Gardening Daily Tips 114

Strawflower (Helichrysum bracteatum)

Plant type: Annual

USDA Hardiness Zones: UKN

Height: 18″ to 35″

Spread: 0″

Exposure: full sun

Bloom Color: Pink, Red, Yellow

Bloom Time: Early fall, Late summer, Mid summer

Leaf Color: Green

Growth Rate: average

Moisture: moist

Soil Condition: Loamy, Neutral, Sandy, Well drained

Form: Upright or erect

Landscape Uses:

Border, Container, Rock garden

Special Features:

Attracts butterflies, Suitable for cut flowers, Suitable for dried flowers, Attractive flowers or blooms

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Q&A: No Radishes

Question: Every year we plant radishes and every year all we get is leaves and no radishes. Everything else in the garden grows well. Is there a problem with the soil or too much moisture?

Answer: Try planting radishes earlier in the season. They do best in cool weather. When temperatures get too high, bulbing is suppressed. Many varieties produce only small, very pungent roots in hot weather. If you want to plant in the heat of summer, choose a variety like ‘Cherry Bomb’, described as “highly heat resistant”. Also, fall-type radishes, like ‘Salad Rose,’ need the shortening day lengths of fall to stimulate the production of enlarged roots. They may not produce at all during the long days of summer. Radishes can also fail to form large roots if they are too crowded. When seedlings of spring radishes are an inch high, thin them to stand 2 to 3 inches apart.

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Q&A: Starting New Vegetable Garden

Question: I just moved into a brand new home and would like to know how to prepare the soil for planting a vegetable garden.

Answer: The secret to a great garden is soil that’s light, loose, and full of organic matter. It’s an annual process, not a one-time effort. As you grow crops to harvest, you can continually amend the soil, to return the minerals depleted by the crops, and to help build up the organic content. Begin by removing weeds, debris, and as many rocks as you find. Then spread 4-5 inches of organic matter over the top of the soil and dig it in 10-12 inches. After sowing seeds or placing transplants in your new garden bed, cover the bare soil with compost or other organic matter to help hold in moisture and to suppress weeds. Dig it into the soil at the end of the season and plant a cover crop. In a few short years you’ll have wonderfully rich soil in your garden to help your plants produce bumper crops of delicious vegetables.

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Q&A: Basic Herb Gardening

Question: I want to get started on making a herb garden but I really don’t know how to get started. Can you help?

Answer: First, you need to decide whether you will dedicate an area outside in your garden, grow in containers outside, or grow in containers inside. Next, think about what types of herbs you would like to grow. There are so very many it boggles the mind! However, it is a lot of fun browsing around and picking and choosing. Like flowers, there are perennial and annual herbs, and different herbs have different requirements, so choose herbs that will grow well in the space you’ve chosen. There are some common factors; most herbs like full sun and thrive in rich soil, but there are exceptions. For example, basil is an annual that enjoys a very rich soil, but oregano is a perennial that thrives in less fertile soil. I would recommend you start with a list the herbs you use most in cooking, and choose a half dozen or so to start with. Once you feel confident with these, you can introduce others to the plan.

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Tip: Plant Bronze Fennel

Plant or sow bronze fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) among your annuals and perennials for a dramatic addition to flower gardens. Unlike the bulb-forming fennel, grow this one for its unusual color, feathery tops, and graceful six-foot form. Late-summer flowers are particularly attractive to butterflies, and fennel is a host plant for certain swallowtails.

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Tip: Flush Fertilizer Salts from Houseplants

Leach excess fertilizer salts from the soil of houseplants by flushing the soil with water, letting it drain, and repeating. Otherwise, salt buildup can damage plant roots.

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