November 9, 2013

Tropicals in Pots

A lot of people have tropicals and marginally hardy plants. Most people will keep them in decorative pots on their deck or, if they plant them in the garden, they treat them like annuals, only to be enjoyed for one year. A couple of years ago we kept our tropicals in the black nursery pots and just put the pots in the ground. For our tip this week we showed you how you can just pull the pot up and put it in your house or greenhouse with little or no damage to the roots for the winter. We also recommend that you put an empty pot in the old hole in your garden to keep the soil from collapsing into the hole. Then next spring you can just bring out your tropical plant and drop it back into the hole for another season of enjoyment!

September 7, 2013

Summer Warning Signs

This time of year the signs of extended summer heat are starting to show up in your garden. You may have noticed it as you have walked around your garden; droopy plants, dry or dead spots in your lawn, fried plants that don’t respond no matter how much water you use. Now is the time to take an inventory of these plants and areas in your garden and make plans to try and improve your garden for next season. At the end of September you can look at moving some of these touchy plants to new areas in your garden where they might thrive. You can also check out your sprinkler situation and look for ways of keeping your lawn healthy and happy, even on the hottest days. Some other things to think about include even replacing those touchy plants with some newer varieties. Fall is a great time to plant and right now the garden centers are full of fall color plants. You can see what they look like in full bloom! Just remember to pay attention now and you will have a great garden for years to come.

July 27, 2013

Pool Plants

The heat makes us all thirsty! Our garden tip of the week helps quench the thirst of your hanging baskets and small container gardens. We found a small ‘kiddie’ pool, filled it ½ full of water and set our driest plants in the water. During those days that have excessive heat, the plants really like the extra water and we don’t have to worry about constant watering. There are a couple of precautions you have to follow. Don’t leave them in there for more than a day or two; they can get too much of a good thing and that may create mold, fungus or disease problems. And don’t over fill the pool. Allowing the plant to take what it needs from the pool is good, drowning it is not!

June 22, 2013

Thinning Fruit Trees

This past spring was wonderful for fruiting plants. A lot of trees set huge amounts of fruit. That means there may be too much fruit for the tree to handle. Now is the time to thin some of that fruit so you can get the biggest and best fruit later this summer. You should cut out multiple fruit and leave 1 good fruit per six inches. Be aware of the size of your branch so you don’t leave too much fruit, and provide support to the branch if you see it starting to show stress. Remember, the tree will support only so much fruit, it is up to you to determine how much fruit it will bare.

June 15, 2013


People often wonder how they can prune their conifers. It can be hard if your trees and shrubs get away from you and get too big. There is one way you can keep them in check! It is called candling. When your conifer starts showing new growth, those are called candles. You can regulate the growth of your conifers by removing some or all of these candles. It is a great way to avoid unnecessary pruning as your plants get older.

June 8, 2013

Topping Dahlias

Our tip of the week will help your flower garden later this summer. This week we are passing on a tip about ‘topping’ or ‘tipping’ your dahlias. We noticed that, at the end of summer at the Swan Island Dahlias (800-410-6540) fields, their flowers were all up-right and didn’t flop in the fields, unlike our dahlias in the garden. They told us that they cut off the tops of the flower in the late spring. This ‘topping’ of the dahlia makes a shorter, stronger bush and a better structure for the flowers. When your plant is 18-20 inches tall, just count up about 3-4 leaf nodes from the ground and cut off the top of the stem. It is hard for some people to do! They notice the buds starting to form and that means it will take longer for your flowers to bloom, but if you do it now you will have a much better plant in just a few weeks. You can find more tips about dahlia care at the Swan Island Dahlia website.

June 1, 2013

June Drop

If you are new to growing fruit you may have noticed that your fruit trees are dropping a bunch of small fruit right now. This is called ‘June Drop’ and it is normal. At this time of year the immature fruit on the trees is dropped by the plant to make room for the fully pollinated fruit. It is the plant concentrating the energy into viable fruit. You may also notice a drop later in the season as the plant once again drops fruit to make more room before the harvest. In fact, if the plant doesn’t do it, you may want to thin out the fruit later in the season. Keep your fruit clusters to 2 or less. This will give you bigger, healthier fruit.

May 25, 2013

Painting Weeds

Getting rid of weeds is tough. It becomes nearly impossible when that weed appears entwined inside one of your favorite plants. How can you get rid of the pest without damaging your favorite plant? Our tip takes care of the problem. We used a paintbrush to brush the weed control directly on the weed without touching the plant. It is pin-point application without waste and worry. Remember to use gloves and follow all label instructions.

May 11, 2013

Coffee Pot filters

Good drainage in your pots and containers is very important to the health and success of your flowers and vegetables.  In the past we have suggested using broken pottery shards, rocks, and even foam packing peanuts to keep the hole at the base of your container from clogging.  Recently we read a tip that may have all of those beat!  Coffee Filters!  You just place a coffee filter in the bottom of your planter or container and fill with soil.  These filters are designed to drain water through and not let anything else leak out (either coffee or soil).  Over time the filters will breakdown and then the soil should be set up enough to not leak all over your deck or patio.  Try them out and see how well they work for you.

May 4, 2013

Bad Gas

Our tip of the week comes to us from our friends at Stihl Tools.  Wayne Sutton from Stihl told us about the importance of keeping fresh gas in our power tools and equipment.  He recommended 89 or higher octane rated fuels that are not more than 30 days old.  Gas gets weaker as it ages and weak gas creates most of the problems a homeowner will encounter in their power equipment.  For other power tool tips check out the Stihl website.

April 27, 2013

Deadheading Daffodils

Now is the time to deadhead your early spring blooming plants.  By removing the seed heads, you are telling the plant to send the energy to the bulb or tuber to make it stronger for next years bloom.  Don’t cut back the foliage yet! That part of the plant is putting the ‘gas’ in next year’s engine.  When the foliage dies back in a couple of weeks you can just pick it up and clean up your garden bed then.


April 20, 2013

Clorox Pruners

Our tip of the week comes to us from our friends at Heirloom Roses. When we were visiting a couple of weeks ago we noticed that they were using Clorox Wipes to clean their pruners after each plant. Normally we would recommend a spray bottle of a bleach & water mixture, but this seems a lot more convenient. You should keep your pruners clean to prevent the spread of plant diseases and these wipes seem to make that chore a breeze.

April 13, 2013

Sealing Your Planters

You can extend the life of your wooden planters and it doesn’t take much to do it. We found that if you use a pruning sealer it will do a great job of preserving your planters and containers. Pruning Sealer is normally used to seal the cuts and wounds on trees after they have been cut or damaged in any way. This prevents pest and diseases from entering the tree and damaging it. The same principle holds true for planters. If you just spray a coating on the inside of your planter or container it will prevent disease and decay from shortening the life of your planter. Check for Pruning Sealer at your local independent garden center or nursery. The product we found was from Bonide.  

March 16, 2013

TOW – Floating Hellebores

In the cold, dark days of winter leading up to spring it is hard to enjoy the colors of your outdoor plants. To help you enjoy them, bring them indoors. Winter blooming plants like hellebores are even more difficult to enjoy because the flowers sometime face down to the ground. One way to enjoy them is to cut the blooms and float them in a bowl of water. This way the blooms are facing upwards and, because they are in water, you can enjoy their beauty for a week or two.


March 9, 2013

Spring Wasp Prevention

It may seem weird that we are putting out traps for wasps and yellow jackets in the spring, but next to the late summer this is the best time to use them. Our friends at Rescue (they make those cool yellow Wasp, Hornet, and Yellow Jacket traps) told us why it is a good time to put them out now. In the early spring the queens emerge from their winter hibernation and look for places to make their nests for the new season. If you get them now they won’t be around to create a nest of nasty pests to ruin your summer fun. Take down your old traps, clean and refresh them with the pheromone attractant packets available at most of your local garden centers. To make your hunting more effective, place a couple of traps around the perimeter of your yard and garden.

March 2, 2013

Lawn Mushrooms

We always get questions this time of year about the mushrooms in lawns. Are they dangerous? Judy talked about the conditions that cause the mushrooms. They are caused by decomposing matter in your yard and that there is no way to remove the mushrooms from a lawn. They will continue to occur where organic matter exists. To be on the safe side they should be removed if you have small children or pets, they could be poisonous. If you don’t have pets or small children, you can choose to let them be and enjoy nature at work!

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