You Know You’re A Serious Gardener

You know you’re a serious gardener if you recognize yourself in the signs in the article written by Sandra Mason.  Sandra wanted to be able to sort out the serious gardener from the mere hobbyist. She has spent a considerable amount of time, I suspect, in coming up with signs that would identify you as a serious gardener, or as she says in her article, a mad gardener.  Some people just don’t know when to stop or at least slow down, and they become compulsive about a hobby or interest.  You will know if you’re a serious gardener after you read Sandra’s article.  Here are two of the signs you should look out for.

You know you're a serious gardener . . .

You know you’re a serious gardener . . .

You can remember the date to plant the potatoes better than you can remember your own birthday.

You suffer from zone envy. No matter what winter hardiness zone you live in, you will insist on growing plants from the next warmest zone.

As I said, Sandra must have spent a considerable amount of time trying to come up with as many signs as she could of the serious gardener.  I counted twenty-eight different signs in her article.  I have to admit that some of them are rather funny, but some of them are probably behaviors that would be better to be left undone, for instance, a preference for sharing your toothbrush over your pruning shears.  Here are two more of those signs that make you a mad gardener.

Your neighbors don’t recognize your face because that’s usually not the end they see.

You hesitate when your spouse says there’s not enough room in the house for both her/him and the houseplants.

You’ve seen those tasteless bent-over people yard “decorations” now and then.  I guess you know you are a serious gardener if that is the posture you assume most often in your yard.  You can read the rest of Sandra’s article by clicking here or on the link below.  I’m sure you won’g recognize yourself in all of the twenty-eight signs, but count them as you go.  Hope you don’t get anywhere near half of them.


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Rest With Your Garden In Winter

Do you think you should work to keep your garden going or rest with your garden in winter? There will be opinions on either side of that question. There are those northern gardeners who keep growing as long as they can into the winter with their cold frames or even through the winter in heated greenhouses. then there is writer Valerie Easton who believes that it’s time for your garden to rest, and so too should you rest with your garden in winter.

Rest with your garden in winter.

Rest with your garden in winter.

Now that darkness lingers in the mornings and closes in early, we can slip into the slower rhythms of deep winter and recover from the buzz of spring and summer. The garden is resting, so why is it so hard for us to follow suit? It’s time to respect the garden’s quietude and cultivate our own.

Valerie doesn’t want you to get the wrong idea.  She notes in her article that she loves her garden in the winter, with its plants gilded by a sun low in the sky.  She notes that even in the decay of her garden, she knows that the roots of her plants are storing up energy and are preparing for the next year’s growth.  I like what she says about your possibly needing a gardening fix or just needing to experience the aroma of some sweet smelling flowers–visit your local gardening center or arboretum.  Besides, Valerie gives her readers several good reasons for staying inside.

Seed catalogs are arriving in the mail. Time to contemplate and to dream. There’s a gorgeous new book just out from Phaidon Press that is hefty enough to claim many happy hours by the fire. The Gardner’s Garden is a masterwork. Perusing this 470-page global survey of gardens past and present is like taking a course in garden history that brings you up to the present moment. You could spend the winter just looking at the photos, it’s that beautiful. You can have the pleasure of staying put, warm and cozy, while traveling the world of gardens, seeking inspiration for your own.

You can read the rest of Valerie’s article by clicking here or on the link below.  I’m with you, Valerie.  I believe even the most avid gardener needs a recoup time.  I endorse the idea that a gardener should rest with your garden in winter.


Photo by Tambako the Jaguar

10 Ways To Beat Garden Bugs Naturally

In their article, according to its title, Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton give their readers 10 ways to beat garden bugs naturally.  The ways they recommend are not difficult or not earth shatteringly new, but they do put together some good ideas in one place.  Some of the things they recommend are rather obvious, and I wouldn’t consider that they actually provide 10 ways to beat garden bugs naturally.  Some of their suggestions are practical and specific methods.  Others are not specific tactics but rather things that might help you in keeping pest bugs out of the garden.  For example, here is tip number one.

Here are 10 ways to beat garden bugs naturally.

Here are 10 ways to beat garden bugs naturally.

1. Learn the bad bugs. New gardeners may be surprised to discover that most of the insects they find in the garden aren’t dining on their daikons. If you’re new to bug-identification and would like to learn to identify the bad bugs on sight, I recommend books like Garden Insects of North America, websites like, or a visit to your local extension agent.

While obtaining information about the various kinds of insects you will find in the garden will be useful, it is not a specific tactic.  But if you don’t know what insects are harmful and which ones you ought to encourage in your garden, then by all means get some information about the different kinds of insects you will find in your garden.  Tip number two is like tip number one: Learn the good bugs.  Here is a tip number seven that you could actually try in your garden.

7. Choose resistant plant species and varieties. Many of the most common fruit and vegetable varieties require constant chemical sprays to keep bugs at bay. On the other hand, if you know which bugs are most problematic in your neighborhood and then carefully select fruits and vegetables with those insects in mind, you may be able to cut your work load in half while harvesting delicious, beautiful fruits.

You’ll want to keep tip number 7 of the 10 ways to beat garden bugs naturally as you plan for your garden this coming year.  You can probably get some good information from your local garden center about disease and insect resistant plants.  You can read Anna and Mark’s article by clicking here or on the link below.  There is some useful information in the article that you will be able to take advantage of.  There is some information about attracting insect eaters to your garden that will take care of some of your insect problems if you just provide them with a habitat.


Photo by Newtonian

Cats Are Not Welcome In Gardens

In a survey taken in BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine, cats are not welcome in gardens of 34% of the respondents.  Melanie Hall writes about several of the interesting findings of this survey, among which is the information about cats.  The most unwelcome garden pest is not the cat, but it came in at a surprising sixth.   Cats are seen as pests by a large number of gardeners.  The reasons that cats are not welcome in gardens vary, but in some way cats are not appreciated by many gardeners.

Cats are not welcome in gardens,

Cats are not welcome in gardens,

Cats are now more hated than wasps and foxes, with 34 per cent of gardeners saying the “murderous” pests are the worst garden menaces, according to an annual survey. . .Lucy Hall, editor of BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine, said: “Cats really are the species that divides the nation – more than ever. To some they’re cherished companions, to others murderous predators, that ruin plants, mess up borders and kill the very wildlife gardeners have been nurturing.”

One of the things that the BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine encourages is the providing of cover for wildlife in gardens.  Cats are called “murderous” because they have often been observed to destroy the wildlife that seeks refuge in gardens, primarily birds and mammals.  Cats are just being cats when they prey on wildlife, but BBC gardeners who provide cover for birds and mammals in their gardens don’t appreciate cats using their gardens for their private hunting grounds.  Hence, cats being the sixth most hated garden pest, are equal in dislike to the aphid.

Rats topped the list of unwelcome garden visitors, identified as the biggest menace by 64 per cent of gardeners, followed by slugs, vine weevils, snails, greenflies, with cats and aphids tying in sixth place.

Cats are not in good company with the above group of pests.  You can read Melanie’s article by clicking here or on the link below.   I can understand why cats are not welcome in gardens in Britain, or anywhere else for that matter.  They do cause damage to wildlife as well as to plants.  I don’t know if you’ve ever had plants torn up because a cat decided to use your soft garden soil as a litter box. I guarantee you, that did not make me a happy gardener.  Read Melanie’s article for some interesting information from the survey, including the three top ways to encourage wildlife in your garden.


Photo by Jay Woodworth

Garden In The Snow

If you know how to do it, you can garden in the snow.  Wouldn’t it be great to extend the growing season into the winter?  Wouldn’t it also be great to get a head start on your garden in the spring?  Kim Palmer writes about how some Minnesota gardeners are thumbing their noses at winter and are extending the growing season.  Kim writes about Dawn Pape who is one of those Minnesotans who garden in the snow.

winter cold frame photo

Garden in the snow.

Even in late November, Dawn Pape’s newest garden was a welcome sight for winter-weary eyes. In her Shoreview yard, under a blanket of snow, is a polycarbonate-topped, 2- by 8-foot box — or “cold frame.” Brush aside the show, lift the lid, and inside was an improbable vision: healthy spinach, kale, salad greens and other veggies growing in the frigid ground.

Of course there are some drawbacks.  You need to construct or purchase a DIY cold frame kit.  There are other types of structures, namely hoop houses, that function in the same way.  They preserve heat in their protective coverings that allows vegetables, particularly greens, to last far into the winter.  Kim writes about several important things to consider if you would like to extend your gardening season with cold frames or hoop houses, among which is the following.

Pape is growing on a very small scale, just for her family’s table. “I’ve read about it [cold-frame gardening] for several years and decided to try it,” she said. . .Cold-frame gardening has its limitations in Minnesota, she’s discovered. “The harvest’s not as plentiful” as during the regular growing season. Plant growth is minimal. “You’re not really gardening, just sort of picking. It’s basically a refrigerator.”

Kim writes about this winter beating method in her article, which you can read by clicking here or on the link below.  There’s a surprise at the end of the article that you don’t want to miss. I have friends that go to Florida for a few months in the winter.  For those of us who would like to escape as well, and either don’t or can’t for some reason or other, perhaps if we would garden in the snow, we would be compressing the winter months into a shorter time period, which might make the winter a little more bearable. Wouldn’t it feel great to go outside in a foot of snow, brush the snow off your cold frame, open it up and pick a few vegetables for the dinner table?


Photo by Linda N.

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