Maureen Gilmer

Blueberries for Western and Southern Gardens

tableNew, heat-tolerant blueberries should be enjoyed in more gardens south of the Mason Dixon Line and in the Southwest
Forget that blueberries (Vaccinium spp.) are just a crop for the far north, because that’s changed.  Modern selection and breeding has resulted in a range of hybrids and varieties that extend blueberries into almost every growing zone.  What makes this such a great opportunity is that blueberries are […]

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Heirloom Vegetable Power: Why Old Seed is New Again

Bean-Diversity3A diverse collection of dried heirloom beans.
 
Every seed has a story.  When it comes to heirloom vegetable seeds, those with great stories have been nurtured for hundreds and thousands of years by diverse peoples worldwide. Many heirlooms have been lost in time, but some have been preserved, bringing with them wonderful traits that tell us something about the people who grew them and the […]

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Growing California Christmasberry

fruit foliageLarge sprays of bright red berry-like fruits mature in time for holiday decorating.
In my old High Sierra home, I decorated with my own native Christmasberry (Heteromeles arbutifolia, USDA Zone 8) fruit every winter for nearly 20 years. Also called California toyon, this shrub produces large sprays of bright red fruits that are so seasonally welcome, I wondered why it was not more popular in landscaping.
Christmasberry makes […]

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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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Rehab Raised Beds Inside and Out

density-1024x768Raised-bed hoops and row covers can help you protect crops from harsh growing conditions and winter cold.
Second gardens are always better than first gardens.  When those first gardens were your raised beds, then maybe it’s time to raise the bar.  Bigger, better, and more prolific are garden characteristics that all gardeners want, so perhaps it’s time to rehab and expand in preparation for next year’s summer garden.
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Late-Summer Seed Sowing

chard-kaleLacinato kale and Swiss chard are two great crops for fall growing.
It’s absolutely counterintuitive to plant anything in August or September, but intuition is not always right.  Go against your instincts, and sow cool-season seeds right now.  Do it soon, and you’ll get your fall and winter garden started just in time.
Starting Fall Vegetables
If you’re a beginner and have never grown food outside the strict summer […]

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Succulents: Beware Over Packed Pots!

color-gilmer2This composition of mixed succulents may look pretty, but the gang-potted group will not survive unless transplanted into their own Terracotta pots.
 
Those big, popular succulent collections sold in pots and troughs (otherwise known as “gang pots”) are dying out all over. Each container may be packed with a dozen or more species of succulent plants that often originate from vastly different locations and have different cultural needs.  Many are […]

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Mulching With Black Gold Amendments

Rhododendron luteum2 JaKMPMRhododendron luteum amended with Black Gold Garden Compost Blend.
When the drought is long, soils are poor, and money is short, one way to revitalize struggling garden plants is to protect their roots with mulch. Good mulches help to retain moisture, cool the root zone, and discourage weeds. The conventional wisdom is to mulch with wood chips or ground up bark, but both are very slow to decompose and can bind needed soil nutrients. The […]

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One-Pot Herb Garden – Anywhere!

herb boxesRepurposed wood crates become one pot herb gardens featuring thyme, rosemary, cilantro, chives and more
Fresh-from-the-container culinary herbs turn a New York loft, a Chicago studio, or a Los Angeles condo into flavor central.  Nothing is quite like fresh mint in your mojito, just-picked basil on a mozzarella sandwich, or cilantro in your salsa.  No store-bought herb carries this intense flavor, because once cut, the essential oils immediately begin to lose pungency.  Cut and eat […]

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Raised Beds: Respecting the Law of Return

densityGardening at high density in raised beds draws proportionately more nutrition from the soil over the course of each season.
If you’re growing vegetables in raised beds, you must respect the Law of Return.  This law states that nutrients extracted from the soil by growing plants must be compensated for by tilling their dead remnants back into the soil or fertility loss will result.  Because plants are often grown more densely in small or raised beds, […]

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