What’s new in gardening this year? Here are some interesting ideas I saw at the ProGreen Expo last week. ProGreen is the premier Rocky Mountain regional green industry conference held annually in Denver.
Expanded shale is the new way to amend clay soil. When incorporated into soil, the expanded shale improves soil drainage, but it can also hold water during drought. The light-weight shale doesn’t break down like organic soil amendments so it should last for many years in the landscape or even in containers. Gardeners should be able to buy either in bulk or 40 pound bags from local nurseries or soil suppliers.
The dreaded Emerald Ash Borer has found its way into Colorado, and any gardener who has an ash tree should be concerned. The Expo had quite a few booths dedicated to either new tools for detecting EAB, treatments for trees, or general information about this destructive insect. One of the main concerns from gardeners is how to treat trees without harming beneficial insects and the environment. Some products, like TreeAzin from Canada, claim to be safer than other treatments. Gardeners should wait until EAB is found within 15 miles of their ash trees before taking action.
My new Craftsy class has launched! Vegetable Gardening: Innovative Small Space Solutions is designed to help gardeners at all skill levels find creative ways to make the most of their growing space.
I’m so excited to introduce my new vegetable gardening class to you!
I’ve partnered with Craftsy, the online educational provider, to create a seven-part class on how to grow vegetables and herbs in small spaces.
This class is everything I’ve learned through trial and error on growing small-space vegetable gardens. After you finish the class, you’ll be able to grow your own fresh vegetables and herbs just about anywhere.
Learn how to assess the sunlight to find the best planting spot, discover the joys of growing in containers, find ways to grow up and use your vertical space, select the best vegetables and herbs for sunny and shady spots, apply methods to keep your vegetable garden happy and healthy, and find ways to grow fresh herbs indoors.
Gardeners from the U.S., Canada and the U.K. submitted entries for the 6th Annual Weird Veggie and Funny Fruit Contest.
A pair of overly friendly carrots grown in Lonsdale, Minn., captured the top prize and lasting fame in the annual Weird Veggie Contest. Shannon Price’s entry called “Happy Hugging Carrots” is the winner of this year’s contest.
Our contest judge, Geri Koncilja, spent the weekend mulling over the contestants from the U.S. before deciding on the top three places. Geri has provided her expertise as judge for the Weird Veggie and Funny Fruit Contest since it began in 2009. Here’s what she has to say about the top three finishers:
Happy Hugging Carrots grown by Shannon Price
“I found this one appealing and a little juicy.”
It’s the most wonderful time of the year for gardeners–the 6th Annual Weird Veggie & Funny Fruit Contest sponsored by WesternGardeners.com!
What’s in your garden?
If you’ve grown a potato that looks like Mickey Mouse, a tomato shaped like a duck or a heart-shaped raspberry, you need to share it with the world.
Don’t miss your chance for some official accolades!
Every August since 2009 I’ve asked gardeners across the country to send in digital images of the crazy fruits and vegetables they pull from their gardens.
These little surprises are just one reason why gardening is so much fun.
They’ve shared pictures of intertwined carrots, eggplants with noses (and private parts), winking tomatoes and other fruits and vegetables that show what a great sense of humor Mother Nature really has.
Last year I plucked these three tomatoes from the vines of several San Marzano tomato plants. I can usually explain why a certain fruit is malformed, but these three have me stumped.
WesternGardeners.com will help usher in spring at the Chicago Flower & Garden Show, presented by Mariano’s Blooms March 15-23, 2014.
Gardeners at any level can learn about the latest, hottest plants, products and ideas for beautifying their green spaces at the Chicago Flower & Garden Show, presented by Mariano’s from March 15-23, 2014 at Navy Pier.
I’m so pleased to be part of the action.
I’ll be presenting my Edible Spaces in Small Places program on Sunday.
I’m just a small part of the show that includes two-dozen stunning featured gardens, a full-scale “Marketplace” filled with leading industry suppliers, nationally-recognized experts conducting sensational seminars, “Garden Gourmet” events featuring top chefs, a “Kids Activity Garden,” and amazing, professionally-decorated “Tablescapes” of outdoor beauty brought to your dining table.
The idea of planting in small places fits perfectly with this year’s show theme: ‘Do Green. Do Good.’
Celebrate Valentine’s Day with something sweet for the gardener in your life.
It’s surprising how many fruit and vegetable seeds have either a sweet-sounding name or they have a sweet taste.
I’ve rounded up some of the sweetest and wrote about them on my VegetableGardener.com blog.
The list includes Lake Valley Seeds offerings of Sweetie tomatoes, Sugar Baby watermelon and Hearts of Gold Cantaloupe.
Sweet peas and Honeydew melon from BBB Seeds.
Valentine mesclun and Stevia from Botanical Interests
And a new gourmet chard from Renee’s Garden called Peppermint Stick.
You could create your own basket of sweet-sounding plants as a different kind of Valentine’s Day gift. Add a few chocolate roses and you’re set.
If you have any sweet suggestions to include on the list, please add them here.
The results of my grafted tomato trials last summer may help you decide if you want to plant grafted varieties in your garden this year.
When I planted my tomato garden early last June, I wasn’t sure what kind of tomato season it would be. The winter and early spring lacked any measurable precipitation and the cool night-time temperatures delayed planting by several weeks.
It seemed like perfect timing to conduct a side-by-side trial of grafted and ungrafted tomatoes.
Harris Seeds invited me to participate in another round of home garden trials and the company sent three varieties of tomato plants to grow in my garden. There were grafted and ungrafted San Marzano, Pink Brandywine and Cherokee Purple.
Summary of Results
The San Marzano grafted tomato plant produced more tomatoes than the ungrafted plant.
The Pink Brandywine ungrafted tomato produced more than the grafted plant.
Christmas wouldn’t be the same without the familiar spices that flavor our favorite cookies, breads, nuts and so much more. Here’s where these traditional spices originated and how to put them to use in a recipe for hot spiced wine.
While you were mixing the ingredients for that batch of gingerbread cookies, did you wonder how the ginger and cinnamon found their way to your kitchen? And I don’t mean by way of the supermarket.
It’s easy for us to take for granted the many baking spices we rely on for our holiday sweets and other recipes. But each took a long road to reach us.
The crusaders returned home from their travels in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries and brought with them the spices we still use today. Our holiday baking wouldn’t be the same without the nutmeg, allspice or cloves they brought home.
Here are some of the most common Christmas spices used in holiday treats and where they originated:
If you’re looking for gardening gift ideas for the gardener in your life, here are my top six for 2013. I can vouch for all of these items because I’ve either tried them or read them. Many companies send me free items to try and review and these are the ones that landed at the top of my list:
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds has produced the “World’s Largest Seed Catalog” for 2014. The catalog is much more than a list of seeds for sale, it’s like a must-have heirloom vegetable encyclopedia for gardeners. The same company that’s sold heirloom vegetable seeds since 1998 has produced this very special catalog for $7.95 (the company’s free catalog is also available). If you love heirloom vegetables as much as I do, you’ll love this book-like catalog for the 2014 gardening season.
It was during the 2010 Garden Writers Association Symposium in Dallas, that I skipped breakfast and walked a few blocks to Dealey Plaza. It was my first chance to get a closeup look at the place where JFK was shot on November 22, 1963.
I spent time walking through the park at Dealey Plaza, the birthplace of Dallas. That’s where the first house was built, and it served as the first courthouse, post office, store and fraternal lodge. I took pictures of the street Kennedy’s motorcade traveled, the Book Depository, the Grassy Knoll and The 6th Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza.But of all the images I captured that day, the most poignant one was the framed photo of the Connally family on the wall near my room in the Hyatt Regency Hotel.