How to Buy Mums (Hardy Chrysanthemum)

OK, you might be thinking to yourself that this headline "How to Buy Mums" is about a topic we don't even need to discuss. Really, how hard can it be? You go to the nursery, pick out a full bushy plant full of blooms. You walk to the check out counter buy it and go home to plant it. If that's what you think then let me add one more thing to the purchase of your mums, don't buy the plants when in bloom! The Secret of How to Buy Mums The secret to long lasting chrysanthemum blooms in the fall is to buy your plants from the nursery when they are still in tight buds. If you look around at all the other mums on sale you can identify the colors you like then purchase plants that have little to no blooming. That way when you get them home…

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Spring IS Coming

Despite what the weather may lead us to believe Spring will arrive soon. Maybe it will help us believe it if we repeat that phrase: Spring will arrive soon! (Repeat as needed) It's March and during March we can expect a number of tumultuous and turbulent weather systems that will toy with our psyche. Have faith gardeners because spring and the gardening season will be here soon, but before Spring arrives there are a number of things that gardeners can to to prepare for the busiest time of the year! Yoshino Cherry in Bloom Pre-spring is a GREAT time to mulch. A GREAT time! Why? Because it is cool and easy to work without getting overheated. Mulch will hold weeds seeds back from germinating and keep moisture in the soil. I know I have mentioned mulch many times over the years but it is a GREAT thing to do! Choose a biodegradable…

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A Few Notes on Summer Heat and Watering

The weather has turn hot and humid, of course this is normal for summers in Tennessee.  We are blessed with a very long growing season but our summers can be extremely warm.  Last year on a record setting June day we reached over 110 degrees.  Which also happened to be the day our air conditioner decided to quit!  We spent that day making snowcones with all the curtains shut just to stay cool.  Our plants don't have the ability to make snowcones though.  They don't need air conditioning either.  What they do need is good watering.  Not too much and not too little.  Too much water can drown the roots and introduce fungal diseases among the branches.  Too little water and they won't be able to survive.   So far this year I haven't set up my garden's irrigation.  I haven't really needed additional water very much.  We've had good…

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Homemade Plant Tags for Hybridizing Plants

Last year I began to experiment with hybridizing.  I'm hoping that the plants I cross together result in something really nice but it takes a few years to get something from the crosses.  So far I've experimented with daylilies, echinacea, and irises.  Hostas are on my list but the deer keep getting to the flowers before they've had a chance to produce seed.  One of the issues I've run across is labeling.  It's very easy to get mixed up on your crosses.  I came up with an idea recently to make my own plant tags/labels that I can put on each crossed flower.  Here's what I did: The plant label is made from a plastic plant tag I cut into a 2 inch rectangle.  I punched a hole in it with a standard hole puncher and added a bit of garden twine to hang it on the plant.  If you…

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Gardening Q and A: When to?

This time of year people are looking for answers to their gardening questions.  Perhaps the most common gardening questions start with the word when.  As gardeners we realize that time is a very important factor when planting plants because it can greatly effect how a plant grows in the garden. Here are a few gardening whens that people have been looking for answers to lately! When To Propagate Crape Myrtle? Crape myrtles can be propagated through hardwood cuttings, greenwood, or semi-ripe cuttings.  Hardwood cuttings are best taken from late fall through winter during the plant's dormant cycle.  Greenwood cuttings can be taken in late spring and early summer.  Crape myrtles propagate very easily can can be grown from cuttings until late summer.  Crape myrtles sucker a lot so the suckers can be removed and used for cuttings without effecting the canopy of the tree. When to Cut Back Miscanthus? Miscanthus…

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Garden Q and A: Ripening Green Tomatoes, Peppers, and Avoiding Over-Tilling

This weekend a reader emailed me a few questions she had about my post 5 Fall Things To Do to Prepare the Vegetable Garden for Spring.  I thought that other gardeners may be interested in hearing the answers to those questions as well so for today we'll begin an intermittent series of garden questions and answers!  Feel free to chime in your recommendations or observations in the comments. Question: Should I harvest all my tomatoes while they are green so they will not be ruined by the frost? Answer:  You can harvest them before and after a light frost.  Frost can damage the tomatoes themselves so avoid any that may be damaged.  Ideally you should pick them before a frost but you can still use any undamaged tomatoes you find after a frost has hit your garden.  Small and very immature tomatoes may not ripen up at all when brought…

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Maintenance-Free Gardens: Everything You Need to Know (Guest Post)

Maintenance-Free Gardens: Everything You Need to Know A flower garden in full bloom is every gardener's masterpiece. And like most great masterpieces, each brush stroke is calculated, the color palette chosen in advance, and the overall composition exists in the artist's mind well before touching brush to canvas, or in this case, trowel to soil. Although we all appreciate the beauty of a healthy garden, few actually take the time to create their own. Perhaps it is the unwillingness to devote hours each day tending to the garden that stops most people. But the best gardens are virtually maintenance free, and with proper planning you can create a masterpiece garden that requires minimal upkeep. Just follow the tips below: Tangling With Weeds Weeds are every gardener's enemy, and many a gardener spends his days battling them on every front. However, with a little preemptive strategy, most of these battles can…

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The Do’s and Don’ts of August Gardening

As I'm writing this post I'm hearing the buzz of riding lawnmowers from various neighbors in our community and I thought why in the world are they mowing? It hasn't rained and dust clouds are flying up everywhere which leads me to a second question why are they mowing the dirt? Things like this drive me nuts so I thought I'd put together a post with the do's an dont's of gardening in August! DO: Get up early in the morning to water plants and do garden chores like weeding and pruning. DON'T: Water in the afternoon where the heat of the sun mixed with the moisture will encourage fungal diseases! DO: Water plants deeply. DON'T: Water plants just a little everyday. That encourages a shallow root system. Unless you have plants in pots, then you may need to water every day. DO: Wait until after a rain to mow…

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TARP for Gardening

No I'm not referring to the stimulus package here. I'm talking about what possibly could be the most handy tool you ever use for spring gardening - the tarp. As my gardens have grown over the last several years I've added many more plants. As all gardeners know with more plants comes more responsibility and more work when spring cleanup comes. All dead growth needs cleaned up, pruned out, and disposed of in a good location - ideally the compost bin. Sadly my wheelbarrow just isn't up to the task. It would work in a pinch but would require multiple trips back and forth to the compost bin.  The tarp is the simple and easy solution that saves the day! That one 6'x8' piece of plastic came in very handy to haul all the garden debris to the back yard for composting, and in one trip. In this case I…

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‘Tis the Season for Mums!

Every fall it happens, mums (Chrysanthemums) galore appear in the box stores and nurseries. It's a tradition that rings in autumn like college football, corn mazes, and garden blogger fall color projects (OK maybe not the last one, at least not yet!). But what do you look for when you buy your mums in the store? A full bushy plant loaded with flowers or the newly budded beauty about to burst with blooms? And what do you do after autumn with your mums? Roadside trash can? There are two schools of thought on the purchase of mums. The first school says to buy the mums while they are still in buds to maximize the bloom time in your garden. The second school is for those looking for an immediate impact in pots and other places. Those students who attend the second school look for bushy plants with blooms already open.…

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