Thursday, July 27, 2006

Como Park

The last weekend of July is here and our forecast is in one word "blazing." There is not much to do in the yard right now other then water and I have more then covered that topic during the last month.

On Wednesday the last of our month long series on great local gardens you can visit aired with the visit to Como Park.

The various gardens that I mentioned in the segment are just outside the Conservatory in Como Park.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Grilling Corn

Finally some much needed rain for many areas. Don’t wait for the rain if your yard and garden needs it. If your yard looks like it needs water and you didn’t get an inch or more these past few days, turn that sprinkler on and let it run until your yard has at least an inch of water on it.

Here is an item I ran across - which is fun. A chance to win $5,000 in the Best Homegrown Tomato Challenge.

Now, just throw in some bacon, lettuce, mayo and a couple of slices of wheat bread with those tomatoes and I would be set.

Speaking of tomatoes, the first of the ones that I planted using the topsy turvey are getting ripe. I’ll have more on that next week. Check out the posting from May 24 if you want to know more about the topsy turvey.

As long as we are talking produce, last week I had a segment on 5 Eyewitness News at 4:00 on grilling sweet corn. In response to the inquiry I got - yes you can grill the corn on a charcoal grill.
Just make sure the coals are very hot. The technique I show works every time.

Soak the corn - husks, silks and all in water for at least at hour.
Heat the grill up as hot as it can get.
Throw the corn - husks and all on the grill. Close the grill.
Wait 5 minutes - flip the corn over and close the grill.
After 5 more minutes - the corn has now been on the grill for a total of 10 minutes - take the corn out and put it in an insulated cooler (the kind you use on picnics to keep food and beverages cold) for 5 minutes. Putting the corn in the cooler for 5 minutes steams it all the way through.

You can keep the corn in the cooler longer to help keep it warm. In 15 minutes you have perfectly done corn.

Tonight I have to get out and do some more deadheading of annuals and perennials. If you are unsure as to what that means, check out the posting from June 30.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

At the Cabin

Another weekend is here and the pilgrimage of cars going north to the cabin is underway. A couple of weeks ago, I spent the weekend in Hayward, Wisconsin, staying at an incredible renovated Bed and Breakfast called McCormick House. The serene formal English garden with reflecting pool and fountain is worth the visit alone. Both the house and gardens have been totally renovated top to bottom during the past year. If you are ever in that area, this place is worth checking out.

I often get questions about what to plant up north at the cabin. Here in Minneapolis, we live in plant hardiness zone 4. The USDA plant hardiness zone map shows where zone 3 starts. For those of you that don’t want to look at the map, it is north of Minneapolis approximately in a line from McGregor to Cross Lake. So, as you look for plants to plant around your northern cabin or house, make sure that they are labeled for zone 3. Those zone 4 plants are not hardy enough to survive the northern winters.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Some is Better Than None

Finally some much needed rain. Unfortunately it came down to fast and we didn’t get enough, but some is better then none. I have been keeping everything watered in my yard during the dry spell, but there is nothing like a rain to really freshen everything up. It looks as though the forecast still has a chance of rain during the next couple of days. Anything we can get will help.

I spent some time at the Minneapolis Farmer’s Market this past weekend. I had not been there for a couple weeks and there was just an amazing amount of locally grown produce - including the first sweet corn, which was nothing short of delicious. I tend to alternate visits to both the Minneapolis Farmer's Market and the St. Paul Farmer’s Market.

Minneapolis is far more convenient for me, but I like the St. Paul Farmer’s Market because everything is locally grown - you won’t find oranges, artichokes and other produce that just doesn’t grow here.

I’m also lucky that between my office and my house, is a neighborhood stand that just went up, so I can stop any day of the week and pick up some fresh summer produce.

You can visit the MN Grown web site and find a grower in your area. Having been raised on a farm near Le Sueur, MN and a gardener my entire life, I know how much work it is to grow and sell vegetables. So, visit a roadside stand or a farmer’s market. Not only will you get some great produce, you will be supporting a local grower and businessperson who are working in one very hard business.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Parade of Ponds is Near

I should have mentioned this back in June, but if you are watering your lawn and it is green and growing, raise your lawn mower up so the grass stays longer even after a cutting.

In the spring my lawn is about two inches long right after mowing; now it is at least three inches long after mowing. The biggest advantage in doing this is that the longer grass creates more of a shadow, which in turn keeps the soil cooler and that means I have to water less. My lawn is still perfectly green -(except for a few dogs spots in the back - thanks Harley) it only gets the one inch of water per week that I have talked about before.

Look closely at those lawns that are completely brown and one thing you will notice is how short the grass is. I’m 100 percent convinced the longer grass is what is making the difference in my yard.

This weekend and next is the Parade of Ponds. I have gone on this tour of water gardens the past few years and have seen some very unique and exciting gardens. Tickets can also be ordered by calling 763-392-5937.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Avoid the Heat

Our hot dry weather continues and I have heard the word "drought" mentioned recently. Make sure you make the most of your watering… early morning and early evening is best. Avoid the heat of the day especially when it comes to your lawns. If you water your lawn during the heat of the day especially during these very hot days, much of the water will evaporate before ever making it to the roots of your lawn.

On Monday, we taped this week’s segment on the University of Minnesota - St. Paul Campus as part of my month long visit of great gardens that you can visit. Located on the north side of the campus (on the corner of Gortner and Folwell) is a great educational/training garden. It was great to go back to a garden that I spent many hours working in as a Horticulture student some 20 years ago. The garden is totally different now - bigger with more structures and some paved walkways.

The garden is about three acres in size. It hosts a wide variety of annuals, perennials, trees and shrubs. Nearly all the plants are labeled - so they can be easily identified and most are available on the market. One of the many things I like about this garden in addition to the fact that it’s free is that it’s really a test garden. Once the plants - especially the annuals are planted, they are left alone, besides normal care. If they get a disease or have an insect problem, they are not pulled out and replaced. You are able to see how these plants perform under normal conditions and even vote for your favorites. Previous years favorites are listed on If you are near the St. Paul Campus of the U of M, bring your note pad and check this garden out.

Try to stay cool - I’ll have more for you later this week.

Thursday, July 6, 2006

The Weekend is Here

The weekend is here - you have to love short work weeks during the summer months. As of now, it looks like the weather has just a chance of scattered rain. Maybe that will change - since we could sure use it.

I was asked the other day about lawn watering. The person had not watered his lawn at all this summer and it was now brown. He wanted to know how quickly it would green up if he started watering. Once a lawn has gone dormant from lack of water, there is no guarantee that it will green up once watering has started during the heat of summer. Once temperatures cool down a bit and the lawn gets water then it surely will green up. All that being said, it does help to give your lawn a deep watering even if it is brown. Even a dormant (brown) lawn is still living. Getting some water down by the roots will ensure that it comes out of dormancy.

Wednesday, July 5, 2006

Revive Your Flowers

Four great days in a row! I hope your July 4 Holiday was a good one.

I got to all the things that I mentioned last Friday and more. This is the time of year when some of the hanging baskets, pots and containers can start looking a little tired. If yours are not looking good, a few things may be wrong.

First is watering - things dry out fast at this time of year, so make sure that containers and baskets are being kept evenly moist and not allowed to totally dry out.

Secondly is the often overlooked fertilizing. Those pots and containers only have a limited amount of soil in them, which only hold so many nutrients. Now is the time that I give those plants a little boost to keep them going. I’ve mentioned the osmocote fertilizer before. You can add some of this to the top of the soil and this will provide a continuous feed of fertilizer. Another option is water-soluble fertilizer such as the very popular Miracle Grow. Any fertilizer mixed with water has to be used more often, since it already is in liquid form and may run out of the bottom of the container.

So - give those plants a little pick-me-up with some fertilizer.

I guess I know what I’ll be doing tonight.