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Can I Plant a Vegetable Garden In Partial Shade?


“Please tell me if this location is suitable for a veg garden. It is partially shaded for most of the day, I understand I can upload 3 pictures somewhere BUT WHERE?. There’s a creek running through behind the fence. And please guide me to the best articles for starting a garden in my area.Should I soak this hard soil and mix it with (something?)or […]

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How Should I Prepare The Base of My Raised Bed?


“In a raised bed application, what should I use first before adding soil to prep the bed to reduce weeds and grass?” Question from Marlene or Stuart, Florida
Answer: There are several ways to stop perennial weeds from rising from the base of a new raised bed. You can either do the obvious– roll up your sleeves and completely desod and remove all weeds from […]

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Do Livestock Troughs Make Good Raised Beds?


“Do livestock watering troughs make good vegetable garden raised beds?” Question from Sandy of Chester, Virginia
Answer: Yes! Livestock troughs make excellent raised beds. Choose deeper troughs. Those that are 2-feet deep are best. More depth helps them better support larger and deeper rooting vegetables.
The key is making sure that they have good bottom drainage, so be sure to drill/punch plenty of holes at the base […]

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How Should I Care for Marigolds Through the Season?


“I have a large, 1/2 whiskey barrel in my flower garden, planted with various types of marigolds.  Since Mother’s Day, when I planted them, I’ve fertilized them every two weeks.  I am faithful about deadheading them as needed, on a daily basis.  I water as needed. They are just glorious this year!  1) Should I continue to fertilize them?  How long can I expect […]

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Are There Outdoor Cactus Hardy to Minnesota?

Image by Jessie Keith
I see people in pictures with cactus gardens outside in my area. Are there any cactus that can stay outside for the winter in Minnesota? Question from Sandra of Cottage Grove, Minnesota
Answer: Yes! There are a couple of alpine cacti that exist at high altitudes along the Rocky Mountains that will survive in your winters. There are also other northerly prickly pears […]

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Help Me Understand Cacti and Succulent Mix Components and Characteristics


I belong to the Michigan Cactus and Succulent Society, and I like to create my own mixes. To perfect my blends, I am always trying to figure out what materials will provide the characteristics I need for drainage, aeration, water-holding capacity and so on. I also want to understand how particle size impacts the performance of primary mix materials. Does the blend of ingredients […]

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Do You Think That Vegetables Produce As Well in Containers?


“Do you believe veggie plants grow and produce as well in large containers as planting straight in the ground?” Question from Donna of Newberry, South Carolina
Answer: It depends. It’s all a matter of plant size, rooting needs, container size, and overall care.
Container Size and Care
Large or standard-sized vegetables do not grow as well in containers because they need more space to reach full potential. […]

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What Are Some Good Hardy Succulents for Colorado?


“What succulents will grow outdoors in Colorado ZIP 80021, Growing Zone 6?” Question from Joe of Westminster, Colorado.
Answer: I love hardy succulents and have written about them extensively because they are beautiful and easy to grow in many areas of the country, with good bed prep. I see that Westminster has an average rainfall of 17-inches per year, a good bit lower than the […]

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Should Potting Mix Be Added to Ground Soil?


“When planting, is it good to mix potting soil with earth soil?” Question from Pamela of Richmond, Indiana.
Answer: Don’t waste potting mix on in-ground plantings. Add products created to be garden amendments instead. These contain the ingredients that gardens need, while leaving out unecessary components, like perlite, vermiculite, and other additives, that don’t benefit garden soils. Potting mixes are also typically more expensive when […]

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Why Aren’t My Squash Bearing Fruit and Do They Have Borers?


“How can I determine if a squash plant in my raised bed is just “doing bad,” or if it’s “doing bad because a squash vine borer might have gotten it?” And does one bad squash plant ruin all the rest in the same bed? Nothing seems to be bearing fruit now.” Question from Cat of Horse Shoe, North Carolina.”
Answer: You are in luck! Most […]

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