Melon Growing Problems

‘Little Baby’ Flower is super early and high yielding. (My kids love them!)
“Second year trying to grow melons. Can’t seem to get fruit, and if I get one it’s too late for the growing season. Is it a lack of pollination…I always plant them early. Thanks!” Question by Chris of Orange, Connecticut
Answer: It’s so frustrating when you get lots of vine and no fruit. Several factors […]

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Help! Tomato White Heart Disorder!

The right soil and irrigation water pH is essential for good tomato production.
“I am growing in raised beds and hydroponically in EarthBoxes. Nothing does very well and tomatoes are horrid with hard white cores. I recently found the water from our community well tests at 8.6 pH. I am wondering if your peat formula would buffer the high water pH. Right now I am using […]

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Spaghetti Squash Care

“I planted spaghetti squash and just got my first flowers! I have been told the first flowers are male. Do I need to do anything to ensure I get lots of squash?” Question from Deborah of Powder Springs, Georgia.
Answer: Yes! Male flowers appear first, followed by female flowers along the vine tips, once the vines get to a substantial size. You will recognize the female flowers immediately because they will have tiny immature fruits at the base of each flower.
To […]

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Raised Bed Soil Enrichment

“What can I incorporate in my soil on an elevated bed to help retain moisture? It’s very hard to keep soil moist.” Question by David of Brookville, Ohio
Answer: Organic matter, organic matter, organic matter! Amendments rich in organic matter have high water holding ability and keep soil porous to create the best possible environment for root development. Amendments with excellent water-holding capacity include compost, peat moss, coconut coir, and earthworm castings. (Check out Black Gold’s suite of OMRI Listed soil […]

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Creeping Jenny Removal

Creeping Jenny (Image by Kurt Stüber)
“I have been trying for years to eliminate the creeping jenny that is seeming to take over my garden and flower bed with no success. What is the best way to get rid of it?” Question from Brenda of Peterson, Iowa
Answer: Such a pretty plant…such a pain to remove when you want it gone. Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia) is a […]

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Weed Killer Storage?

“Have any studies been done to determine if bags of weedkiller “offgas” and contaminate any seed starter/potting soil/etc. stored nearby?” Question from Julie of Hortonville, Wisconsin.
Answer: Not any comprehensive study we can find. The ability for an herbicide to offgas would depend on the product. We recommend looking up the SDS or MSDS for each weedkiller in question to determine its ability to give off harmful gas. You might also contact the maker of the weedkiller in question and ask.
But, […]

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Sweet Shrub?

“I grew up with “sweet scrubs”. I can’t find them anywhere.” Question from Judy of Louisville, Mississippi
Answer: I bet you are talking about the eastern and southern US native shrub, sweetshrub (Calycanthus floridus). It’s unusual flowers smell very sweet, almost  strawberries. Does it look right? If so, it can be purchased at many native plant nurseries.
Happy Gardening! Jessie

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Tomato Containers Not Producing

“I have tomatoes in pots on my deck but they haven’t bloomed. The plants are beautiful. I water frequently. I used Miracle Grow potting soil. The tomatoes in the garden are fruiting. I live in Texas, it’s very hot this year.Where did I go wrong? Question from Donna of Cross Plains, Texas
Answer:  Tomato containers are always more demanding. These veggies are heavy feeders and drinkers, so they need large containers with plenty of space, everyday water and diligent feeding, which […]

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Three Sisters Garden

“I’ve heard a lot about the “three sisters” planting method. What exactly is this?” Question from John of Gatewood, Missouri
Answer: The Three Sisters Garden was a classic Native American planting method that included corn, beans, and squash; the staple crops for agrarian tribes. Basically, the squash and beans were planted at the base of the corn plants. As the corn grew, the stalks supported the twining beans and squash. Click here to read a great Black Gold article all about […]

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Hardpan Clay Soil…

“I have hard clay soil. I have been adding one plant at at time and even that is hard digging holes large enough to amend soil around roots. But now I want to start a large bed by putting down cardboard, putting a bed border around it, and using everything in our mulch pile to cover the cardboard and leave over winter. Would this help or is there a better way?” Question from Erin of Kirkwood, Missouri.
Answer: I used to […]

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