Ground-hugging plants can be shrubs, grasses, or perennials. Smothering weeds with their leafy stems, they help fill “sunny” difficult areas such as a steep, sloping bank or a rocky area, and next to sun-baked patios and decks. Species adapted to long periods without rain, such as alpines and succulents, are often tough in other ways. Many can withstand harmful insects and don’t require regular feeding or pruning.
Ground-cover plants are all-around problem solvers. They are vigorous, low-growing plants that can be used as living mulch, suppressing weeds by absorbing water and nutrients, blocking out light, and forming a physical barrier. They even provide habitat for pollinators like bees and butterflies.
Think of your garden as an outdoor room or collection of rooms. Just like inside your home, rooms are spaces separated by some type of wall or boundary to give you a defined space and support its function. Your garden is your open concept floor plan, with traffic flow, easy sociability and communication, shared light, layout flexibility and multifunctional space. You can fill the space with plants to reveal a sense of enclosure, or restrict the planting to key areas to create an airy, open space.
I don’t know if you are like me, but some of my strongest childhood memories and connected feelings are associated with smells. To this day, the scent of vanilla and bourbon pipe tobacco takes me back to memories of long walks with my grandpa and his dog, Scamper. Oh, how I loved those walks; exploring the forest while eating wild strawberries and raspberries, learning how to skip rocks on the lake, and hunting for Garter Snakes and Spring Peeper Frogs in the tall grass.
It’s pretty hard to beat a juicy summer tomato or sweet strawberry from your own garden and the benefits of homegrown vegetables and fruits are countless. More and more people are considering quality and taste, organic options, continuous harvest, room to grow and how much time they have available and they are ready to take the plunge and sow their own. Hardening off seedlings is the most important concept that new gardeners will learn to improve successful transplants. Those young, pampered seedlings that were grown either indoors or in a greenhouse will need an adjustment period to acclimate to outdoor conditions before being planted in the garden.
Many of us have been there. Had a week of warm weather at the beginning of May, and couldn’t resist “just looking” at the greenhouse, and returned home with some plants tucked under your arm. Now what? You put them in the garage until it was warm enough to plant. When you planted them in the soil, you noticed they didn’t look the same as they did in the greenhouse, but they still seemed all right. Then you waited for them to bloom. Three weeks to a month later and finally a flower appeared. Then your plants started to return to normal and bloom like they were supposed to. What happened?
Always stunning, the Gladiolus combines old-fashioned and nostalgic feelings with easy to grow requirements making them perfect for flower beds as well as containers. With very little effort, they will burst into bloom and add sensational summer color to the garden. They can be overwintered by digging them up in the fall, storing, and replanting the following spring.
I had a Great Aunt who said she could test her soil by tasting it. I haven’t tried that, nor do I plan to, so I can’t tell you if it works or not. I do know that our home vegetable garden improved dramatically when we used a do-it-yourself soil kit and learned our soil’s pH, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium levels.
When we first planted our vegetable garden in rows, our first spring in our acreage home, it never occurred to us to plant more than one kind of vegetable in any row. I’d never seen it done any differently, nor even heard it spoken about. But after a few years of gardening, and a whole lot of attention given to the soil, the sun, the moisture, and the bugs, I’ve become very interested in the practices of companion planting, intercropping, and succession planting. Any technique that improves the taste and yield of our vegetables, while reducing the amount of work I have to do to produce those vegetables, is worthy of my attention and my evaluation.
Long-time gardeners sometimes forget that new gardeners might not yet know the nuances of some phrases. There are still some of my grandmother’s gardening phrases floating around in my head that I have yet to decipher, however the last few years in my own garden have provided me with several “aha moments”. Imagine my disappointment learning what “bolt” (describing a plant that has gone to seed prematurely) actually meant.
The best time to divide daylilies is shortly after they have finished flowering in late summer to early fall. Check the center of your daylily plant to see if there is any dead growth. If there is, your plant is telling you it’s time to divide it. You can expect to divide daylilies every 3 or 5 years in order to keep them healthy and blooming strong.
This is a common challenge for many gardeners and one I’ve heard many a curse about over the years. Those curses tend to be heard around this time of year, with the first tomatoes of the season when they are approximately half of their full size.
Even the most careful and experienced gardener will occasionally find plants that are weakening or a crop teeming with a troublesome pest. No garden is immune from pests and diseases, and learning to recognize the symptoms and determining appropriate controls is your best defense.
If you are struggling with any of these challenges, don’t let it discourage you from trying again. You are not alone in this, we are all gardeners and we are all learning all the time. These are some of the most common challenges that all of us face:
Last year at the end of summer, we picked our first ear of corn that we grew ourselves! Unfortunately, that ear of corn was at most 4 inches long. Failure is part of the deal when gardening AND garden failures happen even to the most experienced of gardeners as well as beginners alike. You will have resounding successes with some plants, and experience colossal failures with others. Try to remember that gardening is about learning and experimenting as part of the experience. Every failure teaches you how to be successful next time.
Something that really clicked for me, was remembering how my grandmother called her plants her “babies”. At the time, I thought it quite strange and it made me feel slightly jealous. Now, many years later, it’s as if a light bulb went on in my head. I have a new understanding of “hardening off” and a new perspective about a plant’s needs.