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Pollinating Cucumber Flowers

Cucumber plants are usually monoecious meaning the plants have separate male and female flowers on the same plant. The same is true for their relatives, squash, cantaloupes, and watermelons. The flowers on cucumbers are usually pollinated by insects, but in their absence you can hand-pollinate the female cucumber flowers yourself. In the illustrated guide below I'll show you how to identify the female cucumber flower and pollinate cucumber plants in your own garden.

Female Cucumber Flower


Petunia 'Black Cat' The World's First Black Petunia

I have loved black plants since I discovered gardening. More time has been spent day dreaming of being a Victorian or Edwardian gardener than I care to admit. If last year you had given me access to a TARDIS and allowed me to go back in time and experience gardening then- I would have jumped at the chance. It's a good thing that nobody showed up with a TARDIS last year because I would've missed out on the opportunity to grow petunia 'Black Cat,' billed as "the world's very first black petunia" by W. Atlee Burpee & Co.

Black Cat Petunias by Burpee Seed Company


What's the Benefit of Having Spiders in the Garden?

What is the benefit of having spiders in the garden? That is a rhetorical question, I am not really asking. As a gardener, I know the benefits of having a predator live in my garden. Making the garden hospitable to spiders, and allowing them to biologically control garden pests, is all part of gardening chemical free and being as natural as possible. I am not a hippy or anything like that; I wanted to have bugs in my garden to photograph so I decided I would stop using bug sprays, and just let nature take its course. For the most part, it has worked out fabulously and I have no regrets. Although, nothing challenges my commitment to natural methods of pest control more than seeing the garden covered in spider webs during the summer. Spider webs like this one I took in the garden recently. If you have a fear of spiders close your eyes for a second and think of England as you scroll down past this picture of a spider and its web.

Spiders in the garden. Good or Bad?


Self-Watering Window Box Planter

A few years ago I met the people behind the Lechuza company at the Independent Garden Center Show. Lechuza makes self-water (sub irrigation planters) that are really stylish and modern. These containers work the same way as the Grow Box from Clean Air Gardening and the Garden Patch Grow Box, but are a lot more fashion-forward. This year, Lechuza sent me two of their self-watering planters for free to try in my container garden. So far I've tested Cubico Cottage window box planter in my porch garden.

self-watering window box planter subirrigation planter


Garfield Park Conservatory Storm Damage and How You Can Help

Late last week during what seemed like an average summer storm for Chicago we were hit with a hailstorm that sent many of us running for cover. The next day we awoke to the damage caused by the storm. Many personal and community gardens were damaged in the storm, but one of the crown jewels of the Chicago Park District was severely affected. The Garfield Park Conservatory is unique place, not just because of the plant collection held here, but because of its history and what it means to the community.

Garfield Park Conservatory