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.
Walking through my garden last night I felt a bit like Sergio Leone in 1966. Through the kitchen, spaghetti was wafting, I felt like I had the script of “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” in my hand and all I needed were the characters. Sure, Clint Eastwood might work for one of these parts, but really, the garden has it all.
Look what happened to my broccoli plants! One would think that the warm spring was battle enough for these broccoli plants, now they have a little critter hiding behind a rock waiting for the right moment. Good thing for him I’m a gardener and not a 6-shooter tottin’ cowboy like Clint.
The chef calls from the kitchen... "please bring in the herbs, it's time to add them to the sauce!" Back to reality.
What have you got in your garden that’s Good, Bad or Ugly? Who’s making the part in your garden/movie?
Summer fatigue. It happens every year, but this year, it's happening earlier than usual.
I'm talking about the container plants that start out in June looking all fresh and perky, but lose their looks long before summer ends.
This year it's my nasturtiums that have gone ugly on me -- something that doesn't usually happen until August.
The stems are scraggly, the lilypad-like leaves are now withered and shrunken, and the profusion of orange blooms has dwindled to a few random stragglers.
I'm about ready to give up on them and replace them with something more attractive.
I have plenty of old-faithful foliage plants that I rely on to keep my pots looking pretty past Labor Day. My elephant ears are loving this hot, humid weather, and my moneywort is tumbling so fetchingly down the sides of my urns and pots.
But I could use some tough, heat-tolerant flowers as well.
So I'm taking suggestions. What blooms have worked best for you?
These are the days that run up the water bill.
With a string of 90-plus and even 100-degree temperatures in the forecast over the next few days, we're going to be dumping a lot of water on our plants, trying to keep them healthy and hydrated in this extreme heat.
Even with extra watering, plants can suffer from heat stress in weather like this. My leaf lettuce and arugula are already bolting. My begonia blossoms look scorched.
My tomatoes look OK for now, but I'm a little worried they'll soon be wilting, dropping blossoms and fruit.
Last night I spent more than half an hour running back and forth from the kitchen faucet to my patio containers, trying to replenish the moisture Mother Nature had sucked out of them during the day. I'm sure my plants will be parched again when I come home tonight.
Veggies need a lot of water even in normal weather. How much? Some sources say each plant needs 3 to 5 gallons of water each week -- even more during a heat wave. Container-grown veggies, like mine, are especially vulnerable to drying out.
To make sure you're giving yours enough water, poke a finger into the soil, about an inch deep. If the soil feels dry, water. And make sure to water deeply. A light watering that only wets the surface won't cut it.
You can also try shading certain crops, such as leafy greens, to slow bolting and buy you a couple more days of edible crop.
On the plus side, the heat wave gives us an excuse not to mow for a few days. Grass is already under stress in extreme heat, and cutting it stresses it further.
And our tropicals will love this steamy jungle weather.
How's your garden faring so far -- is the heat taking a toll yet?
I have met the enemy, and he is nasty!
He's a worm, brownish with caterpillar-like feet, and he's having his way with my tomatoes.
I've been watching, waiting for him to show himself for days, ever since ugly holes started appearing in my beautiful green tomatoes. What was eating them? I didn't have a clue.
My veggie-growing endeavors have been relatively pest-free. There was an unfortunate infestation of cabbage worms that destroyed my first attempt at Brussels sprouts a few years back. But tomatoes have never been a problem.
I always figured it was because I grow my tomatoes in giant pots on my deck, the sunniest spot in my yard. The downside of growing tomatoes in pots is that my yields are always pretty modest. But the upside is that my plants, on a second-story deck with no access to the ground, have never really been plagued by pests.
Finally, yesterday morning, I caught the tomato poacher in the act. He was clearly a worm, not a bug. But what kind of worm? And what could I do to get rid of him and his whole nasty family?
I checked out a lineup of pests on the University of Minnesota Extension website: http://bit.ly/KHayQc
Apparently hornworms are the usual suspects in Minnesota, but they're green, and my enemy is definitely brown. He appears to be a corn earworm or cutworm, both of which also tunnel through tomatoes.
As for how to combat tomato worms, the preferred weapon appears to be bacillus thuringiensis, or BT, a bacteria that kills the worms but is supposed to be harmless to humans and pets.
How are your tomatoes doing? Any pests munching on them? Have you ever battled tomato worms?
We were strolling through the Lake Harriet Rose Garden when my husband said something that suprised me:
"Do we have any roses?"
Huh? "You just mowed the back yard," I said, a bit sharply. "Didn't you see them? They're all in bloom."
Needless to say, my husband is not a gardener, which has been a disappointment to me. I've always thought it would be more fun -- not to mention we'd have a better garden -- if we worked as a team.
Every once in a while, I've "invited" him to share some garden chore, which he's dutifully done. But I realized I'd never really tried to share our garden with him in a more accessible way -- by opening his eyes to what was there.
"I'm taking you on a tour when we get home," I said. The next morning, we walked through our garden. I pointed out the roses, the pink ones climbing on the trellis, and the deep-red ones on hardy shrubs. I showed him the clematis, the heuchera and the peonies, stopping here and there to pull a weed. I showed him the veggies, pointing out which ones would produce tomatoes, lettuce, peppers and beets.
"Is that a weed?" he asked, pointing at a big, vigorous clump of ligularia.
"Nope, it's a perennial -- it comes back every year," I said. "I planted it because I like the leaves, but it gets a flower, too, a yellow one."
By the end of our little tour, he could identify a few plants. And I had a new appreciation for my own garden -- because I'd taken time to stop and see the roses.
Tending a garden is its own reward, but sharing a garden is even better. If you tend a great garden -- or know someone who does -- now is the time to share it, by nominating it in our annual Beautiful Gardens contest. It's easy to nominate. Just send a few snapshots of the garden, along with a brief description, including who tends it and where it's located, to email@example.com. Or, if you prefer snail mail, send entries to: Beautiful Gardens, Star Tribune, 425 Portland Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN 55488, We'll be accepting entries through June 16. The winning gardeners and gardeners will get their moment of glory on the cover of the Home & Garden section and online at startribune.com.
We're looking for gardens of all types and sizes -- big and small, urban and suburban, flowers and veggies.
So don't be shy. Share your garden so others can enjoy it. And even if your garden, like mine, is kind of ordinary, take a few minutes to share it with someone -- maybe even someone in your own household.
|Annuals (35)||Books and resources (7)|
|Chickens (3)||Compost (5)|
|Critters and pests (24)||Farmers markets (7)|
|Flowers (62)||Fruit and berries (24)|
|Grasses (18)||Green gardening (17)|
|Lawn care (19)||Perennials (65)|
|Preserving (6)||Rain gardens (1)|
|Seed starting (10)||Soil prep (9)|
|Tools (6)||Transplanting + dividing (8)|
|Trees (24)||Vegetables (90)|
|Weather (52)||Weeds (17)|
|Weekend chores (40)|