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Late-Winter Garden Tasks for a Happy Garden

Clean off any debris that has collected on the lawn over the winter.
Take a Garden Stroll
With a steaming cup of coffee in my hand, I walk out into my garden this February morning and delight in seeing the nodding, bell-shaped white flowers of snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis) (Click here to learn more about other early spring bulbs like snowdrops). I have a […]

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Tomato Diseases: Identification and Solutions

From upper left: blossom end rot, late blight, and tobacco mosaic virus.
Tomatoes are the roses of vegetables–everything attacks them. So, gardeners can count on experiencing any number of tomato diseases in their growing experience. It pays to grow disease-resistant tomatoes, but lots of the best heirlooms don’t fall into this category. That’s why tomato growers need to be armed with knowledge and IPM (integrated pest […]

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Beating The Five Most Common Vegetable Garden Pests Naturally

My daughter is picking off Colorado potato beetles from potato plants.
For the past 14 years, I have grown my vegetables in a community garden plot, which has provided a real education in plant pests, diseases, and weeds. Why? Because these mega veggie gardens are pest hot spots, and summer is the worst time of year for the beasties.  Bad insects always attack my beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, and eggplants–threatening […]

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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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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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Native Evergreen Ferns for Perennially Beautiful Shade Gardens

 
 
Christmas fern is one of the toughest and easiest of the eastern evergreen ferns for shade gardens.

Ferns give shade gardens a wistful, woodland look. Most die back after a hard frost, but a few remain evergreen for continued color though winter. Species range from resilient North American ferns to […]

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Herb Crafting: Three Herbs to Grow and Ways to Use Them


You don’t need a huge garden to make an abundance of herb crafts to benefit your home, garden, and artistic inclinations. Starting with just a few common and versatile herbs is an easy way to get your hands dirty and feel the magic of plants. I’ve chosen three herbs that are perfect for herb crafting because you can turn them into all sorts of […]

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Southwestern Sustainable Farmscaping: Planting for Home Livestock

 
The right plants can provide needed cover for livestock, repel insects, and serve as forage.
Everywhere across the American Southwest, folks are raising chickens, milking goats, horses, and grazing their own cattle. The rural way of life is evolving towards animal care and organic gardening. Dependence on livestock is creeping into the suburbs, too, where clean, efficient animal keeping is bumping up against the traditional backyard. […]

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Grow an Apothecary Garden: Flowers and Herbs for Healing

Apothecary or physic gardens contain medicinal plants used to treat all kinds of infirmities. (Image taken at The Met Cloisters by Jessie Keith)
During the Medieval period in Europe, monasteries almost always contained an apothecary garden or “physic garden” that grew medicinal plants used to treat all kinds of infirmities. This age-old tradition of cultivating a garden specifically with healing in mind is easy to replicate […]

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