Category Archives: Gardening

Enhance Your Holiday Landscape

by Melinda Myers

Add a little holiday sparkle to your landscape for you and your guests to enjoy. No matter the weather outside, a few decorative touches can greatly increase the beauty and enjoyment of your winter landscape.

Try one, two or all eight of these tips to improve your landscape’s winter appeal.

Add some solar powered accents. Light a pathway, your favorite tree or front porch without installing additional outlets. Look for unique colors and shapes like the solar star lantern or the changing colors of northern lights spheres (gardeners.com) for added appeal. The wide variety now available can help create a memorable winter display. Be sure to select solar accents that provide hours of enjoyment when fully charged. Continue reading Enhance Your Holiday Landscape

One Simple Step Can Improve the Health and Vigor of Your Lawn

By Melinda Myers

Do just one thing this fall and you can improve the health and vigor of your lawn.  Fall fertilization helps lawns recover from the stresses of summer and provides needed nutrients to grow deeper roots and a denser stand of grass. And that means fewer weeds and a healthier lawn that’s more resistant to drought, insects and diseases.

Fertilize around Labor Day as the temperatures begin to cool and lawns start spreading outward instead of growing upward. Continue to leave clippings on the lawn. They return nutrients, moisture and organic matter to the soil.  Consider it free fertilizer applied every time you mow the lawn. Continue reading One Simple Step Can Improve the Health and Vigor of Your Lawn

Keeping it Fresh from the Garden to the Table

By Melinda Myers

You spent the summer weeding, watering and tending to your vegetable garden. Now all your effort has paid off with a bountiful harvest.  Maximize the flavor and nutritional value of your homegrown vegetables with proper harvesting and storage.

For the freshest flavor, always prepare and serve vegetables immediately after harvest. But let’s face it, most of us are living busy lives and lucky to get the vegetables picked and eventually cooked.  Plus, all the extras will need to be shared, preserved or stored for future enjoyment. Here are a few things you can do to keep the flavor fresh. Continue reading Keeping it Fresh from the Garden to the Table

Plan Now and Jump Start Next Year’s Garden

By Melinda Myers

As fall approaches, it’s the perfect time to start planning that new garden you’ve always wanted.  Cool, usually drier, fall weather makes it easier on the gardener and better on the plants. Plus, the Garden To-do list is often a bit shorter this time of year.

Start by locating the placement, size and shape of this new garden. Use a rope or hose to outline the area.  Avoid tight corners or creating narrow grass borders that will be difficult to mow or require hand trimming.

Once satisfied with the layout, take a soil test and decide how to kill the existing lawn and weeds as needed. A soil test will tell you how much and what type of fertilizer you will need for the plants you are growing. Testing now means you’ll have the information in hand when it is time to fertilize in spring.

Next edge the bed. Use a shovel to dig a V shaped trench around the border of the garden. Or rent or borrow a power edger to make larger jobs easier.

Once the edging is complete, remove healthy grass with a sod cutter and use it to fill bare spots in the lawn. Or create a planting berm or simply add it to the compost pile. Just place it green side down and wait for it to decompose.

Another method for clearing the grass is to cover the area with cardboard topped with several inches of organic mulch and wait for the grass and cardboard to decompose. With this method, you may want to finish the soil preparation and begin planting next spring after the grass and cardboard have broken down completely.

For quicker results and control of perennial weeds try a total vegetation killer. These products kill the top and roots of the good and bad plants they touch. Read and follow label directions carefully.  Start your soil preparation after the required waiting period has passed.

The next step, a very important one, is soil improvement. It is easier to repair and improve the soil before you plant. Plus, time spent now yields years of good results.  Add two to four inches of organic matter like aged manure, peat moss or compost to the top 8 to 12 inches of soil. These materials improve the drainage in heavy clay soil and increase the water holding ability in fast draining sandy or rocky soils.

Once you mix in the organic matter, rake the garden level and smooth. Your garden is ready to plant. Fill it with perennials, trees and shrubs. Or cover with shredded leaves or other organic mulch to suppress weeds and prevent soil erosion. Then use the winter to plan the garden so you will be ready to plant once spring arrives.

In either case your efforts now will reduce your workload next spring and shorten the time to more beauty in the landscape.

Melinda Myers has more than 30 years of horticulture experience and has written over 20 gardening books, including Small Space Gardening. She hosts The Great Courses “How to Grow Anything: Your Best Garden & Landscape in Six Lessons” DVD set and the nationally syndicated Melinda’s Garden Moment TV & radio segments. Myers is a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine. Myers’ web site is www.melindamyers.com.

Photo credit – Melinda Myers, LLC

Work in Concert with Nature to Manage Garden Pests and Mosquitoes in the Landscape

By Melinda Myers

A garden filled with flowers, birds, bees and butterflies is a sight to behold. These winged beauties add color, sound and motion to our gardens. Plus, they help maximize a garden’s productivity by pollinating plants and managing plant-damaging pests.

But what about those unwanted visitors to the garden? The aphids, mites and cabbage worms that feed upon our plants or the mosquitoes that feed upon us.  There are ways to have a beautiful garden and at the same time enjoy the outdoors when we work with nature to manage our landscape. Continue reading Work in Concert with Nature to Manage Garden Pests and Mosquitoes in the Landscape

Grow More Edibles with Smart & Sustainable Keyhole Gardening

By Melinda Myers

Raise your gardening efforts to a new level with keyhole gardening. You’ll increase your garden’s productivity in a smaller space, while using less water and fertilizer.

This intensive technique was first used in Africa where it’s hot and dry and the topsoil is shallow.   Now gardeners growing in a variety of climates around the world are using this technique. You’ll even find keyhole gardens in urban and suburban backyards. Continue reading Grow More Edibles with Smart & Sustainable Keyhole Gardening

Add Some Extra Appeal to Your Landscape with Garden Art

By Melinda Myers

Adding excitement to your garden is easy.  You can create instant, year-round color, structure, motion and fun to your landscape with a bit of garden art.

Just like shopping for plants, look for pieces that complement your gardening style. And consider all the benefits each piece of art provides. Many pieces are functional as well as beautiful, helping you get the most from your garden budget.

In centuries past, garden art included statues of gods and beautiful people as well as pieces that mimicked nature’s ornamental qualities. You can still find those traditional garden statues. But these days you will also find colorful pieces made from a variety of weatherproof materials in a variety of styles. Continue reading Add Some Extra Appeal to Your Landscape with Garden Art

Master Gardeners to Offer Tips at Ocean County Library Branches

The Ocean County Library will host a series of Master Gardener programs during April and May at four branches.

Master Gardeners, trained and certified by the Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Ocean County, will give horticultural information and gardening tips at the following branches:

•  Toms River Branch, 101 Washington St., 732-349-6200, Rutgers Master Gardeners of Ocean County: Swing into Spring, Wednesday, April 19, 12 p.m. – 3 p.m. Enjoy a display of spring flowers, receive information on summer insects, and the services offered at the Rutgers Cooperative Extension Center. Continue reading Master Gardeners to Offer Tips at Ocean County Library Branches

Select the Best Tomatoes for Your Garden and Table

By Melinda Myers

Sliced, sauced, or cooked in your favorite recipe; tomatoes are a favorite and versatile vegetable. What’s more, they taste best when grown and harvested from your own garden or container.

Ensure the best flavor and greatest results by selecting the most disease-resistant varieties and growing your tomatoes in full sun and moist, well-drained soil.

Select plants with the growth habit that works best with your garden space and gardening style. Determinate tomatoes are perfect for small-space gardens and containers. They grow to a certain height, stop growing, and produce their fruit over a relatively short timeframe. Indeterminate tomatoes continue to grow throughout the season, producing flowers and fruit until you prune out the tip or frost kills the plant.  Stake or tower the plants to save space, reduce disease and insect problems, and make harvesting more convenient.

Continue reading Select the Best Tomatoes for Your Garden and Table

OCEAN COUNTY’S MASTER GARDENERS HONOR FREEHOLDERS

Ocean County Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari and Freeholder John C. Bartlett Jr. are now honorary Ocean County Master Gardeners.      During the March 15 meeting of the Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders, Ocean County’s Rutgers Cooperative Extension and Master Gardener Program honored the two Freeholders for their long time support of the program.

“We would like to take this opportunity to thank the entire Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders for their support of the Ocean County Master Gardener Program,” said Susan Emhardt-Servidio, who is a horticulturist for Ocean County’s Rutgers Cooperative Extension and the coordinator for the County’s Rutgers Master Gardner Program. “Our volunteer activities to educate Ocean County residents would not be possible without the support of the Board.” Continue reading OCEAN COUNTY’S MASTER GARDENERS HONOR FREEHOLDERS