Ellen’s Blog

Five Easy Fruits for Every Home Garden

Five Easy Fruits for Every Home Garden

Having been raised by parents of European decent, it is impossible for me to imagine a garden that does not have fruit ripening every summer. I remember climbing our plum trees to eat loads of sweet ripe plums, and watching my brother’s young children dance through his tall berry patch with a fist full of warm blackberries in one hand, and blueberries in the other, so excited and happy, their smiles and clothes purple from the juice.  Refrigerated fruit, irradiated and neatly packaged from the grocery store is just not the same. Many different fruits grow well in our temperate climate – apples,...

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September Harvest

September Harvest

As many years as I have gardened, I never get over the joy of going out to the garden to see what grew, what ripened, and what I can harvest to bring inside.  Whether it is  beautiful flower or luscious tomato, I am still like a kid finding the chocolate Easter egg.  This was a beautiful July harvest from several years ago. This year I planted a few heirloom (open pollinated) tomatoes, but more hybrid tomatoes.  Regardless of taste, it is just impossible to beat the productivity of hybrid tomatoes.  My 8 tomato plants produced over 150 lbs of tomatoes.  I dried, canned and froze...

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2016 Gardening Classes

I am patting myself on the back today for posting my 2016 Gardening Class Schedule so early.  The truth is that I was feeling guilty about having received several requests (Thank you!) so I made it a top priority. In response to student feedback, the 2016 Course Schedule has changed a bit.  The new offerings should provide students more flexibility in their choice of classes - and give me more time for writing, and for at least one special overseas garden tour.  (Gardens are the best vacation destinations!) Courses #1 through #5 will be offered as a single “Gardening Essentials”...

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No-Fail Flowers to Grow from Seed

No-Fail Flowers to Grow from Seed

Remember the glorious spring season of pastels when it seemed like every tree and shrub was in bloom? Has your garden gone monochrome green for the summer?  With a few seeds and some good soil it is easy to make your summer garden as vibrant as HD TV and in full motion with bees, butterflies and hummers. Every spring I head out to the garden with rake and seed packs in hand. By the summer solstice, my garden has its summer bloom in full swing. Why not just head to your local nursery for some 6-packs of annuals?  One would think this would give you a definite head start, but here are some...

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Is your garden Bugging You?

Is your garden Bugging You?

It is June, the time of year when every kind of bug makes its way to my Summerfield, NC garden.  I have already seen big fat rust colored potato bugs with a brood of newly hatched babies, aphids on my hellebores, flea beetles on my eggplant, slugs on my hostas, cabbage worms on my kale and kohlrabi, and now the cucumber beetles and Japanese beetles have arrived! How do gardeners control these thugs without poisoning themselves or the bees and butterflies that are happily floating around the garden? The number one thing to understand is that bugs are your friends.  Most are beneficial to your...

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Gardeners’ 12-step Program

Gardeners’ 12-step Program

Honestly, April and May ZOOM by me every year.  There are so many spring garden events, seminars, plant sales, and tours – and of course the annual trek to Big Bloomer Flower Farm in Sanford, NC.  (Check my website for a calendar of  local NC Triad gardening events:   http://www.learntogarden.net/ellen-blog/garden-events/) But I cannot wait to get out to my own garden!  Every day there are new plants peeking their first leaves out of the ground.  Every day new blooms appear that I have not seen for a year.  This year I added a totally new garden. Yes, I know that last year I said I was “done”...

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Greensboro News & Record – Sunday Gardening Section

Greensboro News & Record – Sunday Gardening Section

You know there has to be some EXCITING NEWS for me to sit at my computer two nights in a row to share this with you.  What’s up? I hate to jump the gun on the Greensboro News & Record’s announcement, but if you don’t get the Sunday paper you might miss it!  Just in time for Spring, our LOCAL newspaper is introducing a LOCAL gardening section in the Sunday Life Section.  Starting THIS SUNDAY, March 22, 2015 subscribers in the Piedmont Triad will be reading about gardening news that is specific, timely and relevant to our own area!   N&R Life Section Editor, Cindy Loman, explains...

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Spring! Day 1 – Vegetables to plant NOW

Spring!  Day 1 – Vegetables to plant NOW

Was their ever a date gardeners so eagerly await as the first day of spring?  It is confirmation that the worst of winter is truly behind us, and in the Piedmont Triad area it is definitely time to start planting our vegetable gardens! If this is the first year you have grown vegetables, the most important thing to do is prepare your soil.  You will need to break up our compacted clay soil, add some lime to raise the pH to about 6.5, add 6 to 8 inches of compost and till it in.  Test both your native soil and the compost you are adding.  Soil testing is FREE in NC!  You can very easily...

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Designing the Kitchen Garden

Designing the Kitchen Garden

The first warm days of late winter have arrived, the robins are here, the grass is greening, the days are longer, and many of us (like me) cannot wait to put our first vegetable seeds in the ground!   Only now is it time to start those tomato & pepper seeds inside.  But this year before you plant a thing, you might want to step outside and take a look at the bigger picture.   How can I make my "edible garden" a thing of beauty? Every spring, my Dad planted a big, square, freshly tilled plot with rows of lettuce, turnips, onions & potatoes.  There were fruit trees in the garden...

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The Buzz on Bees & Bug Killers

The Buzz on Bees & Bug Killers

Every year the North Carolina Nursery & Landscape Association (NCNLA) holds the “Green & Growin’” Conference & Trade Show in Greensboro.  Nurserymen, Landscapers & Educators may attend 3 days of classes plus a 2-day trade show.  For those 2 days the Greensboro Coliseum is filled with trees, colorful shrubbery, tropicals, perennials, ground covers, bulbs, nursery pots, giant tractors, pruning tools and more. I LOVE going! Besides being surrounded by hunky guys, I come away with valuable information, new ideas, and new sources of the coolest plants.  Best of all, I meet...

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