill that space with flowers? Your cutting garden needs to get at least 6 hours of sun a day for optimum flower production. If you are using a section of your veggie patch, it... more

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