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Seed Starting 101 Planting Out – Tips for Transplanting Seedlings into Your Garden

Prepare your garden bed in advance, digging it over and breaking up the soil to a depth of 6 to 10 inches. If you have soil amendments to add, such as well composted leaves or manure, till them in. A soil test can tell you if you need to add anything else to your soil. If you’re using a no-till method like lasagna gardening, this might be a good time to top up with a nice layer of compost. I like to dig up my garden a couple of weeks before planting out. Any weed seeds that come to the surface and germinate can be hoed up without disrupting my little plants.


Harden off your seedlings by exposing them gradually to outside conditions. Don’t skip over this step! Tender indoor seedlings planted directly out into the garden can get shocked enough to keel over and die. This also applies to seedlings and plants bought at a garden center, if they’ve been sheltered. See last week’s article, “Seed Starting 101: Hardening Off” for more information.
Move your mouse over each image for captions. pansy transplant being removed from

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Introduction to the Chamaedorea Palms- excellent genus for both out and indoor use

For some reason when one thinks of palms, one often overlooks these plants probably because most are small and only a few are commonly grown in larger numbers. But a few are quite popular and are among the most commonly grown of all palms, particularly by those that have palms as house plants. Though not all Chamaedorea make excellent house palms, many do and many just haven’t been tried yet. This is a large group of Central and South American plants and probably has the most species of any genus of palms that are grown commonly (though Dypsis is quickly catching up). For climates such as Southern California, this is probably the largest overall genus suited for such Mediterranean climates. Some can be grown elsewhere, and many even do better in humid, tropical climates. Most do best in cool, tropical climates as found in their native countries of course.



Dr. Don Hodel wrote a book on Chamaedorea palms in 1992 and nothing has been done since that even comes near

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Seed Starting 101 Hardening off Seedlings Before Planting Out in Your Garden

Hardening off isn’t tricky or complicated, but it can be a matter of life or death for your seedlings. Your beautiful little seedlings may keel over in shock if you take them straight from your light shelves to your garden. Hardening off simply means getting your seedlings used to outside conditions gradually. Give them a little more exposure to wind, sun, and temperature variations each day, until they are ready to be planted out. Although the process could be accomplished in as little as 3 days under ideal conditions, I like to give seedlings as much as a week to toughen up before transplanting them.


Find a sheltered spot for hardening off. Gradually move seedlings to a less sheltered location. Scout around and figure out where your seedlings will spend their first hours outside. A location that’s out of the wind and partly shaded, especially from harsh afternoon sun, is ideal. I’ve learned the hard way not to set them directly on the patio. One year, some varmint bit the stems off several dozen pepper seedlings! Now seedlings get

Your room with a view – in your back yard

A very chic concept these days is the idea of having different garden rooms.These are different areas within your yard, maybe devoted to eating, swimming and napping, or to a butterfly garden, a zen garden and a rose garden. This idea is not NEW. My grandmother had an herb garden in one area, a rock garden (by which I mean a giant rock with little plants growing out of it) in another, formal perennial borders and areas

designated for napping or having drinks. She never heard the concept of garden rooms; in fact, I never talked about gardening with her at all except once or twice, when I was very little, and she told me which flowers I was and wasn’t allowed to pick. But I digress.

The relatively new, chic garden room has all the attributes of a traditional, indoor, room: walls, carpeting, windows and doors, hard furniture and soft furnishings.
feature insideoutside
floorrug, tile, hardwood,
lawn, gravel, ground-cover, mulch, sand, tile, flagstone, other stone wall wallpaper, paint
trees’ trunks, screens, vines, lattice, hedges, woven bamboo, bushes, fence
ceiling crown molding, pressed tin
a canopy of tree branches, vine-covered pergola
window curtains, valance, shutter, drapes, shades view to another area

Make-over Your Old Flowerpots A Face-lift For Weathered Plastic

As many gardeners do, I have a growing collection of less than beautiful plastic flowerpots. The sun and weather has beaten these containers to a point that each season, a few more of them get pushed to the back of the garage or greenhouse. They sit empty and unplanted, simply because they are no longer attractive enough to welcome visitors to my front door. Many of them have never been used, but are gifts from well-meaning friends who show up with a stack of pots left over from their attempts to become a gardener. Many still have the unfortunate victims of their efforts enshrined in moldy potting soil. As the stacks grow taller each season, my determination to do something about the situation finally has reached the critical point.

There is a product on the market now made by Krylon that gave me the inspiration to give these unsightly, unfortunates an extreme makeover. This spray paint actually bonds with plastic, and will not chip or peel.

Visions of lovely matching containers, sitting full of bright blossoms filled my head, so I went and purchased a couple of cans of this wonder paint and went to the greenhouse to select a suitable

Garden Design on Your Computer, Part 4 your first garden design with your new software

I had a small kitchen herb garden at my last house…some mint, chives, oregano and sage. Annual herbs, such as basil, went in the veggie garden. This time I wanted a REAL herb garden, with lots of varieties and some style. I wanted to include lots of cooking herbs but also some that were just for fragrance or beauty.

Steps to designing the new herb garden

1. Lay out the bed

There was a space about 90′ wide at the back of our lot overlooking the ‘lake’ (actually a retention pond for flood control). We wanted a lot of color across the back of the lot, both for our enjoyment and the view from across the lake for neighbors and for folks driving by who have a clear view of our back yard. So the choice was an English-style cottage garden. I didn’t want the bed too close to the existing beds at the sides of the lot, so I decided on 70′ for the width of the entire cottage garden. The lot slopes down to the lake slowly and then rather dramatically for

the last 6-10′. So I knew I wanted the bed at least 15‘ in from the shore line.The depth of

The Solanaceae, what a family

This prolific family is the Solanaceae one that numbers more than 2500 species from warm and temperate areas, America being the richest place. The family is spliced into 147 genera, the Solanum genera itself having no less than 1000 species. It is mostly annual or perennial herbs, shrubs or small trees or even vines. Leaves are usually alternate, flowers vary in size from 5mm to more than 20cm and offer all the possible colours.Image

Since we are at Dave’s Garden let’s start with the ornamental species, those lovingly nurtured by many a gardener for the delight of our eyes and often noses as many are perfumed like the night jasmine which produces a very strong and sweet perfume when night falls, and dot let you fooled by the common name, this Cestrum nocturnum is not a jasmine which belongs to the Oleaceae family. If we stay in the perfume realm but adding a colourful effect, Brunfelsia uniflora is a must and is actually planted in the front garden of many a Creole house on Reunion. Not only does it fill the air with a subtle though persistent odour but also the flowers first blow a deep purple and slowly loose

Top 10 List of Plant Diseases that you might find in your Yard or Garden

INumber 10. Fire Blight on Ornamentals.
Blossoms and leaves will suddenly turn brown or black, but will usually stay attached to the plant. Cankers on branches are usually dark brown or purplish in color.( A canker is a dead or dying area usually found on branches.) The terminal branch will usually bend and look like a shepard’s crook.


Prune and dispose of any infected branches as soon as you notice them. Pruning tools should be sterilized with alcohol or bleach during pruning to avoid spreading the disease to other parts of the plant.
Remove water sprouts (water sprouts are fast growing branches that grow staight up from established branches) as soon as they appear, they are very susceptible to this disease.

Chemical control is not recommended for homeowners.

Crabapple and pears are prone to Fire Blight, when purchasing these choose a variety that is resistant to this disease.

Number 9 Nuisance and Detrimental Molds.
Organic mulches are a valuable asset to the gardener. They control weeds and retain moisture. They add valuable beneficial microorganisms to the soil.

However every now and then undesirable microorganisms find their way into our soil. The

Container Gardening to The max

I have always loved having driftwood in my gardens, it helps create a more natural feel to the beds. We were walking in the woods one day and there was this beautiful, hollow log. It was up on some rocks so it wasn’t half rotted like old logs can be. Hubby and I hauled it home. We placed it in the garden and decided to stop for a well-deserved coffee break. Later I wandered out to take another look at it and discovered Mom had taken advantage of the hollowness and planted a few plants. Interesting. We had placed it in semi-shade so she had planted a few shade loving vines. Stingless nettles, Periwinkle. I have to mention that the beautiful photo on the right is not my hollow log, it belongs to DG member pirl and is a beautiful example of what can be accomplished.

I’ve had an antique bathtub hanging around for years. It has had an interesting life so far. There have been fish kept in it for awhile until we got the pond finished. We have even filled it with cold well water one really hot summer and used it as a “poor

Bed Bugs, Plantago and Aunt Bett

“Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite!” I have no idea who said that, and have no inclination to research the words, but I use them because that is as close as I ever came to a bedbug. My dear Aunt Bett thought bedbugs were surely alien creatures out to get us. She believed the same thing about head lice (and I almost agree with her because the mere mention of either creature makes my skin crawl).

Being a Mountain Medicine Woman, Aunt Bett had a big responsibility. It was not easy to get to the doctor during the middle part of the twentieth century, even the houses were few and far between. There was very little money available at that time. WWII had taken many lives, most of them male, and women in particular were struggling to make a living for their families by the grit of their teeth and whatever they could pull from the mountain that would sustain them. And those widows did not know how to drive; the fact is they could never have afforded a car. When there was a medical crisis within a family, many times the family would

Let Your Garden Tell You When to Plant

Your spring garden can speak to you. Are you listening?

When that first spell of warm weather with above-freezing temperatures at night comes along in spring, it’s sometimes difficult to resist the temptation to get everything into the ground: plants, seeds, bulbs, rhizomes, and corms. Every year I wrestle with that impulse, especially when spring comes early to our zone 5a Cottage-in-the-Meadow Gardens, as it has for the past several years.

Many gardeners have their favorite methods for determining when those magic dates for planting finally arrive: In the region where I garden it’s Good Friday for potatoes, after the Drei Kalte Männer* in May for plants especially susceptible to frost damage, specific dates on the calendar, and the various phases of the moon. For the more scientifically-minded, a soil thermometer does the trick.

I, on the other hand, prefer to let plants themselves tell me when it’s safe to plant. Here is a list of plants I consult when I begin gardening each year:

· When forsythia blooms, it’s time to plant the seeds of alyssum, carrots, cornflower, peas, poppies, and radishes.

· When cherry trees and flowering quince bloom, it’s time

The Jewel Alocasias – Spotlight on Alocasia reversa

Forward or Reverse?

As we advance in our review of the Jewel Alocasias, we run into a bit of a roadblock, necessitating a movement in reverse. Did we miss something here? No, not really, because Alocasia reversa is unique in itself, not really the “reverse” of anything. However, the story is that the person who gave the specific name to this plant felt that the color scheme of these leaves was the reverse of what other Alocasia leaves looked like. Some have said that there are no Alocasia species with a coloration pattern that is the reverse of the leaves on this species. Study the thumbnail at right; have you ever seen a plant with colors the reverse of the ones you see here?

Before we look at this Jewel in more detail, I want to put to rest this question about “reverse” leaf colors. To do this, I’m going to rely on the magic of photo editing and show you exactly what the reverse of this leaf pattern would look like. First, let’s look at a leaf from Alocasia reversa, and next to it, a reverse image of that same leaf: Alocasia reversa leafAlocasia reversa

Creating a Critter Friendly Garden

Everybody loves to see butterflies and humming birds in their gardens. In fact, we try our darndest to attract them. Most people shun the other critters but they all make a contribution to the health of our gardens.

Here are a few ways to keep them all happy and in return we will be happier for it.

All living creatures need the basics. Food, water and shelter are the ones we can help with the most.


Most of us have a birdbath in the garden. Some of us even have ponds. A pond is a wonderful thing. It provides habitat for frogs, crayfish, dragonflies and a whole plethora of other critters. These in turn Imageprovide food for the birds we so love to have visit our birdbaths. You do not have to have a large pond to accomplish this, a simple tub sunk into the ground with a couple of water lilies and maybe a pot of bulrushes will suffice. A few large rocks on the bottom will provide added shelter. I always float a flat piece of bark in the water just in case something like a mouse falls in, the bark

Garden Bling Bling – Garden Art

More Plants Than Art

Do you have more plants or more garden art? We have all been by the house that makes you stop to take the photo. There is so much of “this and that” that the whole yard looks more like a junk yard than an expression of art. So when do you know you have too many? Key number one is, when the plants still outnumber the art, you are in the okay zone. Once you have to start counting the number of iris fans in the bed to see if there are more plants or art, or if you start counting the grass blades, then you have too much garden art.

When you can no longer mow the yard.

If you can no longer mow your yard with a mower but must mow the whole yard with a weed eater – not for its size but rather for the number of gnomes or flamingos in the yard, you have a problem. If you keep the bulk of your garden art in the flower beds, you are most likely okay. If you still have more plants than art, see above. The real

Aunt Bett, Bee Balm and Battling Bees

Bee balm grew everywhere along the roads, beside the paths, behind the outhouses, around the chicken house, and even in the corners of the vegetable gardens in the mountains. And we couldn’t gather not even one twig of it. Oh, no, we had to go searching far away from humanity to get the very purest bee balm, because Aunt Bett said so. If it grew along the road, it was bound to be covered in coal dust from the many coal trucks that hauled coal from the small mines that dotted the mountainside in the 50’s. If it grew beside the paths, too many dirty hands had brushed up against it. And of course we knew better than to pick anything anywhere near an outhouse or even a chicken house, those places didn’t even have to be explained. And the garden, no, not there either, because horses and mules worked the garden and that garden bee balm was not pure. So off we went to climb to a relatively clean place up on the side of the mountain. I always wondered why Aunt Bett thought squirrels and possoms, raccoons and rabbits were any cleaner than horses and mules

The Jewel Alocasias – Spotlight on Alocasia rugosa, a.k.a. Alocasia melo

A Rough Character

The idea of “Jewels” encompasses delicate, exquisite beauty and great value. Paradoxically, this particular Jewel looks and feels as though it is ready for harsh, rather than royal, treatment. This plant is available commercially under the name Alocasia rugosa, but the accurate scientific name is almost certainly A. melo. This “Rugose Jewel” is endemic to Sabah, Borneo, and was first described as A. melo in 1997. Specimens grown for the horticultural market are produced from tissue culture plantlets or more rarely, from offsets or corms, not seedlings.

Alocasia rugosa leaf closeupThe descriptive term “rugosa” refers to the distinctively rugose (wrinkled) and bullate (knobbly, puckered) leaves (see photo detail, left). The overall look of the plant indicates that it grows under conditions where drying out is likely. In fact, the native habitat of this plant is the rain forest. However, in the rain forest it is found growing in rock crevices and on thin soil along steep banks of fast flowing streams. So while high humidity is the norm, high aeration to the root zone is also the norm. On days when rain falls scantily or not at all, one can easily imagine this

Hyacinth Forcing- My First Attempt

Experience is the best teacher. Economy is a great cheerleader.

Those brilliant, fragrant hyacinths in the stores every spring have been forced, that is, made to bloom in a pot on a schedule set by humans rather than nature. I rarely buy forced bulbs, or any potted flowering plants, for that matter, being such a cheapskate, er, economy minded gardener. Could I produce some gift-quality blooming hyacinths at a home-grown discount? Last November, when I walked into my favorite big box store and found the remaining bulbs on sale at half price, I had to try forcing. Five dollars plus tax got me a bag of seven “Jan Bos” hyacinths and a bag of twenty Dutch crocus. The shallow pots (reused) and good potting soil were already staples in my house. Having read forcing advice before, I had a vague idea what I’d need to do. As usual, vague was good enough for me. I trusted my memory and made my plans.

The potting

The weather was gorgeous during Thanksgiving week. Between turkey preparations, I snuck outside to pot up my bulbs. Each eight-inch pot got three inches of soil, then three or four hyacinths,

Plants of Many Colors – When Green is Just Not Enough

Color is the spice of green

We expect green from plants, so it is no surprise that when bold colors make their appearance on a plant, the spectacle grabs our attention. For example, look at the thumbnail picture to the right, showing Alocasia macrorrhizos ‘Lutea’. If this plant were all green, would it attract your eye as much as this one does? Chances are, it wouldn’t, unless you are partial to large leaved aroids (as I am!). What I wish to share here, though, is the why of leaf colors, or what is most accurately called variegation

In my view, variegation consists of four main types, chimeric, structural. or anatomical, genetic, and viral. Here I’ll focus on chimeric variegation, which includes whites, yellows, oranges, pinks, reds, and purples in splotchy or random patterns on the leaves.
Two in One

The word “chimera” (from which the word “chimeric” is derived) refers to a mythological beast that consisted of multiple animals combined into one monstrous creature. Chimeric variegation refers to a plant consisting of two genetically distinct types of cells, yielding random areas of coloration on an otherwise green plant. By contrast, non-chimeric plants have cells of

Using safe gardening practices

Do use common sense and wear good quality gardening gloves when you are pruning, cleaning up and doing general gardening work. I invested in my own protection by purchasing several pair, in just a bright screaming colors as I could find, since I am forever forgetting where I left them. And of course I’m always losing at least one somewhere. I’ve often wondered if there’s a relationship there when losing socks? Also a long sleeved shirt is a must. I found a great bargain on men’s long sleeved summer shirts at the local Good Will store and those are specifically for me to wear out in the garden. They are baggy and allow good air flow in the humid heat here in VA. Just throw them in the washer when I’m done.

According to the Sphagnum Peat Moss Association, there is a serious misunderstanding regarding what product can harbor this fungus. Here are illustrations of what each moss looks like.

Sphanum moss

Sphagnum moss is the culprit. It is a living moss that grows on top of a sphagnum bog. The fungus sporotrichum schenckii is know to live in the growing moss. This “living” moss

How to Plan a Garden

Look at what you have.

Every garden has features that are there already. The newest home on the newest street already has sod, sun, shade, and water. Most homes will also already have trees, shrubs, bulbs, and maybe a flower here or there. Your job, first and foremost, is to get out there and find out what you have, why it is there, and what good it is. It is never the best idea to tear everything out and start totally new. Mature plants, if they are the right plants in the right place, add depth and beauty to the garden.

Set Goals

What do you use the yard for? Do you have kids? Do you want vegetables, or flowers, or both? What about propagation and a greenhouse? What do you like to do outside? If your son loves soccer you want to have a good expanse of green grass for him to practice on. If you are empty nesters and ready to grow your own food you may want to go grass free. You need to think about what you use the yard for. What you don’t want to have happen is the beds