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Archives for March 12, 2017

Five Tips for Container Gardening Success | The Cross Timbers …

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Container gardens are an easy way to incorporate color, edibles and interest into the landscape. (Photo: Bonnie Plants)

By Melinda Myers

Container gardens allow you to easily dress up your balcony and patio, create a colorful welcome for guests and keep edibles close at hand for cooking and entertaining. They’re also a terrific way for new gardeners to get their start. Increase your success growing vegetables, herbs or flowers in a container with these tips.

Proper plant selection. Select the right plants for the container and growing conditions. Closely check the plant tags for this and more information to help with your decision. Create attractive combinations with plants that look good together and require the same growing conditions.

And don’t be afraid to mix flowers, herbs and vegetables. This is a great way to have both beauty and flavor on your patio, deck or balcony.  Scour gardening magazines and the internet for free container planting plans like those featured on the Bonnie Plants website.

Selecting the right container.  Further increase your success by selecting a container large enough to accommodate your plants. The bigger the pot, the more moisture it can hold, maximizing the time between watering. A small pot with a large plant will need to be watered several times a day during hot weather and fertilized more frequently.

Use a container with drainage holes made from material suited to your gardening style and climate.  Even if you could provide the exact amount of water your plants need, nature may intervene with an extra dose or two. Drainage holes prevent water from building up in the bottom of the pot, leading to root rot.

Those in areas with hot summers should avoid black and metal pots that can heat up in the summer sun and damage tender plant roots. Terra cotta pots are a traditional favorite. They are attractive, heavy and dry out more quickly than some other materials. Glazed pots are beautiful, but tend to be pricey and heavy to move. Plastic pots are affordable, come in a variety of styles and don’t dry out as quickly as terracotta. Then there’s the sturdy half whiskey barrel. This planter is a longtime favorite, but be sure to drill drainage holes in the bottom if it doesn’t already have them.

Potting mix.  Next, invest in a quality potting mix that holds moisture, yet provides adequate drainage. These are usually a combination of peat moss, compost or coir to hold moisture, and perlite or vermiculite to aid in drainage.  Leave garden soil in the garden where it belongs, not in containers.

Watering.  Check the potting soil moisture in your container gardens at least once a day and more often if the pots are small or temperatures high. Water thoroughly when the top inch of soil is dry and allow the excess to run out the drainage holes.  This shows you have moistened the potting mix, top to bottom, encouraging a robust root system to develop.

Extend the time between waterings with the help of self-watering pots. Their built-in water reservoirs provide water to the plants as the soil dries.  Fill the reservoir as needed and make sure there is a weep hole. This allows excess water to drain out of the reservoir instead of saturating the soil and leading to root rot.

Fertilization.  Lastly, incorporate a slow release fertilizer into the potting mix at planting. This type of fertilizer provides small amounts of nutrients over a longer time period.  Follow label directions and make additional applications as recommended on the fertilizer label.

As your container plants continue to thrive and you enjoy the flavorful vegetables and herbs and gorgeous flowers they provide, you’ll soon be looking for more spaces to incorporate container gardens into your landscape.


Gardening expert Melinda Myers has written over 20 gardening books, including Small Space Gardening and the Midwest Gardener’s Handbook. She hosts The Great Courses “How to Grow Anything: Food Gardening For Everyone” DVD set and the nationally syndicated Melinda’s Garden Moment TV radio segments. Myers is also a columnist and contributing editor for Birds Blooms magazine and was commissioned by Bonnie Plants for her expertise to write this article. Myers’ website is

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Tips for the first-time gardener

Could 2017 be the year that you begin a vegetable garden or plant some flowers outdoors? If so, here are a few considerations that might make your venture more enjoyable.

When is comes to growing plants, you can always find a place to plant. Outdoor beds in the soil are indeed the most popular, but a lack of space shouldn’t hold you back. You can use hanging baskets, small borders or edging surrounding existing plants, window boxes or containers on the porch or deck for planting space. This is where you can let your imagination take over.

If you do not have an area of soil, you can even plant into bags of growing media or potting soil that you purchase from Lowes, Home Depot, Wal-Mart and garden centers located around the area. Simply cut an opening in the plastic bag of growing material and put the plant into it. Gardening in a bag.

A word of caution: If you do have room to put your first garden in a bed, start small. Given an efficient layout, a 15-by-25 bed area is very adequate for a full-blown vegetable garden. You can always expand next year after you get some experience under your belt.

Most vegetable crops need as much sun as possible. Six or more hours of full sun each day should be enough to assure a good harvest. If you find that your garden is shaded, try leafy vegetables such as lettuce and shade tolerant flowers. They will give you a harvest with minimum sunlight. Many vegetables are quite adaptable for container growing if sunlight is available.

Every first-time gardener should have a few of the basic tools to get started. For the first season, I suggest a shovel, garden rake, hoe and towel for planting. These tools will allow you to adequately prepare the soil or beds.

A few seed catalogs or gardening texts available from the Penn State Extension publications that can be view on line that will give you endless ideas on planting and soil management. It is important to read ahead of the actual season to become familiar with what might happen in the garden so you will be ready for any problems.

That should get you growing this year.

Bill Lamont is a professor and extension vegetable specialist in the department of plant science at Penn State and can be reached by email at

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This week’s gardening tips: sharpen mower blades, hire an arborist, delay planting eggplants

This week’s gardening tips: Home inspections can help potential homebuyers learn of any costly repairs a house may need. Likewise, hiring a licensed arborist to inspect trees on the property could save buyers hundreds and even thousands of dollars in future expenses. If the trees require extensive work or removal, the price of the property could be re-negotiated, and the buyers will be aware of what needs to be done.

Delay planting eggplants in the garden until early April. Eggplants are stunted or damaged by temperatures below 55 degrees, and we usually still have cool nights through March. Also wait to plant okra, sweet potatoes and Southern peas.

As the weather warms up, lawn grasses will begin to grow, and you’ll need to start mowing more frequently. Now is a good time to sharpen your mower blades and have your mower serviced. Delay fertilizer applications until mid- to late March to allow the grass to recover from winter dormancy before pushing growth.

Fertilize roses now and begin spraying regularly for disease problems if you’re growing roses highly susceptible to black spot.

Dan Gill is a horticulturist with the LSU AgCenter. Email him at

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Garden Center Gives Tips On Protecting Plants During The Cold …

LEXINGTON, Ky (LEX 18) Using leads that they had collected over several weeks, multi-agency teams fanned out across Lexington and arrested 69 people. Police say that the focus of the roundup was on felony offenders with active arrest warrants. They say their priority was suspected felony offenders with significant charges such as robbery, kidnapping, assault, sex crimes, and trafficking narcotics. The Lexington Police Department worked with the Office of the Fayette County Sheriff, …

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Garden tips for a fickle spring – Loveland Reporter

Want to learn more about gardening?

CSU Master Gardening Spring Series: The Loveland Public Library, 300 N. Adams Ave., Loveland, is offering a weekly series at 1 p.m. Wednesdays featuring master gardeners.

• March 15: “Know Who Your Friends Are: Beneficial Plants That Attract Beneficial Insects,” with Charleen Barr.

• March 22: “Perennial Gardening,” with Bill and Mary Monroe.

• March 29: “Butterfly Gardening,” with Deb Courtner.

With warm, dry weather over the last few weeks encouraging plants to start growing, one can’t help wonder when Northern Colorado will see snow again and what that will do to the plants that have started to bloom.

“People jump the gun and start to pull mulch away, and that’s a bad idea,” said Kevin Weakland, manager at Loveland Garden Center.

According to and, this should be the snowiest month of the year for Coloradans. There is a good chance that temperatures could drop quickly.

“The plants are usually used to our fickle springs,” said Weakland, but you can do a few things to help out sprouts that show up a little early.

“The only thing you can do is cover things, not big things, with those, you just have to cross your fingers,” Weakland said.

He suggests weighted things over plants such as buckets or boxes in the event of a temperature drop. Those items will help to keep the ground heat around the plant. For bigger things, there are is no guaranteed way to help.

“Generally, the plants that have been here for 50 years are going to be OK,” he said.

Weakland said the most important element for this year is water.

“We have had like six weeks with hardly any precipitation,” he said. Between that and recent high winds, plants haven’t had the chance to get and store moisture.

“Dry plants are more suspectable to freezes,” Weakland said, so start watering now.

“One of the keys is to (water) for a really long time so the water goes down as far as possible,” he said.

Weakland suggested using a cylinder coffee cup to find out how long you should water for. Place the cup under the sprinkler and see how long it takes for the cup to fill with an inch a water. That is the time you should leave the sprinkler in one place.

As you anticipate a cold snap, Weakland said you can also start planning for your summer garden.

“If you look at the ideal time to plant, is it about three weeks from now,” he said. But he said seeds for plants like tomatoes and eggplants are probably good to go and it’s a good time to start thinking about soil.

“Definitely get the soil prep done now,” he said. This could be building raised beds or turning the top soil, which can reveal any bugs in the soil.

“Turning the soil can help kill the larvae,” he said of root-eating insects. It also helps to kill bacteria that could damage plants.

“Mixing in organic matter is really, really important for our soil here,” he said. Adding things like peat moss can reduce the pH (potential of hydrogen) levels in the alkaline soil of the region.

Weakland said to turn the soil at least 4 to 6 inches into the ground. But due to the dry climate, the ground may be too hard.

“When it’s this dry, it’s so hard you can’t do anything with it,” he said.

He suggested running water on the area for a few hours, letting it dry a day and then trying to turn it.

To learn more about gardening, there are a few options right now. The Loveland Public Library, 300 N. Adams Ave., Loveland, is offering CSU Master Gardening Spring Series 1 p.m. Wednesdays featuring master gardeners. The next one is Wednesday with “Know Who Your Friends Are: Beneficial Plants That Attract Beneficial Insects,” with Charleen Barr

You can also stop by your local garden center.

“We offer advice for free,” Weakland said, “With every customer of ours, our goal is that they are successful.”

Michelle Vendegna: 970-699-5407,

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5 garden tips for the week starting March 11

Spring forward

Remember, daylight saving time begins tonight. Even though we lose an hour by setting our clocks ahead (and it takes a week or so to adjust to the time change), we get more daytime light to enjoy the garden. And it’s also time to plant summer garden vegetables: cilantro, corn, root crops, squashes and specialty items from seed; vigorously growing peppers, tomatoes, and other veggies from pony-packs. Plant tomatoes deep, leaving only the top inch or 2 sticking out of the soil, because the buried stem will form extra roots, making the plant stronger and more productive. Also plant summer flowers: impatiens, nasturtium, periwinkle, sunflower, lobelia, mimulus, celosia, petunia, marigold, salvia, verbena and more.


Plant new citrus or avocado trees this month or next, while they are safe from frost and still have ample time to grow and adapt for next winter’s cold temperatures. Select specimens with vigorous growth and healthy deep green leaves. It’s tempting to buy OK-looking plants with fruit already on them, but such plants may have been stressed in the container and may take many years to set new fruit again when planted in the garden. Do not feed new transplants for about six weeks.

Ground-level work

Plant or prune ground covers to clear away dead portions and to stimulate new growth. Do this for ice plant, ivy, potentilla, wild strawberry and even ferns. If you are looking to put in ground covers, drought-tolerant choices include coyote bush, creeping coprosma, gazania, Mexican evening primrose, rosemary and verbena. African daisies, gazanias, Mexican evening primroses and verbenas provide great color, too.

Time to act

Prevent wormy apples at harvest time by stopping codling moth larvae now, before they enter the fruit. Adult moths lay eggs that hatch soon after flowers fade. When the tree stops flowering, spray with carbaryl or malathion every 10 days for about six weeks. Then in May, when a second batch of new moths emerges in the neighborhood, start spraying again every 10 days for another six weeks to guarantee worm-free fruit.

Water plan

Repair or replace faulty sprinkler valves and spray heads. Adjust automatic sprinkler settings for springtime watering needs: usually watering once or twice a week is sufficient this month and maybe next, but after that your plants will need more frequent irrigation. Be sure to add extra watering during Santa Ana winds and on hot days.

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