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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November 17, 2017

Colorful squash and gourds are signs of Thanksgiving to me—harking back to the Pilgrims—and the Thanksgiving table would not be complete without them. I especially love discovering the unusual varieties—warts and all! Unusual Pumpkin and Gourd Varieties Have you seen those warty pumpkins and gourds at farmers markets, orchards and garden centers? The ones with growths that look like big zits or peanuts?  I first saw ‘Knuckle Head’, a slightly warty orange pumpkin, last year at a local orchard... more

November 16, 2017

Most of the garden has been stripped down to bare bones but I am in no hurry to cut down any plants that have interesting seed heads. The birds fully appreciate having a smorgasbord of seeds to choose from and we love watching them.  While bird feeders are always nice, wild birds like to forage for their own bird food. Plants with seed heads not only provide nourishment but also and nesting material. Leave them until spring. Flower arrangers and florists also know the value of dried seed... more

November 10, 2017

Few flavors rival garlic’s. It’s pungent, exotic, powerful, and scrumptious. Garlic has also been thought to ward off of vampires and used as a cure-all for what ails you. Historically, many serfs were forced to grow it, as the king demanded it for taxes. Garlic has been a mainstay of most households for a long, long time. Garlic is actually a highly unusual garden vegetable. Most of the things that we plant have a “season.” We plant them in the spring and we harvest them in the summer or fall... more

November 10, 2017

Prepare your perennials for winter! Most perennials can be cut down after the first killing frost; others can add interest or help birds and beneficial insects during the winter months. See our tips. CutTING BACK Perennials After several hard frosts, most perennials can be cut back. To cut back your perennials, use bypass pruners and make clean cuts through the stems of the plant. I usually leave 6-inch stubs so I can find the plants next spring.  Plants need to be cut back after frosts to... more

November 9, 2017

Several years ago, I was given a potted agapanthus or African lily. After waiting all summer for my agapanthus to bloom, I had to finally admit that maybe it was time to repot it. What is an Agapanthus? Also called the Lily of the Nile, the agapanthus is actually native to South Africa—nowhere near the Nile. There are seven species of agapanthus, which are in the same family as the amaryllis—another South African native. Most have similar strap-like leaves and the flowers consist of a large... more

November 5, 2017

I was first turned on to growing Asian pears by a friend of ours who grew a wide range of uncommon fruit. A member of the North American Fruit Explorers, he had a yard that was full of berries, apples, plums, pears, apricots, kiwi, persimmons, peaches, and more but he said that the Asian pears were by far his favorites. Asian Pear Varieties We planted ‘Chojuro’ which has a butterscotch rum flavor and a late-season one called ‘Hardy Giant’ which has a mild, sweet taste. Both have rough,... more

October 31, 2017

Eye-catching and easy to grow, ornamental onions, of the genus Allium, deserve a place in every garden. Fall is the best time to plant these deer- and rodent-resistant bulbs. Every fall I am seduced into planting more bulbs. After 30 years you would think I couldn’t possibly need any more daffodils. Maybe not but that doesn’t stop me from planting more. I can’t get enough of allium. Distant cousins of edible allium such as onions and garlic, there are over 700 species of ornamental onions to... more

October 25, 2017

Brussels sprouts are not the easiest vegetable to grow. I actually gave up on them years ago as they were consistently very small. Then I learned a couple of growing tricks—plus, how to freeze brussels sprouts. The first trick is that you need to take off the lower leaves as the sprouts form so that they have room to grow. The second trick is to cut back the top around Labor Day. After successfully doing these two things this year, our Brussels sprouts are spectacular. Having planted... more

October 25, 2017

Peppers are such a lovely fruit. They come in many different colors, sizes and hotness. Plus, they’re easy to freeze to use all winter. See how. Did you know: A green pepper is just an unripe one—give it time and it will turn red, orange, purple, yellow or chocolate brown! Regular peppers are a delicious addition to a veggie dip; they have a distinctive crunch and a beautiful sweetness (if ripe). Stir-fried peppers and onions are phenomenal with hamburgers, hot dogs, sausages and steaks. They... more

October 17, 2017

It’s harvesttime.  Cabbages are available at a deal. Few people know that in the early 1900’s, the biggest crop grown in this country was cabbages. That’s because they last a long time when put in a cool spot and they can be fermented into sauerkraut! And sauerkraut is loaded with vitamin C and digestive enzymes. Most early ship explorers brought along huge barrels of sauerkraut once scurvy was identified as a vitamin C deficiency. And anybody with digestive problems can also be helped by... more

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