Friday, October 24, 2008

Pumpkin Carving

I’ll be carving pumpkins this weekend. Here are a few random tips:

Carve the bottom out first. It’s easier to pull out all the seeds since they are at the bottom of the pumpkin.

It is also easier to light a candle inside. Once the candle is lit, you can set the pumpkin right on top of it.

Dust the inside of your pumpkin with ground cinnamon. When the candle is lit, it will give off a fragrance much like pumpkin pie.

Here are some links to websites that have some great stencils you can use when carving pumpkins.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Final Yard Cleanup

For me this will be my big final yard cleanup weekend…other then raking leaves and pulling the plants out of planters once it freezes.
My weekend checklist includes:

 · Fertilizing the lawn.

 · Taking the pump out of the water fountain. You should store the pump in your basement in a bucket of water, which prevents the gaskets from drying out.

 · Plant daffodil bulbs. Daffodils should be planted by the end of October. Tulips can be planted well into November.

 · Rake some of the leaves.

 · Put the outdoor furniture in the garage for the winter.

 · Transplant a few perennials. I planted Coral Bells in some container gardens. I need to dig them out and get them into the garden.

 · Add cypress mulch to some gardens so I don’t have to do it in the spring.

Here are some links on planting bulbs:
Spring Bulb Panting Depths

Success with Tulips

Success with Daffodils

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Now is the time...

I get lots of questions at this time of year as to what can and cannot be done at this time of the year.

Here are some answers to some of the many questions.

Don’t fertilize anything right now other than your lawn in October. Use a lawn winterizer fertilizer on your lawn in October.

Spray for dandelions now.

Wait until after the first light frost to spray for Creeping Charlie. If you have both dandelions and Creeping Charlie wait for the right time to spray the Creeping Charlie.

Don’t prune anything right now. Pruning stimulates growth and new growth at this time of year may not survive the winter, leading to die back.

If you need to seed your lawn do it soon. It should be seeded by September 20 so as to give it time to grow.

Sod can be laid well into October.

Many perennials can be divided at this time of year. A little bit of online research will tell you if your specific variety can be.

Trees, shrubs, evergreens and perennials can all be planted right now. Evergreens and perennials can be planted until early October. Trees and shrubs can be planted almost until the end of October.

Water, water, water. Trees, shrubs and evergreens should all be watered until the ground freezes. This is even more important for those plants that were planted this year.

Buy your tulips, daffodils and crocus now while the selection is good, but wait until October to plant them. It is too early to plant them right now.

Now is the time to aerate your lawn, but most residential yards don’t need aeration.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Support locally grown

On Sunday, I visited the Minneapolis Farmer’s market. We are in high season for buying locally grown fruits and vegetables. It was amazing to see all the great looking produce. It also smelled so good. In the case of the Minneapolis Farmers Market, not everything is locally grown. This is not the case in other markets. When shopping there, make sure you ask.

Take the time to visit a farmers market, a roadside stand and support those who work so hard to grow locally grown produce.

For information on farmers markets throughout Minnesota, click here.

For information on the Minneapolis Farmers Market click here.

For information on the Mill City Farmers Market in Minneapolis click here.

For information on the St. Paul Farmers Market click here.

For all of the readers in Wisconsin here is a link to farmers markets in Wisconsin.

Make your day a good one.

Sunday, August 3, 2008


I receive more emails that are lawn related than everything else combined.
A few answers to some of the recent emails.
Lawn seeding – mid-August to about mid-September is the best time of year to seed a lawn. Yes, it’s better than the spring. Why? Both the soil temps and air temps are warmer which leads to better germination.
For more information on lawn seeding, click here.

Creeping Charlie – This time of year, it can look like it is going to take over your yard and it probably is. The best time of year to get rid of creeping Charlie is after the first light frost…which I hope is a long ways away. Don’t spray your lawn with herbicides during these hot days of summer.
For more information on creeping Charlie, click here.

Friday, August 1, 2008


It’s a bumper year for weeds…at least in my yard. Last year, I didn’t practice exactly what I preach and that is keeping the weeds in your yard from going to seed. One weed allowed to go to seed this year will produce countless weeds the next year. That is the case in my yard right now. So, if you have weeds in your yard, keep them under control.

Make your day a good one.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Water, Water, Water

Yea, it’s dry. As I have said before trees, shrubs, evergreens and lawn all need about one inch of water per week. That one inch of water should be delivered at one time and not multiple times during the week. One deep watering creates stronger, deeper and healthier root systems. If you have heavy clay soil or very sandy soils, you may have to water more or less. One inch of water per week is what most soils need. Water in the early morning or early evening. Avoid mid-day and late evening watering. If you water during the heat of the day, much of it evaporates. Watering into the evening leaves the plants wet all night. If we have hot and humid weather, leaving the plants wet all night can lead to bacterial and fungal problems.
For more information on watering, click here.

Make your day a good one.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

More on Hail Damaged Plants

Many of the plants in my yard seem to be bouncing back from the hail that we had a couple of weeks ago. The key now is to just keep removing any additional dead leaves and branches and give the annuals an extra shot of fertilizer to help them recover.

Here is a link that I found that talks more about hail damage and plants.

Make your day a good one.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Dating Game Continues

I’ve been writing this blog for three years. During that time there has been no other posting that got the response than the one titled “plants and dating”. Mmmmm…apparently it struck a chord with lots of people.

In that posting, I mentioned that my Ramblin' Red Climbing roses which have wintered very well in the past died down to ground level this year and clematis which never seems to do well for me were thriving this year. Just like dating, it can go on for months or even years and then end without warning. You can read the entire posting here.

So the love affair continues with the clematis. What do you need to know to grow them? First full or nearly full sun, good organic soil and most importantly, they like warm tops and cool bottoms. What does that mean? Mulch the soil around the base with wood chips to keep the soil cool and moist at all times. The vines or the top part of the plant like full warm sun.

Here is a picture of one of the clematis blooming in my yard.

I’ve got a new love for white in the garden…something about it is refreshing. There is one color that every garden should have in it and that is the color blue. Why blue? It brings the color of the sky into the garden. Sounds crazy, but it’s true. In the background is the gazebo…note that you can barely see the climbing roses coming up from ground level.

For more information on growing clematis click here.

For more information on the various varieties of clematis click here.

Make your day a good one.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The “Other” Geraniums

When it comes to geraniums, most people think of the standard annual geranium, the ivy geranium, Martha Washington geranium and finally the scented geranium. All of those are annual geraniums. What most people either forget about or don’t know about is the “other” geranium – the perennial ones. These are a must in any perennial garden. They start blooming about this time of year…well, actually a bit earlier – everything is late this year. They are unbelievably reliable, hardy and easy to care for. The blooms range in color from whites, pinks and blues. They range in height from about 12-18 or more inches.

Here is a picture of one blooming in my yard right now.

For more information on perennial geraniums, click here.

Make your day a good one.

Monday, June 2, 2008

You should have been here yesterday...

There is a garden saying that I have seen many times that reads "You should have been here yesterday, my garden looked perfect then."

So it goes this past weekend. I was in my yard most of Saturday morning planting a few things and doing some cleanup. Before lunch I looked around and thought to myself that the yard looked as good as it gets...darn near perfect.

A few hours later and while not totally destroyed, it looked much different. My area of Minneapolis did not get the worst of the storm and hail, but it did it's share of damage.

Here are a few random tips and things to keep in mind if your yard and garden had some storm damage.

It is important to clean up all the debris and foliage around the yard. Cleaning up the debris can help prevent disease problems.

Perennials should be given a week or so of recovery time and then given an all purpose granular fertilizer to help give them a boost of energy to help them thru the rest of this growing season.

Annuals that are totally defoliated will probably not recover and should be replaced.

Annuals that still have leaves on them and are not totally crushed should be given at least a week of recovery time to see how they look. If they start growing and look as if they will recover then they should be fertilized with a water soluble fertilizer.

The only trees that need to have a wound dressing type of product applied to cut limbs and branches are oaks and elms.

Annuals will help fill in the holes in perennial gardens.

Most trees and shrubs will recover and should generate new leaves. It will be important to keep hail damaged trees and shrubs well watered during the summer and fall. The hail has stressed the plant and what you want to do is reduce any other stress on the plant such as needing water.

It is absolutely not too late to plant or replant warm weather vegetables such as tomatoes and peppers. I didn't plant them until late about the middle of June last year and I still had a great crop.

Make your day a good one.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

For the Birds

Almost a year ago I put a rock water feature in my back yard. I finally got around to getting it cleaned out and running a couple of weeks ago. No small task, but worth the effort.

Besides the great sound of running water in my yard, I had forgotten how much the birds love it. During the morning hours there is what seems to be a continuous line of birds waiting to take their turn to splash around in the water. Robins, wrens, sparrows, cardinals, finch and more. It's great fun to watch them from my kitchen window as I eat breakfast.

As you plan your landscape, don't forget the birds. A birdbath (keep it filled at all times) or a fountain will surely please them.

Now, if I could just get them to hang up their towels when they are done with their bath.

Make your day a good one.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Garden Season is Here

What has long considered the traditional kickoff of the garden season is upon us. When I was young this was the weekend that we would plant the acre plus vegetable garden and the acre plus of pumpkins and gourds. The weekend always included a trip to Marimel Greenhouse which at the time was my version of heaven with so many plants to pick and choose from.

With the cold late spring, this feels more like the kickoff that I remember.

Right now you can do almost everything and anything in the yard, from dividing perennials, planting seeds (flowers and vegetables) putting down grass seed, getting rid of dandelions, etc.

If you have not put down crabgrass preventer, you are on the cusp of it being too late, but you can put it down anyway and hope for the best.

Here is a photo that I took in my backyard - spring at its best.

Larry's Garden

Make it a great and safe weekend.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Plants and Dating

My most recent life conclusion is that gardening / growing plants is just like dating. Ok….play along with me on this one. You meet and things are pretty good. The relationship can go on for a few months or maybe even a few years and then it can end with or without warning. When it ends, get over it - move on and start the next one. So it goes with my yard this year. If you have followed this blog during the last few years, you know that I love the Ramblin’ Red climbing shrub rose. I have seven of them planted in my yard. They have completely grown over a large metal gazebo in my back yard covering it with hundreds and hundreds of red blooms every summer. For the last seven years they have survived the winter and leafed out at about 6’ above the ground.

On the other hand, there is the clematis. I also have a love affair with the clematis, especially the Jackmanii Clematis. 30 plus years ago when I was just a toddler, (I already told you to play along with me.) I planted a couple of these on the farm in LeSueur where I grew up. To this day, they have survived every winter, leafing out each spring 8-10 feet above ground. For years I have planted a few in my Minneapolis yard only to have them not come back the following year.

So, imagine my surprise a couple weeks ago when I noticed the three clematis I planted last spring were all leafing out. On the other hand the Ramblin’ Red climbing rose appeared totally dead. It is now sending up small sprouts from ground level – not dead, just a major setback.

So, my relationship with the Ramblin’ Red climbing rose is rocky right now. It’s not over, just on the skids so to speak. On the other hand my renewed affair with the clematis is back on. Let’s see how our summer goes.

For more information on the Ramblin’ Red climbing rose click here:

For more information on the Jackmanii Clematis click here:

For more information on growing shrub roses click here:

For more information on growing clematis click here:

Make your day a good one.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Container Gardening

Container Garden Ideas Using Impatiens and New Guinea Impatiens

Part Sun
New Guinea Impatiens
Coral Bells* (Red leaf variety)
Candlestick Vine
Euphorbia Diamond Frost

Kimberly Queen Fern or Hosta *
German Ivy
Bridal Veil

*Perennials should be removed from the container garden in mid-late September and planted in the garden. Water well until frost and they should come back up the following year.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Sunshine = Happiness

At long last 70 degree days and sunshine in the forecast. The cold and wet early spring seems to finally have run its course.

Now is the time to:
Put down crabgrass preventer. Don't procrastinate too long on this one.
Seed your lawn.
Remulch beds and gardens with wood chips and cypress mulch (my favorite).
Plant window boxes, planters.
Divide perennials.

The only thing I would wait another week or so to do is plant warm weather plants such as tomatoes, peppers and putting out tropical plants like hibiscus.

Short of what I just mentioned above, this is the time of year that you can do darn near anything and everything in your yard and garden.

Get out and enjoy the sunshine...these are the days that we live here for!

Make your weekend a great one.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Container Gardening

Here are a couple of recipes for some great looking container gardens.

Shade Container Garden
Hosta ‘Independence’ (Any hosta with white in the leaf can be used.)
Caladium - White
Tuberous Begonia – White
6” Fern
Lime Light Dracaena

Sun Container Garden
Fancy Leaf Geranium
Look for plants with some burgundy color in the leaves.
The fancy leaf geraniums are grown for their leaves not their flowers.
Standard geraniums can be substituted – choose plants with deep red or burgundy flowers.
Potato Vine
Coral Bells ‘Obsidian’ (Any red leaf coral bell plant can be used.)
Purple Fountain Grass
Bauer Dracaena

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Mulch and More

I finally got a fresh layer of cypress mulch put down around my shrubs and perennials.

Why mulch? First it looks good and gives the garden beds a finished look. It helps keeps weeds from growing and during hot weather; it helps keep moisture in the soil so I don’t have water as often. Mmmm…less weeds and less watering…two good reasons for me. I like cypress mulch because it decays slower than other wood chips such as locally ground up trees and it does not attract insects or bugs. I like to get this done early each spring before the plants start growing and as slow as this spring has been in getting going, there has been plenty of time to get it done.

Make your day a good one.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Spring is officially here!

I can now declare that spring is finally here. The calendar - nope it’s just a date. The first robin sighting - no way, some don’t even leave for the winter. I know its spring when I see the first forsythia and magnolia blooming. I could have declared it spring last Wednesday (April 30) that is when I spotted both in bloom. That is a full three weeks later than last year.

Here are a couple of pictures that I snapped in my neighborhood. Yes, you can grow magnolia here in the north – they are not exactly the same as those in the south, but still make a beautiful decorative tree.

For information on various varieties of magnolia that can be grown here, just click here.

For information on forsythia, click here.

Make your day a good one.

Friday, May 2, 2008

A Rainy Weekend...

Patience, patience, patience….mmmmm….something that I’m not very good at. As I write this today, I hear the raining pouring down. The weekend right now looks like it will be hit and miss as far as doing anything in the yard. Saturday looks like it will be a wash, but Sunday might be ok. Before you dig around in your yard, remember to make sure the soil is dry. Digging around in wet soil will usually leads to the soil becoming compacted down.

A few other things:
I would wait one more week to put down crabgrass preventer.
Hold off on dandelion treatments for another week too.
I would not put the warm temperature loving plants out yet. That includes, impatiens, petunias, geraniums and of course anything tropical.

Stay dry, be patient. I know spring will get here eventually.

Make your day a good one.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Cut back your summer blooming shrubs

I didn’t get to putting down the cypress mulch in my yard this weekend, but I did finally get the spireas cut back and the hydrangea tree in the front yard trimmed back. Here are some before and after pictures. If you have not cut back your summer blooming shrubs, have no fear. Our late spring start is giving you plenty of time. You probably have at least one more week to get it done.

For more information on pruning, click here.
Make your day a good one.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Happy Arbor Day

Our weather continues to be less than spring like, but have no fear, there are things that you can do right now. Some of which include planting trees, shrubs and evergreens. It’s also a great idea to put fresh mulch around your plants. As we head into the weekend and weather permitting, I will be mulching my yard. If you want more information on planting trees, click here.

Stay warm, stay dry.
Make your day a good one.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Happy Earth Day

Happy Earth Day!

On this Earth Day, let's all remember the little things that each of us can do to make this Earth a better place for generations ahead. Recycling, composting, using rain barrels, using earth friendly yard and garden products, mowing less and planting more plants that require less care are just a few of the many things that each of us can do.

For more earth friendly tips click here.

Make your day a good one.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Container Planting

Last night, I moved some planters that were being stored in the back yard to the front steps. Every spring I arrange the pots differently. Sometimes there are just a couple pots, this year I’m going all out.

The pots were filled with fresh potting soil. I also added some soil moist to the soil, which helps retain moisture, and added some osmocote slow release fertilizer. They were then planted with large faced multi-colored pansies. Now my neighbors across the street have something better to look at.

Here are a few tips on containers. They must have a drainage hole. Use containers that are ten or more inches in diameter – smaller containers dry out too fast. If you mix colors and styles of containers like I do, you should keep the plantings the same in all the pots. If all of your containers match then you can plant each one differently. One or the other should always be the same.

Make your day a good one.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Lawn and Garden FAQ

At this time of year I get the same questions over and over.
Here are the very brief answers to some of them.

Lawn seeding - wait a couple more weeks. The soil is still too cold.

Crabgrass control – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Put this down when the lilacs are starting to bloom.

Lawn mowing – way too early. Take the time to get the lawn mower blades sharpened now.

Container gardens – replace the soil for a fresh start.

Cut back spirea and potentilla shrubs back to about two inches above the soil.

Average last frost free date – about May 10.

Cool weather crops – plant pansies, radish, lettuce and peas.

For more information on cool weather crops, click here.

Make your day a good one.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Outdoor Planting

I love taking what most people consider as indoor plants and planting them outside in containers. We often forget that these plants are growing outdoors somewhere. The short list of these plants includes ivies, ferns and bromeliads. Last night I started some ivy plants in peat pots. This is so easy to do. Cut some stems off your plants, remove the lower leaves, dip the end in rooting hormone, and push into some seed starting soil. In a few weeks, they should have roots on them and can be planted outdoors.

Make your day a good one.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Spring is Near

I needed some spring in a bad way. Our weather is still not cooperating. Daffodils were the answer. Take a bunch or two, cut them very short, and push them into a floral frog (A floral frog is weighted with lots of pins that flower stems are pushed into – it holds stems upright.)

I placed this in a low container -you can use a bowl or dish. A few small rocks were placed around it and it was good to go. 24 hours later, the flowers were in full bloom. A nice round mound of bright, fragrant and cheerful daffodils – a hope that spring will soon be here.


Make your day a good one.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Fun in the Sun

I just got back from a long weekend of visiting very good friends in Phoenix. Lots of sun, 70 degree days, time by the pool and amazing cactus in bloom-it was a great four day trip.

I’ve looked at and studied many flowers and I can think of no other flowers that have the colors and color intensity of cactus blooms. There is something about them that is really indescribable.

I will get some pictures from Phoenix posted here soon.

Make your day a good one.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

April Fools' Day

Its April Fools' Day, the snow is falling…spring still looks like it’s somewhere in the distance what a better time to launch a new season of home and garden blogging. I’ve got lots of ideas and new things planned, so check back here frequently.

Make your day a good one.