Garden Journal

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About this Blog

Get inspired by Robin Sweetser's backyard gardening tips. Robin has been a contributor to The Old Farmer's Almanac and the All-Seasons Garden Guide for many years. She and her partner Tom have a small greenhouse business and also sell plants, cut flowers, and vegetables at their local Farmer's Market.

September 15, 2017

Do you enjoy using freshly snipped herbs from the garden as much as I do? Now that summer is winding down, it is time to think about bringing some of our favorites indoors. Here are seven herbs that will grow well on a sunny windowsill or under lights. Everyone has some herbs they can’t do without. I’m a big fan of basil, rosemary, and oregano. What do you use the most? Here are seven herbs that will grow well on your sunniest windowsill or under lights: Greek oregano is a perennial best... more

September 10, 2017

Foliage season is a mixed blessing. I have one eye on the gorgeous spectacle of changing colors and the other eye on the value of these leaves—and how I can put them to work. As the autumnal equinox approaches, trees that were just beginning to show some color yesterday will soon be brown and on the ground, their brief moment of glory gone. Free Soil Amendment Look at all those leaves as brown gold. The leaves of one large tree can be worth as much as $50 worth of plant food and humus.... more

September 8, 2017

Garlic is incredibly useful in the kitchen and surprisingly easy to grow in the garden. Learn how and when to plant garlic so that you can maximize your harvest! When to Plant garlic Fall is traditionally the best time to plant garlic in many regions. A good rule of thumb is to not plant garlic until after the autumnal equinox. Just like onions and other plants in the Allium family, garlic is sensitive to daylength and matures during the longest days of summer. Fall planting gives it a... more

September 8, 2017

It’s time to start on those fall garden chores. Here is a to-do list for fall vegetable garden cleanup. Last year, we did not get our first killing frost until mid-October, almost a month after the autumnal equinox, giving us a good long growing season this year. Check the frost dates in your area and find out how to predict frost yourself. Until that frost, even tender vegetables such as beans, cucumbers, radishes, lettuce, bok choy, and squash have time to mature and gave us a second taste... more

September 8, 2017

Every year in the fall, I suffer a bout of mum madness when garden centers and big boxes brim with chrysanthemums. They produce lovely fall colors, but when is the best time to plant mums? When to Plant Mums In autumn, mums and asters are everywhere, from six-inch pots to bushel baskets of orange, yellow, pink, and copper mounded behemoths. I want to buy everything and plant! Then I slap myself on the forehead, take a deep breath and cry “You should have planted these in May!” People start... more

September 6, 2017

For several weeks we have seen monarch butterflies flitting around our gardens—stopping to take advantage of the nectar plants we have growing in abundance. We watched them turn from caterpillars to chrysalises to Monarchs! They really enjoy the goldenrod, but there are other nectar sources that they like as well, including the zinnias, coneflowers, Joe-Pye weed, liatris, bee balm, asters, phlox, mallows, mints, coreopsis, and rudbeckia. Of course the buddleia, aptly nicknamed butterfly... more

August 31, 2017

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 30, 2017

If you are sneezing up a storm right now please don’t blame the goldenrod! Most allergies are caused by wind pollinated plants like grasses and trees. The major culprit in late summer is ragweed which produces pollen in great abundance. Its drab flowers often go unnoticed; it has no need to be attractive to insects because the wind does the work of spreading its pollen. Seen under a microscope, these tiny granules are studded with hooks. No wonder they cause us so much discomfort!... more

August 25, 2017

One unwelcome visitor to my garden at this time of year is powdery mildew. Here’s how to control this plant disease with natural remedies, including a homemade baking soda spray treatment. Signs of Powdery Mildew It starts as white patches on the leaves of squash, lilacs, phlox, bee balm, and other plants, making them look like they have been dusted with baby powder. Early on it wipes off or washes away only to return again. Eventually the affected leaves turn yellow and die on many... more

August 21, 2017

Gardeners are often given the advice to sprinkle diatomaceous earth (DE) around plants to deter pests. Not surprisingly, we’re asked, “What is Diatomaceous Earth?” We’ll explain … What is DiaTOmaceous Earth?  Diatomaceous earth (DE) is actually the fossilized skeletons of microscopic single-celled aquatic organisms called diatoms. Their skeletons are made of a natural substance called silica—which makes up 26% of the Earth’s crust by weight. How Does DiaTOmaceous Earth Deter Garden Pests?... more

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