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Layering Spring-Flowering Garden Bulbs

Moving bulbs and plants around the garden in the fall gives me an opportunity to correct one of the garden mistakes I committed early on. When I was planting bulbs I dug them into the ground without giving much thought to one day expanding the garden or rearranging plants. Learn from my mistake and get in the habit of layering spring-flowering garden bulbs today. Whether you have a small urban garden, or you're gardening on a balcony and want to plant bulbs in containers, you can stack bulbs deep to get more blooms.

How to layer garden bulbs


Miniature Garden Bulbs for Small-Space Gardens

Every garden should have spring-blooming bulbs, and small space gardens are no exception. Fall is the perfect time to plant bulbs in the garden if you are looking for spring interest and color in your garden. Here are six miniature garden bulbs for small-space gardens that I recommend you make room for in your garden even if your garden is the size of a postage stamp.

Small Space Garden Bulbs


Tomato Hornworms and Parasitic Wasps

After squirrels and deer, the tomato hornworm may be the bane of a tomato grower's existence. Fortunately, tomato hornworms and parasitic wasps go together like tomatoes and basil. Finding a tomato hornworm in your garden is not the end of the world if you catch them early, and if you employ natural gardening techniques, they garden is brought into balance by bracondid wasps.

Tomato hornworm in urban garden


How to Save Coreopsis Seeds

Coreopsis is a genus of popular garden plants native to North, Central and South America. These cheery blooms make great additions to the garden when you'd like some low-maintenance color that last throughout the summer. Seeds for Coreopsis are easy to come across, and the seeds will germinate readily. An established colony will produce thousands of seeds. Here's how to save Coreopsis seeds from your garden.  
Collecting and Saving Coreopsis flower seeds


Saving tomato seeds? Isolate Tomato Flowers for True Seeds

If you're growing a particularly great heirloom tomato in your garden, chances are you will want to grow that tomato again, or maybe even share your tomato seeds with gardening friends and family. Saving tomato seeds is easy, but there is one step that you, as a new seed saver, may not know you should take. Make sure you isolate tomato flowers for true seeds.  

Tomato flower isolation for seed saving


Rooting Tomato Cuttings

Propagating plants in the garden is easy, and a cheap way to get free plants for your garden. Most of us only propagate ornamental plants, but edible plants, like tomatoes, can easily be rooted to make more plants. Rooting tomato cuttings is easy, and you're employing parts of your tomato plant that you would just toss if you are in the habit of pruning tomato plants.

How to root tomato cuttings


Seed Starter From an Ice Cube Tray

There are many seed starters you can buy at local garden centers and nurseries. You can even save money and be a little eco-conscious by making your own biodegradable seed starting pots. Then there's a whole world of possibilities in things you can upcycle into seed starter pots like a ghetto greenhouse made from plastic soda bottles, and this seed starter from an ice cube tray.

Ice cube seed tray seed starter

A little backstory: I came across this idea one day when I wanted to buy seed seed starting trays with individual cells for multiple starts. Instead of buying the seed starters to make I came up with the seed starter ice cube tray. The idea is similar to starting seeds in cardboard egg cartons, but this seed starter can be reused and can last you for a couple of years.


Seeds to Sow in Summer for Fall Vegetable Harvests

For most of my gardening life I thought that gardening happened in April and May when you sow your seeds and plant your summer vegetable crops and then you spend the rest of summer battling weeds. But as I've encountered more serious vegetable gardeners I've been doing more second season planting in the garden. Whether you call it second season sowing or succession planting, you should plant a second crop of vegetables in summer. Yes, there are seeds to sow in summer for a fall harvest.

Second Season Fall Seed Planting


When to Plant Tomatoes in Chicago

Often called the "gateway drug" into gardening, there are few plants that pull someone into gardening like tomatoes do. In Chicago, I've noticed that people who would never call themselves gardeners always seem to make room for one or two tomato plants in their yards, decks, porches and patios. The trick with growing tomatoes here is knowing when to plant tomatoes in Chicago.

When to Plant Tomatoes in Chicago


Caring for Daffodils After Blooming

Along with crocus bulbs, daffodils are some of the easiest garden bulbs you can plant in your garden for a showy display of blooms every spring. From my experience in the garden caring for daffodils after blooming is not unlike caring for tulips after they are done blooming, with one exception: The foliage. Daffodil foliage can be a pain to deal with--especially if you have a small garden.

Caring for Daffodils after blooming


Make Your Own Rooting Hormone From Willow Twigs

Bonsai was my gateway drug into gardening in my late teens. I even worked in a bonsai nursery for a bit, and one of my favorite gardening tricks I picked up in those days was to make rooting hormone from willow water. Yes, you can make your own rooting hormone from willow twigs. Use your willow water rooting hormone to start seeds, propagate cuttings and water transplants in your garden.

Make your own rooting hormone from willow twigs


How to Plant an Orchid Keiki

For some indoor gardeners orchids are passion. I'm orchid agnostic. Over the years I've grown a few orchids, but always give them to another gardener after they are done blooming. Currently, I own one mini Phalaenopsis orchid that holds a bit of sentimental meaning for me. It has bloomed reliably for me, and has produced two keikis. In this post on how to plant an orchid keiki I'll show you the steps I took to remove the baby orchid and pot it up.   

How to Plant an Orchid Keiki


Planting Biodegradable Seed Starting Pots

Starting your plants by growing from seed in biodegradable seed starting pots is one of the most earth-friendly methods of starting a garden. Homemade biodegradable seed starting pots range from: seed starting pots from newspaper, toilet paper tubes--even eggshells can be used. These are just some of the seed starting tips for beginners I've covered in the past. Then there are the commercially available biodegradable seed starting pots at your local garden center. However, not all biodegradable seed starting pots are created equal. Below I'll offer some tips on selecting commercial seed starter pots, how to water seedlings, and how to plant these pots in your garden.

Biodegradable Seed Starting Pots


Black-Eyed Susan Vines

A couple of years ago I had the chance to interview George Ball Jr., owner of the Burpee Seed Company, and during the interview I mentioned to him that I was a big fan of vines. I recounted how I used to love the vine selections offered by the Martha Stewart seed line, which Burpee packaged, because it had some really nice vines. Mr. Ball mentioned that because of the vertical gardening trend Burpee would start to carry a bigger selection of vines. So far I haven’t seen seed companies step up and push vines for vertical gardeners, but if you’re looking for an easy-to-grow vine for your mailbox, fence, living wall--or maybe a privacy screen--there’s no better vine than Thunbergia alata. The ornamental garden vines in this genus are better known by their common name, Black-eyed Susan vine.

 Go beyond morning glories and runner beans and grow these six beautiful Black-eyed Susan vine varieties.

Thunbergia alata 'Susie White Black Eye'


Amaryllis 'Limona'

I love green flowers, and I covet green Amaryllis blooms in particular. As you may be able to deduce by the name, Amaryllis 'Limona' is a green flowering bulb. The blooms emerge a lovely green with hint of yellow and white.  As the flowers mature they develop a pinkish red blush to them.

Amaryllis Hippeastrum 'Limona'


Amaryllis 'Fairy Tale'

Amaryllis 'Fairy Tale' is a wonderful miniature Amaryllis. Technically, they're Hippeastrum bulbs, but are commonly known as Amaryllis by people like me who don't want to use the correct name for these tender bulbs.

Amaryllis Hippeastrum 'Fairy Tale'


Square Newspaper Seed Starting Pots

When you are in the grips of seed starting season you’re looking around the house for items you can upcycle into seed starting pots. Along with yogurt cups, takeout containers, and soda bottle seed starters don’t forget to dive into the recycling bin and make your own seed starting pots from newspaper. You can roll-your-own seed starting pots from newspaper, but you can also make square newspaper seed starting pots, too.

Make your own square newspaper seed starting pots