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Planting a Barrel Cactus Safely

FullSizeRender (2)The ferocious spines of the golden barrel cactus make them very difficult to pot. (Image by Jessie Keith)
 
The golden barrel (Echinocactus grusonii) is America’s favorite cactus. All over the Southwest it has become a coveted living ornament in landscapes. When back lit by the sun, the bright canary-yellow spines literally glow, creating high drama against blue agaves and succulents. A big yellow cactus potted […]

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Heirloom Vegetable Seed Saving

IMG_1049These ripe heirloom vegetables contain seeds that are ready to harvest and store for the next year.
Seed saving is easy, saves money, and ensures that your seeds have come from a reliable source (your garden!). Smart seed saving requires that you (1) allow your seeds to fully mature, (2) clean your seeds properly, (3) store your seeds correctly, and (4) know exactly what you […]

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DIY: Make This Trickle-Down Succulent Tower

donkey tailsDonkey Tails (Senecio morganianum) in a vertical can cascade.
This idea came from deep within Mexico where plastic nursery containers are rare and coveted.  Tin cans are used, whenever possible, instead of pots to save money.  When I found the tower at Xochemilco, I realized this is trickle-down-watering at its finest.  It’s also the most innovative idea I’d seen for recycling and saving money.  It also […]

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Smart Summer Pruning and Deadheading

Coneflower-pruningRemoving the old, spent flowers from perennials, like this coneflower, will keep the plants flowering and looking great for longer. (photo by Jessie Keith)
Summer is not the time of year when most gardeners prune, but there are some definite advantages to summer pruning. It is easier to identify damaged or ill branches when a tree is in full leaf. When a tree is in full leaf it […]

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Growing and Harvesting Edible Seeds

013psHarvested poppy seeds should be collected in a low, broad container and then funneled in to a clean, dry jar.
Poppy seeds, dill seed, fennel seed, coriander, and caraway—It’s like having the makings of an everything bagel in the garden. All of these culinary seeds are costly to buy and easy as pie to grow and collect.
Seeds used for seasoning food are technically considered spices, and like most homegrown things, they taste stronger and […]

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Preparing the Garden for a Hot Summer

Lantana, colorsAn excellent summer bloomer for heat is Lantana camera.
Here in the Pacific Northwest, we have had record high temperatures already this spring. When the temperature is 100° F in spring, it is HOT!  Not that our weather pattern is ever predictable, but this year it seems to be even less consistent. With our mild winter temperatures, record rain, and a summer forecast as being hot and dry, our plants may suffer without […]

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Raising Agave Pups

mother plantThis beautiful old mother agave has produced a bevy of pups around herself to take over after she flowers and dies.
Agave are the most widely adaptable succulents, but what sets them apart is that they flower only once at the end of life and then they are gone.  It literally takes an entire lifetime for each plant to save up enough fuel to reproduce.  They do this by bolting, sending up flower stalks […]

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Holiday Decorating from the Garden

The berries of heavenly bamboo look great outdoors or cut and brought indoors.The berries of heavenly bamboo look great outdoors or cut and brought indoors.
While this may be winter (not official until December 22, but most gardeners would say this is winter), there are so many things we can harvest from our gardens to decorate our homes to help celebrate the holidays.  We have had several inches of rain in just the past few […]

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Bottom Heat for Happy Heirloom Seed Starting

germination trayPlant seeds in a small tray that’s easy to bottom heat in the kitchen or when using the small heating mat.
The only way to have heirloom vegetables and flowers in your garden is to grow them from seed.  Most heirlooms simply aren’t grown commercially, so they’re not often available as seedlings.  To obtain those antique varieties and to savor their long-lost flavors,  we must order the seed and start the plants ourselves.  […]

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Fun Fall Decorating with Pumpkins

DSC_8107This elaborate collection of pumpkins and gourds annually graces Lisa and Jeff Tice’s home in Greenville, SC. (Photo by Marian St Clair.)
Once upon a time, pumpkins only appeared briefly as round, orange Jack-o’-lanterns for Halloween night, as the tasty main ingredient in a traditional pie at Thanksgiving, or were mentioned in passing as a potential means of transportation and affordable housing in children’s fairy tales. Today, however, pumpkins have quickly transformed into the hottest decorating […]

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