Don’t Let Aggressive Bargain Plants Take Over the Garden

So, you’ve found a plant that blooms all season, tolerates a wide range of growing conditions and needs little maintenance. Sound too good to be true?  It probably is. Lots of fast growing easy care plants are overly aggressive.  They crowd out their more timid neighbors and often need concrete barriers or regular weeding to keep them in check. Invasive plants go one step further. These plants leave the bounds of our landscape and invade our natural areas.  They crowd out native plants that provide food and shelter for wildlife.  These should be eliminated from gardens in regions where they are a threat.

Choose the Best Tomato for Your Favorite Recipes

Sliced, sauced or cooked in your favorite recipe; tomatoes are a favorite and versatile vegetable. And they taste best when grown and harvested from your own garden or container. Ensure the best flavor and greatest results by selecting the most disease-resistant varieties and growing your tomatoes in full sun and moist well-drained soil. Further narrow down your selection and grow varieties best suited to the intended use. Bite sized tomatoes are great for salads, relish trays and snacking.

Celebrate Earth Day April 22

(Related: See Haverhill Earth Day Cleanup.)

Be part of the world’s largest secular celebration and join billions of people around the world as we celebrate Earth Day on April 22. Earth Day was the brainchild of Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson. He wanted to raise awareness and concern for our environment through outreach and education. In 1970 more than 20 million people and thousands of schools and local communities participated in the first Earth Day. In 1990, the celebration went global.

Invite Frogs and Toads into the Garden

Celebrate National Frog Month by inviting insect and slug-eating toads and frogs into your garden. Start by providing water. A pond at least 20 inches deep with gently sloping sides will work. Include water plants that provide oxygen, shelter from predators and weather and breeding sites. Include a few rocks or logs in the pond for basking and a few alongside the water for shelter.

Grow Colorful and Unique Dracaenas Indoors

Improve indoor air quality and invigorate your décor with some of the unique dracaena varieties. Corn plant, Madagascar dragon tree, lucky bamboo and Song of India are popular varieties of the dracaena. Update your collection with a few less common varieties.  Mass Appeal is a corn plant with twisted stems and improved drought tolerance. Rikki is another easy to grow variety with dark green leaves and light green variegation in the center. Add color with Limelight’s bright chartreuse leaves or the chartreuse and gray-green leaves of Lemon Lime.

Grow Potatoes in the Garden or Container

What is white, red or yellow, can be eaten fresh, fried or even raw and is one of the most important staples of the human diet?  If you guessed potato, you are right. Grow your own in the garden, planting bag or containers. You can plant small potatoes or pieces of larger potatoes to start new plants.  These contain “eyes” that grow into potato plants.  You may have seen this happen on potatoes stored in the pantry.   Buy certified seed potatoes at garden centers or from garden catalogues. Cut whole or large seed potatoes into smaller pieces containing at least one good “eye.” Plant them in a two- to three-inch deep furrow, 10 to 12 inches apart, leaving 24 to 36 inches between the plants.  As the plants begin to grow, mound the nearby soil over the tubers until the rows are four to six inches high.

Manage Pests in the Garden with Organic Approach

Organic farmers and home gardeners have been using Bacillus thuringiensis, referred to as Bt, for decades to manage pests in the garden. This naturally occurring microbe found in the soil, produces proteins that are toxic to the larva of certain insects. Bt is sold as a powder, granular, dust or pellet. When the susceptible insect eats it, the toxins become active, the insect stops eating and dies within hours or weeks. Different strains of this microbe affect different insects.

Grow a Spiral Herb Garden

Grow a 25-foot row of herbs in a circular garden six feet in diameter and three-feet-tall by creating a Spiral Herb Garden. Locate your spiral herb garden in a sunny location near your home for convenient harvesting.  Start by marking the outline of the bed and inner walls of the spiral. Construct the garden walls from bricks, stone filled gabion baskets, bamboo stakes or wattle fencing made of woven branches.  Anchor the walls to the ground for strength and stability. Purchase a quality blended topsoil suitable for planting beds or fill your spiral garden using the lasagna or hugelkulture method.  These methods recycle plant debris into a wonderful planting mix. Fill the garden with your favorite herbs.