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!

September 5, 2013

After Labor Day, I can feel and see the slowing of photosynthesis as plants wind down their season, heading towards dormancy or death.  It’s my cue to plant spring-flowering bulbs and trees so they can establish roots to take them through winter.  And, it’s time to think houseplants, which to bring indoors and those I want to buy.  September’s silent song drives me to do things fast, before the frosts of early October. Spring-Flowering Bulbs Buy or order bulbs now for the best selection and... more

August 9, 2013

When Greg Grant, then a Texas A&M University Extension agent, told me about bottle trees and their origins nearly two decades ago, they transfixed me with their beauty, simplicity and ancient past.  I lived in Texas near the Louisiana border, at the time, where bottle trees were found in rural areas. Now bottle trees are everywhere, from Houston mansions to gardens in Vermont and California.  I created one in the perennial bed under my kitchen window and love to gaze upon it amongst the... more

July 20, 2013

 Strategic Moves, Stuart Wood’s New York Times best-selling mystery, is one of my favorite books, full of plot twists and intrigue.  The title also describes moves I made in May in my edible garden to ensure a summer full of vegetables and fruit. I was slated for knee surgery May 30 and then 60 days of intensive physical therapy; I knew I wouldn’t be able to walk up the steep hill to tend the vegetables, herbs and fruit until the end of July, at the earliest.  With the moves I made, my non-... more

June 18, 2013

The peony that we have in our yard is one of my favorite plants. It was actually the very first thing that I planted on our property. A friend had given me some cut peonies and they lasted for a very, very long time.  I have heard that there are basically two types of peonies; one that keeps well as a cut flower and the other that is heavily scented. The one I ended up planting is of the heavily scented variety. With peonies, they need the help of the ants. In the spring when the buds form,... more

June 2, 2013

Thinning crops is one of the most important aspects of gardening. Each and every plant needs to have plenty of room to grow. I thin rather slowly as there is always the possibility that there will be some loss due to insects. The cutworm is one of the worst—this particular bug lives under the soil (where you can’t see them) and comes out at night. It then takes one bite right where the plants go into the soil thereby killing the entire plant. You can tell that a cutworm has been at work if you... more

May 27, 2013

All the historical, antique, or heirloom plants in my gardens put on spectacular shows.  I’ve always been intrigued by flowers and edibles with histories richer than those of many countries. That’s why the bulk of my vegetable patch, miniature fruit trees, and perennials are cultivars with a past. Seven Year Wait Eight years ago, I acquired a miniature pear tree from the National Clonal Germplasm Repository in Corvallis, Oregon.  It’s the tissue and plant bank for the USDA. ‘Le Nain Vert’,... more

May 15, 2013

I’m at constant war with the critters that assault my gardens all year long.  Even in winter, deer will scar fruit tree trunks, scratching their itchy antlers against them, and wild turkeys rut the soil seeking insects.  It doesn’t help that I live in the country where deer, fox, coyotes, raccoons, squirrels and rabbits thrive.  I live in a bad neighborhood! Last year during the drought, things nearly went nuclear.  Some gangsters took to gnawing holes in the garden hoses, seeking water. ... more

May 10, 2013

Have you always wanted to have grapes in your backyard? Or, do you have an old grapevine that has grown completely out of control? There are several things to consider if this is the case—not every location is actually ideal for the growing of grapes: First of all, grapes need to be in the Sun all day long. They will not grow well if they are in the shade for all or a good part of the day. Wet areas are also not favored by this crop. Grapes do NOT like to have wet feet; they actually can reach... more

April 21, 2013

From Georgia to Quebec to my currently frigid Wisconsin, it’s time to plant bare root roses.  If the ground is thawed and you can dig a hole, plant! April and the first two weeks of May are the perfect time, no matter where you live. I prefer bare root roses, because there are infinitely more varieties available versus those growing in a nursery can.  And, most roses grown on their own roots are only offered as bare root.  Grafted roses (varieties or cultivars that are grafted on to a quick-... more

April 11, 2013

Broccoli is another plant that can be put in the ground before all of the frost is done. Garden centers sell the plants, but it is actually quite easy to grow from seed. I prepare my soil as usual. Then I create several “dips” or—as I call them—“water-catchers” leaving about a foot and a half free at the edges of the bed and, if it is extremely long, also in the middle. These dips will catch the rain and irrigation water and keep it right where the plants need it. I then plant six or eight... more


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