This is a time of transition in the vegetable garden, and I face it with mixed emotions. I’m forced to rip out lettuce, spinach, and other greens (no more fresh salads!) that have bolted due to the heat, but I look forward to harvesting tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and the like. And here’s what I’m doing now to make sure all goes according to plan.
Pollinator gardens are all the rage these days, thanks largely to the concern over the future of honeybees and Monarch butterflies, whose populations have been in decline in recent years. That’s made them the poster children for the pollinator movement, and that’s a good thing. But there are lots of other critters that pollinate our gardens, and they deserve attention too.
When my daughter was 12 or 13, she commented on how pretty a particular tree was as we strolled through the garden. “What’s it called?” she asked. “It’s Acer japonicum aconitifolium,” I said. She then repeated those three words three times, and now nearly 15 years later she can still pronounce the Latin name of the Full Moon Japanese maple perfectly. But why didn’t I just call it that in the first place?
I sometimes chuckle when someone asks me if a plant is hardy, because often what they’re actually asking me is if a plant is tough enough to survive Oklahoma summers. And that’s not what hardiness is all about. Hardiness has to do with a plant’s ability to survive the winter in a given area, and Hardiness Zones are established by the USDA based on historical weather data. So, do you know which Zone you’re in?
Getting kids interested in gardening is really quite simple -- just think like a kid! That means forgetting about everything being neat and tidy and orderly and exact. In fact, it often means doing quite the opposite. My first suggestion? Let them get filthy dirty like my grandson pictured here. Does he look happy or what?!
When shopping for plants, one of the first and most important questions you’ll likely be asked is, Will they be growing in sun or shade? And often it’s one or the other. But that’s not always the case. Truth is, the whole sun and shade discussion can get rather confusing, but it’s a critical consideration when it comes to picking the right plants.
When I speak at gardening events across the country, the format I prefer is a simple Q&A. It engages the audience, it helps me understand exactly what gardeners are interested in, and it allows me to perform my shtick. It also gives me the opportunity to debunk common and persistent garden myths, including many that never seem to go away.
I don’t just love Japanese maples. I adore them. Have for decades. To me, they’re the most beautiful of all trees. Interestingly, although they appear delicate, they’re actually tough as nails, and rarely suffer from pest or disease problems. I don’t think I’m going out on a limb when I say every landscape should have at least one of them.
I think I speak for most gardeners– okay, maybe all – when I say, “What the heck. Let’s plant!” After all, it finally looks as though the cold temps are behind us, soil temps are steadily climbing, and I know we’re all dying to dig in the dirt. Plus, the forecast for next week looks downright perfect. So what the heck. Let’s plant! And that concludes my shortest post ever.
It could have been worse. Perhaps that’s the best way to describe the effects that last Saturday morning’s temperatures had on plants. It dropped to 24 degrees at my place, and I woke up early expecting to find serious damage. But later in the day, as I toured my property and numerous others in my neighborhood and elsewhere around town, I was rather pleasantly surprised.