Click below to listen to my Garden Bite radio show: Gardening lifts depression – eases stress
This winter has been rough, to say the least. I’m usually not one to complain but the bitter cold for so long and the snow after snow after snow, well, it got to most folks! Another reason why I’m happy to spend time creating my radio show and this blog! It takes me to my happy place. And there’s proof that gardening takes most of us to a happier place!
My motto is “The garden is no place to stress for success but to soak up some sun and renew your Spirit”.
A study in the Netherlands studied two groups of people after completing a stressful task. They were instructed to either read indoors or garden for 30 minutes. Afterward, the group that gardened reported being in a better mood than the reading group, and they also had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Click HERE. Another study, conducted in Norway, found that people who had been diagnosed with depression, spent six hours a week growing flowers and vegetables. After three months, half of the participants had experienced a measurable improvement in their depression symptoms AND their mood continued to be better three months after the gardening program ended.
Click below to listen to my Garden Bite radio show: Tomato care
Tomato ‘Fresh Salsa’
I grew ‘Fresh Salsa’ in 2009 and really liked them for their meatiness. They were great for slicing on sandwiches, drying, roasting and salsa. I ordered this from Burpee.
Yesterday I gave you some great ideas for new tomato varieties to try. They may not all be at your local nursery, but can be ordered. There are a number of reputable companies online. Burpee and Gurney’s are two I buy from. But there are plenty of other places. I left you with links. I have not purchased plants from those places, however, I’ve not heard anything bad about them. Almost all companies want you to be satisfied so if you have an issue, be sure to contact them. Likely they will resolve it quickly.
You can start tomatoes from seed now till about mid April. Starting with seeds allows you a much wider selection of plants at a much cheaper price. I don’t have a space in my home now for starting seeds, so I don’t do it. (Yes, I miss that, but I plan on finding room next year)
Tomato care when you start with plants!
Tomato ‘Indigo Sun’
Start with your foundation – the soil. You want it fluffy, that means add compost and/or a mix of compost and soil. And add the good stuff. It should smell earthy NOT sour.
Normally, tomatoes are planted around Memorial Day (zone 4). By that time the soil has warmed up as well as the temperature. If it’s a cool Spring, you can still plant but the tomatoes won’t do anything. They like it hot, same as peppers and melons.
Check out Dig In Minnesota with me and Tom McKusick’s Tomato Tips – he’s the Publisher of Northern Gardener and a tomato guru! It’s quick and well worth the watch. This guy grows about 50 varieties of heirloom tomatoes. What’s up with fishheads?
Give them room – most tomatoes are indeterminate and will just keep growing. They need a good 2 feet around them and staking. Some tomatoes even more, if you have the room.
Tomatoes prefer 8 hours of direct sunlight.
Plant tomatoes deep – they grow roots from any point of their stem
Mulch with straw or other organic material to hold in moisture and help prevent weeds.
Pinch the little suckers, those side shoots. This will help with air circulation.
General rule of thumb is an inch of water a week, but if it’s really hot, give them more. You want to keep them watered evenly but not to sit in water. This is one of the reasons you add organic matter to your soil.
Harvest as often as you can to keep the fruit from rotting.
The above photo is ‘Black Krim’. This heirloom grew like crazy!
Click below to hear my Garden Bite radio show: Cherry pickin’ tomatoes
It’s not really shorts weather yet but we’re all fairly giddy with warmer temperatures and then Organic Gardening magazine came out with some results of tomato testing. So, I just HAD to talk tomatoes! And most of the varieties I chose to talk about are cherry tomatoes.
Tomato ‘Black Cherry’ from Burpee
A couple of cherry tomatoes made the “stand out” list. ‘Black Cherry’ is a sweet and rich flavored dark pink/dusty purple delight. Other reports say that ‘Black Cherry’ is very tomato-ey and not quite so sweet.
Tomato ‘Snow White’
The ‘Snow White’ cherry tomato had rave reviews not only from OG, but I did some further research and it scores high for sweet flavor with a hint of citrus. It’s grows to be a large plant, topping 6 feet and is extremely prolific. Heirloom Tomato Plants sells seed. They have multiple varieties, explore her website for a lot of detailed information about tomato planting.
Tomato ‘Blush’ Seeds of Change
OG says this roma style tomato, ‘Blush’, has a tropical fruitiness reminiscent of pineapple. I found it at Seeds of Change. It’s also meaty and low in acid. That would make it a great tomato for a variety of uses from fresh eating to salsa making.Other said it was great sliced on pizza!
And this little cherry ‘Jasper’ is an F1 hybrid. This tasty darling was selected as a 2013 AAS winner! Excellent taste, a long harvest window and outstanding performance in the trials contributes to this tomato’s success. Judges liked the texture and sweetness of the tomato as well as the uniformity of the fruits that grow on vigorous, healthy plants. Jasper is a high yielding variety with fruits that stay on the vine and then hold well after ripening both on the vine and post-harvest. Vigorous vines require little or no fertilization. An added bonus is fusarium resistance and the ability to overcome weather-related stresses.
Tomorrow we’ll talk about tomato plant care! The season WILL arrive!
Click below to listen to my radio show Garden Bite with Teri Knight – bright colors
Ahhh, Friday! Let’s celebrate today by talking about bringing beautiful colors to your garden. I’ve talked before about using the colorwheel to help design your garden.
Keep in mind the colors of the surrounding elements like your home, garage, fences, trees, shrubs and what not. Some new offerings for shade will brighten the area! White Flower Farms offers a new mix of Hellebores also known as Lenten Rose called “Fluffy Ruffles”.That is just too fun to say!
Lenten Rose ‘Fluffy Ruffles’
While they list these as zone 5 hardy, most lenten rose are at least hardy to zone 4. From ‘Fluffy ruffles’ to ‘Primal Scream’ – this daylily is a Stout Medal award winner.The flowers can reach 8 inches wide.
Daylily ‘Primal Scream’
If you’re looking for a little softer WOW that still rocks, check out Hibiscus ‘Summer Storm’. The blooms are nearly 10 inches wide and softly pink on the edges with a deep red throat and veins out to the edges. The foliage is a deep wine purple with maple-shaped leaves.
Hibiscus ‘Summer Storm’
The foliage is a deep wine purple with maple-shaped leaves. Hibiscus come up late so don’t be frightened if you don’t see any growth until June. When the plant is about 10 inches tall you can pinch it back by half and it will branch out giving you even more blooms to come.
Click below to listen to my radio show: Garden Bite with Teri Knight – more pruning notes
So we’ve set records dating back 140 years. Really?!? UGH! I know, everyone’s tired of the brutal cold, the heavy wet snow and then more brutal cold. Spring WILL get here. In the meantime, there are numerous home and garden shows out there.
This link will take you to some garden options! Festivals in Minnesota Be sure to check your favorite radio station’s website for upcoming garden shows and expos.
Do NOT prune Oak trees in April, May or June. During this time the Oak is more susceptible to Oak Wilt disease.
Oak wilt photo by Michele Grabowski UMN
Also Maple trees and others that have sap that runs during early Spring must be left alone until after the sap has stopped running.
Silver Maple tree tapped
Pines/Evergreens rarely need pruning with the exception of dead branches. If you want to control the growth, then you can prune the new growth called candles (toggle through the link for different evergreen growth) You can easily see what’s new growth by the different shade of green that you’ll see in early summer. You can prune up to 2 thirds of the new candle growth. Pruning How-to’s from Ramsey Co. MG
Reminder! This winter really has been brutal. A friend of mine, Leif Knecht, Knecht’s Nursery and Landscaping, is a tree expert and says check your trees for sun and critter damage! The sun can burn thin young bark just like we can get sunburn. He recommends those white plastic wraps, they’re easy to install and inexpensive.
Click below to listen to my Radio Show: Proven Winner Perennial Picks
This brutal winter is definitely one to remember and to forget! While we remain in the midst of it, it’s fun to look forward to the possibilities of spring.
There’s a new Heuchera , aka Coral Bells called ‘Cinnamon Curl’ that’s so pretty with different shades of red. The white flowers are insignificant. This baby is all about the foliage and works well in part shade.
Heuchera ‘Cinnamon Curls’
Bred by Minnesota’s own Hans Hansen, this next Baptisia is recommended by Walters Gardens expert Susan Martin. It’s from their Decadence series and it’s called ‘Blueberry Sundae’. It’s a true blue flower native that grows to 3 feet tall in poor neutral soil. It’s sturdy foliage blue/green foliage looks great all summer. The blooms appear in late spring and early summer and then seed pods show up in the Fall.
Baptisia ‘Blueberry Sundae’
Hansen has developed several including ‘Lemon Meringue’ which is a delicate yellow.
Baptisia ‘Lemon Meringue’
‘Ruby Spider’ is a stunning daylily by Proven Winners. When this 2 foot tall delight went up on the screen you could hear a collective “wow”. The ruby red flowers with a radiating gold throat are 9 inches across. The plant grows to just about 3 feet tall and is hardy to zone 3 in sun to part shade.
Daylily ‘Ruby Spider’
I get pretty tired of ‘Autumn Joy’ sedum. A nice replacement that won’t flop is a dark leaf stonecrop called ‘Maestro’. Large blue/green leaves transition to purple through the season. The stems are bright purple all season and the pink flowers bloom late summer to fall.This one does not fall apart!
Click below to listen to my Radio Show: Proven Winners annuals for 2014
Please, Mother Nature, release Spring!
In the meantime, let’s enjoy the possibilities! Some 2014 annual selections from Proven Winners
A new stunner in their Graceful Grass series is a variegated red fountain grass called ‘Fireworks’. It’s a variegated pink that grows to 2 feet tall. It’s a thriller that grows more slowly and will not take over your container planting.Pennisetumsetaceum ‘Rubrum’
‘Pomegranate Punch’ grows about 6 to 10 inches tall but trails up to 24 inches. It’s a calibrachoa hybrid aka Superbells. It is an excellent choice with Fireworks. These plants do best in full sun.
Another Superbell I really liked is called ‘Spicy’. It’s a hot mix of oranges, reds and yellows on each flower.The color changes through the season.Give your container plantings a water soluble fertilizer every 4th watering. You can trim these Superbells to branch out more too!
Some will laugh but I still like red geraniums! These are new varieties of zonal geraniums aka pelargoniums from Proven Winners.
From their Boldly series is simply ‘Dark Red’ and from their Timeless collection is ‘deep red’.
Click below to listen to the Radio Show: Pruners, loppers and handsaws
I brought up pruning just before our record blizzard a week and a half ago. By the way, all that heavy snow is not good for our trees and shrubs. Larger trees including evergreens can handle getting the snow off of them but some of our delicate shrubs, such as rhododendron, could be damaged further if we try to shake snow off of them. Back to pruning…
The right tool for the job is paramount to a good pruning experience! Hand pruners are great for working on shrubs, perennials or small trees with branches of 1/4 inch or less.
There are a couple of types of pruning shears:
Both pruners work well when properly sharpened. The Anvil style may work just a bit better on harder woodies.
Loppers are great for anything 1/2 inch up to 1 1/2 inches depending on the quality of loppers. The long handles make it a lot easier to get into some tight spaces inside shrubs or trees and also give you a nice reach.
I use a folding handsaw for pruning out low hanging branches that get in my way! I generally use them to cut limbs an inch or two in diameter but some saws can cut through 4 inches.
And then there are pole saws (too unwieldy for me) and chainsaws (they frighten me)! If you use these tools I suggest you have protective gear on and know what you’re doing OR call someone that does! That’s what I do!
Click below to hear the Radio Show: Genetically modified vs hybrids
Hybridizing, genetically modified and genetically engineered. Hmm, is there a difference? Hooo, boy, this is a big topic and it won’t be answered here but there are distinctions on HOW plants are modified.
Modifications aka genetic mutations take place in every living thing naturally. When 2 people have a baby, there’s some mutation going on. Not sure that’s real romantic but, I hope, you catch my drift.
This tomato ‘Sun gold’ was bred for disease resistance and flavor. It is an F1 hybrid.
Tomato ‘Sun Gold’
Hybridizers have been modifying plants since agriculture began, it used to take 6 to 10 generations to change characteristics. Modern hybridization speeds up that process considerably. Using a method of controlled crossing devised by Charles Darwin and Gregor Mendel in the mid-19th century, plant breeders can now produce seed that combines the desired traits of two pure parent lines in the first generation. This creates a new variety known as an “F1 hybrid.” To create F1 seed, seed companies grow two parent lines in the field each year, designate the male and female parents, carry out pollination under controlled conditions such as hand-pollination under row cover and then harvest seed from the females. Click HERE for a great article from Mother Earth News explaining this form of plant breeding much more fully. Here’s another pdf from a website called nongmoproject. I found it interesting. GMO Myths and Truths. FarmAid on GM or GE
Petunia ‘Sophistica Lime Bicolor’ new from Burpee for 2014 F1hybrid
I just have to add this close-up. This petunia lasted all season, even in heat. Again, it’s an F1 hybrid.
Genetically Modified (GMO) varieties are created in a lab using highly complex technology, such as gene splicing. These high-tech GM varieties can include genes from several species?—?a phenomenon that almost never occurs in nature. It includes the introduction of a bacteria into a plant for specific pest resistance. Another way to explain this is to say that a GMO could cross a plant with a fish. Two completely different species. Click HERE for an article from Pacific Standard The Science of Society saying that scientists say GMO’s are safe. From US News and World Report: GMO’s are nothing to fear and the FDA on GMO’s
Here’s the caveat to most of the proponents of GMO’s. They are likely associated with major corporations that are pumping millions of dollars into this technology. I’m not going to say ALL GMO’s are bad, frankly, I don’t know. But the scary part is, neither does anyone else. It takes years and years of research to discover the ramifications of what we do. As we’ve all witnessed through the years, here are a couple of minor ones. Butter’s bad, no it’s not. High cholesterol is bad, well unless it’s HDL. Or how about tobacco?
There’s a lot of money at stake here and each side can go to extremes to make their point, and they do. It would be great to have a conversation without politics, money or fear involved.
Click below to listen to the Radio Show: More on to squish or not to squish
Ingrid Hoff, an entomologist gave a great talk at the Proven Winners extravaganza at the Landscape Arboretum a couple of weeks ago. I didn’t get to all of her top 10 garden bugs in my previous post this week, so here goes.
The Lacewing larvae is like a little aphid-eating lion! Do NOT squish this wonder bug.
Lacewing larvae – University of Iowa
Aphids – yellow
Aphids come in a variety of colors and they are NOT our friends.
Another squishable is the Emerald Ash Borer which has destroyed multiple millions of Ash Trees.
Emerald Ash Borer aka EAB
It may be pretty but it is extremely destructive. For more information click HERE. If you have EAB and want to treat for it, I would suggest calling on an Arborist. You can consult with Faith Appelquist of Treequality. Check out this video from my show Dig In Minnesota:
While this guy looks like he should be squished…
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail caterpillar
and, it’s true, he/she may eat some of your plants… When you see what this caterpillar becomes, I think you’ll find it worth it! The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly. There are a few types of Swallowtail including the Black Swallowtail.