Greengirls Helen Yarmoska, Nicole Hvidsten, Martha Buns, Connie Nelson, Kim Palmer and Mary Jane Smetanka are dishin' the dirt from the back-yard garden and beyond. Whether you're a greenthumb or greenhorn, they're eager to learn from your mishaps, mistakes - and most importantly, your sweet successes - all growing season long.
After visiting with him, I went to fill my car up with gas. The person in line in front of me had two gas tanks and a lawn mower in back. Hmm, maybe my advice to Mike wasn’t that good. With gas at $4.39 a gallon maybe he should forget about his lawn.
If you just don’t use the lawnmower does grass work like a bald man’s
This high-priced gas is supposed to last until June, by then dandelions and quack grass will move in and no one will notice. (Is that like a wig for a patchy lawn?)
So, Mike, let the Great Dane romp in the back yard. Forget about filling in those patchy spots and forget about mowing twice a week. What do you guys think? Live and let live? Go bald or go home?
Watching perennials emerge from the ground this late, strange spring has been like watching a very lopsided race.
Some of my plants are accelerating like Usain Bolt, while others are starting so slowly and tentatively that I'm not sure they're ever going to look like their former selves.
The difference is especially stark with my ligularias. I have two varieties, a green-leafed one with sharp serrated edges, and a darker, glossier variety with a softer-shaped leaf.
Most years, these two plants develop at about the same pace. But this year, the green plants are already full and bushy, while the dark ones are poking up just a few timid leaves.
The two types are in the same garden plot, about 15 inches from each other, so there's no difference in soil, light or moisture.
So is it the leaf color? Are dark-leafed plants more delicate, more finicky about weather?
What are you noticing in your garden this spring? Are plants growing at different paces than usual?
A stormy Saturday morning didn't deter the hard-core gardeners who turned out for our Greengirls plant swap. Despite the dark clouds, the mood was light: Yes, gardeners were in their element.
I'm a casual gardener, but have high hopes of some day being one of those hard-core g
I left the plant swap drenched and cold (note to self: wear rubber boots next year), but full of fresh ideas and motivation. I spent time online looking at garden plans, and reading -- with interest! -- the Farmer's Almanac site. As the day went on, my imaginary gardens grew bigger and bigger. The cutting garden was full of daisies, my favorite flower, and my vegetable garden would not only feed my family, but my friends and neighbors, too. My yard was looking amazing.
Then I stumbled onto this bit of advice from the Farmer's Almanac: It's better to be proud of a small garden than to be frustrated by a big one.
And that advice came at the perfect time -- before the digging started. I've now decided to grow in phases. I'll add space for a few more vegetables this year, while staking out places for the perennial garden I'll add this fall. I'll chip away at things over the summer and fall to better prepare myself for next year's gardening season. And then, when I attend the Greengirls plant swap, not only will I know what I need for my gardens, I may even have plants -- or stories -- to swap.
How have you dealt with garden expansion? I'd love to hear your successes and tips.
And we're not afraid to use them if necessary Saturday morning for the plant swap. The current forecast calls for it to be merely cloudy from 10 a.m. to noon, but we're prepared if need be.
And if the rain ever lets up, I'll be digging up a few of these deep pink bleeding hearts to take along since some of them have sprouted in areas I would prefer they not.
We've got a good selection of plants to get things started and have yet to see anyone ever go home empty-handed. We'll be in the mini park across the street from the main Star Tribune building at 425 Portland Ave. in downtown Minneapolis. Parking for participants is free in the parking lot during the event.
Since this year many plants are less mature, labeling isn't a bad idea. It can be as simple as a piece of masking tape with the name written on. If you have a plant with an unusual bloom that's not yet in evidence, you can grab a catalog to show people what it will look like later.
Don't have any plants to trade and are just looking to get started? No worries; there are always veteran gardeners who are mainly looking to get rid of their excess, so you can always score a few freebies.
Here's a link to six tips to get the most out of a plant swap, rain or shine:www.startribune.com/lifestyle/homegarden/blogs/Greengirls.html
This bay plant is ready for its closeup with the sun. Up until this week, it’s only had field trips to the outside for partial days, getting trundled back to the dim safety of the basement where it’s spent the past several winters.
It’s one of several plants I try to overwinter. Some, like the Vietnamese cilantro, make it just a few months until giving up the ghost in January . I’ve had my best luck with rosemary, sage, parsley and oregano. Thyme plants have been hit or miss. Sun-loving basil is a no-go; plant lights are no substitute for the blazing midsummer rays. Kale and Swiss chard drop their big leaves, but still send up fresh shoots.
After coaxing them through a long winter, the real moment of truth comes when they’re carted back outside to their summer patio home. Many have gotten straggly reaching for the light, and even plants that look a comparatively healthy green in the basement look anemic in the light of day. I try to ease the transition, bringing them out on mild days and tucking them in the shade. Sometimes they don’t get over the shock to the system and die off; sometimes the current growth dies back but it comes back strong from the roots. Other times I get lucky and the plant takes off anew.
Sure, I could just compost the plants in fall and buy new ones next spring. But it’s nice to have a ready source of fresh rosemary all winter, and there is some sense of satisfaction for having successfully cajoled the plant through another year. Plus, that’s money saved that I can put toward another basil plant.
What’s your success story or tale of woe with overwintering plants? And what herbs are you trying to grow this year?
You can always bring any overwintered plants -- or excess house plants -- to the plant swap this Saturday 10 a.m. to noon across from the Star Tribune building in downtown Minneapolis. (See details here: www.startribune.com/lifestyle/homegarden/206933391.html) Trust me, someone wants what you don't. And everyone who shows up just looking to offload excess plants winds up wandering home with a plant (or carful of plants). And if it rains, we have tents lined up, so stop by and enjoy swapping plants and stories with fellow gardeners. Here's a link to a post about how to get the most out of a plant swap: www.startribune.com/lifestyle/homegarden/blogs/151894905.html
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