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.

See you at the Fair!

Posted by: Helen Yarmoska Updated: August 27, 2014 - 9:07 AM

Today from 3 - 5, two of us Greengirls (Connie and Helen ) will be at the Minnesota State Fair.  We are playing a game and handing out prizes.  The game is "Good for the Garden... or Bad for the Garden."  And here is one answer... the above photo is a honeybee... and YES, they ARE good for the Garden!  See you later today!

Finally, hollyhock success

Posted by: Martha Buns under Flowers, Perennials Updated: August 26, 2014 - 8:21 AM

After years of trying on and off, I've finally gotten at least this far with one of my bugaboo plants: The hollyhocks are blooming! That might not seem like much to crow about, but given my failed efforts over the years to grow this seemingly effortless plant that I've blogged about here, this is a major victory in the small world that is my garden. After a few weeks of seeing the stems crowded with buds, they've finally broken open.

I can't declare total success just yet. It looks like some insect is going after the leaves of one of the plants, so I'll have to be vigilant. And I have yet to see if these biennials will make a return appearance and self sow.  But baby steps. I'll take it for what it's worth and savor the blooms and sense of satisfaction of getting another chip off my gardening shoulder. First delphiniums, then astilbe, now hollyhocks.Time to exorcise another demon next year.

What plant bugaboos have you overcome? Or are you wiser than me and just chalk it up to inappropriate conditions and move on?

Inviting pollinators into your yard

Posted by: Kim Palmer under Flowers, Green gardening, Perennials Updated: August 25, 2014 - 12:21 PM

If you plant them, they will come.

I'm talking about pollinators and the native plants that attract them and provide nectar and habitat. 

The best thing in my inbox this morning was a short simple e-mail and two beautiful pictures. They were sent by Rich Erstad of St. Paul, a gardener I don't know, who just wanted to share the fluttering clouds of Monarch butterflies that started congegrating in his urban yard after he planted a cluster of native liatris.

It doesn't even have to be a cluster. Just a few plants can bring a noticeable increase in pollinator visits. Last summer, I planted one swamp milkweed plant in my garden. ONE! It quickly became a bee and butterfly magnet.     

If you're heading to the State Fair this week, stop by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture booth in the Ag/Hort building. The department has launched a public awareness campaign to protect pollinating insects, and has developed best practices for homeowners and other land owners. Here are a few simple things you can do to protect pollinators and invite more of them into your landscape:

1. Plant more flowers in your yard or on your balcony.

2. Let early dandelions flower -- they have nectar.

3. Leave areas of your lawn un-mowed.

4. Reduce pesticide use.

5. Find pollinator protection information on pesticide labels.

6. Set out water bowls and birdbaths for pollinators to drink.

7. Let clover grow and flower.

8. Start a beehive.

What are you doing in your garden to make it more pollinator-friendly?

Beauty break at the Fair

Posted by: Lynn Underwood under Annuals, Flowers, Perennials Updated: August 21, 2014 - 3:48 PM

The Agriculture/Horticulture building is where you'll find beer - and fabulous flowers - at the Minnesota State Fair. If you’re heading there to taste brews made by the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild, make sure to swing by one of the State Fair flower shows scheduled throughout the fair's run.

It’s a place to escape and get a glimpse of quiet beauty after navigating sweaty crowds, munching on food that should never be on a stick and battling for a bench at the KARE11 barn. I’m especially partial to the orchid and dahlia shows and look forward to gazing at glorious specimens that were judged the best of the best.

This year the Minnesota State Horticultural Society planted an Adopt-A-Garden that’s decked out with waterfalls, two streams and a bubbler. This garden hasn’t thrown in the trowel yet --  it’s also packed with  blooming perennials and annuals that will last through the fall. Take notes and photos on your smart phone to help plan next spring’s plant list.

Here’s the rundown:

Aug. 21-22: Cactus and succulents by the Minnesota State Horticultural Society and African violets by the African Violet Society of Minnesota.
Aug. 23-24: Gladiolus by the Minnesota Gladiolus Society.
Aug. 25-26: Minnesota State Fair Show - no idea what kind of plants are displayed.
Aug. 27-28: Floral designs by Federated Garden Clubs of Minnesota and Professional Designer of the Year Semi-finals by the Minnesota State Florist Association.
Aug. 29-30: Orchids by Orchid Society of Minnesota and bonsai by Minnesota Bonsai Society.
Aug. 31-Sept.1: Dahlias by Minnesota Dahlia Society.

The Ag/Hort building shows are from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

What’s your must-stop flower show at the fair?

What critter made these tunnels?

Posted by: Martha Buns under Critters and pests Updated: August 19, 2014 - 8:29 AM

 

A friend of mine has some critter on the loose in her yard that's making tunnels, and is resistant to being persuaded to leave the premises. While I have critter problems, all of mine are above-ground dwellers, so I don't have experience from which to offer her advice and I'm hoping some Green Girls followers out there can help her. So it is a mole, vole, or other? And what methods have you used to get these varmints to move on?
 
She offers some clues:
 
1. The holes are under a crab apple tree, about 3 feet apart and a good 8 inches deep.
2. The tunnel is horizontal. You could run the tape measure through the hole and it would pop out the other side
3. She has dug up the tunnels, washed them out with water, smoked them, placed planters over the tunnel holes for several years in a row. She keeps them there long enough (a month or more?) to encourage it to move on. And it seems to move, until the holes re-appear late spring. Ugh!
 
What pesky animal makes these holes and how does she make them realize they've worn out their welcome?

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