Thursday, November 5, 2009

On a Hiatus

I am currently taking a break from the blog.

Make your day a good one.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Emerald Ash Borer

Emerald ash borer made all the headlines this past May when it was discovered in Saint Paul. Since then, not a lot has been said in the media. It has been estimated by some accounts that there are 10 million ash trees in the State of Minnesota and that it is possible that all of those trees except those that are treated could be gone in ten years or less. It’s important to keep in mind that ash trees were a very popular replacement for elm trees that died from Dutch elm disease.

There are several different treatments that a homeowner can apply to their ash trees to prevent emerald ash borer. Any treatment must include the ingredient imidacloprid. The treatment must be done once a year, every year for the rest of the life of that ash tree. Right now and early spring are the best times of year to treat ash trees.

There is a lot more to know about this, read more about Emerald Ash Borer treatment.

Make your day a good one.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Tomato Ripening

I grow tomatoes for one thing- bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches that must have vine-ripened tomatoes. Yum!

The warmer temps have finally started to speed up the ripening of tomatoes in my yard. To help tomatoes that are slow to ripen now or later in the season, it helps to “shock” the plant. Shocking can be any number of things such as holding back water which means watering less, pinching back the top growth by four inches or so or taking a shovel and pushing it into the soil about two feet away from the plant to cut some roots.

I have used this technique in mid-September for years to help those last tomatoes ripen. If yours are not ripening, give it a try.

Make your day a good one.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Fall is for Planting

The months of September and October are a perfect time to do yard and garden planting. Warm soil temperatures and cool night temperatures make it an excellent time to establish plants. Plus, most plants are on sale at the garden centers so you can save some money too. Here are some planting guidelines.

Evergreens – plant until about mid-September so they have time to take root and establish themselves before the winter sets it.

Perennials – can be planted until late September or early October.
Trees and shrubs – can be planted until about November 1.

The key to success is keeping them all watered. This means at least an inch or so of water every week until the ground freezes.

Make your day a good one.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Home Canning

I’m one to always try something new and while I avoid most trends, the trend of home canning is one I decided to give a try. I grew up with a mother and two grandmothers who did lots of home canning. I can remember the pots of boiling water and the smell of vinegar permeating the entire house. The reaction from most of my friends and family when I told them I was going to try this was “are you kidding, just buy it”.

So, three weeks ago with all my supplies purchased which was no small investment even though I had the jars on hand, I set out to give it a try. Of course it was a hot humid Saturday and turning on the air conditioning would have been no help. I got up early in the morning and headed to the Saint Paul Farmer’s Market for a supply of cucumbers. My goal for the day was bread and butter pickles and spicy dill pickles. After six steamy hours in the kitchen my mission was accomplished and I looked at my kitchen table with admiration with all the jars lined up like soldiers. 72 jars of pickles to be exact – not a bad days work. Since that day, I have also done 38 jars of a personal favorite- spicy green beans.

If my new hobby is any indication of what the winter will be like, prepare for the worst! I’m canning like I will be snowed in all winter – living off pickles and green beans. I still want to give tomatoes a try and at least one more type of pickles. For now that will have to wait until after the State Fair.

Before I stared this adventure I did lots of reading on the subject. That included buying a couple of canning cookbooks and doing some online reading from reputable canning sources. Because you are dealing with food, it’s very important to read and follow all directions. Especially those on cleaning and proper processing of jars to get a seal. In the 100 plus jars that I have done every single jar has sealed – in my opinion a pretty good average.

I found home canning not to be very difficult, it’s just very time consuming. I would recommend having someone help with the process. It would be a great thing to do with a friend or relative. What about saving money doing home canning? I’m not convinced I did. If you have all the necessary supplies on hand and grew everything yourself then you probably would. Since I had to buy everything but the jars, it did add up quickly. Will I continue this for years to come? Most likely I will since I found it to be a great way to spend a Saturday and a few evenings.

For information on canning here is a great site from Ball (the maker of jars and lids).

The University of Minnesota also has a great site that I found to be very helpful.

Make your day a good one.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Iris and Daylilies

It is that time of year to dig up, divide and replant iris and daylilies. In my own yard in the few sunny areas I do have some daylilies. The main reason to divide them is that after a few years of growing they need to be split up so they perform better and so that you get some more blooms. If you have seen a big clump of daylilies or iris and they don’t seem to be blooming much in season, it’s often because they have not been divided. As an added bonus dividing and splitting gives you more plants for your yard or better yet, share with a friend or neighbor.

As for those daylilies in my own yard it’s been a few years and time to split those on the back hill.

For more information on iris click here

For more information on daylilies click here.

For more information on dividing all types of perennials click here

Make your day a good one.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Eat Local

We are now at the time of year that I make a visit at least once a week to a local roadside stand or one of the major farmer’s markets. There is nothing like locally grown produce.
The sweet corn is excellent this year, the green beans and other vegetables are abundant. These farmers work hard to grow all of this great stuff. So, take the time to support them and eat local.

For information on Farmer’s Markets all over Minnesota click here.

For the Saint Paul Farmers Market click here.

For the Minneapolis Farmer’s Market click here.

Make your day a good one.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Slow Tomatoes

Yes, the tomatoes are slow to ripen this year. Our lack of hot summer weather is putting them at least two or more weeks behind. In my small backyard garden I have just picked a few small cherry tomatoes and the first of the yellow pear tomatoes are just starting to ripen. The large tomatoes that I love for bacon lettuce and tomatoes sandwiches are doing nothing and look like they could be at least a month away from ripening. I love our cooler summer weather but it is not helping those plants that love it hot.

Make your day a good one.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Perennials for Summer

During the hot days of summer, you can still plant perennials and for that matter trees, shrubs and evergreens. It’s not a good time to divide perennials but those purchased at a garden center can be planted now. The key is keeping them well watered from planting time until the ground the freezes. This will ensure that they will survive the winter and perform well next year. As a rule of thumb, perennials are best planted by mid-September. For more information on great perennials for summer click here.

Make your day a good one.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Living off the Land

Well, I'm not exactly living off the land, but I'm enjoying some delicious blackberries from my yard right now. I have mentioned that you don't need a lot of space to grow vegetables in your yard. You can also grow some fruit in your yard in a limited amount of space.

The only thing in my backyard when I bought my house were a couple of overgrown blackberry plants. The plants needed pruning, dividing and fertilizing. Within two years, I had some plants that were producing an abundance of berries in a very small space. The area behind my garage next to a fence is only three feet deep by about 15 feet long. From that space, I usually harvest five or more large bowls of berries. Perfect for desserts or munching on. Better yet is sharing them with friends and neighbors.

Three years ago I planted some table grapes next to my front door and installed some wire for them to grow on and over the door. As you can tell from the photos, it has filled in and is now both decorative and functional. By Labor Day, I should be enjoying some delicious homegrown grapes.

Note: The grapes are not planted in the container in front of the door. It just looks like it in the photo. The plants are actually planted in the ground next to the front door.

Look around your yard and see if their is some space to grow some raspberries, blackberries or grapes. All you need is well drained good soil and full sun. You too could be enjoying some great produce from your yard in just a couple of years.

Make your day a good one.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Giant Hosta

Several people emailed me after my posting on shade plants asking how I get my hosta to be so large. Here are a few tips:

First look at the tags or signs when you buy them. Look for varieties that will get at least 30" or more in height. There are so many types of hosta to choose from that it is hard to put a list together, but the tags will tell you. If you don't start with a variety that gets large, there is no way you can get a huge plant.

Next, plant in filtered shade. Mine are under a honeylocust tree. It is not full shade but dappled shade. Fertilize them every spring with an all purpose fertilizer. Finally, never and I mean never divide them. Mine have been planted for nine years and have never been divided and never will be.

For more information on growing hostas, click here.

Make your day a good one.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Butterflies in the Garden

There is nothing as enchanting as butterflies fluttering about in the garden, dancing from plant to plant. The beautiful orange monarchs and other butterflies are always a sight to see.

Butterflies are attracted to plants that are rich in nectar. They also need to stay in the sun for warmth - that is why they avoid cool shady locations. A water source such as a birdbath or bowl with water will also attract butterflies.

For more information on butterflies in the garden and a list of plants they are attracted to, click here.

Now through September 7, you can also see some butterflies at the Blooming Butterflies exhibit at Como Park.

Pink flowering spirea in my front yard that always attract butterflies.

Make your day a good one.

Monday, June 22, 2009

When are you going to mow your lawn?

On Saturday, my neighbor walked by my house and asked when I was going to mow my lawn. He knew that I had just finished mowing it. Yes, my lawn is long by most people's standards even after mowing. After mowing, it's about three inches long. Before mowing about it's about four to four and half inches long.

Why so long? There are a few reasons. First the long blades of the grass shade the ground, keeping it cooler which means it needs less water. A cool, shaded ground prevents weeds from growing.

So, my lawn might be long, but it's lush, green and not needing a lot of maintenance. So, raise that blade and let it grow.

Make your day a good one.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Growing in the Shade

I often want what I can't have. In this case, it's full sun in my backyard. Instead, I have considerable amounts of shade and growing sun loving perennials is out of the question. Trust me, I tried for the first three years. Once I accepted the fact that I had mostly shade, my backyard started looking a whole lot better.

Deciding that you have full sun is pretty darn easy - the area just needs six or more hours of sun. For shade, it's a little trickier. If you have six or less hours of sun then you have shady conditions - a good example would be on the north side of a house - that's an easy one to figure out. It's shade in the yard that can be harder to figure out. Some areas may have dappled shade part of the day and full sun the rest, say under or near a tree. Sometimes in these areas, sun loving perennials may thrive - often, it's just trial and error.

One thing to remember is that the shade garden will not have the flowers that a sun garden will have. So, instead you should look for plants that have lots of textures, unique foliages and lots of colors in the leaves. Plant these plants and for that matter all perennials in groups of at least three or more. This will give you far more visual impact. When you see a beautiful garden in a magazine, look at how many of one type of plant are in one grouping. By mixing textures and leaf shapes in the perennial garden you can create a wow that will be as memorable as any sun loving garden.

Here are a few perennials that love the shade:
Hostas - countless varieties are out there.
Coral Bells
One of my favorite plants.
I love the red leaves against green and yellow leaved hosta.
Another great textured plant to mix in the shade garden.
Foam Flowers
One of the best blooming shade loving plants.
Look for varieties that have some hints of red in the foliage.

For more information on plants for the shade, click here.

Here are a couple pictures of the shady areas of my yard.

Make your day a good one.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Deer, Deer, Deer

We all like to look at them in the backyard, but we hate what they can do to our yards and gardens. What to do about deer in the yard is probably in the top ten list of emails I get.
Short of putting in an extremely large gated fence around your property it can be difficult to control them. There are products that can help prevent them from eating plants in the yard. Each product is applied slightly differently and at different times based on rain, etc. Be sure to always read and follow label directions. There are also plants that are less desirable to the appetite of a hungry deer.

For more information on specific products that help repel deer and plants that deer are less likely to eat, click here:

Make your day a good one.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Multi Million Dollar Rain

Yesterdays rain was much needed and very overdue. Almost instantly everything looked fresher. As a reminder, lawns and most gardens need about one inch of moisture per week and it’s best delivered all at one time and not randomly during the course of a week.

I know in the next few days, I will receive emails from folks who want to know why their brown lawn did not green up after the rain. A lawn that was allowed to go dormant because of a lack of water during our dry weather will not necessarily green up until possibly late August. Even if your lawn is brown, watering it will help the root system stay healthy so it can green up again in late summer.

Make your day a good one.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Deadheading Tulips and Daffodils

Now that the tulips and daffodils are well past their bloom, it is a good time to remind everyone that you should cut the flower stem off. Just cut it off near the base and throw in the compost pile. DO NOT cut back the foliage on any of your spring blooming bulbs until it is completely dried up. The leaves of these plants are making food that is stored in the bulb so that it has the energy to produce a flower next year. So, just cut back the dead stem. It is also a good time to fertilize your bulbs with an all-purpose plant food. This too will help give them a boost of energy.

Make your day a good one.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Tomato Staking

Before your tomatoes become too large, it’s important to provide some support to keep the large stems from lying on the ground. Keeping the stems and most importantly the fruit above the ground will help prevent fungal and bacterial problems. I put tomato cages around my plants and also some bamboo stakes to help the support the large plants. In the past when I have used just the tomato cages, they have had a tendency to tip over.

Here is a photo of what mine look like after staking.

A few other tomato tips include:
Keep tomatoes evenly watered. They don’t like extremes in going from dry to wet.

Make sure you keep them well fertilized – tomatoes plants are heavy feeders.
Any well-balanced fertilizer will work.

For more tips on growing tomatoes, click here:

Make your day a good one.

Thursday, May 28, 2009


Since Emerald Ash Borer has been found in Saint Paul, I've been getting lots of questions about what trees to plant. There are many options that I list below.

When choosing a tree, one of the most important things to keep in mind is selecting the right tree for the space. Trees not only grow up, but also grow wider. Make sure trees are not planted to close to buildings since they will get much larger. Select the right tree, for the right location for the soil conditions you have.

It's also important that we promote urban forest diversity. We should not be planting just one type of tree in our yards or city blocks filled with just one type of tree. It's more important than ever to mix it up and have a variety of trees.

For more information on planting a tree in clay soils, click here.

For information on planting a tree in sandy and loamy soils, click here.

Trees can loosely be put into two categories - shade and ornamental. Shade trees are those that as their name indicates, make great shade trees while the ornamental trees can give shade but are smaller in size.

Here are a few choices for each. This list is by no means complete. There are many more options than what I can list here.

Shade Trees
    Autumn Gold

    Autumn Blaze

    Green Mountain Sugar

Linden (Basswood)






Ornamental Trees

    Spring Snow


Pagoda Dogwood

Japanese Tree Lilac
    Ivory Silk


Hawthorn Thornless

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Container Vegetable Garden Harvest

Today I harvested the first vegetables from my garden. A handful of radish from my raised vegetable garden and lettuce plucked from some containers. There is nothing like fresh harvested produce from your own garden.

The lettuce in the pots was planted the same time as lettuce in the raised garden but was ready for eating at least one week earlier. The pots were next to the house where they stayed warmer during our cold nights. The lettuce in the pots shows that you can grow so many more things other then just tomatoes in pots. Peppers, eggplant, bush cucumbers, bush beans, etc. are all perfect container candidates. The key is to use a large pot - one that is 12" or larger in diameter, potting soil, full sun and plenty of water and fertilizer.

It's not by any means to late to start your own vegetables yet this year. If you can't grow your own, check out Farmer's Market in your area and buy locally grown.

Make your day a good one.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Frosty Nights

The average frost free date is May 15, but as we all know nothing about our weather is ever average. The plants that are most susceptible to damage are those crops that were grown in a greenhouse and are now outside. The partial list includes tomatoes, peppers, impatiens, geraniums, etc. Perennials (those plants that come back year after year) which are in your garden may get nipped by frost, but should recover in a few weeks.

With the threat of frost loaming tonight here are some tips for protecting your plants:
Cover early in the evening to trap in the heat.
Use bed sheets or other fabric coverings - plastic does not trap the heat in so avoid using it.
Cardboard boxes work well for protection.
Tent the fabric over the plants. Don't just throw it on top of plants.
Weigh the fabric down so it does not blow off during the night.
Hanging baskets should be brought indoors.
Planters that can easily be moved can also be brought indoors.
Don't uncover until the temps are close to 40 degrees in the morning.
Plants that are nipped by frost should be given a few days to recover and only then removed and replanted if they don't look like they are going to grow.
Fertilize in a week or so to help give the plants the energy to regrow.

Make your day a good one.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Container Gardens and More

It appears that it will be on the chilly side this weekend. That being said, I will be in my yard planting up some 30 or so containers. I like to mix it up and try different things each year and never be predictable. As I previously mentioned, I’m using lots of orange this year in my yard and gardens. I wanted cheery and bright and orange seems perfect. Listed below are seven ideas with pictures of different container gardens. Try something new this year, have some fun with your containers and don’t be predictable. Listed below are some container garden quick tips.

Also this weekend, I may try to make a quick trip to the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chanhassen. I try to get out there three times a year – spring, summer and fall. With the daffodils, crabapples and lilacs in bloom it should be a perfect time to take in all the color. Here is a link to their website.

Make your day a good one.

Seven Ideas for Container Gardens

The Monochromatic Container

Pick a color, any color and fill your container with flowers and plants all in the same color family. Nothing creates attention like color. The use of one color will be sure to get attention.

Decorative and Edible

Don't limit herb plants to being grouped together in one container. Mix parsley, rosemary, sage and oregano in all your sun-loving planters with flowers anywhere in your yard. Not only will your planters look great, you can use the herbs for cooking too.

All Foliage Planter

Create a different look in your outdoor planters by filling them will all foliage plants. Choose plants with leaves that are different shapes, textures and colors for a unique look. No flowers needed. The look is sure to draw attention.

Outdoor Succulent Garden

For a trendy touch of the southwest, fill your containers with succulents. Choose a low, squatty container and plant with an assortment of different succulents. Place in full sun and water infrequently. Rain will probably be enough to keep it looking great all summer and into the fall. Bring indoors before the first frost.

Indoor Plants Outdoors

All plants grow outdoors somewhere in the world, so why not plant them outdoors in containers and enjoy during our summer months? Great full sun plants include: crotons, ivy and ficus. For the shade, try ferns, peace lily and philodendrons.

Container Herbs and Vegetables

No space for a vegetable or herb garden? Tomatoes, peppers and eggplants are easy to grow in large containers. Use a container that is 12” or larger and fill with potting soil. Keep in full sun. Water daily and fertilize weekly.

Perennial Beauty

Break away from the predictable. Shade loving perennials such as hosta and coral bells are perfect in containers. The foliage adds a rich texture and distinctive look. In September, plant the perennials in your garden and replace with garden mums.

Container Gardening Quick Tips

Use containers 10” or larger. Smaller containers dry out quickly during hot summer days.

Always use potting soil, replacing it every year.

Mix osmocote slow release fertilizer and Soil Moist in the soil before planting. The Soil Moist will help keep the soil from drying out. Osmocote will release nutrients into the soil every time you water. Some soil mixes already have this, so no need to add more.

Before planting your container gardens water the plants well while they are still in the paks or pots. Moisten the soil in the container too. This way, your first watering after planting will soak in more quickly and the soil will be evenly moist.

Choose plants from three different groups:
Upright plants – add height.
Bushy plants – fill in the middle and add fullness.
Trailing plants – hang over the sides of the container and add softness.

Select plants that can tolerate the sun or shade conditions you have.
Six or less hours of direct light is usually considered shade.
Six or more hours of direct light is usually considered sun.
The north and east sides of a home are considered shade.

Use a liquid fertilizer each week from late June on to help keep the containers growing and lush. Remember that containers have a limited amount of soil to hold nutrients and need fertilizer every single week.

Remove flowers once they start fading to help promote more growth and new flowers.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Your questions with answers

Here are a few recent email questions I received with answers.

Disclaimer: There are many products that often work for various yard and garden problems including organic solutions. I can’t list them all here. The products listed are ones that I’ve personally used or know someone else has used and had good results. Always read and follow label directions.

Is it OK or is it harmful to weed the garden after a rain when the ground is soft?

It is really not good to be walking on the soil when it is moist as this leads to soil compaction, which can make it harder for plants to grow. If you are just reaching in and pulling the weeds from say your lawn or a path that it is fine.

I saw you on KSTP TV talking about killing crabgrass. You mentioned something about corn gluten. What is it I need to get to kill crabgrass that is already growing?

Corn gluten prevents crabgrass from germinating and is put on right now. Crabgrass that is growing already can be treated with Bayer Crabgrass Killer or Ortho Weed B Gon Max plus Crabgrass.

Help!! My trees are lumpy. Two summers ago I noticed small lumps or warts on the leaves of two of my trees. Last year they were on a few more trees and covered the whole tree. There were so many of these "lumps" on the leaves that most of them became a curled up balls. They did not die, but they look rather unsightly and I think it will stunt new growth. I fear this year it may continue to spread to more of my trees. I am not sure if it is a disease, fungus, insect or a harmless part of nature. If there is something I can do to treat or prevent this please let me know.

It is a plant gall. It does not hurt the plant at all, it's just part of nature. Treatments are mostly ineffective and since it does no harm, why bother.

How do we get rid of voles in our backyard? Not moles but voles.

Molemax Mole and Vole Repellent is probably the best thing to try.

What is the best way to keep the deer and rabbits out of my garden?

Both are very difficult if not sometimes impossible to keep out. Fencing with very small holes in it can help with the rabbits. A few products that will help with the deer include:
Liquid Fence
Shotgun Deer and Rabbit Repellent
Repellex Deer and Rabbit Repellent

Everywhere I have hostas I have moss all over the ground, how can I get rid of the moss without killing the hostas and other plants and flowers?

Personally, I love moss in the garden. The only place I don't like it is on walkways or stepping-stones because it gets slippery. Bonide Moss Max can be used to treat it. Even with treatment it will keep coming back if you don't change the conditions. You can't change the shade or usually the moisture that moss thrives on. Since it also likes acidic soil conditions, adding some lime to the soil and making it more alkaline may (I emphasize may) keep it from growing back.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

To all the Mom's who read this, I wish you a great weekend and a Happy Mother's Day. You deserve it!

There is the window of opportunity in our yards and garden each spring where you can do almost anything. The time varies from year to year. Right now we are in the midst of that window.

Here is a partial list of everything that can be done:
dividing perennials
seeding a lawn
putting down lawn fertilizer
treating for dandelions
putting down crabgrass control
planting annuals and perennials
starting a vegetable garden
starting water fountains and water gardens
planting flower and vegetable seeds
starting a herb garden
mulching gardens and beds

About the only thing that I can think of right now that you should NOT be doing is any pruning of trees, shrubs and evergreens.

Make your day and weekend a good one.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Color Trends

Some time ago, I mentioned that the hottest trend in gardening is growing vegetables and herbs. I've witnessed this trend first hand and know there is going to be a lot of harvesting going on in a couple of months.

What about color trends with plants? Well, it should come as no surprise that yellow is the color that is "in" right now in garden plants. Some will say mimosa is the "in" color which has a little more orange in it.

Other colors that are in vogue right now include purple, blue and layered shades of green. For years, I have said that every garden should have the color blue in it since it brings the color of the sky into the garden. Plus, blue goes with all other colors in the garden, so don't forget to have blue in the garden.

In my own yard and planters, I'm going with vibrant and bright orange with a tropical touch. My planters are going to include bird of paradise plants with their large leaves, layers of orange colored annuals and a hint of yellow. I want bright, colorful and cheerful this year.

Now, there is no need to be trendy. Go with colors that make you feel good and colors you like. There are no rights and there are no wrongs. Just have fun and be creative and don't be afraid to try something new.

Make your day a good one.

Monday, May 4, 2009


What a weekend it was, in fact it was perfection! In my own yard, I finished putting down some fresh cypress mulch in the shrub beds, planted some herbs in the planters next to my house and filled all the pots and containers with fresh potting soil. I also dug up and moved a couple hosta plants.

I’ve had lots of people asking about planting tomatoes, peppers and warm weather annuals. I always remind people that the average last frost-free date is about May 15. We’ve had frost much later then that too. That being said, I checked the seven and ten-day forecasts and it appears that our night temperatures are going to stay pretty warm. I’m going to go out and start planting some warm weather plants in my yard knowing full well that it could still get very cold at night.

Make your day a good one.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Great Weekend Ahead!

It looks like we will have a perfect spring weekend ahead. In my own yard, it’s time to get the last of the prep work done. That includes some final raking, putting down some grass seed in the dead spots and filling containers with fresh potting soil.

Get out and enjoy the beautiful weather.

Make your day a good one.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Happy Arbor Day

“The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best is now”. Chinese proverb
I love that proverb. It reminds me that we are not planting trees for ourselves (at least for those of us approaching middle age) but rather for the next generation who will enjoy them.

I’m often asked what is my favorite tree. The truth is that I really don’t have one. It all depends on the time of year. Right now, I love the beautiful magnolias that are in bloom. Yes, you can grow magnolias in Minnesota. The large snow white (did I just use the word snow) are so showy and a wonderful welcome to spring. There are also some varieties that have pink blooms.

Here are some links to some of my favorite magnolias:

Leonard Messel


Royal Star

Happy Arbor Day! Make your day a good one.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day

As we celebrate all things earth, I’m glad to be reminded to recycle, reuse and repurpose, conserve and not waste. I love this Jason Davis on KSTP TV story about the young lady from New Ulm, MN who found a new use for glass. It’s pretty sweet.
Watch the story here.

Make your day a great one.

Friday, April 17, 2009

What Can You Do Right Now in Your Yard

As we hit mid-April, we are all getting the itch to get out in our yard and gardens to get things done, often doing things earlier then we should. Our very pleasant days are only making us want to get out there even more.

Here is a partial list of things that we can be doing right now and the list of don’t even think about it.

Note – on the second list, the dates in parenthesis are when you should be doing it.

Do it now
Prune back spirea, potentilla, barberry and hydrangea.
Plant cool weather vegetables – lettuce, radish, peas, etc.
Add fresh mulch around trees, shrubs and perennials.
Plant cool weather loving pansies.
Raking your lawn.
Having your lawn mower blade sharpened.
Making sure the lawn mower starts and has the oil changed.
Filling all planters, pots and window boxes with fresh potting soil.
Cleaning and starting up water fountains and water gardens.

Don’t even think about it.
Seeding your lawn (late April – May)
Lawn Fertilizing (wait about 10 more days)
Applying crabgrass preventer (when the lilacs are starting to show color)
Planting warm weather vegetables – tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, etc. (May 15 –June 15)
Pruning any trees, evergreens and shrubs other then the shrubs listed above.
Trees (most in the winter) Evergreens (most in June) Spring blooming shrubs like azaleas, rhododendrons and lilacs (right after they are done blooming)
Removing leaves, hay or straw mulch. (wait about one more week)

Make your day a good one.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Desert Botanical Garden

Last weekend I had the good fortune to spend time in Phoenix visiting friends. One of the highlights of the weekend was a visit to the Desert Botanical Garden. In addition to seeing all the incredible cactus and succulents the garden had an incredible exhibit of Dale Chihuly glass. I have been fascinated with the art of glass blowing for several years since visiting some glass blowing studios in Seattle. I have also admired the Chihuly glass ceiling at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas. This amazing outdoor exhibit combing the blown glass, cactus and succulents excided all my expectations. Here are a few pictures. If you happen to be in Phoenix, take the time to visit this exhibit. It runs until May 31.

For more information on the Desert Botanical Garden log on to:

Friday, April 3, 2009

Grow Your Own Vegetables and Herbs

April 3, 2009

The hottest gardening trend this year is growing your own vegetables and herbs. This is a trend that I can truly hang my hat on and embrace. Growing up on a farm, near LeSueur our nearly one acre garden provided a plethora of fresh vegetables from early spring to late fall. Now I have my approximate 5’x12’ raised garden bed in Minneapolis that provides some produce during the summer months. For those of you that have been following this blog for a few years, you’ll know that I installed this raised bed a couple of years ago. For those of you reading this for the first time, I will provide the details of how to install a raised vegetable bed in a future blog posting.

Growing your own is fun, easy and inexpensive. If you have kids, they will love it too. Just remember to grow things that they will eat.

A few things that you must keep in mind to grow your own vegetables:
The area must have full sun – meaning eight or more hours of direct sunlight. No exceptions.

You must have good soil, rich in organic matter (compost, manure, etc.). Sandy soils and heavy clay soils will not be good for growing vegetables.
Have a water source nearby. Vegetables need consistent and even watering. Having a hose accessible will make this much easier.

Here are some links to more on growing your own vegetables and herbs.

Tomato Basics

Sprout Savings in Your Backyard

5 No Fail Veggies

How to Grow Your Own Vegetables

Make your day and weekend a good one.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Happy April 1st!

It’s All Fool’s Day, snowing outside and not feeling very spring like, but none-the-less, it’s time to kick of another season of blog writing. I will once again be showing and telling you what is going on in my own yard and garden. This year, I will be doing more blogs on “the rest of the story”. This will be more information and links to more information on the segments done on KSTP TV. Most often there is far more information then what I can cover in the time given. I will also be grabbing the occasional viewer question that has been emailed in and answering it here too.