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Plums in the upper Midwest

Click below to listen to my Garden Bite radio show:  Plums in the upper Midwest

oh sure, they’re okay tasting.  Even sometimes they’re quite good but plums in the upper Midwest have never really matched those in California…  until recently!

The University of Minnesota Extension wrote a great article about this new plum developed by Dr. Brian Smith at the University of Wisconsin/River Falls.  Lydecker/BlackIce Plum This plum is hardy to zone 3 and is comparable to a California plum!  It is infertile so it will need a pollinator such as ‘Toka’ (which comes highly recommended) or ‘Alderman’ or  ‘Compass’.  You need a plum that flowers at the same time.  Do NOT spray insecticides while your plum is blooming or the bees will not come to pollinate.

BlackIce™ was bred from a flavorful Californian plum (Z’s Blue Giant) and a winter hardy plum (Oka). With this combination of genes, the BlackIce™ has a dark purpley-black tender skin, with rich juicy red flesh on the inside, and free-stone pit that does not stick to the flesh. All while being winter-hardy to as low as -35 ºF (Zone 3b) and ripening 2 to 3 weeks earlier then any other large quality plum for the Midwest!

Plum 'Black Ice' fruit

This plum is now widely available locally!  Check with your nursery.  ‘Black Ice’ is more susceptible to disease so you may want to start fungicide applications early to prevent the problem.  Ask at your local nursery where you buy the tree.

'Black Ice' Plum

More information at:




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The Great MN Get Together 2016

Click below to listen to my Garden Bite radio show:  The Great MN Get Together 2016

MN State Fair 2Once again it’s my annual foray into Fair Food. The Great Minnesota Get Together, one of the largest state fairs in the country, starts today.   Call it gastric delight or a tummy twister, it’s definitely fair food!

This year, among those new foods is “Candied Bacon BLT” – sounds like darn near Nirvana to me!  You get your veggie, your protein and your dessert all in one!

Candied bacon BLT

Candied bacon BLT

SPAM, Hawaii’s favorite canned meat made in Minnesota, makes a couple of appearances!  SPAM sushi and SPAM curds.

SPAM sushi

SPAM sushi

The food on a stick is the Minnesota Corn Dog.  Sound dull.  Oh but listen to the description, custom ground sausage on-a-stick made with blueberries, apples, wild rice, maple syrup and cayenne dipped in a homemade corn dog batter and deep-fried.  Oh that’s worth a taste!

mn corn dog

A must see for gardeners and those interested in the environment is Eco Experience! They’re offering an array of new exhibits will highlight the latest in easy, everyday reduce-reuse-recycle how-tos, healthy cooking, innovations in green technology and transportation, and other compelling topics on environmentally focused living.  You might have to help the kids Turn the pages and take a photo of a 7-foot pop-up book. Catch a story on reuse, recycle and repair.  Also check out a green living wall, a solar powered tiny and Paul Bunyan!  Intrigued?  ecoexperience.org



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Fall is great for planting and some dividing

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

Fall is the best time to plant trees and shrubs.  They love the warm soil and cooler air.  They also still have plenty of time to scoot their roots down deep into the soil.  For easy growing, Rugosa roses are a good choice.   A hybrid rugosa suggested by the University of Minnesota is ‘Blanc Double De Coubert’.

'Blanc Double De Coubert'

‘Blanc Double De Coubert’

Hardy to zone 2 this blindingly white rose offers blooms throughout the season.  They’re also very fragrant. The bushy shrub grows to about 5 feet tall.  And it’s disease resistant.

My carpet roses have been outstanding as have my Easy Elegance roses!  They, too, can be planted in the Fall.

Carpet roses

Carpet roses

Carpet roses 8-16

Carpet roses 8-16

Easy Elegance 'Kashmir' and 'High Voltage'

Easy Elegance ‘Kashmir’ and ‘High Voltage’

Be sure to water new plantings up until the ground freezes.  An inch a week is the general rule of thumb but if it’s really dry, don’t be afraid to give them more.   You can plant most perennials in the Fall.

It’s a great time to divide your daylilies right after their flowers are spent.  Cut the foliage back to about 5 inches, using a garden fork to dig up the whole plant will not damage as many roots.  Check for any problems, you want the roots to be plump, white and insect free.  Slice your plant up, making sure you have viable roots, eyes, tubers or buds on each section.  You can slice through daylilies.  Place the plant in the soil so the crown (the portion where the stem and root meets) is one inch below the ground line. Water thoroughly after planting. A winter mulch of straw or shredded leaves helps ensure against winter injury for un-established plants. Water well.  Those beauties below need to be divided.  I have some beautiful red ones to.  The plants are 3 full season old and they’re huge!

yellow lilies 2016

If you buy plants, check their roots.  Go ahead and pull them right out of the pot to see what you’re getting.  Better safe than sorry.  A couple of tips to help:  water your plants well the day before, have your other planting hole already dug and incorporate a shovelful of compost.  Keep them watered till the ground freezes and mulch with a couple inches of compost or wood chips.  After the ground freezes you can add more mulch.

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Click below to listen to my Garden Bite radio show:  Asparagus

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

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

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

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] – this works anywhere in the upper Midwest!

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!

A very simple recipe is to sauté the asparagus with some quality olive oil and onion.  I like the red onion and use Tuscan Herb olive oil but there are so many flavors in specialty shops!


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Resurrection Lily

Click below to listen to my Garden Bite radio show:  Resurrection Lily

This lily is a member of the Amaryllis family and also goes by the names Naked Lady, Surprise lily and Magic Lily.  It loves full sun, will tolerate some shade, good drainage and is supposedly only hardy to zone 5.  Well, I live in zone 4 and it’s done quite well.  The flowers are fragrant and a pretty pale pink to purplish.

The Resurrection Lily grows wide grass-like leaves similiar to an iris but the leaves die back and then BOOM, this 2 foot tall stalk grows and bursts with up to 5 blossoms per stalk.  After razing this bed in late 2012 and moving the lily bulbs into a container for the winter, I thought I’d lost them after seeing many of the bulbs turn to mush!!  The terrible winter didn’t help!  I transferred the decent bulbs and in 2013 and hoped for the best.  When nothing showed up in 2014, well, I figured that was the end…  then, with a names like Resurrection Lily, Surprise Lily and Magic Lily….  BOOM

Resurrection lily leaves 4-17-15

Resurrection lily leaves 4-17-15

AGAIN, I did some more renovations and this year, my lily weren’t pleased with me but I did get ONE to bloom!  Much to my surprise…  the foliage really does look OVER when it yellows and turns into the soil but then…   Now if I can just learn to leave well enough alone!  😉


I planted the bulbs 6 inches into the soil.

Lily has no pest issues!  I cannot WAIT to see these flower!  AND spread!  Patience has not always been my strong suit.

Surround this lily with plants that will hide the dying foliage.  I never saw it as mine were planted with Globe Thistle and also, in another spot, with Siberian Iris.  From the picture below you can see that the leaves are gone, the flowers are held by a stem.

If you can find a source for the bulbs locally, try that first, however here are a couple of resources online for cooler climates:

Heritage Flower Farm – Wisconsin

Old House Gardens – Michigan


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Dog Days of Summer?

Click below to listen to my Garden Bite radio show:  Dog Days of Summer?

Hmmm, really, dog days?!  Where are they???  What an odd year this has been.  Although we’ve had a few hot days, it hasn’t felt that bad.   However, we ALL know that as State Fair season comes along, there will be more warm/hot days to look forward to.  Ahh, the dog days of summer…

Gigi just hangin'

Gigi just hangin’

The “Dog Days” comes from the ancient Greeks and Romans, namely for Sirius, the Dog Star.  The brightest star in the heavens beside the sun.  It was believed to be an evil time!  Personally I think people just went a little bonkers due to heat!

With the heat, we need to pay special attention to our container plants (water once or twice a day) and to our newly planted perennials, shrubs and trees.  Give them deep drinks.  Not a surface water sip.  The roots will grow deeper when watered this way.

NOTE:  We’ve had a LOT of rain…. but that doesn’t mean all our containers are getting it and it does run through them much faster!  And as pointed out yesterday, we still need to take care of those newly planted plants!

On average, plants need an inch of water a week.  Many of our annual plants have “heat stall” right now.  You can leave them be and hope for the best, or you can replant.  Some plants that fair better during the dog days are zinnias, moss rose and amaranthus.

Gigi was a great girl!  Miss her every day....  She had a good life

Gigi was a great girl! Miss her every day…. She had a good life


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Why bad tasting bulbs are a good thing

Click below to listen to my Garden Bite radio show:  Why bad tasting bulbs are a good thing

Why would bad tasting bulbs be a good thing?  Because deer, squirrels and other rodents list them as last choice on the buffet called your garden!  Colorblends President Tim Schipper is a 3rd generation bulbsman out of Connecticut and he shared a list of bulbs that are a feast for our eyes but not on the squirrels menu.

  • daffodils
  • snow drops
  • snow flakes


Daffodils - Golden Echo

Daffodils – Golden Echo

All three of these bulbs contain lycorine, a bitter alkaloid that’s toxic when eaten.

These bulbs are critter resistant in varying degrees due to their bad taste:

  • alliums
  • starflowers
  • glory of the snow
  • blue squill
blue squill

blue squill


Unfortunately, tulips and crocuses, which are eye candy for us are candy for deer and rodents!  Your best bet if deer are the biggest problem are:

  • allium
  • camassia – which looks a bit like hyacinth (with varying shades of white and purple)
  • glory-of-the snow
  • winter wolf’s bane aka winter aconite – a darling little yellow cutie
  • crown imperial – again yellow but the flower heads hang down
  • snake’s head –  a purple flower whose single bloom hangs downward is also called checkered lily
  • starflower
  • blue squill
Crown imperial

Crown imperial

Snakeshead aka checkered lily

Snakeshead aka checkered lily



And there you have it, no smelly sprays, fences or firearms… just bad taste.


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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?

Little Brown Bat

Little Brown Bat

With the recent rains you likely haven’t had to water much!  However, those newly planted perennials, shrubs and trees need to be watered more abundantly.  Check with staff where you bought your plants, many local nurseries give out watering instructions.  Mine does and I love it!  I just planted a new Hibiscus and a new Dogwood.  I am watering them every day…. except for the days we’ve had an inch or rain!!!!

If you have questions… ask me!  teri@gardenbite.com


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Garden triumphs and disappointments

Click below to listen to my Garden Bite radio show:  Garden triumphs and disappointments

Harvest season is here, I’ve already had some triumphs and disappointments.

Tomato 'Sweet Million'

Tomato ‘Sweet Million’

I’ve been munching ‘sweet million’ cherry tomatoes, which, although not very prolific, are delicious.  This is my first year growing them in and growing in a container.  I did that to “rest” my soil.  Tomatoes are an absolute must in my garden but since it’s smaller, and rotation is important, I used a couple of containers this year.

I’m also growing a grape tomato, San Marzano that has been a disappointment in that it’s obviously prone to blossom end rot.  Granted, this year’s been tough with heavy rains and then hot, dry weather, but my other tomatoes haven’t suffered like that.  

Tomato 'San Marzano'

Tomato ‘San Marzano’

My ‘purple cherokee’ tomatoes are doing wonderfully after having a late start from me!  My husband is REALLY looking forward to roasted tomatoes with my thai basil!  I also have a ‘hot and spicy’ oregano plant and some ‘Cherry bomb’ peppers that are doing really well.  

Tomato 'Cherokee Purple'

Tomato ‘Cherokee Purple’

Pepper 'Cherry Bomb'

Pepper ‘Cherry Bomb’

The roses this year have been outstanding.  My Easy Elegance ‘Music Box’ and ‘Kashmir’  have gone well surpassed my expectations and my 3 year old carpet roses have not stopped blooming profusely since June!  

20160808_115235 (1)

Easy Elegance Rose ‘Music Box’

A huge disappointment has been the devastation of my beet and carrot crops due to rabbits.  I’ve told you how well Plantskydd has worked for me.  Well, this year, I was on vacation for 2 weeks and the milkweed went crazy in my garden offering shelter to the bunny beasts.  Once they got the taste of the tender tops, they risked it and realized the Plantskydd had no bite.  UGH.  I will be transferring milkweed elsewhere.  It’s just not working in the vegetable bed!


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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!

Peony 'Bowl of Beauty'

Peony ‘Bowl of Beauty’ – this one does NOT need staking!

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.

Red peony on the north side of my home!

Red peony on the north side of my 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.

Peony 'Coral Supreme'

Peony ‘Coral Supreme’

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

Peonies produce their extravagant display in early June every year, regardless of weather, because they are among the most durable and longest-lived plants. They have no natural enemies, no exacting cultural requirements beyond full sun and neutral to slightly sweet soil, and they shrug off cold. After bloom is complete, you are left with a handsome mound of glossy, deep green foliage that will happily anchor the next sequence of bloom in the neighborhood. Finally, Peonies make superior cut flowers, lasting more than a week if cut in full bud. From White Flower Farm.

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

Peony root!

Peony root!

And now for a shorter, sturdier Peony …

Peony 'Do Tell' does NOT need staking!

Peony ‘Do Tell’ does NOT need staking!

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


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