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How to Amend Clay Soils


One of the garden necessities that should never be overlooked is having the right soil for the right plant, which often means having good, fertile loam. For our plants to perform at their very best, it is our job to give them the best soil we can, but clay soils can make this a challenge. The best time to thoroughly amend the soil for […]

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How to Grow Tomatoes From Seed to Harvest


Tomatoes are America’s #1 garden vegetable and growing your own from seed has its advantages. It allows you to grow the newest, coolest seed catalog varieties of your choice and helps ensure stock is disease-free at planting time.

Click here for a Step-by-Step PDF.

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Five Steps to Creating a No-Till Vegetable Garden

The author’s no-till garden in early spring after compost and straw have been applied. (Image by Jessie Keith)
To till or not to till? Why ask this question? Tilling does good things for the soil. It increases needed aeration and porosity, allows the easy incorporation of organic amendments, and it makes all the little green weeds at the top of the soil go away. But it […]

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Ornamental Spreaders, Cascaders, and Creepers for the Garden

Creeping thyme has the benefit of being both culinary and a wonderful ornamental creeper for bees.

Tired of weeding the cracks in sidewalks and the places around stepping stones?  Plant creepers.  These ground-hugging perennials are small but mighty, working proactively to keep untidy grass and weeds from taking over. Creepers […]

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Tough, Easy, Ever-Blooming Garden Flowers

Black and Blue salvia (left), Twisted Red celosia (top right), and French marigolds (bottom right)

If you want reliable, carefree, long-blooming flowers that still perform through hot, dry summers, they are not difficult to find. The best are longtime garden favorites as well as exciting new varieties, which are bred […]

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Out-of-Madagascar Succulent House Plants


Much like the unique plants and wildlife of Galapagos Islands that evolved in isolation, the “endemic” plants of Madagascar, an island off the east coast of Africa, are equally unique. (Endemic species are found in one place and nowhere else on Earth.) Madagascar succulent plants evolved to withstand the island’s extremely hot and often dry growing conditions and wide-ranging environments, from rain forests and […]

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How to Water House Plants


Watering house plants…it sounds simple, doesn’t it? But, if it were simple, there would be fewer black thumbs out there. Proper watering is at the heart of good plant care, and if you don’t know how to water a plant, then its little green future may be in peril. It is surprisingly easy to drown a plant with aqueous attention.
There isn’t a one-fits-all watering […]

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Colorful Flowering Kalanchoe for Winter Cheer


Do you seek a cheerful holiday plant that will look good in your home all season long? One of the best is the succulent flowering kalanchoe (Kalanchoe blossfeldiana, USDA Hardiness Zones 10-11). Unlike the top-selling poinsettia, it is tough, easy to grow, and always looks good.
Garden sticklers (like me) like plant names to be pronounced correctly, and kalanchoe is not exactly an easy name […]

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Rosemary Is For Winter and Gifting

Fill pretty, recycled jars with freshly-dried rosemary for holiday gifts for foodies (and pet lovers too, see below).
When I first came to the Southern California desert, I was shocked at how well traditional rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis, USDA Hardiness Zones 8-10) shrubs survived through 120ᵒ F summer days. When provided good drainage and some water, these plants thrive in dry, mild-winter locations and reach mammoth […]

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Beyond Poinsettias: Fresh Holiday House Plants

Florist’s gloxinia has fallen out of vogue but has spectacular flowers in winter.
Red, green, and white–these are the common holiday colors. Poinsettias, amaryllis, paperwhites, and cyclamen–these are the common holiday plants in these colors. Why not shake it up? You can have these colors and enjoy them anew with more adventurous seasonal house plants.
Plant vendors sell all kinds of other indoor plants fit for the […]

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