Photo by Clyde Robinson

Why I’ll Forever Regret Planting This Herb

Years ago, when I planted my first herb garden, I placed one, small mint plant in my 10 ft.  x 6 ft. plot. Before I could say, “Pour me a Mojito,” I had mint spreading throughout the garden, crawling under the fence into my roses, and growing into the cracks of my stone retaining wall. How much mint can one woman drink? I tried to get rid of the invasive herb. But no matter how much I tugged or dug, the mint kept coming. In my next life -- I clearly won’t be able to stop mint Read more [...]
Rainbow kale photo by Robert Gaskin

Don’t Panic Kale Lovers: You Can Grow the Plant Yourself

I know that loving and eating kale is the fashionable thing to do, but I just can't stomach kale. I've sauteed it, baked it, and juiced it with pineapple. And my face still scrunches up when I taste the iron-rich but bitter member of the cabbage family. Surely, my taste buds can’t be so unusual. But I began to think I’m in the minority when I learned a major Australian supplier of kale seed has warned that he's out of stock, signaling a U.S. kale shortage and a price hike in the near Read more [...]
Zucchini blossom by ArminFlickr

Waste Not: Seven Surprisingly Tasty Plant Parts

Here are some tasty ways to use every part of the vegetables you lovingly grow. And what you really can't stomach, throw into your compost pile to someday nurture your next garden. Circle of life! 1. Broccoli stems: Strip off the skin with a vegetable peeler, then chop for salads or soups. The stems also add taste and texture to chicken or tuna salads. 2. Zucchini blossoms: Stuff zucchini blossoms with cheese and bake, or dredge in flour and fry. 3. Mushroom stems: Chop and add to omelets; Read more [...]
Photo By jam343

Gardens Love This Breakfast Food

When I squeeze my morning orange juice, or add lemon to the eight glasses of water I'm supposed to drink daily, I never toss out the peels. Instead, I toss them into a container, and then use them in my garden. Here's how. Soil amendment: When I collect about five gallons of peels, I dig a shallow hole in my fall garden, spread the peels over it, sprinkle dolomitic lime (it contains magnesium as well as calcium) over the peels, and then cover them with soil. By spring, the peels have decomposed, Read more [...]
Photo by Montgomery City Division of Solid Waste Services

A Caffeine Hit Can Pick Up Your Garden, Too!

Your garden likes a cup of Joe as much as you do. Coffee contains nitrogen, magnesium and potassium, nutrients that feed plants and help them grow. Here are some ways you can use coffee in your garden -- other than drinking a cup while you're admiring your lovely plants. Plant Fertilizer Coffee is a great fertilizer for plants and trees. You can sprinkle the grounds on the soil. Dig grounds into soil a couple of inches below the surface. Make coffee "tea" by steeping 2 cups Read more [...]
Photo by Jeepers Media

Fallen Leaves are Garden Gold: Never Throw Them Out

Autumn leaves already are drifting past my window. And I'm psyched, because I recycle fall leaves in my yard every year as free – did I say "free??" – mulch, soil conditioner, and lawn food. Here's how I re-use fall leaves. Soil Conditioner There are three ways you can use leaves as a soil conditioner: Throw whole leaves onto your compost pile, where it eventually decomposes into rich soil. Shred leaves and spread them around trees and garden beds, where they will decompose Read more [...]
Photo by Antonio Picascia

Smart Ways To Attract More Bees To Your Garden

You've got to have pollinating bees if you want a bee-utiful and prolific garden. Unfortunately, the global decline in honeybees is hitting backyard gardeners hard. At times, I've had to hand-pollinate zucchini plants, because I didn’t have enough pollinators doing the work. (Take a look at this story I wrote for HouseLogic to see how to pollinate plants yourself.) Since there are so few bees, gardeners have to do everything they can to attract the ones out there. Here are ways to seduce Read more [...]
Photo by Coleen Whitfield

The #1 Mistake New Pot Growers Make

Newbie pot growers make so many mistakes that it's hard to pick the top one. But veteran growers will say the top mistake by novices is: THEY TALK TOO MUCH ABOUT THEIR GROW!! Talking about growing marijuana is not smart, even if growing is legal where you live. Word always spreads, and the next thing you know, you've got curiosity-seekers, or worse, uninvited guests knocking on or down your door to share your harvest. If you're going to grow, keep it to yourself. Here are other rookie Read more [...]
Photo by Russell Petcoff

August Gardens Are About Harvesting, Tidying, Planning

    August is my toughest month as a gardener. In northern Virginia, August can be a killer -- for me and my plants. Temperatures routinely reach 90-something, making early morning the only time I can tend my garden without wilting myself. Luckily, this summer of 2014 has been pretty mild – thank you Polar Vortex. I've had many more opportunities to play with my plants throughout the day. Here's what I'm doing to keep my end-of-summer garden happy. Deadheading Spent Read more [...]
Photo By Randy OHC

Best Trees: Monrovia Spokesman Reveals Trees That Light Up His Life

Picking the best trees to plant for particular spots or reasons is hard. I've wandered aisles at my local Merrifield Garden Center in a trance, overwhelmed by the selection and the pressure to choose just right. Nicholas Staddon knows my pain. Staddon is the spokesman for Monrovia, those folks who sell thousands of varieties of plants and trees. Who better to help us pick a tree? Ladies and gentlemen (drum roll please), Nick's favorite trees! Favorite Shade Tree River Birch (Betula Read more [...]