“Earth laughs in
--Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1847
Summer Garden Tips...
by Sally the Garden Guru
Honolulu in northern Michigan! More and more area
residents are growing exotic, rare and lovely tropical plants.
Further, these plants often grow edible fruit. Beyond the popular
orchids (often phalaenopsis) found in stores, plants rarely found
locally are making themselves at home at garden centers and in
Edibles like key lime, Ponderosa and Meyer lemons
and Kaffir lime are handsome and colorful, and also, their leaves or
juice, are key ingredients in gourmet recipes.
Herb of the Month
This fennel, (F.vulgare azoricum), is one of
the classic Italian herbs. A bulbous white stalk near the soil, looks
a bit like frilly exotic celery. Florence fennel is frequently found
at local produce counters and is worth trying for it’s cool anise
taste. Try it with salads, in stir fry and with potato recipes.
Celebrate the Summer Harvest
Enjoy The Cherry Festival (in Michigan) with
pride, and may you continue celebrating July with the month’s foods.
Cherries all summer, late strawberries, blueberries coming in, local
greens in salads, fruits of area vineyards and young sweet corn—all on
your tables and add an armful of bright gladiolas, too.
Did you know that...
are known as honest folks? Once when I had discovered at the checkout
counter of a Traverse nursery that I had left my wallet at home, the
owner said, “Oh, let go home and get yours plants in. Gardeners are
honest people.” As, Shakespeare said, apparently, we gardeners are
“armed in honesty.”
Old Timer’s garden
of half vinegar and half water sprayed on leaves is said to repel
More modern gardeners might dust diatomaceous earth on the soil in a
ring around the plant.
Garden bench reading
July days are days to start thinking about
perennials. Perennials are on sale as the summer passes, and tough as
perennials are, many a scraggly, orphaned plant will be a showstopper
next year with care. (Tip: Take the plant out of its pot to see if the
root ball looks healthy.) Good reading, including books about growing
healthy plans, the art of garden design with perennials and books
about varieties, is hugely educational to the gardener of perennials.
The Art of Perennial Gardening:
Creative Ways with Hardy Flowers. Patrick Lima and John Scanlon
Gardening with Perennials. Editors
of Horticulture Magazine
The Buyer’s Guide for Professionals and
Gardeners. Jim Hole, editor.
Often garden supply companies offer books and
booklets. These are usually reliable; after all, the companies want to
their customers to succeed. Ortho Books are an example. American
Garden Guides from the New York Botanical Gardens are excellent
and Perennial Gardening is one of them.
Thin those crops suitable for succession planting. For instance,
replace bolting lettuces with a few seeds of new lettuces, or better
yet seeds of oriental greens for stir-fry.
by Sally the Garden Guru
gardening falls into two main categories: container gardening and
limited space outdoors, such as borders and focal points. Both are
popular since they not only bring color and interest to grounds, but
also they are dramatically easier to care for than large gardens.
Further, new products and specialized plants result in gardens more
beautiful than ever.
artists and master gardeners like to walk the proposed garden site to
envision possibilities and also to take into consideration elements
like shade or sun, items like propane tanks or trash barrels to be
hidden or de-emphasized and the flow of the eye whether down a path or
along the property’s lines or fences. As always, climate is a major
gardening, plantings in pots, barrels, window boxes and decorative
containers like statuary or wheelbarrows is common on decks and
patios, but also it can be used in groups to take the place of small
planted-in-soil gardens. The key in this case is using a planned
arrangement, either permanent for the summer or intended to change for
variety or because the plantings have grown.
choose plants suitable for container growing? Good choices are low
alyssum (white, lavender, purple); begonias (bright or pastel); coleus
(for color in leaves and fill); impatiens (for shade), geraniums, some
trailing (for sun): Lobelia (white, blues, bi-colors; the trailing
types make the most of window boxes and containers.). Also consider
petunia (Wave varieties are perfect and grow in many colors.) and
Salvia (ornamental sage), snapdragons and zinnias for full sun. These
plans are also good for borders, planting the shorter flowers at the
edges, taller ones at the back of the garden; or, in the case of a
border through a lawn, tall choices in the middle, low ones on the
edges. Color is a major element in garden design. Studying a color
wheel or paint chip samples not only might inspire new ideas, but also
container is the next step. Window boxes? Keep in mind that wood rots,
so planting should be in plastic containers shaped to go inside wooden
boxes. Also decide whether you want to paint the boxes or let the
wood weather naturally. Cedar and redwood weathers well. Avoid
chemically treated wood that is often toxic to plants. Often, the
situation is, “You get what you pay for,” in the matter of pots.
Plastic pots, though inexpensive, deteriorate in UV sunlight. The
right size of container is critical. Unless the gardener wants to
water twice a day, small pots are out. Further, while some annuals
like marigolds and petunias do well with their rather short, bunchy
roots, others have longer roots and need deeper pots. If the desired
effect is a large mound of short-rooted flowers in a large pot,
nurseries have inserts for the pot bottom so that the planting needs
less soil. There is also a large range of self-watering containers.
Although they are rather expensive, they are long lasting and might
suit a particular gardener’s needs.
also part of container gardening. A pine box on soil will decay. All
pots should have drainage holes and also be set on bricks, rocks or
gravel to aid drainage.
Stepping-stones, available at marts, actually add to the garden’s
design besides serving as container bases. Containers drain quickly,
so potting mediums should be chosen carefully. Bagged potting soils
at nurseries and specialized now, and a soil that is moisture-saving
is a boon to container gardening. Special moisture-saving crystals
are also available to add to standard potting soil. Ordinary garden
soil is not suitable for container gardening.
frequent watering and draining, fertilizer is washed out of the soil,
too. Thus, using a dilute liquid fertilizer every time one waters is a
good idea. Special fertilizer, seaweeds and fish emulsions are
excellent. Lore tells us that Native Americans placed dead fish in
vegetables are right at home, combined with flowers in containers, or
alone. Lettuces now come in every shade of red and green, and they
have variety in leaf edges and frilliness. Nearly all herbs do well
and are beautiful (some unusual) in pots. Seed package backs note
which vegetables are ornamental besides being edible. Many are
labeled “Baby” types. False Alarm pepper and red eggplants are
examples. Try them and your own imaginative choices, too. Here’s to
good health and garden exercise!
"Adopt the pace of nature;
her secret is patience."
Plant Veggies in the Kitchen
by Kas Winters
Start a kitchen window garden. Suspend a
sweet potato in a jar of water so that half of it is under
water. (These grow quickly and will take over an entire window
area before too long. Kids love to watch them grow.) Put a
carrot top or avocado seed in a container with water come up
part-way over the carrot or seed. Stick a pineapple top in
some dirt in a clay pot. Keep these watered and watch them
Author and Gardener
Sally D. Ketchum
A Practical Student Success Guide for
by Sally D. Ketchum
Sally Ketchum is a Michigan
food and garden writer. She works in a large kitchen garden, two herb
gardens and borders with English roses.
Sally is also the author of
Super Student/Happy Kid,
a practical student success guide for everyone.
Sally's Summer Garden
“I do not have to
lean or squat,
To garden in a
A basket full of
A mini-garden to
Color in a window
A bright array of
Four O’ Clocks
Pale water lilies
in a bowl
Are ample garden
for my soul.
--Sally D. Ketchum