Heavenly blue morning glories catching the first light of day, iridescent purple hyacinth beans hanging like summer jewels, delicate trumpets of the cardinal climber drawing hummingbirds in charms—these are just three of the finest vines for garden color. Each year we erect trellises and tall tipis just to grow our favorite climbing flowers. Summer just wouldn’t be summer without them.
Plant of the Month: Sassafras
The sassafras tree (Sassafras albidum) is distributed throughout the eastern half of the United States, but its culinary roots have always been deepest in the South. Its most notable food products—filé for gumbo, sassafras beer, and sassafras tea—are most often associated with Cajun and Creole fare but less often linked with the first consumers of sassafras, the Choctaws, a southern tribe of Native Americans. This tribe was the first to use many parts of the tree for both medicine and food. The other common name for sassafras, 'mitten tree', references its unusual leaves that come in three forms: simple leaves, mitten-shaped leaves, and three-lobed leaves.
New Garden Flowers with Old-Fashioned Appeal
Classic bedding plants, like dahlias, coleus, impatiens, and petunias, have long been American garden favorites. Their seemingly timeless appeal stems in part from their consistent beauty and ease of growth--but innovation plays a part, too. Each year plant breeders introduce hundreds of new varieties of these and many other traditional garden plants, bringing fresh looks and new attributes to old favorites.
Growing Cole Crops Organically
Of all the cool-season vegetables, few are as variable and satisfying to grow as cole crops (Brassica oleracea), also called “brassicas”. Tasty favorites like kale, cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower yield big harvests and are easily grown the organic way, even in the face of lots of pests. It all starts with healthy plants and good care.
Growing Tomatoes from Seed to Harvest
The tomato is the most popular warm-season crop, but it can be surprisingly tricky to tend to full productive glory. Tomatoes require at least 6 hours of full sun per day, are fertilizer and water hogs, and produce fruit most vigorously when days are warm (between 78 and 92 degrees Fahrenheit) and nights moderately warm (at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit). Vining (indeterminate) types need caging or trellising, while bush (determinant) types may or may not need staking; both benefit from seasonal pruning.
Growing Strawberries with Success
Sometimes old-time gardening advice is the best advice. When I searched for the most complete tips for growing the best strawberries (Fragaria x ananassa), I eventually turned to two of my oldest gardening books–How to Grow Vegetables and Fruits by the Organic Method (J.I. Rodale, 1961) and the Cyclopedia of Horticulture (L.H. Bailey, 1902). Both offer a wealth of information for strawberry growing success. In fact, my new strawberry patch is already producing good fruit! Read full article.
Fast, Easy Perennial Gardening from Seed
Growing your own perennials does not have to be difficult or expensive. Sure, some seeds can be pricey or require a lot of work (chilling, warming, seed coat nicking, soaking) which can take months of effort. But, many others are cheap and nearly effortless to grow, taking little more work than starting annual seeds.
Honey bees (Apis mellifera) may garner more of the limelight, but North America is also home to approximately 4,000 known native bee species that are just as agriculturally, horticulturally, and ecologically important.Click to read
Antique Garden Books
Reading antiquated gardening books can feel like finding buried treasure. They tell of times when tools and garden plants were simpler and planting designs classic. Many deliver loads of useful, old-timey tips and techniques, making them that much more fun to read. And they tend to be beautifully illustrated—all the more reason to seek them out. Link to article
10 Terrific Flowers for Honey Bees
The decline in honey bees (Apis mellifera) has heightened the popularity of honey bee plants. Many favorite flowers for honey bees, like sweetclover, thistle, alfalfa and dandelion, are Eurasian plants too weedy for flower beds. Thankfully, there are some beautiful summer garden flowers, many being North American natives, which are also great nectar and pollen plants favored by these Old World native bees. Regional natives are also superb forage plants for regional bees.