Grow your Favorite Vegetables in a Container

Enjoy the convenience of planting, tending and harvesting fresh vegetables grown in pots on your patio, balcony or entryway. Consider some of the compact varieties suited to container gardening. Bush early girl produces 4-inch tomatoes on a compact plant. Patio Choice tomato will yield up to 100 yellow cherry tomatoes on an 18-inch-tall plant. Or fill a hanging basket with Tumbling Tom Yellow, Lizzano, or Terenzo trailing cherry tomatoes.

Stretch Your Planting Budget

Stretch your planting budget with each plant you buy. When shopping, look for perennials and groundcovers with multiple shoots that fill the pot. Plant it as is for quicker results or divide the plant into several smaller pieces to cover a larger area. You’ll just have to wait a bit longer for the planting to fill in. Roll or push on the sides of the container to help loosen the roots inside the pot.

Attract Hummingbirds with Flower-filled Hanging Baskets

Help attract hummingbirds to your feeders with a few flower-filled hanging baskets. One of my favorites is Cuphea. You often find it sold under common names of cigar, firecracker, tiny mice or bat plant. It is a real hummingbird magnet. Petunias are another favorite of hummingbirds.

Edible Chickweed Moves into the Kitchen

Pull ‘em out of the weed bucket and bring them into the kitchen. Chickweed, a vigorous weed gardeners have been battling for years can add a bit of flavor and health benefits to your meals. This annual weed has small pointed leaves. The stems crawl along the ground, forming a mat that is eventually covered with white star shaped flowers. You can find this weed throughout the growing season, but you’ll get the best flavor from early spring and mid to late fall harvests.

Celebrate May Day with May Baskets

Celebrate May Day by surprising family and friends with a May Basket hung on their door. May Baskets like dancing around the Maypole have been associated with May Day for more than a hundred and fifty years. This Northern Hemisphere holiday welcomed warmer weather and what many considered the beginning of summer. Baskets were made of paper, although you may choose to make yours out of twigs, paper plates, tin cans, cloth or other items.

In the past people filled the baskets with spring flowers, candies or other small items. Paper flowers, cut flowers and small potted plants are still a good choice. Consider adding a few packets of flower or vegetable seeds, plant labels or other items to encourage the recipient to plant a garden.

Celebrate Arbor Day with a Walk Around the Block

Trees are an important part of the environment. They clean the air, reduce storm water run-off, cool our homes and shelter us from the wind and sun.  Take time today to celebrate the trees in your neighborhood. The last Friday in April is National Arbor Day, but every day is a great day to honor trees. Take a walk through your backyard or neighborhood.  Bring along a field guide to help you identify the trees.  No field guide? Don’t worry.  Take pictures, draw sketches or make a list of key features.

Transplant Potbound Houseplants

Spring is a great time to transplant potbound houseplants. One option is to move them into a slightly, 1 to 2 inches in diameter, larger container. Loosen any circling roots and fill in the extra space with a well-drained potting mix. Adjust watering as needed for the larger container. Clump forming houseplants like ferns, snake plants and African violets can be moved into a larger pot or divided into several new plants.

Protect Plants and Containers from Squirrels

Squirrels dig up bulbs, munch on tomatoes and damage containers and hanging baskets.  You’ll need a variety of techniques and some luck to win the battle with these varmints.  

Try covering new plantings with netting or floating row covers that allow air and water through to the plants. These barriers may discourage the squirrels and send them off looking for other dining locations. Once they move along you can try uncovering your plants.  

Some gardeners report success with cayenne pepper.