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Labor Day

Click below to listen to my Garden Bite radio show:  Labor Day

A day set aside to NOT Labor!  Hopefully…  or to get ready for back-to-school!  A great day to celebrate the American Worker.  Here’s the quote I read on my radio show:

The vital force of labor added materially to the highest standard of living and the greatest production the world has ever known and has brought us closer to the realization of our traditional ideals of economic and political democracy. It is appropriate, therefore, that the nation pay tribute on Labor Day to the creator of so much of the nation’s strength, freedom and leadership, the American Worker.

We may have our problems here in America, but there’s no where else I’d rather live!  Although I did love Australia as a child!  ;-)

Happy Labor Day and I hope you enjoy the fruits of your labor!  I’m having roasted tomatoes with cheese and crackers.  And likely a brat too!

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Hardworking plants

Click below to listen to my Garden Bite radio show:  Hardworking plants

I’m not one for fussy plants, I like those that deliver!  Here are a few to get you started, perhaps, for planning next years garden.

Baptisia Australis

Baptisia Australis

You’ve seen this guy before!  Let me add that Baptisia Australis aka Blue False Indigo is the 2010 Perennial of the Year.  Zone 3 hardy and doesn’t mind clay soil.  A full sun lover that grows 3 to 5 feet tall.

Liatris – Blazing Star

Another hard worker, this Liatris is a native too.  Zone 3 hardy and butterflies love it.

Cranesbill aka Wild Geranium

The above beauty flowers in the Spring and then it’s leaves turn a red/orange for Fall.  Rob’s Plants has great pictures of the varieties available.  You can see the different foliage options and colors!

Coreopsis is another favorite of mine.  Take a look at ‘Mercury Rising’.  This wonderful plant has delivered flowers from early summer and is still going strong even after our intense heat.  It started out with deep red flowers and is now coming up with this!  I love it.  The plant is about 15 inches tall and about 2 feet wide.

Coreopsis 'Mercury Rising' 2

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Those helpful hints

Click below to listen to my Garden Bite radio show:  Those helpful hints

Dad used to say “kid, I learned the hard way, that’s why I’m telling you now so you don’t have to”.  And yet….

I seem to learn the hard way too.  Maybe it’s genetic!  I’ll still list some helpful hints so YOU don’t have the learn the hard way:

  • wear gloves when chopping hot peppers OR make sure you don’t rub ANY part of your body until you’ve washed your hands thoroughly!  I JUST did this!  Boy howdy, does that BURN!  ;-)

chopping jalapenos

  • when harvesting, have a wash basin or water source nearby to get the big chunks of dirt off before you go into the house
  • have a sharp knife handy
  • wear easy slip-off shoes so you’re not struggling with a basket of produce in your hands while opening the door to your home
  • start a small veggie garden, you can always make it bigger but don’t overwhelm yourself
  • when digging holes for large plants, lay a tarp down nearby and toss the soil on that.  You can drag it easily across the lawn and it doesn’t leave a mess

Flower stick person


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Bulb planting is at hand

Click below to listen to my Garden Bite radio show:  Bulb planting is at hand

The heat was oppressive over the weekend as I thought about getting in the garden!  I was out for a while but found out quickly I would be needing a second shower of the day!  Soon, though, cooler temps will be here.  In fact they’re on their way this week.

The selections available for tulips is almost dizzying!  There are double tulips, darwin tulips, fragrant, impression, parrot and late bloomers… oh my.   One variety I discovered from White Flower Farm knocks my sandals off!  They suggest planting it with white Candytuft.

Tulip ‘FontaineBleau’

Choose a sunny spot, perhaps under a tree that leafs out a little later, to add pop to the Spring garden.  Placing tulips, and some other bulbs, with later blooming perennials will help hide their dying foliage.

Muscari, aka Grape Hyacinth,  is perfect for a pop of Spring color at just about 6 inches tall.  There are several varieties.  I always suggest checking out your local nurseries first, but I also like to provide links so that you can see what else is out there.  I found this Muscari at The Plant Expert.

Daffodils naturalize beautifully.  There are plenty of shades of yellow, peach and white.  Hyacinth don’t come in just purple.  There are reds and yellows.  Don’t forget the allium!  ‘Gladiator’ is tall at 3? to 4?.

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Fall is great for planting trees and shrubs

Click below to listen to my Garden Bite radio show:  Fall is great for planting trees and shrubs

Arbor day should be moved from Spring to Fall.  Fall is the best time to plant trees and shrubs. They love the warm soil and cooler air. There’s also still have plenty of time to scoot their roots down into the soil.

Hybrid Rugosa Rose ‘Belle Poitevine’

Rugosa roses are a hardy bunch.  Many are quite fragrant, need little attention and produce blooms for much of the season.  ‘William Baffin’ is a great climber.  The above ‘Belle Poitevine’ has rich green foliage that turns yellow/red in Fall.  All the roses I talked about in my radio show are suggestions from the University of Minnesota.

I just have to show you one more that I’m contemplating…

I’ve listed roses, but now really is a great time to plant all kinds of winter hardy shrubs and trees.  Dig a hole at least twice as wide as the container your plant came in but only as deep.  Toss in some compost.  When placing your plants, be sure to spread the roots out NOT down.  Cover with soil to the root/stem line, water well and mulch with 2 to 3 inches of woodchips or other organic matter.

An ornamental tree that I’ve mentioned before is another plant I’m considering.  I love the multi-branched shrub shape.

The above photo comes from Clemson University.  Photo by Karen Ross, it’s Latin name is Chionanthus Virginicus.

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I’ve never been a fan of asparagus until I had dinner one night at a very lovely golf club.  I don’t golf, I eat and drive the cart.  Anyway, that got me thinking about planting this perennial that’s prized by many including my husband.  Gardeners have been growing asparagus (Asparagus officinalis) for more than 2,000 years, so apparently I’m in the minority.  A well-maintained asparagus bed will start bearing one year after planting and will stay productive for 10 to 15 years.

Asparagus - 'Jersey Giant' from Burpee

Asparagus – ‘Jersey Giant’ from Burpee

While many sites I visited recommended optimal planting in the Spring, Fall is just fine as temperatures cool off.  In fact you can purchase 2 year crowns from some nurseries that would be ready to harvest next season.

Asparagus - Mary Washington

Asparagus – Mary Washington

In fact you can purchase 2 year crowns from some nurseries that would be ready to harvest next season.

Asparagus furrow

Asparagus furrow

As the asparagus begins to grow, gradually fill in the furrow with soil. (Be careful not to cover any of the asparagus foliage.) The furrows should be filled to ground level by the end of the first growing season. Add organic fertilizer (about 1/4 cup per plant of granular) spreading the fertilizer on each side of the asparagus and cultivate it lightly into the soil. Keep your new plants well watered.  Allow year 1 plants to grow into brush which looks like dill or a ferny bush. Late in the fall of the first growing season, after the brush has turned completely brown, remove the brush (old stalks) and any weeds.



To learn more check out The Tasteful Garden and Growing Asparagus in Minnesota home gardens [University of Minnesota]

Make sure you know whether you’re planting 1st or 2nd year plants.  They can also be grown from seed indoors if you’re so inclined.

Check out my Facebook page “Garden Bite with Teri Knight” for lots more pictures of gardens and to offer suggestions, comments and questions!

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Fireflies or Lightening bugs

Click below to listen to my Garden Bite radio show:  Fireflies or Lightening bugs

Sitting on my screened porch in the evening, there’ve been more fireflies it seems. Or maybe I’ve just been staying up later. Hey, cut me slack, I get up at 4:20 most mornings for work! When I was little, a long time ago and in a land south of Minnesota, it seemed like the evening backyard was alive with the magical glow of the Lightening Bug. We would chase them down and capture them in jars. My dad would poke holes in the metal tops so they’d have air. And we used them like a lantern.

Fireflies in a jar

Check out the wonderful photos on Firefly Experience.

Firefly 2 Firefly

And then, the fireflies would die…  But, still, there would be more… then it seemed there weren’t. Is it because I moved? Did I just get older and not pay attention to their little glowing bellies? Or is it more sinister, like too many pesticides. Maybe the fairies took them back to the forests?

firefly with fairy

According to scientific research, that one’s probably not the answer, on the other hand, THEY don’t really know. Fireflies flash to find a partner.   The males will signal they’re available and the females then decide if they want to respond with their own flash. There are many species, how many live in Minnesota, is still a slight mystery. However, they do have their own code.

Fireflies flash in different sequences and also have different colors. They’re neither a fly or a bug, they’re a beetle. They’re bioluminescence starts right away. They glow from egg to larvae to adult. And they eat slugs. I knew I liked them!

Firefly larvae

Firefly larvae

Check in with Firefly Watch and report your sightings!   And also Gardening For Life – Fireflies


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The 2014 Great MN Glut-together

Click below to listen to my Garden Bite radio show:  The Great MN Glut-together

The day Minnesotans and more gather for the beginning of the Great Minnesota Get Together, one of the largest state fairs in the country.   Every person visiting Machinery Hill becomes an honorary Minnesotan.  The adults turn into kids who stand in awe of the tractors (admit it, you’d love to jump up there and drive one)!  They don’t give up the keys though.  The kids who insist on visiting every animal barn (some with their nose and mouth covered, that would’ve been me as a kid), the hunt for  a big glass of milk at the Dairy building with Sweet Martha’s cookies and the  search for a cheese curd booth without a long line, ahh, the State Fair.

2014 mn state fair

However, I do LOVE the fair!  The people watching is awesome and of course the Hort building is one of my favorites!

There’s also the Eco-Experience.  I highly recommend you take a tour of this exhibit.  New exhibits this year include a nature adventure play yard, garden pollinators and the largest wad of paper!  Who could resist?

Check out the new foods!

blue cheese

Get your garden questions answered by Master Gardeners at the Horticulture Building!

Minnesota State Fair


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Fruit flies and other annoyances

Click below to listen to my Garden Bite radio show:  Fruit flies and other annoyances

We have had a bazillion fruit flies in our office kitchen.  Seriously, one of the most annoying little creatures.  They drive me crazy.  Of course, I’m not the only one.  Some of the guys hit them with power spray chemicals that smell awful and then I ponder how much has gone into the cupboards.  I found a simple solution.

fruit fly bait

fruit fly bait

The above is from a woman who used cut bananas to attract the flies and some apple cider vinegar, placed saran wrap over it and poked small holes in the saran wrap.

All I did was put a drop of dishsoap we had at work into one of those small dispense cups for watercooler, add a tablespoon or so of apple cider vinegar and then filled it with water.  The flies were attracted to the apple cider vinegar, got trapped in the soap and died!  SUCCESS!  You do have to do this repeatedly but it’s FAR better than using those chemical sprays.  Even the guys are doing it now!  ;-) 

fruit fly trap 2

Gnats and bats are other annoyances.  At least bats are great for something OUTSIDE of my home!  ;-)  They are voracious eaters of mosquitoes!  Who wouldn’t love them for that?

I also want to add today that we need to water our plants.  I have many newly planted gardens (within the last 2 years) as well as a couple new trees and shrubs.  They are most vulnerable the first few years.  In southern Minnesota we’ve had a VERY DRY July and August.  It’s important that plants get, on average, an inch of water a week.  Water your perennials and trees/shrubs thoroughly.  That means a good long drink.  Just getting the surface is not the best, their roots will then stay close to the surface.  You want them to keep reaching further into the soil so water them deeply.

Crabapple -Royal Raindrops 8-14

Crabapple -Royal Raindrops 8-14


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Planting peonies

Click below to listen to my Garden Bite radio show:  Planting Peonies

Peonies are a herbaceous perennial (they die back each year) and are native to Asia, Southern Europe and Western North America.  Tree peonies are different.  I’ll go into them in another Garden Bite.

It’s that time of year.  Planting peonies!

Give them full sun and good drainage. (Although I have a gorgeous red one that came with my house that’s in part shade)  Dig a hole 1 1/2 feet wide and 2 ft. deep, add organic matter such as leaf mold, peat moss or compost.  Plant the peony with it’s “eyes” up no deeper than 2 inches below the soil surface.  Water well.  You may have to let the newly dug hole settle a bit to make placement easier.

My peony at home

My peony at home

For the first winter only, mulch your new peonies with straw or some other mulch AFTER the ground has frozen.  In the spring, pull the mulch up.

There are so many beautiful choices.  Be sure to check with your local garden center first!

And this is why peonies are not my favorite plants despite their pretty petals!  I could’ve staked it but, alas, I did not.

And now for a shorter, sturdier Peony ‘Big Ben’…

For a list and a looksee at peonies that don’t need staking click on this link to The Plant Expert.

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