It’s not too late to put the beds to bed

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This is the last post for Proctor’s Apprentices this year.  Usually we go through the end of December.  We’re not sure if we’ll do our annual decorating for Thanksgiving at Samaritan House this year either.  Stay tuned as I may post some what to do this month posts between now and when we start up again.  It was a great group of apprentices this year and we learned a lot and had a lot of fun.

Even though we reached -14 degrees last week it’s still not too late to do some last minute work in the garden.  We were surprised with the very cold temperatures so early this year.  The ground isn’t frozen and we’ll have 50 degree temps again but time is running out so it’s definitely time to put the beds to bed.

Pull out all old vegetables and toss them in your compost pile.  Don’t trim perennials.  Some have great seed heads that give interest to the garden and as the plants compose during the winter it will enrich your soil.  They are also beneficial to the animals.  Birds can still eat the seeds and use the plants as defense against the cold weather.  Don’t rake up leaves and throw them in a landfill.  If they are in the garden just leave them or lightly turn them into the soil.  The will decompose and give nutrients to the soil.  If you have leaves in the yard you can run over them with a mulcher and leave them.  They’ll work their way into the soil.  If the leaves are more than a couple of inches thick on the grass you might want to spread them out or rake some up and put them in the garden or compost.

Clean out your pots.  Pull the annual plants that will die and empty your pots of soil.  You can save your soil and mix it with some fresh next year so you don’t have to buy all new soil.  If you have huge heavy ceramic pots, throw a garbage bag over the top or anything that will keep the snow out.  They should be ok to stay outside if they can’t fill with snow and freeze.  When pots fill with snow and freeze it’s the inability to expand that cracks them.  If possible, turn them upside down and cover the hole with a heavy saucer or something that won’t blow away.  If you have room and they are small you can put them in your garage, basement or shed.

It’s now time to concentrate on your house plants.  It’s time for holiday poinsettias, Christmas cactus, paperwhites (remember they come in a non-fragrant variety), and amaryllis.

Thanks for reading my apprentice blog.  Watch 9News for the next time you can apply to be an apprentice.  It will probably be some time in late January or early February.

Happy Gardening!!

Check out the last apprentice segment for this year.

http://www.9news.com/story/life/home-garden/proctors-tips/2014/11/20/proctor-late-garden-chores/19326315/

 

 

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It’s time for some Fall action

It’s been a couple of weeks since I posted.  Nothing significant was going on in the garden.  Every week we oohed and ahhed over the beautiful fall plants.  Now it’s time for action.

It’s time to take some cuttings so we can get a head start on our plants for next Spring.  This gives the inside of the house some color as well as helps your pocket book come next Spring when it’s time to plant containers.  It’s also time to dry some herbs if you have them in your garden.  What’s better than free plants?

Many of the annuals that we use in our containers may be cut and rooted easily in water.  Geraniums, blood leaf, begonias and coleus are favorites.  Any of your plants that have that nice big stems with joints should be successful.  Succulents are very easy as well.  They don’t need to root in water, you can just break them off and stick them in soil and they will start growing.  If you have room you can root some bushes as well.  Willow roots very easily when kept in water.  It may even leaf out while you’re rooting it during the winter.  Gosh, if you’re really ambitious you can root rose cuttings too.

You don’t need a grow light but you certainly could do that if you have one.  A window sill is perfect and adds some color during the drab winter months.  If the plants get leggy while they are rooting you can keep cutting them back.  This will give more energy to the roots being established and the plant will become bushier.

Take a cutting that is at least 6 inches long with a joint close to the bottom.  Strip off most of the leaves (leave a few for color).  Stick it in a jar of water.  Easy peasy.  Make sure there are no leaves in the water.  If you have a tall jar then cut your stem longer so the leaves are above the top of the jar.  They can rot and cause bacteria.  If the water starts to turn brown just change it out.  Use a mason jar or if you want some color use a decorative jar.

It’s also time to dry some herbs.  Basil, oregano, thyme etc.  It’s easy with some scissors, string and somewhere for them to hang and dry.  A clothes drying rack works well.  A clothes line would work or if you have something to hang them on in a basement that would work too.  A fun thing to do with mint is put some in an ice cube tray and fill it with water and freeze it.  You can use the cubes in drinks.  You can also preserve other herbs this way and use them for cooking.  After your herbs have dried you can chop them up and store them in labeled containers or little bottles.

If you haven’t planted Spring bulbs yet you could do that too.  One of my favorites is to take some tulip and daffodil bulbs and put them in plastic pots and make the soil damp (not soggy or too wet).  Keep them in a cool dark place over winter.  If they get extremely dry you can add a little water.  Not a lot.  You don’t want them to start growing but you don’t want them to shrivel up either.  Come mid to late march you can start watering them and you will have an early pot of Spring flowers.  You can insert this into the middle of a larger pot and plant pansies around it and have a beautiful Spring container.

It is also time to plant garlic.  Garlic is a Fall bulb and you harvest it in the summer.  Check out your local garden center for some great selections of different type garlic.  There are some great varieties from other countries.  There’s different colors and flavors.  It’s interesting all the different types of garlic that are offered.  I wouldn’t trust the garlic you buy at the grocery store for planting.  If it’s organic you should be able to use it because you know it hasn’t been treated.  Some garlic is grown so you can’t reproduce it.   Bah Humbug to them!!

 

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It’s Autumn already

 

IMG_1894Wow, it’s still August but getting cool here already.  60’s at night now and it’s been raining every day.

I haven’t posted for the last couple of weeks.  We haven’t had our regular schedule now for a few weeks.  I really can’t go on Saturday and they’ve done three Saturday’s now and one live Thursday at the studio.  I’m just not able to give up my Saturday’s right now so here is what has been happening with the apprentices the last couples of weeks.

Two weeks ago it was all about the Mediterranean garden Rob has created along his old driveway.  The driveway is really  long and they don’t use it so it’s a long driveways of pots containing succulents and other heat loving plants.  Many of the pots in this garden go inside during the winter and are brought out again next year as well as there are cannas that are stored over winter in the basement and planted again the next year.

They did a live at the studio all about Jade plants.  These are so easy to grow and take cuttings and make more.  Just stick them in some cactus or rocky soil and they don’t need much water.  Break off a piece and stick in the soil for another plant.  So easy.

This week they walked around the garden and showed you what is blooming for late summer/fall and did the ALS ice bucket challenge.

Take a peek at the last two to three week’s segment here:

http://www.9news.com/story/life/home-garden/proctors-tips/2014/08/14/proctor-mediterranean-border/14053733/

http://www.9news.com/story/life/home-garden/proctors-tips/2014/08/21/growing-great-jade-plants/14386075/

http://www.9news.com/story/life/home-garden/proctors-tips/2014/08/28/bright-perennials-for-late-summer/14742353/

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It’s time for the second half

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Have you been sitting and admiring your garden in full bloom?  We’ve ooo’d and ahh’d over the garden for the last three or four weeks.  We can still keep our garden in shape for the second half of the season.

It may be time to give your container gardens a trim.  They may be getting a little leggy and with a good trim and cut and some grow fertilizer there’s time for another round of blooms.  With the moisture and some of the cool temperatures we’ve had the last couple of weeks things may be wanting to bloom ahead of time.  Some of the Fall asters are already getting into the game.  Some poor plants are confused and Spring bloomers are trying to bloom again now.  It’s all cool.  Just enjoy them.

Deadheading the perennial garden right now would be a good thing.  If it’s a one time bloomer cut the stem down as far as you can.  For interest you can leave the foliage if it adds interest to the border.  They will die out later in the winter and give the garden some good nutrients.  Some plants will give you more blooms so just deadhead and wait for another round.

Don’t let up on your fertilizing.  Remember, every 7 to 10 days.  Right now if you’re doing some trimming you could give your plants a shot of Grow instead of Bloom.  It will get them started again.

While you’re trimming if you have some things that will root easily you can start to take cuttings and get them started.

If you’d like, take out your houseplants and give them some fresh air.  Put them in a shady spot so they don’t get burned and dry up.  They will like it and shake themselves off and perk up and will get ready for the long winter indoors.  It wouldn’t hurt to give them some nice grow fertilizer either.

To see what’s up in Rob’s garden right now (it was time for the Cow Parsnips to go) take a look at this week’s segment:  http://www.9news.com/story/life/home-garden/proctors-tips/2014/08/07/second-half-of-summer/13716235/

 

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Week 16 – It’s tour time!!

This week we didn’t meet in the garden on Wednesday.  Our videographer has other assignments so some of the apprentices met on Saturday.  I thought it was a great opportunity to share some of the more subtle things in the garden to look for on the tour.  I didn’t know that was what the apprentices who went Saturday were going to talk about so my blog is sort of the same thing this week.  They talk about the different gardens and features.

I was walking around and was noticing lots of subtle things like the textures of the plants that are positioned together, and the color combinations.  There are no accidents in the garden or the container pots.  If you look closely you’ll see lots of symmetry.  What is on one side will be directly across on the other side.  When you look closely you’ll be amazed at the patterns, textures and color combinations that are carefully planned.

The garden was mystical and magical on Wednesday.  When I got there it was cloudy and the plants had lots of water on them from the rain.  It was really nice light.  It was quiet and I had the garden all to myself.  Some of us were going to go fertilize but I didn’t get the message it was called off.  I was glad I didn’t know because it was a special time in the garden.

The blog this week is what you’ll see on the tour next weekend.  The tour is Saturday and Sunday, July 26 and 27, from 6:00 am to Noon.  Donation is $10 at the door and all proceeds benefit the Denver Dumb Friends League.  3030 W. 46th Avenue (two blocks south of I-70 on Federal).  When you go to the tour, it’s nice to take it all in and see the full effect, but look closely at the ground and what is around.  There are lots of secret gardens and the variegated foliage, and textures, and colors, and little plants hidden underneath the big ones, and ground covers.  So much to look at and take time to get closer to the ground and really look at what is hiding there.

Enjoy:(this is just a snippet and you can’t really believe it until you see it)

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Now, get out there and get gardening (or this week enjoy your garden)!!

To see this week’s segment on how to tour the garden, visit: http://www.9news.com/story/life/home-garden/proctors-tips/2014/07/17/rob-proctor-garden-tour/12777001/

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Here it is – what you’ve been waiting for!!

COME ON DOWN – YOU WON’T REGRET IT!!

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Week 15 – What’s bugging you?

Today was live at the studio.  This is a repeat of an article I did last year.  Same subject, same good advice.

Today we talked about controlling pests in the garden.  How many times have you killed a bug and then wondered what kind it was?  How many times have you grabbed a can of chemicals and sprayed something without even thinking about it?  Chemicals are bad for our kids, our pets, good bugs, and especially our friends the birds and bees.  Spray the bad with chemical poisons and you will kill the good.   This can end up hurting your garden as well by eliminating the helpful bugs.  A garden without life will die.

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Not all bugs are bad and there are easy, organic and more affordable ways to control the pests that eat our leaves or kill our plants.  Here are some ways to control the pests that need to be controlled.

First, see if other predators take care of the problem.  Ladybugs (aphids, spider mites), predator wasps, lacewings (aphids), dragonflies, bats (mosquitos), garter snakes (mice)and birds (moths, bugs). (OK, I have to admit I don’t like the snake idea).

Mis a few drops ina srapy bottle

Second, if you need to treat your plants there is a safe, easy, affordable way to mix up a solution to spray your plants.  Get some Dr. Bronner’s (or other brand) pure castile soap and mix a few drops in a spray bottle and add water.  To treat the plants, spray the underside of the leaves, buds, and joints where the bugs are having a party and soak them with the spray.  The peppermint in the soap smells great and it breaks down the exoskeleton of the bug.  You may have to watch and repeat the spraying to kill any bugs from eggs that were there before.  Easy peasy and totally safe for other good bugs, kids, pets, and bees.  Make sure you use a pure organic soap.  Detergents in other soaps will burn your plants leaves.  Dr Bronner’s can be found in grocery stores, garden centers and some big stores like Target or Wal-Mart.  Unless a plant is totally covered in bugs and is killing the plant, this should work well.  If the plant is that bad you have waited too long and your option may be to toss the plant.

Slugs and earwigs like to chew on leaves in the garden.  An easy way to get rid of earwigs without having to look at them or touch them is to take a section of newspaper, soak it and roll it into a long roll.  In the evening put it in your garden.  The earwigs will crawl in and in the morning you don’t even have to check it, you can just throw it away.  Trust that they will be in there.  If you want to play with them I guess you can unroll the paper to make sure they are there but I’ll just throw it away.

You can get rid of slugs by putting out saucers of beer.  Don’t use the good stuff, buy the skunky beer for this task.  The slugs don’t care and they will crawl into it and drown.  One word about slugs.  If you live in Colorado and you have slugs you are probably over watering.  If you have lots of wood mulch, and over water you can get rid of the slugs by pulling up the mulch, spread out some compost and don’t water so much.  Slugs like moisture and we’re in a drought right now so slugs should not be a problem.

Not all leaf chewing is a bad thing.  Leaf cutter bees will strip off pieces of Red Bud and Roses to make their nests.  They are nice gentle creatures and help pollinate our plants.  I’ll let them have some of my leaves to help me out with the rest of my garden.  Who cares anyway?  It doesn’t kill the plants and the leaves can take on an interesting shape.  If you cut your roses those leaves don’t stay around long anyway.Chewed by Leaf Cutter Bees - beneficial for your garden - Bee Art

 
Chewed by Leaf Cutter Bees – beneficial for your garden – Bee Art

Butterflies come from caterpillars so let the caterpillars use your plants.  Swallow Tails like Dill and Queen Anne’s Lace.  Monarchs like milkweed.  Plant a butterfly garden or a garden for Hummingbirds.  There are lots of ways to bring the good bugs and birds to your garden.

Learn to recognize the good bugs from the bad and you’ll be a step ahead to help your garden’s ecosystem survive.

Now, get out there and get gardening!!

For this week’s segment go to: http://www.9news.com/story/life/home-garden/proctors-tips/2014/07/10/proctor-keep-pests-away/12422437/

 

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Week 14 – Garden fireworks will sizzle if you don’t let them fizzle

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You can’t have that zing if you don’t have that thing – shu bop shu bop

It’s getting hot outside and it’s time to re-enforce good gardening practices.

Before we get to that;  around the garden today (it was magically beautiful for some reason today):

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This week the apprentices fertilized, hydrated the pots and deadheaded salvia and giant sea kale.  We also set up a very nice Fourth of July table and Lisa made a beautiful bouquet out of the flowers in the garden for the table.  Of course the theme is Red, White and Blue!

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Right now is the best time to remember to fertilize your pots and make sure your plants are getting enough water.  They’ll want to fizzle in this 90 degree heat so make sure you check every day so they have enough water.  Stick you finger down about two-thirds the way to the bottom of the roots (your index finger to maybe just past the knuckle depending on the size of the pot).  If it’s damp you’re ok.  If it’s dry then water.  Most likely in this weather of 90 degrees for 3 days you’ll have to water every day.  Water until the water starts draining from the bottom of the pot.  I make it a practice to water them every day until they start “peeing”.  Hanging baskets I do the same.  Water until they pee.  This time of year, a good draining pot with the right soil for the plant shouldn’t stay too wet.  With the heat we’re heading into I don’t think a plant being too wet will be a problem. If it’s a huge pot you may not have to water every day so do the finger test.  If it’s a small pot it maybe hard to keep up with watering it enough.

Water when it’s cool.  Probably the best time to water is 2:00 in the morning.  If you don’t have a drip system or a sprinkler system that’s not possible.  The important thing is that you do water.  Lawns and perennial like a nice deep soaking in this heat.  Water in the evening after 8:00 pm if possible or water early in the morning @ 6:00 am.  Give the plants a nice deep soak so the water will get down around the roots.  If you shallow water the roots will have to come up closer to the surface to get fed and the heat will get them.  Sprinkling is not watering.  SOAK IT!!  This will give the plants a chance to soak up the water when it’s cool and be prepared for the hot day ahead.  To water or not to water?  You can do the finger test in the garden just like you do in the pots.  Get down about 2/3 down to the roots and see if it’s damp.  If you don’t like sticking your fingers in the soil you can pick up an inexpensive water meter at your local garden center.  It’s on a long probe you can push into the ground or pot to test the moisture level.

Allison, Steffen and Matt talked about fertilizing and watering in the heat this week.  Here’s Steffen giving the column pots a shot of Bloom and Grow cocktail.

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Remember – one day of a plant being dry in 90 degree heat can kill it.  It’s not bugs, and it didn’t come from the garden center that way.  You killed it.  It’s ok.  We’ve all done it so please don’t take plants back to where you bought them and say it’s a bad plant.  Sometimes a plant will make it through the day and fizzle out in the next day or two (after you’ve soaked them).  Plants can be damaged past a point where they are no longer able to suck up water.  It might be a couple of days after you’ve watered them again but it was really from the day you let them go dry.  Fertilize once every 7 to 10 days, and keep your plants hydrated and you will be successful.  I like the Old Age Bloom and Grow.  This week we set up a fertilization station with plenty on hand.  If it’s blooming give it Bloom with lots of phosphorus.  If it’s green give it Grow with nitrogen.  If you have a pot that’s looking particularly fizzled, mix a cocktail of bloom and grow (about half of each) to perk up the growth and the blooms.  Just follow the instructions on the bottle for how much to apply.

Fertilization Station - fertilize every 7 to 10 days.  Where the heck did he find this big container of Bloom and Grow?

Fertilization Station – fertilize every 7 to 10 days. Where the heck did he find this big container of Bloom and Grow?

We continued to deadhead and cut back the salvia.  The Giant Sea Kale was out of control so chop chop go the seed heads.  Lisa talks about the Giant Sea Kale in this week’s segment.

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HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY ! ! !

Now, go out there and get gardening!!

For this week’s segment (it’s a good one, but they’re all good aren’t they!!) go to:  http://www.9news.com/story/life/home-garden/proctors-tips/2014/07/03/floral-fireworks/12128371/

 

 

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Week 13 – Summer clean up in the Hell Strip

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Around the garden today:

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Today the apprentices split iris and cleaned up what Rob calls the Hell Strip.  This is the piece of land between the sidewalk and the street.  It’s hard to mow and water so why not put some plants in there that don’t need much attention.  Some nice blooming Spring bulbs and xeric plants that can pretty much take care of themselves.

There are a bunch of dwarf iris in Rob’s Hell Strip that have been neglected for a while.  They aren’t producing as well as they might so it’s time to dig them up and split them so next year they’ll produce bigger, healthier blooms.

Iris are easy to split. Most of them will just break apart.  There will be some mushy or dried up pieces you can dispose of.  The nice meaty ones will be nice and white and hard.  Just snap them apart and if you have some really long ones that have grown together you can break them into smaller ones or cut them apart.  Cut the leaves back to 5 to 6 inches so the leaves don’t take energy from the plant trying to re-establish (which is opposed to not cutting them back after they have bloomed) and replant them 1/2 to 1 inch.  You’ll have plenty of extras so give them away to beautify your friends yards.

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We also did some clean up of bloomed out plants.  If there are varieties that you want to drop and spread seed then leave those.  Deadhead and cut back any straggly plants and any that are finished that you don’t want sticking up all dried out.

We all collected seed while we were doing this.  I have a bag of plant heads and I will harvest all the seed and mix it together and use it for a mixed seed planting.  I’ll go scatter it in a place where I would like some sun perennials.  If you want to collect seed make sure the seed heads are mature or the seeds won’t sprout.

We all took home some iris to plant.  I have plenty of places for those!!

Gardening is dangerous business.  Highlights that didn’t make the segment were Adam sticking the garden fork into his foot )and the ironic part of that being he was the only one there who had shoes appropriate for digging) and Kathy accidentally grabbing a pear cactus paddle.  You can imagine neither of these moments could be broadcast.

Now, get out there and get gardening!!

To view this week’s segment visit:  http://www.9news.com/story/life/home-garden/proctors-tips/2014/06/26/iris-summertime/11398529/

 

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Week 12 – Out with the old, In with the new

 

BYE BYE Pansies!!

BYE BYE Pansies!!

Today in the garden the apprentices got rid of the plants that are cool loving and got ready for the hot weather.  That means out with the pansies and cool weather veggies and in with the beautiful summer bloomers and peppers and other heat loving veggies.

Around the garden today:

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Allison and Matt, and Sally and Lisa pulled out old pansies and repotted with summer plants.  Steffen and Jerid harvested cool weather veggies and planted some summer fare like tomatoes, peppers and squash.

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The pansies have done really well this year and still look good and sometimes it’s really hard to get rid of them but as the days get warmer they’ll wilt and get sick and you’ll think, why didn’t I do that two weeks ago.

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There are many beautiful plants you can use to redo your pots and container gardens.  Remember the three plants (this term coined by non other than our own Rob Proctor) you can use in your pots:

Thrillers – they are the tall beautiful plants that take your breath away when they bloom.  Geraniums, begonias (Hot Wings like heat – some like shade so find the right ones), cannas, hydrangeas, any plant that loves the summer heat and is tall.  It could be a grass or a spike as well.  It doesn’t necessarily have to stick up in the middle of your pot.  If you have a nice big pot you can stagger them, for example, put three in a pot.

Fillers – these are plants that are less tall that will fill in the pot around the thrillers.  They may bloom or they may be gorgeous variegated colored plants like sun coleus that fill in and give lots of color.

Spillers – these are plants you can put around the outside and they will start spilling out over the outside of the pot.  Things like sweet potato vine, wave petunias, and other vining plants.  They can bloom or there are some really pretty colored viny plants you can get.  If your fillers don’t bloom, maybe a spiller that does or vice versa.

Pick a color theme.  Use sunset colors.  Use cool colors.  Use complementary colors.  Use the same color in different shades for a mono theme.  Go wild and mix it up.  Whatever is pleasing to you because you have to look at it.  Have a plan when you go into the store.  Sometimes there are so many beautiful plants and I start wandering around putting stuff in my basket and then all of a sudden I forget they all don’t like the same amount of sun or heat and I have to start over because I’ve picked up things that won’t fill the pot the way I want.  It’s easier when you go if you have a list of each pot, and how many sun and shade plants you need for each pot, and the color theme for each pot.  If you just have a list of how many shade and sun plants you need and you want different color themes, you might not end up with the right of amount of plants for the right pot.  In the summer heat, bigger is better.  A small pot dries out so quickly.  One big pot costs the same to fill as a couple of small pots and your results will be better.  It will hold the moisture longer.

The second thing to remember is:  Right plant, right place.  You can get a variety of beautiful bloomers and non-bloomers in beautiful colors in both shade and sun plants.  Pick the right plants for your conditions and you will be successful.   Put petunias in the shade and you’ll wonder why they won’t bloom.  Put coleus and impatiens in the sun and you’ll wonder why they wilt.  Some plants come in shade and heat varieties.  Lobelia likes to be cooler but there is a hardy variety that can take heat.  Some coleus like shade but there is are varieties of sun coleus that take the sun and heat.  They don’t really like to be mixed so figure out how much sun your pot will get during the day and plant accordingly.

Go to a local garden center for good advice.  If you’re not sure whether a plant likes sun or not, just ask.  Remember that you can’t look at the tags on a plant and figure out what it will do here.  The tags put in plants are tags that go across the whole nation.  We are a mile closer to the sun so plants that do well in sun in some states may not do so well here so don’t be afraid to ask.  Some garden centers have their plants separated into shade and sun sections.   Put the right plant in the right place, water when it needs it and fertilize and you’ll be successful.

I like Age Old Organics,  Bloom and Grow for plants and Garden Tone and Tomato Tone for veggies.  There are others out there.  For veggies for sure get an organic fertilizer.  Tomatoes like different fertilizer than plants.  Remember, you are what you eat!!

Now, get out there and get gardening!!

To see the segment for this week go to:  http://www.9news.com/story/life/home-garden/proctors-tips/2014/06/18/replacing-pansies/10671303/

 

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