Category Archives: Gardening

Selecting Summer Flower Garden Plants

The best tip I can give your for selecting plants for your home flower garden is: Don’t choose over grown plants. Choosing the right plants for your flower garden in the beginning will make all the difference in the beauty of your garden later on in the summer. My sister, Sheila, and I went on a little flower tour of our local garden nursery. We were selecting plants for our own flower gardens and decided we would share one of our flower garden tips with you.

I hope this gardening video will be helpful to you in selecting your plants for your summer flower garden.

Till Later,
Kathryn Griffiths
Insightful Nana

P.S. If you have any gardening tips your would like to share, please share them with us in the comments section.

Spring Gardening Information – Gardening Advice

Spring is on it’s way and warm weather days are tucked in between cold days.  When the sun is out and it’s warm…it’s a good time to get out and do a bit of cleaning up.  A little spring gardening information is in order.

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1.  It’s a perfect time to for a general, over all clean up.  Rake up the general debris of branches, leaves and other litter that may have blown into your yard during the winter months.  Don’t worry about turning the soil just now…  just focus on the larger picture.

2.  The task of pruning shrubs and sheering hedges can be attended to now.  This will leave way for the new green foliage to appear in a few weeks.

A bit of gardening advice here.  Don’t prune flowering shrubs now…. or they will not bloom.  Allow them to bloom this season and then trim them back after the flowers have subsided.  The flower buds are formed during the winter so cutting them back now is not wise.

3.  Now is the time to add Preen weed control to your flower beds. The fact that you may have snow, or rain during the week after your application… will give the Preen a chance to dissolve into the soil.  Putting Preen on your beds now prevent weeds from sprouting early and bearing seeds before you have a chance to get out and turn the soil.

4.  If you have been burning wood in a fire place or stove, perhaps it’s time to clean up and re-stack the wood pile.  You won’t be using much wood from now on.  (It’s also a good time to clean out your fireplace or wood burning stove if your don’t plan to use it again until next fall.)

5. After your general spring garden clean up, it’s a good time too apply your first application of lawn fertilizer.  You may want to discuss the type of fertilizer you need for your particular lawn with your nurseryman.   They generally have folks who can give you responsible gardening advice.

Take advantage of the few spring storms that will still be coming your way to help your lawn fertilizer dissolve into the soil and give your lawn roots the nutrients they need.

There you go… that will keep you busy for a few weeks.  I love getting out and getting a bit of fresh air after being cooped up in my house all winter.

Til Later,

Kathy Griffiths
Insightful Nana

P.S.  If you happen to live in an area that is blessed with mild weather all winter long…ignore the above message… and spend your time counting your blessings.

Tomato Pollination – How To Pollinate Your Tomatoes

Tomato Pollination is usually left up to the bees.  Since each yellow tomato blossom has both  male and female parts, the tomato is considered a “self-fertilizing” plant.   All the bee has to to is flutter it’s wings around the blossoms, which causes the blossoms to vibrate, and waaa laaa… tomatoes are born.  Almost!  There are a few other factors to consider, one is temperature.  Tomatoes love the night time heat between 60 and 70 degrees.  If the temperature falls below 60 or above 75 it interferes with the growth of the pollen.  Also, if the weather is to damp or too dry…it interferes with the pollination.

Now, I like to help Mother Nature’s bees along by pollinating my own tomato plants.  Follow along and I’ll teach you how to pollinate your tomatoes.

First, I grow container tomatoes  and I have cherry, grape and regular tomatoes. The containers sit on casters so I can roll them around if I need to.  Tomato plants  need at least 8 hours of sunshine.  I water them every day because they dry out easily because the container exposes  the soil to extra heat.  When tomatoes begin to appear, I fertilize them once a week.  It keeps the blossoms coming.  Now if your have a regular tomato garden… this regiment may be difficult to follow.

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Grape and cherry tomatoes have clusters of blossoms, and when when the bees come around fluttering their wings a lot of blossoms get pollinated at one time.

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Successful  bee pollination produces lots of tomatoes on one stem, like the grape and cherry tomatoes.

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And, it produces an abundance of tomatoes for salads or just to pop into your mouth one at at time.

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Regular tomatoes have fewer blossoms in a cluster. When is a blossom ready to be pollinated?

When the tomato blossom is wide open, the yellow petals turned back and the flower is  pointing down, the blossom is ready for pollination.

Here are the male and female parts.

The bees flutter their wings or a wind blows, causing the pollen to come out of the straw through the Antlers on to the Carpels or Ovary.

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If the tomato pollination is successful, you’ll get an abundance of tomatoes on one tomato plant.

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Now, I help tomato pollination  along by gently tapping the blossom stem, causing a vibration.  From all I can find, the best time to do this is mid-day, around noon.  Not earlier  than 10:00 and not later than 4:00.  Some folks have been know to use a battery powered tooth brush because it’s vibration is suppose to simulate the bee’s wings.  I’ve never been that particular.  I just give the stem a little shake so the pollen will fall out of the male straw and fall on the end of the blossom.

Now some say this is all  “folk lore… or myth.”  Who know?  My experience is, I have one heck of a lot of tomatoes on my plants which I didn’t had  before hand pollinating.

So give it a try because  the tomato harvest is just beginning and you have the rest of the summer, into the fall, to see if this pollination process works for you.

You can watch the video… to see this procedure in action.

Till Later,

Kathy
Insightful Nana

P.S.  I’ve already pick my first tomato, wiped it on my shirt and with my salt shaker in hand,  give it a dash of salt and popped the whole thing in my mouth at once.  Mmmmmm.  Is this heaven?

P.P.S.  I may not look like it but I removed a lot of leaves from my tomato plants.  Looking at these photos it reminds me it’s time to remove a few more leaves. Taking leaves off will give your blossoms a greater change of being pollinated by bees and more energy goes to grown the tomato rather than the leaves.

Also, I read about a farmer who walks down the furrows of his tomato garden with a stick and gives the plants a shake.  He claims his tomatoes produce  50 percent more yield.

P.P.P.S.  One more thing.  A woman standing next to me at the nursery says she give her tomatoes a shot of Epson Salts a couple of times a season.  1 TB to a gallon of water will do the trick.  She claims it sweetens the tomatoes as well as encourages greater tomato production.  She said, “Tomatoes love acid and the Epson Salts provides it.   Haven’t tried this one yet, but I’m heading to the store for my Epson Salts.

Gardening Tools – Handy Gardening Tote

My gardening tools were scattered all over the place until I came up with this handy gardening tote, which is simply a large basket.  Now, you can certainly purchase a gardening tote at your local hardware store…but this simple basket works just fine for me.

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Until all my small gardening tools ended up in this basket tote… I was forever running back and forth to the garage to pick up this and that.

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Here are a few garden tools that seem to be constantly needed.

1.  Small clipper and scissors. Use them for “dead heading” flowers and pruning out-of-control branches and stems.

2.  A gallon container. This is just a convenient container for the weeds and flower tops I collect.

3.  An extra sprinkler and nozzle. It makes change overs easy.

4.  A small garden sprayer. I found this one at a farm and garden supply store.  It was only $10.00 and well worth it.  It holds a  quart of Round  Up.   Getting right down among the flowers is easy.  You can give the weeds a straight shot of Round Up without the spray surrounding flowers.  Of course… do this on a calm day.   Now if you don’t want to invest in a regular garden sprayer… a regular spray bottle will do… as long as you can twist the nozzle so it sprays in a narrow stream.

5.  Disposable vinyl gloves. Pick yourself up a package of disposable gloves.  Find them the paint department at Walmart rather than in the first aid area… they’re cheaper.   Always use them when you handle Round Up because the chemical will go right through bare skin. Put on shoes (no sandals,) long pants and a long sleeve shirt.  After spraying,  change your clothes.

6.  A salt shaker?

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Now if you noticed in the first photo… there is a salt shaker in the basket.  I often go out early in the morning and find those nasty slugs chewing on my flowers.   Boy… they’re “dead meat” when you sprinkle a little salt on them.   I then scoop them up with my little shovel and toss them into the gallon container…. to be disposed of in the garbage can.   Don’t step on them… they leave their eggs behind.   Using slug bait this year has not worked well because we’ve had so much rain.

You probably have your favorite gardening tools.  Find yourself a basket or garden tote and filler up.

Till Later,

Kathy Griffiths

Insightful Nana

My sister, Sheila, has decorated her garden shed with antique garden tools.   Can you imagine decorating your garden shed?   Well, go take a look.  It’s a treat!

Begonias – The Queens Of My Garden

Begonias are the queens of the garden at my house.  I love the intensity of their rich viberent colors… pink, red, orange and yellow.  There are different varieties of begoinas.  Upright and Nonstop are the most commonly known.  There is a  little less known type called Illumniation.  The Illumniation begoinia seeds are imported from England.  It is a “hanging” variety and by that I mean… the flowers and foliage droop over the edges of the planter or hanging basket.

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Every year, my favorite nursery has plenty Illumniation Begonias to choose from but because of a fertilization mishap, all of thier begonias died.  No problem… I’ll just get them from another nursery.   No way!   Every nursery I called did not have them.  In fact, most nurseries were not familiar with the variety.  I quickly printed off a few photos I had taken of my baskets last year and ran to to a new nursery… who promised to plant them next year.  (You see, I want to protect myself from disappointment.)

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After many phone calls, I finally found a nursery  50 miles away that were having a few Illumniation begonias coming in on a truck.  Boy… was I on the road in a hurry.  Would you believe, only 15 Illumination plants were among 100 begonia plants.   Such luck!

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So… when you’re begonia shopping, ask your nursery about Illumniation Begonias  If you’re fortunate enough to locate any… grab them up and give ’em a try.  I assure you… you’ll not be disappointed.

Off to plant my hanging baskets.

Till Later,

Kathy

Insightful Nana

P.S.  Remember, begonias don’t care for the sun… they are strictly a shade plant and they love rich soil.  They’re great for porches that face the north or the east.

P.P.S  Make sure and view the video on the home page of the blog for “must know” gardening tips.

Hanging Baskets For Mother’s Day

Hanging baskets are will be available in the nurseries soon. Actually, it’s not too early to begin thinking about Mother’s Day gifts. Hanging planters make an ideal gift because they give Mom and Grandma joy all summer long.

Picking out hanging baskets for Mother’s Day gifts for Mom and Grandma will be a snap if your follow a couple of simple rules.

1. Select the flower planter according to where it’s going to be hung. Will the flower basket have full sun most of the day… or will a shady porch or patio be its home? If the planter will get only the morning sun or a very few hours of sun… shade flowers are the best. If the planter is going to get afternoon sun… or hot sun… make sure you select flowers than can stand the heat.

Many nurseries will have the full sun planters separated from the shade planters. If they don’t have them separated… ask “customer help”  direct you to the appropriate kind you need.

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If you find the hanging basket is full of Impatients,or Begonias.. you’re looking at a shade planter.

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If Petunias, Daisies, and Geraniums are the order of the day… then it’s a full sun planter.

2. Choose hanging baskets or floor planters where the flowers are not over grown. Small under developed plants with just a few blooms are better than fully developed plants…full of blooms. If the hanging basket is too over grown… when the foliage is pinched back to encourage spreading, it will look straggly and will not fill in well.

Happy Mother’s Day shopping for hanging baskets.

Till Later,

Kathy Griffiths
Insightful Nana

P.S. The hanging baskets in the photos have been planted very full and nice. They are just perfect right now. In a couple of weeks however, they may be a bit over grown. Pinch the bloomed flowers back so it will fill out and bloom again.

P.P.S.  Don’t forget to get your self a hanging basket.  You’ll enjoy it all summer long.  Just remember to get the right kind for the right location.

Growing Daffodils – Early Spring Flowers

I love early spring flowers, especially Daffodils.   Daffodils make early gardens cheery and bright. The first showing of daffodils in the spring gives me assurance that warm weather is just around the corner. Yea!

So why are there no daffodils popping up in my yard?  Maybe it’s because because I forget to plant them in the fall.   Actually,  daffodils  don’t enter my mind until I see them popping up in my neighbors yard… and she has a bunch of them.  Looking at her yard reminds me,  “Oh Oh… I forgot to plant my daffodils.”

The truth is…daffodils use to grace my garden, until  every bit of top soil had to be removed  from my flower beds because it tested salty and was killing all my shrubs and plants.  (That’s a whole other story.)   So, the daffodil bulbs went the way of the dump.   But,  I really do know about growing daffodils… I just have to remember to get in them the ground.

  • Choose a well-drained, sunny place, with slightly acidic soil.
  • Plant your Daffodils so that their top (pointed end) is at least two times as deep as the bulb is high (top of a 2″ bulb is 4″ deep).
  • Plant bulbs deeper in sandy soil than in clay.
  • High-nitrogen fertilizer should be avoided.
  • Daffodils need lots of water while they are growing.
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Growing daffodils is fun… and there are so many varieties.  There are many  different shades and sizes of yellow daffodils to choose from. They’re sturdy little things and will last in the garden for about three to four weeks before the blooms are completely withered.

Once the bloom is gone, however… there is a temptation is to cut down the leafs and stocks in preparation for planting your summer flowers. Don’t be too hasty. The green foliage needs to die and turn yellow before it’s trimmed to the ground.

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By permitting the daffodil foliage to turn yellow on it’s own, it allows the bulb to regenerate its own food source for the next year. If the foliage is cut too prematurely, the blooms will be limited next year. The stocks and leaves  should be ready for cutting by the end of May into the first of June.

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So… hide the shears until June. If you’re really anxious to plant those summer annuals, just nudge them up close to the daffodil foliage until you can cut it back.

Till Later

Kathryn Griffiths
Insightful Nana

P.S. The same foliage rule applies to tulips and other bulbs.
P.P.S. Oh… I thought of another excuse why I don’t grow daffodils in my yard…. My mom didn’t have daffodils in her garden.    We knew Spring was approaching when Mom brought daffodils home from the grocery store and put them in a vase.

Pansies Take A Bum Rap

I think Pansies take a bum wrap.  How in the world did the word “Pansy” get tagged as being effeminate and weak.  The pansy is one of the boldest and strongest of flowers.  Pansies that are planted in the late fall, face winter  snow, wind and hail, and survive to lift their faces to the sun in the early spring.   I was just pulling out of Wendy’s and noticed a bed of Pansies that were in full bloom… despite our off and on again warm weather.   Yes… Spring is around the corner!

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When I was growing up, our neighbors, the Barlows, grew Pansies.  My mom was a Petunia lady… no Pansies at our house.  But I loved them anyway… their little faces fascinated me.   I especially love the orange ones… and so when I purchase Pansies, I make sure there are plenty of orange ones in the mix.

The flower is traced back to the 4th century B.C. in France and was named “Pensee”   The French word means thought or remembrance.  However, during Elizabethan times, the word became a disparaging term for a man or boy who was effeminate.    (Perhaps, that’s what caused the tiff between France and England.)   Anyway… I think Pansies get a bum wrap.

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My grand daughter Ella’s birthday is March 4th.  A take home prize for each of her tea party guests was a potted tea cup filled with Pansies.  Actually, I think the mom’s loved them more than the girls did.  The kids probably would have preferred a little bag of candy.    Katie, my daughter, picked up the cups and saucers at a thrift store and we filled them up with Panseys.  Purple was the favorite of the day.   Of course, in the cup, they don’t last forever… but it is a bright ray of sunshine sitting on the window sill after a long cold winter.

Give it a try!

Till Later

Kathy Griffiths
Insightful Nana.

P.S.  Pansies like rich soil.. so fertilizing them will give you lots of blooms.  If you plant Pansies in areas that will become shaded when the trees bear their leaves… they will last longer into summer months.  Pansies are a cool weather friend… so protect them from the direct sun.

How To Prevent Weeds In Your Flower Beds

It’s not to early to prevent weeds from popping up in your flower beds in the spring and summer months.  Yes, gardening shops will say it’s too early… but according to my expert gardening friend, it’s not.

I’ve been watching my neighbor, Linda, tend her beautiful yard for several years now.  She is a master gardener for sure!  She spends a lot of time in her yard, planting, watering, clipping… but not weeding.  Weeds were a constant garden challenge for me, until she shared her “weeding” tip with me.

Preen Weed Preventer is her answer.  You can place the Preen in your flower beds, ground covers and around trees and shrubs and those little pesky weeds simply will not appear.

You can’t wait to apply the Preen after the weeds has surfaced.  It will not kill existing weeds.  For it to be affective, you must apply it before the weeds germinate and peek their little head above the soil surface.

Linda claims that folks wait too long before applying the preventer.  Once the weeds begin to appear…. they start dropping little seeds for the next go around. Her special secret is, “You need to nip them very early,” says Linda.  The nurseries say wait until April or May.  But, Linda says that’s to late to prevent weeds from coming up in your tulips and daffodils. “Get a handle on it early.”

Linda likes to apply her Preen when the snow is still on the ground.  February is not too early, she claims.  Weeds germinate about 1/4 inch below the surface of the soil…so when the soil heats up…here they come.  Sprinkle the Preen over your flower bed areas and let the melting snow settle the preventer into the soil…. no early spring weeds.  Because you’ve eliminated the early weeds, they don’t have the opportunity to drop their seeds which creates problems later in the spring and summer.

Now, I like to turn, or cultivate my soil and add mulch to my flower beds… and that can still be done after the last frost in in May.  After turning my soil over, I rebroadcast the Preen before planting my flowers.  You can reapply the weed preventer a couple of times during the summer months but I’ve found if I start early enough in the spring…it’s not necessary.

Now the disadvantage to Preen is, you can’t plant flower seeds… because they… like the weeds…they won’t germinate.  However, if you purchase your plant starts through the nursery or you’ve grown your own, you won’t have a minutes trouble.

The weather man has predicted the “white stuff” for the end of the week.  I have my Preen ready to apply.  Since it’s yellow in color… I can easily see where the granules fall on the surface of the snow.

Till Later,

Kathy
Insightful Nana

P.S.  There are other brands of Weed Preventers, but I’ve found the the brand Preen to be the most effective for preventing weeds in your flower beds.

Lavender – The Romantic Herb

Growing Lavender plants is easy. Lavender is best grown in well drained, dry soil. It does best in Zones 5-8 and can survive Zone 4 if planted in a protected area. French or Spanish lavender is the easiest to grow. English Lavender can be a bit touchy because it doesn’t tolerate hot humid heat.

This perennial blooms all summer long and reaches from 1 to 3 feet in height, depending upon the variety. You can wait till the flowers stop blooming before you harvest the flower buds… which is the end of August or the first of September.

Lavender is know for it’s romantic fragrance and is used in potpourris, sachets, and soap. The flowers are lovely in dried floral arrangements and wreaths. Lavender holds it’s fragrance for a long time and can be easily refreshed with a bit of Essential Lavender oil. Even the leaves are fragrant… so don’t worry if the stems and leaves end up in your potpourris and sachets.

I love to walk by my lavender bed and smell the fresh clean scent.

Till Later,

Kathy Griffiths

Insightful Nana

P.S. Last spring, the clean up crew I hired cut my Lavender back to the nubbins and I was frantic. I was afraid I wasn’t going to get any blooms. It was probably one of the best things that could have happened… it bloomed like crazy…as you can tell by the photo. I’ve enjoyed my fragrant Lavender plants all summer long.