San Francisco Flower and Garden Show is Next Stop

Featured speaker badge webIf you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area on March 16, I hope you’ll stop by the San Francisco Flower and Garden Show.

That’s the next stop on my Blue Ribbon Vegetable Gardening book tour.

I’ll be presenting “How to Grow Prizewinning Produce” at 4:15 p.m. Wednesday afternoon and signing books right after the talk.

If the Northwest Flower and Garden Show was any indication, large crowds of gardeners will turn out to see what’s new in garden design, garden art, plants, gardening materials, and supplies. The show covers more than five acres, so wear comfy walking shoes!

There are also over 100 speakers, from 11 states, presenting free seminars on five stages during the show’s run from March 16-20. This event is conveniently located at the San Mateo Event Center, just south of the San Francisco airport. I’m delighted to be included in the lineup at one of the top garden shows in the country.

Special Offer for Blue Ribbon Vegetable Gardeners

Blue Ribbon Vegetable GardeningIt’s as much fun as a funnel cake to enter a vegetable contest and be part of the excitement at an American fair!

If you’re ready to bring a competitive edge to your vegetable gardening — or just impress your family and friends with picture-perfect produce — here’s a special offer just for you:

Save $20 on my Craftsy class called Vegetable Gardening: Innovative Small Space Solutions.

The class includes everything a gardener needs to get started growing great vegetable gardens.

Use this special link to get your discount today!

Vegetable gardeners have more control when planting in container gardens

2015 vegetable container garden The 2015 vegetable growing season had a cool, rainy and slow start, but plants are finally responding to the warm dry days.

After the first 95-degree day, I noticed every squash plant had blossomed overnight. Each plant had several large squash blossoms, with plenty of buzzing bees, because they were so happy to get the kind of overnight heat they like.

Vegetable gardeners who have trouble growing in conventional in-ground vegetable beds, may want to give container gardening a try.

From my experience, vegetable gardeners have more control when gardening in containers — in spite of the weather.

This year’s container vegetable garden is about two weeks behind last year’s garden. In 2014 cherry tomatoes were ripe enough to eat in mid-July; this year, it was August First.

There were just two ripe-red tomatoes, but they were worth the wait.

Win Big with Ugly Fruits and Vegetables

weird tomatoWhat’s the oddest fruit or vegetable you’ve found in your garden?

I’ve found many crazy-looking edibles in my garden, but the tomato I named “Casper the Friendly Cyclops” is the most memorable.

This misshapen, but smiling, tomato could be a winner in the WesternGardeners.com annual Weird Veggie and Funny Fruit photo contest.

Every year gardeners send in images of the kookiest produce they pull from their gardens.

The vegetables are certainly entertaining and it’s always fun to guess what went wrong to cause those weird-looking shapes. Some environmental problem is the most common reason behind these oddballs.

In the case of Casper, the weather was exceptionally cold when the tomato plant was starting to set fruit. That’s what caused all those odd shapes on the blossom end of the tomato.

When carrots grow in rocky soil, their roots can form into strange configurations.

Plant Spinach in July for a Fall Harvest

spinach in containerHere’s a little known gardening fact: If not for a misplaced decimal point, Popeye the Sailor Man might have gained his incredible strength from eating kale instead of spinach.

The comic book hero helped build spinach’s reputation as a power-house vegetable because of a chemist’s simple mistake.

Instead of recording spinach with 3.5 milligrams of iron per 100-gram serving, he wrote 35 milligrams. With that much iron, it’s no wonder Popeye sprouted instant biceps whenever he squeezed opened a can of spinach.

Even with the decimal in the right spot, spinach is still considered one of the healthiest superfoods around. These good-for-you greens are rich in vitamins A and C, as well as minerals like calcium, magnesium and, of course, iron.

Spinach is an easy-to-grow cool-season vegetable that belongs to the Goosefoot family with beets and chard.

One of the other great things about spinach is that it grows as well in fall as it does in spring. So get ready to plant your spinach in mid-July.

Companion Gardening Expands Options for Small-Space Vegetable Gardens

companion plantingThere are just some things in life that make ideal combinations.

It’s peanut butter and jelly for lunch; cookies and milk for dessert.

When it comes to the garden, there’s tomatoes and basil; radishes and spinach.

These combinations of vegetables and herbs make perfect partners when grown together in the garden, especially if you’re gardening in a small space.

Basil makes the tomatoes tastier and radishes attract destructive leafminers away from the spinach. These botanical buddies are two examples of how plants team together to help each other.

Companion planting is the art and science of arranging combinations of two or more plants to benefit one another. Planting certain crops together saves garden space, controls pests and encourages healthy gardens.

Native Americans practiced companion planting for centuries by growing corn, beans and squash together. These vegetables are called the Three Sisters because they complement each other when planted in the same hill.

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.

Vegetable Gardening in Small Spaces Class


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.

Craftsy Vegetable Gardening ClassI’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.

You’ll…

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.

Annual Gardening Photo Contest is On


It’s the most wonderful time of the year for gardeners–the 6th Annual Weird Veggie & Funny Fruit Contest sponsored by WesternGardeners.com!

tomatohenge 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.

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