Friday, September 23, 2016

Revitalize your garden for next year

Michele Koskinen

Summer is in our rear view mirror and we gardeners are looking forward to next season. There is much to do before the winter sets in. Cleaning the beds, removing any diseased plant material, composting your raised beds, maybe caring for a few cole crops through November, planting buls for a spring bloom, getting the vegetables beds ready for early spring planting (remember when you couldn't start because of the snow on the ground) and other chores you may have each year.

This past year, looking at my garden did not inspire me.  I see a tired, overgrown, wrong plant wrong place garden that was beautiful 5 years ago but now some love and tough decisions are required. So where do I start?

Do I remove the weeping cherry that is failing or try to save it?
The Magnolia is getting too tall and looks crowded in the corner…..Prune and lighten up the small specimen or remove.
One Hydrangea seems to not have good growth or bloom this year. Investigate how to help it become vigorous again.
Move some of the perennials and divide other's.
Add a piece of art to the garden.

The two photos are my timeline of two years that show the problems that became more obvious this year. This is one of my tools for reinvigorating the garden. After all, we do forget from year to year what did well and what needs to be changed.

Garden Shot 2015 July Magnolia getting too large for space
Yes you see veggies with my flowers.

Garden in late June 2016…Coneflowers reseeding everywhere, hosta needs to be divided, back beds not showing well this year.


The list below are questions and suggestions you may use to look at and evaluate your garden.

1. Photograph and map your current garden for reference.
2. If you have kept a journal every year, check back for any comments or photos on your garden. This allows you to remember any changes made over time.
3. Make a list of what you like and dislike about your current garden.
4. If large trees, shrubs or  perennials need to be removed or pruned, decide the how, who, and what will replace them.
5. Is your garden all seasons, or spectacular in two seasons? Do you want to extend the beauty of the seasons by adding another or happy with what you have?
6. Are your plants perennial, mixed, or mostly annual? How about your vegetable and herb garden.
7. Start planning now if you are going to add shrubs, trees or perennials. Many could be planted at this point and watered until the first frost. Fall plantings are often less traumatic for many species and will have a head start in the spring.

Remember that gardens are not static and last forever.  They grow, are beautiful and often need our help to remain beautiful and inspiring. Change is not a bad thing.

For more inspiration check out these articles:

Journals for the garden     previous blog
Photography of the garden…..previous blog

Updating you garden/

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Peas, peas and more peas...please.

by Michelle L. Dauberman

When I was a very small child, growing up in central PA, I remember how accessible home vegetable gardens were and in the beautiful garden that my parents planted I recall running through rows of string beans, potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, cabbage, radishes, beets, peas and even several 30’ rows of sweet corn.

I bring up the past in today’s post because I remember with fondness how close we were to our food (literally and figuratively) and I recall, with a wink, how I would help with the harvest and by harvest I mean picking and immediately eating the yields, especially the sweet peas.

In this year’s PSU Edible Demonstration Garden you will find some tasty and tempting peas as well.  Sugar Snap Peas to be exact.  To get these wonderful green peas and pods plant them in average garden soil, full sun, don’t let them dry out completely and remember to support your plants.  As it is with most plants in the pea family they are climbers and welcome the support.  For vegetable gardeners with limited space you can grow your peas in pots and containers but make sure that you get the bush-style variety.

Enjoy your peas and I don’t know about you but I can’t wait for the harvest!

For more information on peas check out this PSU Extension publication:

HortLine New email address for all Philadelphia Gardeners

Penn State Extension Philadelphia Master Gardeners' Horticultural Hot Line -- HortLine -- has a new email address.

Send your questions about flowers, vegetables, fruits, trees, soil health, pruning and all other horticultural topics to this email address. A qualified and knowledgeable Master Gardener will answer your email and help to solve your problem, or find someone who can.If you have photos to illustrate your problem, please send these, too.

Not a Philadelphia County gardener…….check you local or state Extension for their Hot Line. Master Gardeners are always ready to help with your questions.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Kalette - A New Addition to the Garden

 By Michelle L. Dauberman

As I was walking through the PSU MG Edible Demonstration Garden this week I noticed an unfamiliar plant tag.  At first I wasn’t sure if I was reading it correctly but there it was plain as day, “Kalette.”  Hmm, Kalette.  Now if you’re a plant geek like me a name like this rates high on the curious meter so off I went to do some research.

This is what I found:  Kalette is the brainchild of British seed house Tozer Seeds and it is a hybrid cross between the Brussels Sprout and English Kale thus making it a very interesting vegetable indeed.  According to the plant’s website (yes, Kalette has its own website - sponsored by Tozer Seeds America) it is sweet and nutty and it can be sautéed, roasted, grilled or eaten raw.  Sounds pretty good, right.

Truly what’s not to like yet the appearance of this new vegetable lead my thoughts to GMOs.  These days when anyone mentions GMOs an ominous tone of dread sets in and I had to curtail my kneejerk reaction upon learning about this hybrid and recall that gene crossing through traditional, non-GMO, hybridization and open pollination has a rich, deep, safe and tasty history in the garden.
A history that is alive and well and it is showing up in the form of plants like the Kalette.

Want to learn more about other, traditional, non-GMO hybridizations (like the apple tree and a couple canopy trees)?  Check out this PSU Extension online publication:

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Is kale still the new “it” vegetable? You bet it is!

By Michelle L. Dauberman

Kale has been a regular in our PSU MG Edible Demo Garden for years now but what’s keeping it around?

First off, kale is a member of the cabbage family, Brassica oleracea, and it is related to other cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, collard greens and brussels sprouts.  Not surprisingly then Kale shares their health benefits and it contains antioxidant (disease fighting), high fiber (digestion aid), high iron (great for the liver), calcium, and vitamin A (immune system aid).

As we all become more and more health conscious foods that have this kind of an impact on our overall systems are bound to stick around.

Secondly, kale is a beautiful addition to any vegetable or ornamental garden.  It is easy to grow and it comes in so many striking red, green, blue and purple hues that it’s sure to make a visual impact wherever it is planted.

Thirdly, kale makes a great chip!  Cut the main vein out of the leaf and then dice or tear what is left of the leaf into smaller pieces.  Drizzle these kale pieces/chips with olive oil, sprinkle with a little salt and bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes and voila, a healthy snack!