For beginners Ideas, Tips & Guides

My seed-catalog shopping rules -

My seed-catalog shopping rules

At first, I thought this would be a post for beginners, but realized even experts are over-indulgently inclined. Some over-riding principles: I buy organic seed when available for my organic garden, and seek out regionally appropriate varieties. Here’s why, in detail.For me, resisting buying everything requires an annual review of the basic mathematics of vegetable gardening. Now (not after 11 boxes of seeds arrive that you forgot you ordered) is the time to crunch your own numbers:How many of A, B and C plants can fit into my Y square feet (and for what cost in

Brrrr! overwintering tips for tender plants -

Brrrr! overwintering tips for tender plants

First, my general thinking: No two gardeners’ potential places to stash such treasures will match in temperature or humidity, so when I say the basement works well here, your cellar might not. I have identified my best spots by experimenting, and by killing many things in the process. But every year I score another victory or two because I don’t let failure stop me. (Isn’t all gardening like that?)And this: If I don’t have the right spot for a plant–often a combination of high light but cool, 50ish-degree conditions–try forcing dormancy or semi-dormancy versus forcing it to limp along, suffering. If you have non-hardy plants you’ve tried keeping as “houseplants” in your heated home, only to see them go wretched and leggy, think about letting them rest, or close to it, next time. Water very sparingly and keep them as cool as possible.Extra heroics: Adding a growlight hood for 12 hours a day in, say, a cool basement could make a

Vegetable-garden tuneup: make room for more -

Vegetable-garden tuneup: make room for more

My mathematical equation starts on paper around June, like this:1. Make a list of what you want more of (or a first crop of, if it’s a warm-season thing or if you simply didn’t plant an earlier crop).2. Make a list of things that have gone by or will soon, to assess real estate that you can utilize. In early to mid-June my lists looked like the one below; yours may be very different. My July and August list–for my latest s

I know what birds like: 11 backyard-habitat tips -

I know what birds like: 11 backyard-habitat tips

Spring, and also fall, are perfect times to add some bird-friendly plantings, since many are woody plants, and also to provide for the most important thing off all: water. Big surprise–it’s all about keeping them fed, watered and sheltered in every season. Here are the essentials:1. water needed 12 months a yearWater is required 12 months a year, preferably moving water; curious birds cannot resist a drip or spillway, such as the little waterfalls in each of my two small garden pools. Even when those are shut down due

Seed-shopping tactics (plus a podcast) - - Jordan

Seed-shopping tactics (plus a podcast)

I‘M WORKING ON RESTRAINT over here, trying not to order every single thing I scribbled on catalog covers and Post-it’s I stuck all over them the last two weeks as I browsed hungrily on the first pass.

Look out the window: garden design 101 - - China - Japan

Look out the window: garden design 101

Ask yourself this: Where do you see your garden from most often, and at what time of year? Where does the magical light happen, and catch your eye? For me, it’s a few places:The best seat in the house is the dining-room table (above), where I often plunk my laptop and heaps of messiness when writing and just generally like to be. (So does Jack the Demon Cat, who adores the west view.)I can see a long way due west from that old Chinese wooden chair, and also pretty far south, with a short east snapshot as well…so those directions, starting at the point of my favorite chair and emanating outward, are the primary axes of my garden. Fr

6 easiest orchids to grow, with longwood’s greg griffis - - state Pennsylvania - state Hawaii - county Garden

6 easiest orchids to grow, with longwood’s greg griffis

Where did we fail?Is it the wrong orchid for our conditions, or did we do wrong by the right orchid? Oh, dear.I sought advice from Greg Griffis, the orchid grower for Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, where the annual Orchid

Proper transplanting, mulch, and more: linda chalker-scott’s horticultural myth-busting - - state Washington

Proper transplanting, mulch, and more: linda chalker-scott’s horticultural myth-busting

She is an Extension Urban Horticulturist with Washington State University, and an associate professor of horticulture and landscape architecture there—and joined me this week on the radio podcast to talk (and debunk) popular garden myths.You know, like whether you should dig a really big hole for trees and shrubs and amend the soil before backfilling. Or whether gravel in the bottom of a container helps drainage, or bone meal is a must (or a bust) for bulbs. Or whether landscape fabrics are really the miracle they claim to be—that has so many people using them as “weed block.”Linda has been

Tomato-growing faq’s -

Tomato-growing faq’s

Q. What is the difference between a determinate and an indeterminate tomato? Q. Should I grow heirloom or hybrid tomatoes?Q. How much sun do I need to grow tomatoes? Q. How do I prepare the soil for tomato plants? Q. Do I need to plant my tomatoes in a different place each year? Q. Can I grow tomatoes upside-down in one of those new hanging planters I saw?Q. How and when do I start tomatoes from seed?Q. When do I transplant my tomato seedlings into the garden?Q. Can tomato seed be direct-sown in the garden?Q. If I am buying tomato transplants, are big ones better? Q. How do I plant tomatoes?Q. Do I mulch my tomato plants? Q. Should I cage, stake or trellis my tomato plants? Q. Do tomato plants need pruning? Q. When and how much do I water tomato plants? Q. Do tomatoes need to be fed; I have read that they are “heavy feeders”?

Updated: new source list includes plant societies -

Updated: new source list includes plant societies

My original list, which I’ve edited a bit here and there since I posted it in 2008, included only sources I had personally done business with, either here at home, or in my former job and other professional affiliations. Now I have expanded it to include some that relied-upon friends rely upon, too.I’m open to new sources and hope you’ll share yours, with the disclaimer that I will first get in touch with them, order a catalog (where applicable), have a look for myself, and either order or ask around. No one who list links can be sure that every reader who tries a recommended source will have an ideal experience, but I want to exercise caution. I have a pile of catalogs on order at the moment for ju

Naming weeds: hello, galinsoga and commelina - - city New York

Naming weeds: hello, galinsoga and commelina

GALINSOGA is also called quickweed; the Rutgers weed database says that’s because the seeds that follow its tiny, daisy-like yellow and white flowers start to germinate on their way to the ground—no waiting, and quick enough to produce multiple generations each growing season.More than one species are listed in weed books; I have G. quadriradiata, which I actually know as its synonymous name G. ciliata, and I know just where it came from. A friend in New York City shared a desired plant a decade ago, and a gallant soldier was lurking in the pot, a hijacker. (Originally, it’s from South America, but is now widespread in the U.S.)I recommend pulling this one as soon as it emerges–it thankfully comes out easily when young–or using a hoe to dislodge seedlings, being sure never to let it establish and flower. With repeat weeding or cultivating, I have kept it fro

Extending spring bloom from bulbs, with scott kunst - - Usa - state Michigan

Extending spring bloom from bulbs, with scott kunst

Since 1993, Scott has run Old House Gardens, the only American resource devoted exclusively to heirloom bulbs, many available nowhere else–older varieties that have been handed down for their enduring value and interest.After a degree from Columbia, Scott returned to Michigan to teach school and bought an 1870s fixer-upper house in Ann Arbor that led to an epiphany when he realized some of the plants outside it were hand-me-downs of gardeners past. He pursued a masters in historic preservation, worked as a landscape historian, and has taught landscape history at Eastern Michigan University.And most important for this discussion: Having that whole catalog of b

Soil-saving tricks for planting big pots -

Soil-saving tricks for planting big pots

AS I POTTED UP SOME PLANTS TODAY, I ran short on potting soil–and then I remembered: With big pots, in particular, there’s sometimes no need to fill the entire vessel, which is often deeper than the roots of seasonal plants would reach in their relatively short time in residence. So I reviewed my trick for making false bottoms (and saving on soil).

My fall vegetable-garden plans, plus podcast - - state Connecticut - state Maine

My fall vegetable-garden plans, plus podcast

MY LATEST WEEKLY SHOW with NPR affiliate Robin Hood Radio, WHDD in Sharon, Connecticut, tackles the topic of replanting your vegetable garden for a harvest well into the fall. Stream it, or subscribe free on iTunes.Soil Too Hot and Dry for Germination?SOME SEEDS WON’T GERMINATE in baking soil, so a day or two before I sow things in high summer, I moisten and shade the bed-to-be. Cultivate at least lightly to prepare the seedbed, then water well and erect knitted shade fabric on hoops (over the area, or just lay it on the ground).  With heat-sensitive crops like salad things and spinach, I leave the shade cloth up as the plants develop.But When Exactly to Sow What?IT DOESN’T ALL GO IN AT ONCE—each crop has its timing, thoug

Why i'm abuzz about -

Why i'm abuzz about

It’s not all about pretty pictures–when and where a bug was recorded is a big part of the information being captured as the image itself. That’s because the site “helps expand on the natural histories” of its subjects, it says. “By capturing the place and time that submitted images were taken,” it explains, “we are creating a virtual collection that helps define where and when things might be found.”I would have felt welcome enough after Maury‘s hello, but then pretty quickly things got even friendlier. A previously anonymous recent arachnid visitor of mine—a colorful spider that was the second photo I uploaded (the one above)—got identified by BugGuiders with relative certainty asa Shamrock Orbweaver.“Maybe Araneus trifolium? Let’s see what the others think,” Contributing Editor Laura said, in the notes that suddenly appeared below my image.“I’m pretty sure this is A. trifolium,” concurred Contributing Editor Kryontf.Love it.

Happy accident: a garden for 365 days - - New York - state New York - county Hudson

Happy accident: a garden for 365 days

I mean, it doesn’t close up shop or shut it doors on me or to visual enjoyment. The garden centers may need to stand idle a portion of each year, but not the landscape itself. And so, stubbornly and defiantly over a period of 25 years, at first accidentally and lately more intentionally as my knowledge has grown, I suppose I have made a garden for 365 days. Good thing I did, since I now live in it year-round, having left my career and the city in late 2007 after more than 20 years as a weekender in the Hudson Valley-Berkshires area of New York and Massachusetts.TO MAKE A YEAR-ROUND GARDEN was not my plan, or at least not a conscious one I could have explained when I began digging holes on an overgrown, bramble-infested bit of Columbia County, New York, land with little more to recommend it horticulturally beyond a half-dozen very old apples and a pair of ancient lilacs. My 365-day garden style was actually a happy side effect—a total serendipity—precipitated by my love of birds.Because birds’ needs vary at different times

How to grow carrots, with dr. john navazio - - city Brussels - state Washington - state Maine

How to grow carrots, with dr. john navazio

John, whose dramatic and delicious purple ‘Dragon’ carrot is bright orange inside, was reassuring as ever. First, don’t feel bad, he said. “Carrots are one of the harder vegetables to grow,” confirms John (with flowering carrots in an OSA photo, above), and for a few reasons:They’re such small plants when they first sprout (the seed isn’t too big, either; I like to use pelleted, shown below, and there are now pelleted ones that meet organic certification requirements).To get really good quality you need “unchecked growth”—no obstacles either literal (like rocky or otherwise tough soil) or meteorological (extremes of heat, cold or especially dryness). “Succulence and flavor wi

Onions from seed: a success story -

Onions from seed: a success story

Here’s the thing: At that price difference, even if you have barely moderate success with your seedlings, it’s to your advantage to try. What I found was that just like in those bundles of seedlings by mail, some of the transplants I grew myself were puny; others, though, got chunky and robust-looking.At a few dollars a packet, who cares about the runts? Toss them, or separate them out and plant a group of them to use as scallion substitutes. In my first-year experiment, I wasn’t ruthless like that, because I wanted to see what happened. The bigger starts basically

Easy does it: lightweight pruning tools (why i’m grabbing snips vs. bigger pruners) -

Easy does it: lightweight pruning tools (why i’m grabbing snips vs. bigger pruners)

Why waste energy over-efforting or over-powering a task? A traditional pair of bypass pruning shears might weight 8 or 9 ounces—like 224 or 252 grams—and the fruit pruners weigh like 4, or about 110 grams. Why heft twice the weight while gripping double the bulk, too? Yes, sometimes larger, stronger cutting blades are called for—but often what I am finding is that I can do most tasks with my snips, and if something’s really too big I use my favorite lightweight loppers.Other than weight and bulk, there is the added bonus of maneuverability in my choice of the smaller everyday shears. This of it this way: Did you ever try to use a regular pair of pliers when a needle-nose was really called for? The fruit pruners are like that, something that proved a real asset the other day when I extracted the oldest wood from the top tangle of a honeysuckle that was twisted around an

Houseplant tuneup: winter care regimen -

Houseplant tuneup: winter care regimen

As days very gradually grow longer from mid- or late January on, the houseplants signal it little by little, with hints of new growth or at least perkiness. By March sometime, they tell me that they are really awake, and I need to pay even stricter attention, adding a proper meal to the winter tuneup regimen of shower-and-shave. I resume fertilizing March onward, but skip November through February, while there just isn’t enough light to support active growth.Most of my charges get groomed and have a quick shower about monthly from December to April, in my Victorian clawfoot tub. I put a bit of screen over the drain to catch particles from washing down.To rehydrate and/or lightly feed, I use a plastic dishpan. I fill it part of the way with water and seaweed-fish emulsion concentrate diluted to label directions. Each plant stands in there to

12 top composting faq’s -

12 top composting faq’s

Q. Do I need to buy a bin to make compost?Q. What can I put in the compost heap?Q. What does not go into the compost heap? What materials can I not compost?Q. Can I put weeds in my compost heap?Q. What’s the easiest way to compost, without all the turning of the heap?Q. How often do I turn the pile?Q. How can I speed up the process? Is shredding a good idea?Q. Can I use compost as mulch? Q. What about “green manures” and composting them in place by turning them under?Q. What about vermicomposting, or composting in worm bins?Q. Where can I learn more about composting?

Growing dry beans, with sarah kleeger of adaptive seeds - - state Oregon

Growing dry beans, with sarah kleeger of adaptive seeds

While browsing the seed catalogs, I fell into a motherlode at Adaptive Seeds out in Sweet Home, Oregon, plus a comprehensive how-to article on the topic, by Adaptive’s co-founder Sarah Kleeger, all the way down to an analysis on a farm scale of how much it cost in manpower hours and supplies to grow them.Last year I intentionally grew dry beans for the first time in any semi-serious way, and it was so rewarding that this year the garden plan calls for more, more, more. Maybe you’ve been an accidental dry-bean grower like I had till then, leaving a tower of ‘Scarlet Runner’ standing until the big fat seeds spill

How to start seed indoors -

How to start seed indoors

My house is too small for make room for grow-light stands and seedling flats, and you wouldn’t want to even think of climbing down the ladder into the cellar here a couple of times a day to care for seeds. No matter: I improvise. My “potting bench” (above) is the backyard on a fair day, where it matters not whether potting soil goes astray. I simply bring all my supplies out, sit on a footstool and make my mess.Important: I lightly pre-moisten the germinating mix right in the bag a day o

5 things you must read while i savage my garden -

5 things you must read while i savage my garden

WHY WOULD ANY SANE PERSON hack her front yard down to stubble and mulch? Because many early performers—including some of the most popular euphorbias, like polychroma; some perennial geraniums such as macrorrhizum and phaeum; catmints and pulmonarias and some salvias (‘May Night,’ for instance) and much, much more will truly look like hell in a little while if you don’t spare them the descent into that state with a stern haircut. My brutal tactics.Bulbs Gone ByYES, YOU CAN FINALLY CUT BACK the faded foliage of your spring bulbs, provided they have started to pale toward tan. If not yet, it will be any week now (I usually mow my big drifts around July 4; sometimes they ripen sooner). My Bulb FAQ includes this and other care, like what to do with bulbs that didn’t bloom well.Plant More VegetablesIKNOW, YOU HAVEN’T even eaten a green bean

Dear gayla: the garden blog as treasure box (and happy website anniversaries to us both!) -

Dear gayla: the garden blog as treasure box (and happy website anniversaries to us both!)

Come to think of it, the number 5 must be numerologically significant for me right now (maybe I should play the Lotto, or consult a medium?). Or at least 5’s are very in-my-face: I’ve been a garden writer for 25 years, and it was 15 years ago that “A Way to Garden,” my first garden book, was published, the one I named the website for.I don’t know if I ever told you why I started the A Way to Garden website, but frankly it was partly to prevent a panic-attack, or at least total embarrassment–because I didn’t really have a Plan A, let alone a Plan B at the end of 2007, whenI walked away from my longtime “successf

Giveaway: fighting weeds, with teri chace - - Japan

Giveaway: fighting weeds, with teri chace

Y ES, THEY CAN MAKE YOU FEEL VIOLENT, author Teri Dunn Chace admits about weeds in “How to Eradicate Invasive Plants.” In fact, if authors named their own books, this new one might have been called, “The War of the Weeds.” But in that “two wrongs don’t make a right” way of thinking, Teri reminds us that getting out the big guns isn’t where to begin. Understanding who you’re up against, and being strategic, is.

What zone are you? a new usda hardiness map - - Usa

What zone are you? a new usda hardiness map

“The increase in our computing power today allows the research team to build into their algorithms things they knew were important factors in 1990, but couldn’t include,” said Catherine Woteki, Chief Scientist and Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics for the USDA, in an interview yesterday. Factors such as elevation, the slope of land, or how close to a body of water a location is, can cause sharp variation despite close adjacencies.“Taking those into account now provides a lot more detail,” Woteki said, “and people will be able to see islands of heat, and also cool ones, on the new map. As a scientist and a home gardener, I love seeing this so much more clearly.” The new map is built using digital Geographic Information System technology and you’ll notice the sharper boundaries and better resolution right away when you visit its interactive website. To find out whether your zone has shifted, start here. Though I’ve always thought of myself as a Zone 5B, I’m now officially there, no longer in Zone

Canning-book giveaway, and top canning sources - - Georgia

Canning-book giveaway, and top canning sources

Win one of three, three-book sets that I’ve purchased to share as prizes—no, not my old food-splattered copies, above, but new ones–the latest edition of each book, promise! All you have to do to enter the random drawing is comment below. All the details are at the end of this post.First, as promised, the resources for canners and would-be canners so you can get started right away stashing those peaches, plums, cukes, tomatoes and more:USDAThe USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning: The tried-and-true resource, revised in 2009. A must destination for all would-be and experienced canners. (You can buy a print copy from the Purdue University online store.)The Extension ServicesMost state Cooperative Extension Services have extensive online resources; your county off

Garden cart, or wheelbarrow? expert thoughts on which one’s the better fit (or gift) - - state Oregon - state Vermont

Garden cart, or wheelbarrow? expert thoughts on which one’s the better fit (or gift)

As I told my six-friend panel, I have four such transport devices, each that has stood up to many years of rough use:one large and one medium Vermont Cart (wood, oversize spoked tires, removable end panel); one aluminum-frame Smart Cart with similar tires, aluminum frame, and removable high-density polyethylene tub that can be used as a soil-mixing vessel; one single-tire, 6-cubic-foot True Temper r

Growing (or just eating!) heirloom dry beans - - Usa

Growing (or just eating!) heirloom dry beans

But lately I’ve been thinking: Why not grow beans for drying (a.k.a. shelling beans)—or at least start experimenting with dry beans for cooking, and see if we can get you hooked?how to grow beansGROWING BEANS, whether for eating fresh or drying, is pretty easy, if you follow some basic tactics:Select a sunny spot with well-drained soil. Rotate the spot you grow your beans, ideally on a three-year schedule, to limit disease transmission. Keep the area free of weeds (especially when the seedlings are young). Use an inoculant rated for beans to get the seeds off to the best possible start

Tell the truth: did you turn your compost? -

Tell the truth: did you turn your compost?

TELL THE TRUTH: Did you turn your heap before you piled on the fall’s bountiful offerings–before you cleaned up the tomato vines and the hostas, and raked all those precious leaves? Did you extract what was “finished” from down below, or–in a hurry–just cover it all up with incoming goodies? That’s my heap–30-plus feet long and about 6 wide right now and waist-high–and I confess, I was daunted.

Learning to can, in a video series with theresa loe (lesson 1: easy refrigerator pickles) - - Los Angeles

Learning to can, in a video series with theresa loe (lesson 1: easy refrigerator pickles)

THERESA LOE packs more into a garden—or a canning jar—than anyone else I know. A longtime gardener and city homesteader on just a tenth of an acre in Los Angeles, she manages to layer her back and even front yards much the way she layers cucumber slices and spices into canning jars for her easy, low-salt refrigerator pickles. That how-to and recipe is the second of 13 short lessons this Master Food Preserver is serving up starting this week on “Growing a Greener World,” the PBS series where she is a founding producer.

Giveaway: learning to save seed, with seed savers exchange’s tim johnson - - state Iowa

Giveaway: learning to save seed, with seed savers exchange’s tim johnson

“The Seed Garden: The Art and Practice of Seed Saving,” just released by Seed Savers Exchange in collaboration with Organic Seed Alliance, provides a comprehensive overview of seed saving–both art and science. It includes detailed how-to’s on more than 75 crops: how to grow them with a seed crop in mind, right through to harvest, cleaning and successful storage. (Enter to win a copy in the comments box at the very bottom of the page.)One of the book’s expert contributors, Dr. Timothy Johnson, head of preservation and also the seed bank manager for Seed Savers in Decorah, Iowa, joined me on the May 4, 2015 edition of my pu

How-to canning help, from theresa loe - - Los Angeles

How-to canning help, from theresa loe

Theresa describes herself as “a lifelong canner.” Both her mother and grandmother canned, she says, and Theresa eventually studied culinary arts at UCLA, then took the Master Food Preserver curriculum through her county cooperative extension.“I try to get people thinking outside the canning jars,” says Theresa, who grows much of her family’s food on a mere one-tenth acre in the Los Angeles area (including a coop for a small flock of chickens). “The new video series focuses on creative ways to can, and to use what you can.”  Each of the fun, approachable recipe videos is about 2 minutes long, offering the “aha” of the essential technique involved (with full recipe and details on the “Growing a Greener World” TV website).where to begin in canning?WHEN LEARNING to can, stick first with the high-acid foods, such as tomatoes that have

5 simple garden tool-care tips - - state Colorado

5 simple garden tool-care tips

My inspiration comes from Blake Schreck of Garden Tool Company, who in the low-humidity environment of Colorado (where the company’s headquartered, and has an astonishing retail store, too) doesn’t worry as much about the main enemy of most metal tools: rust. Here in the Northeast, as in the South and everywhere else but the arid zones, we do.Too care isn’t sexy, Blake agrees. “The last thing I want to do after a day of gardening is go clean my tools,” he admits. Sound familiar?With that in mind, we came up with this list of simple steps that don’t take too long.5 can-do tool-care tipsEasiest of all, maybe: Simply rinse soil off

Weeds to target late summer and fall - - Japan

Weeds to target late summer and fall

No matter what weed you are facing, if it’s flowering or setting seed now, be sure to behead it: mow it down, harvest the blooms for bouquets, or otherwise prevent a successful sexual reproduction cycle.teri dunn chace’s basic weed strategyFIRST A FAST REVIEW of Teri’s basic strategic weed-fighting plan, since simply pinpointing specific things this time of year isn’t the whole story.  Her plan, she admits: mostly practical and straight-forward.“Although it’s common sense, it’s things we sometimes don’t do,” says Teri, “but if we did it would make a big difference.” Don’t let things get to where you want to turn to the store to buy some chemical to erase your weed woes. Follow her

Popular Topics

Our site offers you to spend great time reading For beginners latest Tips & Guides. Enjoy scrolling For beginners Tips & Guides to learn more. Stay tuned following daily updates of For beginners hacks and apply them in your real life. Be sure, you won’t regret entering the site once, because here you will find a lot of useful For beginners stuff that will help you a lot in your daily life! Check it out yourself!

Cookies help us deliver our services. By using our services, you agree to our use of cookies.