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!

Improve your Small-Space Vegetable Gardening with this Special Summer Discount

tomato basketAt my house, summer gardening dreams are all about growing a bountiful vegetable garden — one filled with a variety of ripe and juicy heirloom tomatoes.

All of these tomatoes, from the smoky Black Krims to the small yellow pear tomatoes, grew in my small-space vegetable garden.

Some grew in the postage-stamp sized 6 x 8 vegetable bed, but most were harvested from my patio container garden.

After years of experimenting with growing vegetables in containers, I’ve learned what works best.

I’ve also learned that gardeners can grow just about any fruit, vegetable and herb in a small-space garden.

All of those tips and tricks for growing vegetables in small spaces are packed into my Craftsy online gardening class. In seven video sessions, I share all of my gardening secrets.

To celebrate summer, I’m offering my class at a special discount. Just follow this link to sign up now and you’ll save $20 on Vegetable Gardening: Innovative Small Space Solutions!

How to Save Money While Gardening

Small budget gardenerLandscape designer, horticulturist and author Maureen Gilmer’s book, The Small Budget Gardener: All the Dirt on Saving Money in Your Garden hit the bookstores a few years ago, but her frugal gardening advice will never go out of style.

In fact, you can snatch up a copy of her book at a bargain, too. I found new and used copies of this great little guide on Amazon for under $1 (plus shipping).

The Small Budget Gardener will appeal to any gardener who wants to save money on gardening. And that describes just about every gardener I’ve ever met. Who isn’t looking for ways to find inexpensive or free alternatives for soil amendments, tools, seeds, plants and garden structures?

The author writes from her own money-saving experiences and recommends all gardeners pretend they live 30 miles from town, as she once did. That means every trip to the store to buy gardening gear is carefully considered before hopping in the car.

June Blogathon Means 30 Days of Gardening Tips

pink rosesThirty blog posts in 30 days? That’s what the June Blogathon is all about.

Once again, I’ve taken on the challenge of writing 30 different gardening blog posts for the annual writer’s challenge.

Starting today, I’ve committed to posting something new on my WesternGardeners.com blog every day specifically to help all kinds of gardeners.

I’ve created a blogging calendar and have a lot of ground I’d like to cover.

In addition to some of my favorite hardy plants (like the gorgeous John Cabot climbing rose pictured here), I plan on blogging about…

  • New plants and gardening products I’m testing in my garden this season
  • Easy ideas for gardening in small spaces, like balconies and patios
  • How-to’s for saving money and water in the garden
  • Gardening book reviews
  • Vegetable gardening tips
  • Tips for planting healthy trees
  • Recipes for using fresh, garden-grown fruits and vegetables
  • Updates about the annual Weird Veggie and Funny Fruit Contest

Save Water with Container Gardening

container gardenGardeners in drought-stricken areas are wondering if they should plant a vegetable garden this season.

It’s a good question because research shows that up to 60 percent of household water is used outside.

And up to 40-50 percent of that water is wasted because of inefficient irrigation systems and methods.

I live in a part of the country that experiences cyclical droughts, so I’ve had plenty of time to rethink my outside water use.

I work hard to make sure every drop of water is put to good use, so my advice to gardeners struggling with that question is to go ahead and plant. But first come up with a plan for using less water in the garden.

One of the best ways I’ve found to save water is by planting in containers instead of an in-ground garden. I’ve found that container planting works in just about any small space garden, it’s more convenient, it saves gardening time, the containers are portable and they’re easier to maintain.

Start the Gardening Season with the New Edition of The Colorado Gardener’s Companion

Colo Gardener's Comp 2nd Ed Final Cover 72ppi blog The second edition of my first book is ready in time for gardening season!

I worked over the winter months to fill this new edition with more of everything to help Colorado gardeners grow great gardens starting now.

The Denver Post newspaper calls the new edition of my gardening book an “an essential manual” for gardeners.

What’s new in edition two?

The new edition features a colorful cover image of one of my flowerbeds from last summer.

That image, taken by John Pendleton, shows off some of the annuals and perennials that grow in one of the hottest, driest parts of my backyard.

In addition to a new look, there’s more of everything else, too! Since the first edition was published in 2007, a lot has changed in the wonderful world of gardening.

So I updated all of the information, included new technologies, expanded plant lists, added new resources and included about nine more inspiring gardens to visit.

Thanks for Six Years of Reading WesternGardeners.com

Flower gardenIt was six years ago when I hit “publish” for the first time on WesternGardeners.com. It was a big moment then because there weren’t many gardening blogs around and certainly not many focused on gardening in such a challenging climate.

A lot has happened with my garden writing since then. Is it too much of a painful pun to say things have really grown around here?

Last year was one of the busiest for me, and it showed in the limited number of posts I wrote here.

But I had some good reasons:

Wrote another gardening book. Storey Publishing says Blue-Ribbon Vegetable Gardening will be ready for gardeners at the beginning of next year. I worked many long hours to write a book on how to grow perfect produce, and it was perfect fun to travel to the Alaska State Fair to watch the giant cabbage weighoff and get pictures for the book

Gardening Information Grows at ProGreen

The annual ProGreen Expo wrapped up a week of activities that included dozens of informative seminars and a trade show targeted to members of the green industry.

It would be difficult to choose a favorite educational session, because all were filled with good information.

I especially enjoyed Mike Bone’s presentation called “A Steppe in the Right Direction.” Mike works at the Denver Botanic Gardens and he showed beautiful slides from his most recent plant hunting expedition to central Asia. It’s amazing how similar the landscape and plants are to Colorado.

I also enjoyed the talk by CSU’s Tony Koski and Alison O’Connor as they busted 7 different myths about turf.

The always entertaining Whitney Cranshaw gave me a few new ideas for planting and gardening in his “Insects or Not” talk.

Water gardening ideas from Parade of Ponds

Colorado’s Parade of Ponds provides inspiration for creating your own water garden and raises funds for nonprofit organizations in the process.

parade-of-ponds-blogIf you plan to spend time on the Parade of Ponds this weekend, just be prepared for what might happen. I know a couple who  spent $25 to take the bus tour and ended up spending another $10,000 to build  a pond in their backyard.

This is the 11th year for the annual pond tour, sponsored by BR&D Landscape in conjunction with the North American Water Garden Society.  Every August, hundreds of ticket holders leisurely tour private backyards to get ideas for creating their own ponds and water features.

The Colorado Parade of Ponds website provides details about the self-guided tour, as well as ticket information for the bus tour offered by True Pump & Equipment.

Many of the ponds and water gardens will simply take your breath away, but if a full-scale water garden won’t fit in your backyard–or your budget–look for alternatives like pondless water features.

Weird veggie and funny fruit contest

Help celebrate my 100th blog post with a Weird Veggie and Funny Fruit Contest. Here’s my best effort–a cherry tomato that looks like the late comedian Buddy Hackett.

buddy-hackett-tomato-blogHave you ever grown a potato that looks like Mickey Mouse or a carrot that resembles a hippo? Ever seen an apple shaped like a duck or picked a heart-shaped raspberry?

Welcome to the weird and wonderful world of vegetable and fruit anomalies. Mother Nature’s sense of humor shows through when she tinkers with the growing environment just enough to create odd-shaped fruits and veggies.

So, let’s have a contest! I want to find the strangest looking vegetable or fruit that you’ve either grown in your garden or found at a local farmer’s market.

The winner will receive a signed, hardcover copy of the New York Time’s best seller, “Wicked Plants: A Book of Botanical Atrocities,” by Amy Stewart.

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