Gardening Advice

July 30, 2021
Every year I am faced with the same dilemma: how to tell if a watermelon is ripe. Muskmelons are easy—they will slip right off the vine at the peak of perfection. However, watermelons remain firmly attached even when they are overripe. I am no good at the "thump" test. Old-timers swear that they know when a watermelon is ripe just by rapping it with a knuckle. If the sound is low-pitched,…
July 21, 2021
Water your garden wisely, especially in the heat of summer or in areas with drought. See 12 ways to avoid wasting water in the yard and garden—and help your plants survive and even thrive! An inch of water a week, is that too much to ask for? It doesn't seem like much but that is the optimum amount for growing most vegetables and ornamentals. If you spread that inch of water out over a 10x10…
July 21, 2021
To pinch or not to pinch? This is a garden question that is frequently asked as plants start to grow out of control during the summer. Find out what it means to pinch plants, which vegetables can (and should) be pinched, and how to pinch tomatoes, basil, peppers, and other plants that can benefit from a little mid-season pruning. What Does It Mean to Pinch a Plant? What do…
July 21, 2021
While 93% of the West is in some level of drought, other regions are being inundated with rain. After a hot dry June in my neck of the woods, we got 3 times our monthly rainfall in the first 2 weeks of July and another 3 inches just yesterday! What's a wet gardener to do? See 7 tips to manage your garden after too much rain. We were lucky to only get 3 inches of rain this time. Nearby…
July 19, 2021
Dry it, you'll like it! Drying fruit and vegetables such as tomatoes and peppers is so satisfying! It's flavorful, economic, long-lasting, and one of the best ways to retain nutritional value. Yes, I do recommend one special kitchen tool (a dehydrator), but it's easily worthwhile and foolproof. After all, you only need one ingredient! Usually tomatoes are a big seller for us at the…
July 19, 2021
Summer is here, and with it come more flowers to enjoy. But don't forget deadheading—the removal of spent blossoms. Regular deadheading encourages many plants to flower for longer. Here are four reasons to keep up with this chore—plus, tips on how to deadhead flowers.  1. Prolong the Bloom Removing spent flowerheads is one of the best ways to extend the show. By not allowing your…
July 5, 2021
Calendula does it all: attracts pollinators, repels pests, has healing properties, and is edible! This cheerful yellow and orange flower is not only calming to my spirit, but also makes a great cutting flower. See all the reasons calendula (also called pot marigold) is one of my favorite flowers. Benefits of Calendula Included in a mixed bouquet, calendula (Calendula officinalis)…
July 3, 2021
If you have grown a flower that has a beautiful bloom or aroma, you'll want to plant that flower again!  Save its seeds and that single flower can generate dozens or even hundreds more! See how to save a flower's seeds to plant again—and which flowers are best for seed-saving. Why Save Flower Seeds Saving seeds can simply help us grow better plants. If you have grown a…
July 3, 2021
I used to be a snob of sorts when it came to my garden palette, preferring cool blues and purples mixed with pinks, white, and pale yellow. I had very little red and no orange, thank you—except for the tawny daylilies. There were just too many of them to even think about replacing them with another color. When seed shopping, I would avoid any description that could be interpreted as orange.…
July 2, 2021
I say "tomayto" and you say "tomahto" but however you say it, tomato time is here! Along with the luscious fruits that we gardeners await, we have the tomato disorders and diseases that the flesh is heir to—tomato flesh that is. Blossom-End Rot In my area, we have had enough rainfall this summer so no problems with blossom-end rot this year. This usually begins as a sunken spot on the…
July 2, 2021
By midfall, most plants have stopped flowering. However, if you'd like an autumn bloomer, look no further than the hardy hibiscus and beautiful Rose of Sharon. Discover varieties of hibiscus flowers and planting tips from The Old Farmer's Almanac. Rose of Sharon Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) is one of my favorite late summer shrubs. Hardy hibiscus is so tough the…
July 2, 2021
The bumblebee is the largest and gentlest of bees—and a pollination champ! We answer some common questions about bumblebees—and find out which flowers can attract (and help) our fuzzy friends. After reading last fall about the drastic decline in bumblebee populations in my state, I feared I would not see the black-and-yellow bombers this spring, so I was greatly relieved when…