Gardening with Melinda: Enjoy an Attractive and Convenient Composting Station

By Melinda Myers, LLC Decorative fences are an effective way to hide composting stations conveniently tucked behind gardens in the landscape.

By Melinda Myers, LLC
Decorative fences are an effective way to hide composting stations conveniently tucked behind gardens in the landscape.

By Melinda Myers

Make recycling green debris into compost convenient and attractive. Create a space you and your neighbors will appreciate. And locate composting in a convenient area that is easy to access and manage, so you are more likely to do it.

You’ll quickly recoup your initial investment of time and money.  Spend less time hauling the materials to the recycling center and money spent on soil amendments.

Most importantly, you’ll boost the health and beauty of your landscape while helping the environment.

Start by looking for spaces in the landscape or garden where compostable materials can easily be moved into the bin, pile turned, and the finished compost Continue reading

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Gardening with Melinda: Work with Nature to Manage Garden Pests and Mosquitoes

By Melinda Myers, LLC A bee pollinating a coneflower.

By Melinda Myers, LLC
A bee pollinating a coneflower.

By Melinda Myers

A garden filled with flowers, birds, bees and butterflies is a sight to behold. These winged beauties add color, sound and motion to our gardens. Plus, they help maximize a garden’s productivity by pollinating plants and managing plant-damaging pests.

But what about those unwanted visitors to the garden? The aphids, mites and cabbage worms that feed upon our plants or the mosquitoes that feed upon us.  There are ways to have a beautiful garden and at the same time enjoy the outdoors when we work with nature to manage our landscape.

Add a birdbath, a few birdhouses and plants for the birds. They’ll repay Continue reading

Gardening with Melinda: Add extra appeal with garden art

Gardener’s Supply Company The Kaleidoscope Tomato Cage provides a sturdy support for tomato plants while adding color to the landscape

Gardener’s Supply Company
The Kaleidoscope Tomato Cage provides a sturdy support for tomato plants while adding color to the landscape

By Melinda Myers

Adding excitement to your garden is easy.  You can create instant, year-round color, structure, motion and fun to your landscape with a bit of garden art.

Just like shopping for plants, look for pieces that complement your gardening style. And consider all the benefits each piece of art provides. Many pieces are functional as well as beautiful, helping you get the most from your garden budget.

In centuries past, garden art included statues of gods and beautiful people as well as pieces that mimicked nature’s ornamental qualities. You can still find those traditional garden statues. But these days you will also find colorful pieces made from a variety Continue reading

Gardening with Melinda: Harvesting, Storing and Preserving Herbs from the Garden

Photo credit: Bonnie Plants Harvesting and preserving herbs allows you to enjoy fresh-from-the-garden flavor all year long.

Photo credit: Bonnie Plants
Harvesting and preserving herbs allows you to enjoy fresh-from-the-garden flavor all year long.

By Melinda Myers

Enjoy herbs all year round. Harvest herbs now for garden-fresh meals and preserve a few for the winter ahead.

Snip a few leaves or leaf-covered stems as needed. For the same intensity of flavor, you generally need two to three times more fresh herbs than dried except for Rosemary which has an equally strong flavor fresh or dried. Continue harvesting herbs as needed throughout the growing season. And don’t worry about harming the plant because regular harvesting encourages new growth which means more for you to harvest. Just be sure to leave enough foliage to maintain plant growth.

You can remove as much as fifty percent of the foliage from annual herb plants. This is about when the plants near their final height.  You can remove up to one third from established perennial plants that have been in the garden for several months or more. Harvest when the plant has formed buds, but before they open into flowers for the greatest concentration of flavor. This is the perfect time to Continue reading

Gardening with Melinda: Grow Your Own Tropical Paradise in a Container or Garden

Longfield-Gardens.com Elephant ears, like this Black Stem variety, can be grown in the garden or in containers.

Longfield-Gardens.com
Elephant ears, like this Black Stem variety, can be grown in the garden or in containers.

By Melinda Myers

Add an exciting new look to your garden, poolside, patio or deck with elephant ears.  These easy tropical plants have tall stems and giant leaves that measure up to two feet across. You can use them to create an instant focal point in the garden, screen an unwanted view, or extend a bold welcome at the front door.

Elephant ears can be grown in containers as well as the garden, so if space is an issue, try some of the more compact varieties like Hawaiian Punch. You’ll appreciate the impact this three-foot tall plant makes with its red stems and bright green leaves with dark red veining.

Or go big with six-foot tall Black Stem. Its smooth blue-green leaves are displayed atop striking purple-black stems. Variegated varieties are another option. The unusual foliage of Mojito, is decorated with blue-black dashes and splashes. No two leaves are alike on this beauty. For even more color and drama, don’t miss Black Magic. Its dark, blue-black leaves measure 2 feet across and can grow up to 5 feet tall. Continue reading

Gardening with Melinda: From the garden to the party

Melinda Myers Add a bit of color and interest to salads with edible flowers like nasturtium.

Melinda Myers
Add a bit of color and interest to salads with edible flowers like nasturtium.

By Melinda Myers

Make every meal a special event by bringing the garden to the table. Serve your favorite dishes made from homegrown ingredients. Then allow guests to add their own herbal seasonings right from the garden or container.

Start by growing the ingredients for your favorite recipes and beverages. Consider those, like tomatoes, that taste best fresh from the garden.  Or create a salad bar by filling window boxes and raised beds with greens, hot peppers, green onions and more. Just hand your guests a plate and let them create their own fresh salad.

Dress up the table or balcony with a few containers of herbs on your patio, deck or near the grill.  Use small herb containers as edible centerpieces. Just include a pair of garden scissors and allow your family and guests to season the meal to their taste.

Add a bit of color to your meal with edible flowers.  Try nasturtium and daylily blossoms stuffed with cream cheese, calendula petals sprinkled on your salad and mint leaves a top a slice of chocolate cake.

Include a few herbs and vegetables that can be blended, muddled or added to your favorite beverage. Use the hollow stems of lovage as a straw for your tomato juice or bloody Mary.  You’ll enjoy the celery flavor this edible straw provides. Or pluck a few mint or rosemary leaves to flavor iced tea and lemonade. Continue reading

Gardening with Melinda: Family Gardening Provides More Than a Bountiful Harvest

Gardening can be a great family activity and children exposed to the outdoors and gardening are more focused, have less issues with attention deficit and score higher on tests.

Mother And Daughter Working On Allotment Together With Vegtables And Watering Can Smiling

By Melinda Myers

Gardeners know digging, planting, harvesting and even viewing a garden is good for the mind, body and spirit. It improves strength and flexibility, lowers blood pressure and elevates our mood. And this is true for all members of the family from the very young to the more seasoned.

Plan on sharing these benefits with yours or a friend’s children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews this growing season. Children, and even adults, who grow their own vegetables are more likely to eat them.  But gardening does even more to help our children. Research shows children exposed to the outdoors and gardening are more focused, have less issues with attention deficit and score better on tests. Girls exposed to gardens and green spaces are more confident and better able to handle peer pressure.

Here are a few ways to make gardening with family more fun and memorable.

Involve the whole family when planning the garden. Talk about the flowers everyone wants to grow and vegetables you all like to eat. Then break out the paper, old catalogs, scissors, crayons, pencils and rulers.  Young children can cut out pictures of their favorite vegetables and flowers and glue them on the paper. Older children can draw the garden to scale on graph paper and plot their choices in the garden. Continue reading

Gardening with Melinda: Grow a High Yield Vegetable Garden This Season

Image by Gardener’s Supply Company he High Yield Vegetable Garden Plan enables gardeners to grow more than 50 pounds of produce in only 18 square feet of space.

Image by Gardener’s Supply Company
he High Yield Vegetable Garden Plan enables gardeners to grow more than 50 pounds of produce in only 18 square feet of space.

By Melinda Myers

Spend less time and money while growing a bounty of flavorful vegetables this growing season. Increase your harvest, even in small garden spaces, with proper planning and easy care, high yielding vegetables.

A productive garden starts with a plan, but choosing the best vegetables to grow and where to plant them can be overwhelming.

You can break out the graph paper and pencils to design your garden or turn to technology for help. Many websites and apps provide ready-to-use garden plans or planning guidelines. Gardener’s Supply (gardeners.com) offers free pre-planned gardens that do the planning for you.  Reduce maintenance by Continue reading