Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Praline Cream Puff Wreath Recipe

I'm off to FM107 for the Stephanie Hanson Radio Show. Today's topic - Holiday entertaining tips and ideas.

I'll post a few here tomorrow, but in the mean time, here is the recipe for the Praline Cream Puff Wreath that I made for the show.

Make your day a good one.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Amaryllis & Paperwhites

I know it is only about the middle of December, but in one short month I will have spring fever. Yes, it’s true, by the middle of January I will be dreaming of warm days and sunshine.

There is that period in January before I can buy some of the spring blooming bulb gardens that I need something to keep me going. For that I turn to the amaryllis and paperwhites. I used to just pot them up and let them grow and bloom. While there is nothing wrong with that, I now create more of what I call a winter garden. I will take a low dish or container (make sure it has a hole in the bottom for drainage) and plant ivy and ferns in it with a few paperwhite or amaryllis bulbs mixed in. It is far more interesting to have other plants mixed in when they bloom. In the case of the paperwhites, once they are done blooming, I pull them out and tuck in a blooming azalea or cyclamen to help get me through those long winter days.

If you need more information the amaryllis click here.
For the paperwhites,click here.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Caring for Your Poinsettia

What is the most commercially produced plant in the world? If you guessed the poinsettia, then you are right. This past weekend, I was on hand for the opening day of the Poinsettia Show at the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory at Come Park. I still call it the Como Park Conservatory. If you need a break from all the snow, this is the place to see.

Caring for the poinsettia at home is not that hard. Keep these tips in mind – bright light (they are native to Mexico after all) which means south or west windows and keep the plants evenly moist and not allowed to dry out. The giant red plants that I have in my home are not near a window, but I try to move them in front of the south facing patio windows several days a week and then move them back when I get home. I set them in the sink to water and allow them to drain overnight. Keep the foliage dry and don’t allow them to stand in water. If you need more advice on caring for this Holiday beauty, click here.

Make your day a good one.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Recycled Ornaments

Never throw out those broken glass ornaments. Instead, put them to good use. I mentioned my friend Tom who used to sell Radko glass ornaments. He moved to Phoenix a few years back and when he left he dropped off a box of broken Radko ornaments. I’m not talking scratch and dent here; I’m talking major chunks missing. Well, rather than just throwing them out, I put them to good use.

I bought an undecorated green wreath and glued the broken ornaments on to the wreath in a way that you could not see where a chunk of it was missing. Once I glued all the ornaments in place, I went back and hot glued in small pieces of glittered permanent greens so that any hint that these ornaments were broken cannot be seen. I’ve had this wreath hanging just inside my front door on a decorative metal trellis for a couple years and no one has ever noticed or known that any of them were broken – unless I pointed it out to them.

Make your day a good one.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Christmas Tree Time

As promised, here are some photos of my house. Yes, there are two trees in the living room – side by side, connected with glass garlands. One look at this and it confirms that I have been in retail for way too many years, snatching up ornaments at ½ price the day after Christmas and buying those that I love at full price before. It also helps that my very good friend Tom sold Christopher Radko ornaments for years and he let me buy some of his samples at bargain prices. Recently, my glass ornament purchases have been from the Inge Glas Collection.

Make your day a good one.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Deck the Halls

It’s the annual “Deck the Halls” event at my house this weekend. It will start with me driving to Southern MN to pick up my niece Kelsey who will come back up to Minneapolis with me to help decorate my house from top to bottom. Three trees - yes that is correct, three - two in the living room and one in the lower level.

When lighting your tree, start from the top and work down. It’s a lot easier to use up any extra lights around the bottom of the tree rather than at the top. Run a power strip up to the middle of the tree and plug the cords in to the power strip. If you mix colored lights and clear lights, which does look nice, keep the 60/40 rule in mind. Use 60% of one type and 40% of the other.
I’ll be showing you some pics of my house in the days and weeks to come.

Make your day a good one.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving! There are 16 folks coming here. The tables are set with countless mini pumpkins and gourds running down the middle of each table. Good décor, good friends and good food – it does not get much better than this.

I hope your day is a good one.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Yard Cleaning

Here it is already, the last weekend of October. For me it will be the last big weekend of yard clean up which is much later then most years. The planters will be cleaned out, even though some have not froze yet. The last of the leaves will be raked up except for around the honey locust in the backyard which is always very late in dropping its leaves.

If you have not fertilized your lawn that can still be done, bulbs can still be planted, even trees and shrubs can still be planted. But, the clock is ticking - November and yes winter is lurking just around the corner.

Make your weekend a good one.

Oh yea, it is pumpkin carving weekend. I'll post some pictures here on Monday.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Time to plant spring bulbs

Tomorrow (Saturday looks like it will be the better of the two days this weekend. It is time to plant those spring blooming bulbs – tulips, daffodils, crocus, etc. You can guess what I’ll be doing. I’ll also be planting some of those bulbs that often get overlooked, like alium, scillia and muscari.

If you’re planting bulbs, don’t forget some of the more unusual bulbs. They are often the first to bloom in the spring. Because they are smaller, you can actually plant them in the same hole as some of the larger bulbs. I plan on digging the hole, planting the daffodils, putting some soil over those bulbs and then placing the smaller muscari on top of them. Twice as many flowers with out twice as much work – I like that.

Make your weekend a good one.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Record-breaking heat

Well Saturday afternoon turned out to be nice or at least not raining. Record breaking heat in October? It felt like July out there. I fertilized the lawn and turned off the bubbling rock water feature that I built this past spring. The leaves were starting to fall from the trees and rather then risking have them plug up the pump, it was time to shut it down for the winter.

Here is a useful tip I learned a few years ago, but have never had to use because I have not had a water feature in my yard until this year. When you take the pump from your water garden, fountain or any other water feature and bring indoors for the winter, put it in a bucket of water for the winter months. This keeps the gaskets and rubber fittings in the pump from drying out which will in turn extend the life of your pump.

Make your day a good one.

Friday, October 5, 2007

This weekend's forecast

Another wet weekend is in the forecast. If there is some sun or it stops raining, I will get the lawn fertilized and try to get a few things done in the yard. Even a few hours of sun would be really nice.

Make your day a good one.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Way too wet

It was way too wet to get anything done in the yard this weekend. I’m hoping for drier weather next weekend to get some things done. I realized over the weekend that last year, all the annuals were already dead from the killing frost. No frost in sight yet and with all the rain, things just keep growing and looking good.

Make your day a good one.

Friday, September 28, 2007

How are my tomatoes doing?

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything. For those of you following along, you will remember that I built a raised bed this past spring, mainly to grow tomatoes so that I can make my favorite summer time treat – bacon, lettuce and fresh from the garden tomato sandwiches. How did the tomatoes fare? The results have been mixed. The plants grew like crazy during the hot days of July. I watered them a lot and there was an excellent crop in late July and up until the middle of August. My neighbors picked tomatoes as fast as they ripened while I was in Europe in August. Once I got back at the end of August the non-stop rains hit. Since then, the tomatoes while still growing and producing have not been so good. There are lots of black spots on them caused by all the rain. So, I have eaten a few and my neighbors ate a lot. All in all I guess it was not so bad.

If the rain lets up this weekend, it is time to give the lawn its fall fertilization. Remember to set your fertilizer spreader to one half the recommended amount and then apply it twice. The first time going north/south and the second time east/west. This will guarantee even and complete coverage.

Make your weekend a good one.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Is it too early to plant tulips and daffodils?

All of the fall decorating plants and produce are finally arriving. I love to put the corn shocks in my yard, plant some mums and get the pumpkins in place. This weekend I’ll be doing some yard cleanup and get some fall plants into place.

I’ve had some people ask about planting tulips, daffodils and all the rest of the spring blooming bulbs. I would wait for another couple of weeks to get them planted. I usually do this around October 15…give or take. This weekend, I’m going to get my game plan organized as to what I’m going to plant and where.

Make your day a good one.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Lovely Zinnia

I’ve mentioned here in the blog, that I really don’t have a favorite flower or plant. Whatever is in season or in bloom is often my favorite. Right now, it is the profusion zinnia. This is the second year that I have planted them. Last year it was the white variety when I did all my planters in white. This year I planted the orange variety since I was going for shades of tangerine in my planters. This plant is unbelievably reliable and grows like crazy. I have seen it in gardens and planters all over the place and they always look good. I know some people think zinnias are old fashioned and passé. To that I say whatever. I want color and I want reliability – the profusion zinnia delivers on that. Here is a picture of one of the plants in my moss lined planters.

Make your day a good one.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Dealing With Weeds This Fall

This is the time of year that it becomes really easy to forget about the yard – especially when it comes to weeds. It’s always important to keep the weeds under control, but it is even more important right now before those weeds go to seed. As fall sets in, those pesky weeds are going to get those seeds produced so they can return next year. One weed allowed to go to seed now, will produce countless plants next year. So get out there and get rid of those weeds now. You will be saving yourself some work next year. You can guess what I’ll be doing during the next few days.

Make your day a good one.

Friday, September 7, 2007

My Yard...

I was trying to come up with a word that described how my yard looked going into the weekend. The first word that came to mind was neglect, but that didn’t sound right. Neglect implied that it was not cared for. I was traveling a lot this summer, but the yard was never neglected. Everything was fertilized on time, watering was done by my neighbor’s son who I hired to water and mow while I was gone. The best word would be overgrown almost jungle like – especially in the backyard.
My weekend task was to reclaim my backyard deck which as the before pictures show was taken over by potato vine. I love this plant….it is excellent in planters and hanging baskets and as you can tell it grows like crazy. Here are some before and after pictures of my deck.

Make your day a good one.

Seeding the Yard

Last nights rain was great. My yard actually needed some. The grass in the back was getting that gray color when it needs rain. Speaking of grass, we are now in the very best time of year to put down grass seed. The soil is warm and the air temperatures are cooler. Yes, it is better then spring. Remember to pick out the right grass seed. Shade = 6 or less hours of sun. Sun = 6 or more hours of sun. Those blends that say boulevard mix, high traffic mix, salt tolerant mix, etc are almost always blends met for sun.

Shade blends have more fescue in them and sun blends have more bluegrass. I’ll be out along the street doing some over seeding of my lawn this weekend. The summer heat took its toll in certain areas, even with all the watering that was done. I’ll get it done now and it will look good next spring.

Make your weekend a good one.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

The day after the party...

Today feels like the day after a big party. You look forward to it for weeks, it happens and the day after is well… A few random thoughts on this day after the State Fair. Thanks to everyone who came out during the Newscasts. It was great fun to meet many of you and even autograph some water bottles. I also want to extend a BIG thanks to Becky and Amanda the State Fair Producers - the two of you were great to work with. Thanks Becky for letting me in all the fun once again this year.

Also a big thanks to all of the crew working the fair – you folks are truly the best. Cyndy - anytime you need security keep me in mind. Rachel – I’m still wondering about the 18 seconds. That was three more then I needed. Here are a couple of pictures that sum up my last two weeks as I went from the Coliseum in Rome to the Coliseum of the State Fair. Make your day a good one.

Monday, September 3, 2007

4-H'ers at the Fair

Another early morning at the Fair. I interviewed a few 4-H’ers who had their projects at the State Fair and had yet to be judged. Judging at the Fair goes right up to the end. I’m not sure if the three of them were more nervous about being judged or having to be interviewed by me. My part was a cakewalk. I hope the judging went as well for them.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Spicy? You bet!

I ended my KSTP time at the Fair with a fiery bang so to speak. Meteorologist Rob Koch wanted to do an interview with the food vender “Sausage by Cynthia”.The catch was that Rob does not like spicy food. In fact, he thinks that store bought mild salsa is way to spicy.So, he turned to me to see if I would try some of their sausage including the “viper jerky”. Being the team player that I am, I agreed to do it.

You can see the video online at KSTP. The video speaks for itself. What I didn’t realize is that it gets hotter and hotter as time goes on. It peaked about 20 minutes after we went off the air and yes; it was the spiciest food I have ever eaten.

Make your day a good one.

Bright and early at the Fair

I was at the Fair bright and early yesterday morning. During the 6:00a.m. Newscast, I was in the Miracle of Birth Center – which included interviews with one of the veterinarians there and a group of 3 FFA’ers.I was in the FFA back in high school and college. It is always a great throw back to the past when I’m out here visiting with them. During the 8:00a.m. Newscast, we moved to another location where I showed and talked about great fall perennials. Once we get past Labor Day, I constantly get asked if you can still plant. The short answer is yes.

Trees and shrubs can be planted almost until the ground freezes. Evergreens should be in the ground by late September. Perennials should be in the ground be late September too – if they are planted in the fall, they should be covered with some straw or hay to help protect the plants during the winter months. The hay or straw should be put over them once the ground is just slightly frozen. Don’t put it down to early or you will suffocate the plants. They key to planting anything in the fall is that it is kept well watered during the fall up until the ground freezes.

Make your day a good one.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

What a beautiful night to be at the Fair.

It was great fun to interview Professor Jim Luby from the University of Minnesota. Jim was starting at the U of M when I was a student there – just a few years ago. OK, I know it was more then a few years ago, but time does fly by. He works on the fruit-breeding program that includes apples. Apple season is now starting here in Minnesota. There is nothing better then a fall day at an Apple Orchard. Here is a link to the Minnesota Apple Growers Association. It lists Minnesota Apple Orchards, plus varieties of apples that were introduced from the University of Minnesota. http://www.minnesotaapple.org

Take some time this fall to get out and enjoy the locally grown apples and some of those varieties that were bred right here in MN.

Make your day a good one.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Wineries in Minnesota?

Yes, indeed. I had the chance to learn more about it this morning. There are about 22 wineries in Minnesota. While you are that Agriculture / Horticulture Building at the State Fair, check out this exhibit and enjoy a glass of wine. They have brochures that list all the wineries in Minnesota too. I think some wine tasting sounds like a fun weekend activity.

Make your day a good one.


The last day of August already…yes, indeed. Where did the summer go?
I was up bright and early this morning at the State Fair – it is strangely silent at 6:00 a.m., a far cry from the crowds in the evening. I always find the honey / bee exhibit in the Agriculture / Horticulture Building fascinating at the MN State Fair. First the nectar determines the color of honey. Dark almost molasses looking honey comes from buckwheat. The lighter colored honey comes from Linden trees. In between those two are many varying shades. Also, one hive will produce about 185 pounds of honey per summer. If the hive is left here in Minnesota during the winter months about 85 pounds must be left in the hive as food during those winter months. Check it out while at the Fair and try some of the great tasting honey ice cream that they sell in the same area.

Make your day a good one.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Away from the Fair Today...

I got the day off from being at the Fair today– no 6:30 news tonight. The Vikings are playing. What a crowd last night at 6:30 - the biggest crowd yet. It was so much fun once again to meet everyone following the newscast. The folks from Presto Planter were on hand to demonstrate their invention. I know I’ll be getting one of these to plant all of those tulip and daffodil bulbs this fall.

I’ll be up bright and early tomorrow (Friday) – between 5 and 7 a.m. I’ll be at the Agriculture / Horticulture Building doing some segments. So, set your alarm and tune in.

I’ll be back during 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS at 6:30 on Friday as well - so if you are out, stop by and I’ll be more then happy to sign your water bottle.

Make your day a good one.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Noodlehead Sprinklers

It was a misty somewhat rainy day at the Fair last night and there I was, talking about sprinklers. The Noodlehead Sprinkler is unlike anything I had seen before. I got my hands on one last week and tested it out. It does work and is totally changeable depending on your needs. You can find it in the Home Improvement Building.

Make your day a good one.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Fun at the Fair

Thanks to everyone who I met at the Fair last night. It’s so much fun to see all the viewers and even sign some water bottles. Yes, I know my signature is big. It’s not going to change. It was great fun to interview topiary expert Ricardo Edelsteen. You can see his work right below the Space Needle. I had meet Ricardo before. He is so fun and passionate about his work.

I’ll be back tomorrow during 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS at 6:30. See you then.

Make your day a good one.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Display Garden at the Fair

I was at the State Fair yesterday bright and early for KSTP TV on what was an absolutely perfect day. If you are headed out to the Fair, but sure to check out the new gigantic display garden put together by the folks from the Minnesota Nursery and Landscape Association (MNLA). It is located just outside the Agriculture / Horticulture Building with Ye Old Mill just across the street. Be sure to walk entirely around the display and pick up all the recipe cards in the various mailboxes. Each recipe card has an idea for a seasonal container garden. I collect them all and will use them as a reference when I work on my container gardens each season.

I will be back at the Fair tonight during 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS at 6:30. Be sure to stop by and say hello.

Make your day a good one.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

State Fair Time

State Fair time already? Wow! Where did the summer go? I love the Fair and will spend a lot of time out there. My tentative KSTP schedule has me out there early this Sunday morning and then every night next week except Thursday for 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS at 6:30. Be sure to stop by and say hello and take in one of the newscasts. Once I know the Labor Day weekend schedule, I will be sure to let you know.

I’ll be posting State Fair information and such here in the days to come.

Make your day a good one.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

European Vacation

I’m back. Yesterday I got back from an amazing vacation with lots of friends in Europe. 19 days to be exact. Most of our time was spent in Italy, but we also spent some time in Greece, Malta, Croatia and Sicily while on a Mediterranean cruise. It was the trip of a lifetime. Once I get caught up and past the State Fair, I will post a few more pictures from the trip. Here are a couple photos from Venice, which was a breathtaking city.

After being gone for 19 days, I was worried about how my yard would look? To my surprise it actually looked better then when I left. My neighbor’s son did a great job of keeping the lawn mowed and he didn’t have to worry about watering since Mother Nature did a good job of taking care of that. Lots of tomatoes were harvested, but there are still plenty more to ripen, so I will be enjoying those for weeks to come.

Make your day a good one.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Vegetables Growing

It’s been one month since I planted the raised vegetable garden and I cannot believe how quickly the plants have grown. The combination of ample amounts of water – most of it coming from the garden hose, hot weather and lots of fertilizer have produced plants that will soon be bearing fruits.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Begonias in June

For several years, I have planted tuberous begonias in the pots on the north side of my house and they have performed very well. In fact the large blooms have been perfect as I come and go from my house. This was not the case this year. The plants started out looking great during the month of June, but July took its toll. They developed powdery mildew and some rot caused by the heat. Last night it was time to rip them out and replace them with some ferns. There is still a lot of summer left. If a few of your plants are not looking good as was my case, they can easily been replaced.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Support Your Local Farmer

This is the time of year to support your local farmers by visiting a farmer’s market. During the last week, I have been to several markets – the produce including the sweet corn have been excellent. I love to grill farm fresh sweet corn. Here is my fool proof grilling technique.

Heat your grill as hot as it can get.
Soak the corn – husks and all in water for at least a half hour or longer.
Put the corn on the grill and close the grill for 5 minutes.
After 5 minutes, turn the corn over. Close the grill and wait another 5 minutes.

After a total of 10 minutes on the grill, put the corn in an insulated cooler. Close the cooler and wait another 5 minutes. The time in the cooler steams the corn and keeps it hot. Take the corn out of the cooler as you need it and enjoy.

Monday, July 16, 2007


This past weekend, I finished the water feature in my backyard. With the help of four friends, the large stone was moved into the backyard and into the pool. No small feat.

These fountains are great to install. The rock has been drilled out and fitted with a pump and all the fittings. The bottom of the rock has a platform attached to it which raises the rock up. The pump is located inside this platform which makes it very easy to install. All you have to do is set it in place. After putting the rock in the pool, I found out that it was sitting lower than I wanted. This was easily fixed by setting the rock on a brick platform that raised it up nearly three inches.

The bottom of the large rock fountain was now just slightly higher than the top of the pool. Once the smaller stones were added, the large stone looked like it was resting on top of a bed of rocks. The smaller stones were placed on some heavy duty mesh that I picked up at a home supply store. To help hold the mesh up, I placed a few bricks inside of the pool for the liner to rest on. Now, I can sit back and enjoy the sound of water in my back yard.
Make your day a good one.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Working on the Fountain

This past weekend, I finished digging the hole for the preformed pool liner that will have my new rock fountain in it. Digging the hole was easy; it was getting the pool level that took lots of time. It is important to have the pool level so that the water level will be even once the fountain is in place and running.

As our hot weather continues, it is important to keep watering your yard and garden. One inch of water per week and do it all at one time which is far better than just a little water multiple times during the week.

Make your day a good one.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Heading West

My summer would not be complete without a trip to Sacramento and Lake Tahoe. I’m very fortunate to have friends who have a cabin near Lake Tahoe. I’ve gone out there for at least the last 15 summers usually right around the 4th of July. This year the days leading up to the trip were filled with reports of the forest fire in the area.

The cabin was about 15 miles away from this devastating fire. The damage in the area was extensive with hundreds of homes destroyed, but contrary to how it was reported it was not all of Lake Tahoe that was burning. It was isolated to what amounts to a small area of the Lake Tahoe area.

Every year, I make a trip from the cabin up the mountain. Here are a few pictures from my climb up the mountain. Last year, the forest service went through the forest and made piles of wood from trees that were dead or dying. These piles of wood will be burned in a control burn during the winter. As you can see, there are hundreds and hundreds of piles of wood to be burned all in an effort to help control a major forest fire. Make your day a good one.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Time for the next backyard project

Between BBQ’s and some outdoor fun this past weekend, I started working on my next backyard project – adding a water feature. A water feature is something I have wanted to do for some time, but I just could not find the right look. The finished project will be a large rock with watering running over it.

It will be located in the back of my yard amongst the shady perennials. This past weekend I dug out and moved a hydrangea tree that I planted a couple years ago. Surprisingly, it was easily dug out and moved. I also started digging the soil out for the four foot round preformed pool that I will be sinking into the ground. Make your day a good one.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Raised Vegetable Garden Part IV

Over the weekend, I finished assembling the raised vegetable garden. Once the quickcrete was hard which only took a day – I guess that’s why it is called quickcrete, I screwed the 1x12’s to the post. I then added 2 x4’s around the bottom- right at ground level to give it some additional strength.

When it was all put together, I scraped the grass out of the inside and began filling it with soil. I used a combination of soil that I had from my yard and old soil from some container gardens. Most of it though was filled with composted manure and peat moss. Once I had the soil / manure / peat moss combo within about an inch or so from the top, I spent about half an hour mixing it all together.

I then set the sprinkler to run over the raised bed for about an hour so that the soil would settle a bit before I planted it. All of that took me to late Sunday afternoon. Now, all I have to do is plant it… and then be patient. In 60 days or so, I should have the much-anticipated tomatoes.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Raised Vegetable Garden - Part III

Last night it was back to work on the raised vegetable garden. I got the posts in place, brought the boards over and nailed it together with some light weight nails. After making sure everything was straight with the house and squared off, I poured some quickcrete concrete mix in the holes so the posts will stay in place. I originally was just going to dump soil back in the holes to hold it all in place, but decided to do the concrete so that it would not shift over time.

I’ll give this a few days to harden then continue on with all the finishing work.
Here are few photos of my progress.

Make your day and weekend a good one.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Ramblin' Red

One of my favorite sayings which I once read on a garden plaque says, "You should have been here yesterday, my garden looked perfect". I don’t there is ever perfection in a garden, but there are days where it gets really close.

My favorite climbing rose, the Ramblin’ Red is in full bloom right now on the gazebo in my backyard. Year after year this rose has proven itself in my yard, giving me countless beautiful red blooms at about this time of year and then random roses until it freezes. If you have space for a climbing rose in your yard, this would be my hands down pick.

Here is a picture of how it looked this morning.

Make your day a good one.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Raised Vegetable Garden - Part II

What a beautiful weekend – I would call it perfect! As I mentioned in the last posting I tackled one of my summer projects - building a wood raised vegetable garden in my side yard. OK, I know it’s not technically summer, but it seems close enough.

It is not too late to plant warm weather loving vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers or eggplant. I plan on finishing this raised bed in the next ten days or so and that should still give me time to get things planted and growing. I may have tomatoes late this year, but late tomatoes are better than no tomatoes. For those of you followed along last year, you know that I love nothing more than BLT sandwiches with fresh from the garden tomatoes.

I cut all the wood for this project this past weekend and got all the holes dug. Luckily I have great soil with a sand base. The posts are going down about 24 inches or so, which should be enough to keep them in place. The raised bed will be 12’ x 48” and 12” high. It is all made of cedar. When making a raised bed out of wood, you don’t want to use treated lumber.

I’ve attached a few pictures of where I’m at with this project.

Make your day a good one.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Raised Vegetable Garden

While I didn’t want a storm yesterday, I was hoping that we would get some more rain. Nope, no such luck for my yard- not even a drop of rain. So, at 6:00 a.m. this morning I was out for an hour watering all the pots and containers. One thing to keep in mind is that even with rain, many times the water does not actually end up in the container. The rain falls, hits the leaves, runs down the leaf and lands on the ground, missing the soil in the container all together.

This weekend, I will start working on a raised vegetable garden in my side yard. The plans are roughed out - very rough may I add and the cedar lumber is bought. It will be 12’ long and 48” wide. I’ve had several places in my yard to grow vegetables over the years, but each one has ended up in the shade, as other things I have planted have grown larger. It’s been a couple of years since I’ve had a place of my own to grow some vegetables. Previously, my neighbors were gone all summer at their cabin and I staked out some unused space in their yard for tomatoes and peppers. They sold their house and now I need to come up with space in my own yard.

In addition it is time to replant the 5 containers on my front steps. They have had pansies in them since early April and are starting to look a bit tired. Pansies don’t like heat and even though the front of my house faces east it gets very hot, I’ll dig them out and replant them in the back of the yard in the shade. Some years they do well back there and other years they don’t. I figure that I’ve gotten good use out of the pansies and if they do well in the back yard, it is just a bonus.

Make your weekend a good one.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Where Did May Go?

Is it June already? Where did May go? What a great gardening month it was. For the most part the weather was nearly perfect. Yeah, there were a few warm days and a few chilly nights, but as the month of May goes, this was not that bad. We still could use some more rain and it looks like a little more is on its way this weekend.

If your lawn is looking a little dry it would be a good idea to water it now and not wait for the rain. Keep in mind that about one inch of water per week will keep most lawns looking good. This is also the time of year that I raise my lawn mower up a bit. Longer grass will shade the soil, keeping it cooler. Cooler soil needs less watering. I raised the blade on my mower last night.

My weekend will be spent getting ready for my annual Brunch in the Gardens on Sunday. Next to gardening and being out in the yard, there is nothing more that I like to do then entertaining and as entertaining goes a brunch is pretty easy even if it is for 40 people. Hopefully the rain we need will arrive and be gone by Sunday morning – my fingers are crossed.

I’m often asked about this time of year if it is to late to plant. The short answer is absolutely not. We may be past Memorial Day, but the summer has not even started. I’m busy adding plants and changing up my yard all summer long.

I’ll be back here next week with details on one of the two yard projects that I will be doing during the month of June.

Make your weekend a good one.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Tulips & Daffodils

I hope your weekend was a good one. I planned out some yard projects that I will soon start and of course will keep you updated on. I also got a lot of miscellaneous things done in my yard. I finally feel like I have everything under control. On Sunday morning, it was great fun to have meteorologist Rob Koch join me in my backyard during the 8:00 hour of 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS Weekend Morning. For the first time in 7 years, I did a show and tell of the entire backyard.

I was recently asked about tulips and daffodils. Once they were done blooming, you should cut back the flower stem and nothing else. The plant needs the leaves to make food that is stored in the bulb until next spring. That stored food is what gives the plant the energy to produce a flower next year. So, wait until all the leaves have dried up on your tulips and daffodils before you cut them back. A fertilizing right now with a well-balanced garden food helps too.

Make your day a good one.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Memorial Day Weekend

The long Memorial Day weekend is here.

I will be in the studio on Saturday morning during the 8:00 hour of 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS Weekend Morning. I will be talking about plants for container gardens early in the newscast and then later on I will talk about shade loving plants. No more excuses from all the folks I hear from you claim they can’t grow anything because of shade.

On Sunday morning I will be back at the same time. This time, weather permitting I will be in my backyard and what a treat it will be – Rob Koch will be there doing his weather forecasts as well. Our tentative plans include doing some grilling and a tour of my backyard. In more then 7 years of using my yard for television appearances, I have never given viewers a full look around the yard –it should be great fun.

The rest of my weekend will be filled with starting the work on a raised vegetable bed in my side yard and looking at an idea I have for a rock fountain. Oh yeah, I will be tackling the destruction of one my bathrooms that I’m remodeling. I’ll be giving you updates on the raised vegetable beds and the fountain in the days and weeks ahead.

I have to run now –time to mow the lawn and get the yard ready for Rob’s visit. I feel like an inspection will be happening.

Make your day and weekend a good one.
Click here for tips on how to add tropical plants to your yard

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Grass is Greener

Finally some much needed rain. This morning when I looked out in my yard everything seemed greener and maybe even happier. (Can plants look happy?) It looks like the rain will last all day and that is a good thing.

Last night when I watched the news I was once again amazed at how quickly trees can be standing one moment and gone the next when a storm hits.
Click here for tips on how to help keep trees from blowing over during storms.

I’ll have a posting again tomorrow and let you know what I will be up to in my yard and garden. A few big projects will be started this weekend and will unfold in the weeks ahead.

Make your day a good one.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Breaking News...

…and now for what I call my own breaking news. I finally have my yard under control. All the planters are done; the climbing roses pruned, new white clematis planted and the lawn is looking great.

Here is an email from a viewer that I thought would be of interest.

I love watching your stories. What flowers are good for attracting more hummingbirds to my patio? I'm looking for flowers that would do best in patio pots and or planters. We all ready have feeders for them. Also is there a type of birdhouse I could get so they might nest too?

Thank you for taking the time for my question,

If you already have hummingbirds in your yard, you are off to a great start. It took me 4 years in my currant yard before I saw the first hummingbird. I had two feeders out during that time and no takers. The most important thing to keep in mind with your hummingbird feeders is to clean them often and replace the sugar solution.

They are most attracted to flowers with tubular necks – think of flowers that are long. A few examples include: fuchsia, mandevilla, dipladenia and petunias. Once you have attracted hummingbirds to your yard, they will be attracted to many different flowers; the key is just getting them to your yard. For more information on hummingbirds, click here.

Hummingbirds don’t nest like many birds in a birdhouse, so there is no commercial birdhouse made. Most of their nests are in trees. Here are some pictures of humming bird nests.

That’s all for today.

Make your day a good one.

Friday, May 18, 2007

A Time to Plant

The weekend is here and it looks like a mixed bag when it comes to the weather. Hopefully it will hold off until later Saturday. I have lots of yard play to do…remember I never call it yard work.

What will I be doing? Well, for the most part it’s time to plant all those containers. I have filled them with fresh soil, ocmocote slow release fertilizer and soil moist Now the real fun begins - it is planting time. I have mentioned that I’m going with a bright tangerine color this year as my theme. Tangerine colored impatiens and tuberous begonias will be planted in the shade. Crotons and orange zinnias with some chartreuse colored potato vines will be planted in the sun. I’ll get some pictures taken and posted here next week.

Once I get the planters done, then it is time to prune the dead canes out of my massive Ramblin Red climbing roses. Oh yeah, the lawn should be mowed too.

If we don’t get some much-needed rain then it will be time to drag out the sprinkler. Remember an inch of water per week, which is best given all at one time. Depending on the type of sprinkler, this could take at least four or more hours – put out a rain gauge to see how long it takes.

Weather permitting, I will be in my yard Sunday Morning during the 8:00 hour of 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS WEEKEND MORNING doing a couple of segments. Tune in and see what I’m up to.

Make your weekend a good one

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

TV Bloopers

Larry, What happened yesterday at the end of that segment? I've heard that over and over the last few days. Well, that is called live TV… a blooper if you will.

First, I was cooking something I’m not used to doing. I had it all planned out and broken down into quick easy steps. Before the newscast began, Brad Satin told me that he was going to walk over from the News Studio to Studio B where he was to sample the fish at the end of the segment. So, while doing the segment, I was keeping an eye out for him. Next thing I know, I’m being told to wrap it up, but where is Brad? Unknown to me, breaking news kept him from walking over. I’m now hearing wrap it up now…this was not what I had planned… quick, end the segment and then silence… silence that seemed like eternity. What to do? Throw your hands up and say, “I’m done.”

I will be back in a few days with more on gardening… this never happens during a garden segment.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Fishing Opener

Yesterday I ventured into uncharted waters with a cooking segment – yes cooking. I’ve done some cooking segments in the past, but I’ve always teamed up with a chef. Usually I would talk about growing some type of vegetable and then a recipe would be made using that vegetable. The original plan was that on Saturday I would do a segment on herbs and then later in the newscast, I would talk about herbs and using them with fish since it was the fishing opener. All was great until the cooking segment had to be dropped on Saturday at the last minute due to breaking news so I came back with my fish and did the segment on Sunday.

Here are the recipes.

Grilled Northern with Tarragon/Chive Butter and Grilled Lemon Slices
Use fillets that have the skin on one side.
Brush both sides of the fish with olive oil.
Salt and pepper both sides.
Heat grill as hot as possible.
Place the fish skin side up on the hot grill.
After about one and a half minutes rotate the fish a quarter turn and cook for another one and a half minutes. (This will give you the nice grill marks.)
Flip the fish over so the skin side is down.
Cook for another couple of minutes until the fish is thoroughly cooked.
Fish is easily overcooked, so keep an eye on it.
It should be flaky when done.

Top the fish with tarragon/chive butter.
Take a stick of room temperature butter –place in electric mixer bowl.
Add some finely chopped tarragon and chives.
Mix well.
Using a small ice cream scoop or melon baller, scoop out butterballs and place on the grilled fish.

Top the fish with thick slices of lemon that were grilled for about a minute on each side.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Mother's Day

It looks like a near perfect weather weekend is in store. It is Mother’s Day weekend, so I will be working but I hope to squeeze in some time for my yard.

Right now it is the time of year that you can do almost anything in your yard and garden - divide perennials, plant annuals, sow grass seed, plant up moss lined baskets, palnt trees and shrubs, put down crabgrass control (get that one done right now). Just get out and enjoy the beautiful weekend. If you want some tips on making moss lined baskets and containers, see the video from the KSTP segment that aired on Thursday.

If you have the time and are looking for something to do with Mom, how about a trip to the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chanhassen? I try to make a trip out there at least three times a year. It should be picture perfect right now with lilacs and tulips in bloom.

Saturday Morning during 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS Weekend I will be talking herbs during the 8:00 hour.

Most importantly Happy Mother’s Day!

Make your day and weekend a good one.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Container Garden Tips

Another perfect day. I wanted to post this or something similar last year and never got around to it. Here are some ideas for your container gardens. I call it one container with seven different looks. I hope this inspires you to try something different – break away from the same old thing.

Look #1
Perennials are not just for the garden. Choose perennials with great foliage such as hosta and coral-bells. The great looking foliage of some of the perennials will be an unexpected surprise in your containers. Nobody else on your block will think of this one.

Look #2
Who says green plants need to be left in the house. Bring them outdoors and mix them in with the rest of your plants. I love to mix ivies, pothos, philodendrons and bromeliads in with the plants that are meant to be outdoors. Just like look #1; this will wow your friends.

Look #3
Skip the flowers for this look. The list of plants with unique foliages and textures is endless. Try some of the various annual grasses; mix it up with the vinca vine, the potato vine, asparagus fern, etc. Layering the different textures of foliage plants will look great. I did this last year to the 6 planters in the front of my house and I can say that I never have received so many compliments on how they looked. Everyone loved it but yet no one noticed that the great look had no flowering annuals in it. Your planters will look stunning all season long

Look #4
Herbs don’t need to be just in an herb garden. Mix it up a bit. Plant some herb plants with the rest of your annuals in your containers. Your planters will be not only decorative but functional too. Herbs are also great to mix in with look #3.

Look #5
Add a shrub or evergreen. Use a unique shrub or evergreen to give the container garden a distinctive look. Small spruce plants or the fairly new Cut leaf Tiger Eyes Sumac (golden colored leaves) look great mixed in with other plants. Take the shrub or evergreen and plant it in your yard in early October – just in time to fill the planter with garden mums.

Look #6
Use one plant only. You don’t have to mix and match plants. Pick a plant, any plant and fill the container with it. This is great if you have several planters together. Fill each planter with one plant only. Pick a different plant for each of the containers.

Look #7
Create the monochromatic look – pick a color, any color and then choose all your plants in the same color range. This look will create a wow because of the impact it makes. Last year all may planters in the backyard (30 plus) were done in white color flowers. I loved the look. The white garden is also very trendy this year. This year all my backyard planters will be done in tangerine colors. If you go with tangerine be careful about not mixing in coral colors. Just remember pick a color and stick with it – layer the tones of this color together in one planter.

So, I hope that inspires you to think outside the box with your container gardens. Have some fun with it. Remember when planting containers; add some Osmocote slow release fertilizer and the Soil Moist. The Soil Moist helps retain moisture so you have to water less.

Make your day a good one.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

In Full Bloom

What a picture perfect day.

I was in Chicago this past Sunday and Monday for work. The city was bursting with tulips that were in full bloom. There were thousands and thousands that were at their peak. It was an amazing site and my timing could not have been better.

As your tulips and daffodils finish blooming, remember to cut back the dead flowers but do not and I repeat, do not cut back any of the foliage. The plants need all of their leaves to make energy that is stored in the bulb, which is used to produce flowers next year. Only after all the foliage has dried down, should you cut it back. That could be in late June or even July. Fertilizing those bulb plants with an all-purpose fertilizer will also be beneficial.

That’s it for today. I’ll have another posting tomorrow and Friday.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Hey Larry!

Hey Larry! Is it going to freeze again this spring? I wish I had a dollar for every time I have been asked that this week. If only I could predict the weather that well. I will go on record as saying I doubt we will have another frost, but then again a year ago we did. Just remember that the average last frost-free date is about May 10.

This weekend, I will start planting some of my annual containers. Most are by the house, so even if it gets cold I doubt it would be a problem. Two products I highly recommend for container gardens are osmocote slow release fertilizer and the second is soil moist. I have used them for years. The osmocote slow release fertilizer as its name implies, slowly releases fertilizer into the soil for months. Since containers have a limited amount of soil, which holds the nutrients, this keeps the plants looking good. The soil moist is granular. You mix it into the soil. When it gets wet, it absorbs water and swells up. As the soil dries out, it shrinks releasing the water back into the soil so the plants can absorb it. When wet it looks kind of like tapioca pudding, which by the way I love! The soil moist is great because I have to water all my containers a lot less and with 30+ containers anything that saves time is blessing.

This is the weekend to put down your crabgrass preventer. I got mine put down on Wednesday night – one more thing off the list. The window of opportunity to get this done is a short one – don’t procrastinate or you will miss the time that it needs to be done.

This is also the time to divide or move nearly all perennials. I still have a few to divide and replant elsewhere in my yard. Don’t forget to share a few extra that you dig up with friends, family or neighbors.

Tomorrow, tune into 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS WEEKEND MORNING during the 8:00 hour. I will have a couple of segments. The first will be tips on buying annuals and perennials. The second will be on using decorative items in your yard and garden

Hopefully we get some much needed rain this weekend – if only it could come at night so as not to ruin my day plans or activities. I will start working on that after I learn how to predict the last frost-free date.

Make your weekend a good one.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Crabgrass Preventer

YES! It is now time to put down the pre-emergent crabgrass preventer. I saw the first lilacs blooming yesterday and that is a good indicator that it is time.

I always recommend that when you put this on your lawn or for that matter anything such as fertilizer that you apply it in two directions. What this means is that if the bag of fertilizer says that you should set your fertilizer spreader at 10, set it at 5 instead. Apply it on your lawn in one direction say east/west and then go the opposite direction with a second pass – north/south in this example. This will guarantee even coverage on your lawn and will help prevent missing any areas.

Back to the crabgrass preventer. A great eco-friendly alternative is corn gluten meal. It’s natural alternative. For more information on this, click here

Make your day a good one.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Happy Arbor Day!

Another perfect weekend appears to be on tap.

When it comes to lawns, you can start putting down grass seed now. Remember to know your conditions – sun or shade and buy the right grass seed.

Hold off on the crabgrass preventer. It is still to early – patience will pay off with this one. The biggest mistake is putting it down to early.

I saw the first dandelions blooming yesterday – of course it was someone else’s yard and not my own. You can spot spray them with Weed-Be-Gone or go eco-friendly and dig them out. It’s important to get the entire long root out when pulling dandelions or they will grow back.

Last year, my containers were done in white blooming plants and lots of plants that had green and white foliage. The white garden is high on the trend list for this year too. My planters got lots of rave reviews last year. If you have never done all white do consider it. It was refreshing and clean looking. I will talk about white gardens and moonlight gardens in another blog posting.

What will I be doing in my 30 plus containers this year? For me it is the year of “tangerine”. Yes, I’m doing orange. Orange mixed again with lots of foliages. Orange can be tricky – I don’t want peach colors. I want bright tangerine. It’s still too early to plant the containers, but I plan on getting them all prepped and ready this weekend. I’ll give you rundown of the plants I plan on using in a future blog posting.

One other color that your garden should ALWAYS have in it is blue. Why? It brings the color of the sky down into your garden. Also, blue goes with everything and helps bring out the colors of other plants.

If you are up tomorrow morning at 8a.m., tune into 5 Eyewitness News Weekend Morning. I’ll be in my yard giving some grass seeding tips and also tree planting tips.

Happy Arbor Day!

Make your day and weekend a good one.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Magnolias in Minnesota

Tomorrow (Friday)is Arbor Day. Here in Minnesota it is the last Friday of April. I'll be showing some tips on tree planting today during 5 Eyewitness News at 4 and then again Friday morning during 5 Eyewitness News Midday.

Speaking of trees, the beautiful magnolias are in bloom right now. Yes, you can grow magnolias in Minnesota. There are three that I see every day on my drive to and from work – they are spectacular right now. A few varieties hardy in this area include Leonard Messel, Merrill and Royal Star. While they are different then those that grow further south, it is a great way to give your yard some southern charm.

If you have kids who like to color, here is a link to a website that has trees that you can easily print out for your kids to color in celebration of Arbor Day.
Who can’t use some more refrigerator art? Click here

I’ll have some more tomorrow – including what my plan is with my container gardens.

Make your day a good one.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Spring Cleaning... for the Yard

The weekend is here and weather permitting, it will be time to finish up the early spring yard work.

If you are wondering what you should get done, refer to my last posting. The only thing that I'm adding to the list is putting down a fresh layer of cypress mulch around some of the shrubs and perennials. I have an every other year mulching rotation. Mulching keeps the moisture in the soil so I have to water less and more importantly, it keeps weeds from growing.

It is still too early to put down any crabgrass control and dandelion control - so don't even think of doing either of those yet.

I'm going to spend some time planning out what plants will be planted in my container gardens. I already know what color I will be going with this year and for that, you will have to check back here next week. (That is called a tease.)

Make your weekend a good one.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

A New Season

Ready - Set - Go

Here we go for another season of home and gardening blogging. Like last year, I’ll give you a glimpse into what is going on in my own yard and tell you what you should be doing and not doing as we go through the spring and summer.

Our weather finally looks like it is turning around and some warmer days are ahead. I was out of town the weekend we had the 70 degree days, so I have a lot to do this weekend in my yard including:

1) Cut back all the perennials, rake and bag up.
2) Cut back the spirea shrubs to ground level.
3) Get the furniture out of the garage and on the deck.
4) If it is dry enough, rake the lawn and bag up all the leaves.
5) Plant some pansies in the front planters.

I mentioned pruning the spirea. At this time of year you should ONLY prune summer blooming shrubs which include the spirea, potentilla and hydrangea. Leave everything else alone - that includes trees and evergreens.

Other then raking the lawn right now, there is nothing else you should be doing now with your lawn. Wait for a couple more weeks to put down grass seed. Let the soil warm up first. It’s also way to early to put down anything on your lawn for crabgrass control or dandelion control. As a rule of thumb, crabgrass control should be put down when the lilacs are blooming.

Make your weekend a good one!