How to Have an Old-Fashioned Holiday

The plants we like to grow in our gardens hold special symbolism at Christmas time. Many of our favorite fruits, berries and nuts are much more than the sweet treats we enjoy in December. 

Dried orange slices are old-fashioned ornaments, first used because they look like little sun wheels that help brighten dark winter days.

Mistletoe, holly, and winterberries are some of the typical evergreens we use to decorate both indoors and outside. However, other plants helping with the seasonal celebration include all the exotic spices mixed into our holiday baking. Citrus fruits, nuts, berries, and herbs are also essential ingredients.

Plants that originated in far flung parts of the world found their way into our homes and our hearts at holiday time. It’s like a global celebration of the garden.

“Every plant’s history hangs like a treasured ornament from the world tree that gives us a home in the universe,” writes Christian Ratsch in the preface to his fascinating book called Pagan Christmas.


 

 

Rosa Blanca Brothers Win 2017 Weird Veggie Contest

Two eggplants with personality from North Carolina take the top prize in the 2017 Weird Veggie & Funny Fruit contest. Congratulations to Romelle Peterson for growing these guys! 

Weird Veggie winner 2017

“You mess with the little red guys, you mess with the Rosa Blanca Brothers!!”

Romelle also deserves special recognition for entering this tomato that looks like a catcher’s mitt. And another tomato that resembles a Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtle. There sure must be something funny in that North Carolina water!

“Strike 3 ‘Mater!”

Second place goes to this crazy crop of carrots from Utah gardener Nancy Dixon:

Knot quite sure what these carrots had in mind.”

The third place winner is this optimistic tomato grown by Philip Fei in his New Jersey garden:

“Thumbs up from my tomato!”

 


 

 

Got Weird Veggies or Funny Fruit for 2017?


It’s time for the ninth annual Weird Veggie & Funny Fruit photo contest sponsored by WesternGardeners.com! The contest celebrates all the oddball produce grown in vegetable gardens, like these Pepper Pants. (See past winners: Weird Veggie & Funny Fruit Hall of Fame.)

Anything funny growing in your garden?  Here’s how to enter:

  1. The contest begins on August 21 and ends September 22 at 10:00 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time.
  2. Send (in focus) digital photos of your home-grown, crazy-looking fruit or vegetable to Jodi @ WesternGardeners.com. A limit of 3 images per person, please.
  3. Give each entry a silly descriptive name; include your city and state; the contest is open to gardeners residing in the U.S.
  4. The winner will be notified by email on September 25.
  5. First place gets the top prize; runners up receive something, too.

 

 

Are You America’s Best Gardener?

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Could you be one of America’s Best Gardeners?

Maybe! That’s if you’re willing to enter your indoor garden, ornamental garden or vegetable garden in the 2017 America’s Best Gardener contest, sponsored by Seedlingers.

Not sure your garden can stand up to the competition? Perhaps a $10,000 grand prize will convince you to enter!

America’s Best Gardener is the premier event for recognizing and celebrating the talents of gardeners from across the country. And I’m pleased to say I’ll be one of the judges deciding the three top winners from this season’s photo entries.

Even though it’s early in the year, the contest is already open for entries. All the rules and details are on the Americas Best Gardener website.

Be sure to watch for more information and updates here as the season grows on.

Good luck, Gardeners!


 

 

Happy New Gardening Year 2017

welcome-to-new-gardening-year

Welcome to 2017 and a brand new gardening year. What plans do you have for the coming season?

A snowy start to the new year is a good time to brew a cup of tea and spend a few minutes thinking about the garden. Perhaps some of my latest ideas will help inspire you:

This week I wrote about one of the newest trends in preserving the harvest, although it’s also one of the oldest. My post at VegetableGardener.com may help you find new ways to stick to this year’s resolutions or it might help you find new ways to prepare the next bumper crop of zucchini as you Resolve to Enjoy Fermented Vegetables in the New Year.

If you’re contemplating what to do with your winter landscape, this post on my Lowe’s Mountain Region blog gives tips for taking care of trees and perennials during the winter. In Winter Gardening Helps Protect Trees and Plants, I’ve also included ways to enjoy the beauty of your winter garden.


 

 

Gravenstein Apple wins 2016 Weird Veggie Contest

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How ’bout them apples?!

A double Gravenstein apple put the Funny into the 2016 Weird Veggie & Funny Fruit contest sponsored by WesternGardeners.com.

Rena DeMello of Corvallis, Oregon, grew this apple in the small orchard on her mini-farm. The contest judge thought the picture of her apple still on the tree looked like a “friendly alien” with its two “eyes” and smirky grin.

Rena’s “pear” of apples was likely caused by two ovules that formed on the same flower. Horticultural experts say that cool temperatures while plants are flowering are often the cause of funny-looking fruits like this one.

There were plenty of funny fruits and weird veggie entries in this year’s contest. All the entries celebrated the wonderful oddball produce gardeners find in their gardens around the U.S. and Canada.

Here are the runners-up for 2016:

 

2016-second-place-apricot

Second place in the contest goes to Apri Hitchcot, grown by Kathy McGuire of La Grande, Oregon.


 

 

Enter the 2016 Weird Veggie and Funny Fruit Contest

Jodi's Heart tomato smallIt’s time for the 2016 edition of the Weird Veggie & Funny Fruit photo contest sponsored by WesternGardeners.com!

Every year since 2009 I’ve given prizes to celebrate the crazy carrots, oddball eggplants and tasteless tomatoes gardeners find growing in their vegetable gardens.

If there’s anything funny growing on in your garden, let’s see it!  Here’s how to enter photos of your perfectly imperfect produce:

  1. The contest begins on August 10 and ends September 10 at 10:00 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time.
  2. Send digital photos (in focus) of your crazy-looking fruit or vegetable to Jodi @ WesternGardeners.com. There’s a limit of 3 images per person.
  3. Give each entry a name and include your city and state; the contest is open to gardeners residing in the U.S.
  4. The winner will be chosen by an experienced, impartial judge. The winner will be notified on September 12.
  5. A gardener’s gift package will be awarded to the contest winner; runners up will receive a smaller token of appreciation.

 

 

Come Along to the Country Living Fair Contest

Blog Ticket GiveawayI’m taking my Blue Ribbon Vegetable Gardening show on the road to the Country Living Fair, June 3, in Rhinebeck, NY.

Please join me!

Here’s your chance to win two 3-day passes to the Country Living Fair at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds in the gorgeous Hudson Valley.

If you’re a fan of Country Living magazine, you’ll love getting to be part of the excitement of this incredible event!

There’s plenty to see, do and buy…

 

  • Shop at hundreds of booths filled with vintage and handmade treasures and one-of-a-kind antiques.
  • Attend free seminars on gardening (like mine), decorating and more.
  • Learn new recipes at the cooking demonstrations.
  • Enjoy live music and delicious food.
  • Meet some of the folks that make the magazine the fan favorite that it is!

To enter this random drawing for the 2 3-day passes, add your comment about what you love about going to fairs — any fair, from county fair to state fair. Festivals count, too.


 

 

Plant for Hummingbirds on Earth Day

hummingbird Happy Earth Day 2016!

For the last 17 years I’ve worked to create an eco-friendly naturescape in my suburban backyard. I’ve planted native flowers, added low-maintenance perennial plants, reduced water use, and completely eliminated synthetic chemicals.

My certified wildlife habitat includes food, water, shelter and places for all kinds of insects, birds and fuzzy critters to raise their young. But this year, I’m going to concentrate my wildlife-loving efforts to attract more hummingbirds, all season long.

These flighty birds typically show up at the end of summer to enjoy nectar from the Agastache plants. But if I start in April with a few sugar water feeders and then plant nectar-rich flowers, like bleeding hearts, they might start to show up sooner.

Spring-blooming honeysuckle flowers can also turn a hummingbird’s head. The long, tubular blossoms are the perfect shape for their needle-like bills. An arbor supports vines and provides a handy perch so birds can take a break between feedings.


 

 

Miracle Tomato Plant Survives Denver Blizzard

miracle tomato3Like many gardeners in a cold climate, I always have to start my tomato seeds indoors early each spring. I typically start in March if I want to have tomato plants ready for transplanting into the vegetable garden in May.

In more than 30 years of gardening, this year is the first time I’ve seen a tomato seed volunteer to sprout on its own in my garden. It must’ve been the warm temperatures starting around the end of February that signaled this little tomato seed to start growing.

To say I was surprised to see it so early in the season is an understatement. Tomatoes are tropical plants and they prefer to grow in hot weather. In fact, I have to wait until nighttime temperatures consistently hit the 55-degree mark before setting tomato transplants outside.

However this miracle tomato started growing in almost freezing temperatures without any kind of plant protection!


 

 
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