Phytoremediation Update – Sad News

I'm supposed to be a garden guru with a bountiful garden year-round, right?  When crops fail or disease sets in, my husband is thoughtful enough to remind me that a true gardener's approach to gardening is experimentation, and more specifically trial and error. So in the spirit of true gardening, I present my latest error.

You may remember that I spent the winter growing milk thistle and chicory in my community garden plot to remove some excess zinc from the soil. Included in the results from the initial soil ...

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How’s that Broccoli Coming Along?

Experimentation yields results -  just not always the results we expect. Such is the case with our trail planting of the Italian broccoli, Cavolo Broccolo a Getti di Napoli. The picture on the seed packet indicates that this sprouting broccoli is harvested mainly for it's leaves, but those leaves (and the shoots of sprouting broccoli) are reported to be slender and spear-like.

Well... not so much.

While it's true that this is a ...

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Squash Bug Battles

A question came in last week from a concerned gardenerd:

"As we start to thaw (and possibly refreeze this coming weekend) out here in NE TX, I'm planning my garden for 2011. We will be starting seeds this weekend and a friend has offered us the use of their greenhouse, as long as we share our harvest - no problem. My question as I start planning, and remembering last year, what can be done about Squash Bugs? I lost the battle last year, due to a back injury that put me in ...

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Ladybugs – Nature’s Aphid Brigade

For some unknown reason, my Swiss chard is covered - no, make that enveloped - with aphids. I have fed the plants with worm castings and compost and worm tea. I have sprayed them off with a strong hose blast. I have squished the aphids with my bare fingers. I have pleaded and begged for them to go away, to no avail.

My next plan, as a last resort before pulling out the chard, would be to try laying down a layer of tin foil around the base of each plant, to reflect ...

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Storing Garlic – Sprout Not, My Friend

A great question came in to Ask Gardenerd this week:

"If I braid my garlic and hang it in my kitchen, how long will it keep? When I buy garlic and the store and put it in my fridge, it begins to sprout after a month or so. Will the same thing happen to my braided garlic?"

Would you believe that it depends upon the variety of garlic you choose to grow?  The truth is that, like onions or apples, some varieties are known for better storage than others. ...

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False Garlic – you lie, you lie, you lie.

I don't know where it comes from, but it shows up in the strangest places. Unannounced, just after the rain, it pokes its slender leaves up through the soil to bring terror to the fastidious gardener. I'm talking about false garlic.

False garlic (Nothoscordum borbonicum Kunth)  is found primarily in California, Oregon and the Southeastern states, as well as some warmer parts of Europe. It's pretty, but don't be deceived. This little bugger will infest a garden and is ...

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Seed Catalog Highlights

I love the sound of seed catalogs dropping into the mailbox. There's a particular "clunk" of distinctive heft that only a thick garden catalog can make. I keep a pen close at hand as I dog-ear the pages and circle interesting new varieties, dreaming of their vibrance in the garden.

This year heirloom varieties are popping up all over. The hunt for biodiversity is on, and we're part of the plan for preservation. If you are into seed-saving, here are ...

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MacGyver me this: Broken Watering Can Rose

There isn't much that can't be fixed with duct tape. Garden tools are no exception. While I wouldn't trust a loose-headed pick-axe after wrapping it with several rounds of shiny silver duct tape, I would trust it to fix my reliable yet cheap, plastic Rite-Aid watering can with a broken rose attachment.

Plastic is, as we know, forever. Except in the case when it photo-degrades. Plastic pots or tools become brittle and cracked, and eventually useless for their intended purpose. ...

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Growing Peas – The Garden Snack Food

Most people grow peas in the spring. I like to grow them in the fall. I think I started growing them in fall primarily because, A) we can, and I need my trellises for other things in the spring. Over the years peas have become a prominent part of my fall garden, lending height and tastiness to fall garden chores.

They never make it into the house. A ...

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