Welcome to GardeningCharlotte.
Hi, I'm Charlotte. Our climate is changing. We need new ways to garden. How is your garden growing?

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Saturday
Oct252014

Rock On!

Rocks are one of nature's many gifts. In Missouri, we often joke rocks are the main thing we grow in our gardens. At the end of the last ice age, the ice sheet flattened the top part of the state and caused ripples at the bottom as the ice formed the Boston Mountains in Arkansas.

Living in mid-Missouri, that means we have a lot of rock including limestone and quartz. If you do a little planning, you can use your readily available rock supply in a number of ways in your garden:

  • Use rocks in the bottom of pots to help with water drainage and to stabilize planters from moving.
  • Rocks are useful to make borders for walkways and beds.
  • Large rocks make nice garden focal points.
  • Weed prevention, such as small rocks around drain pipes.
  • Rocks in small trenches also become drains for flash flooding.
  • Rocks retain heat, warming surrounding soil and resident lizards.
  • When placed properly, they don't need anything to hold them in place.
  • You can use rocks to form a dry creek bed.
  • Easy to spot in winter, when everything else is dormant, rocks add beauty and interest to a winter garden.

What other ways can you use rocks in a garden?

Sunday
Sep142014

Snow Flowers

These succulent perennials go through an amazing transformation, starting as green-looking roses hugging the ground in spring. In summer, Autumn Joy Sedum grow 2-feet tall with large heads of tiny pink flowers that attract a variety of pollinators. In fall, Autumn Joy Sedum"blooms" with seed heads that dry to a burnt red. Greenery dies back, leaving only the large heads.

The striking stalks add winter interest as they dry and get covered in snow. I call them my "snow flowers." Snow protects seed-heads for late winter food for birds. The one drawback to this succulent is that it is also attractive to deer. Once munched, however, Autumn Joy Sedum will grow back again as long as they haven't been pulled completely out of the ground.

Tuesday
Sep022014

"Hori-Hori" Weeding Knife

I love mine.

I first saw one when I was working in Yokuska, Japan where a gardener was working in a new flower bed near my hotel window. When he wasn't jabbing the ground in small, consistent strokes with what I thought at first was a trowel, the gardener carried it on a leather holster on his waist. I saw one on sale late fall at one of our local garden centers for $5 each so brought it home to try. Fall, by the way, is the best time of year to buy garden tools because you can often find them on sale.

How to Use Weeding Knife
Be careful when you pick it up because the blades on both sides are sharp, as is the bifurcated point. Mine has serrated edges on one side of the blade, and inches marked from the handle down the center of the blade. This one tool has replaced 6 other tools I used to regularly haul in a bucket around the garden. I use mine to easily remove deep-rooted weeds; to make holes for planting; to plant bulbs at the right depth, and to quickly snip tree roots when I don't have any clippers handy. A popular Japanese Bonsai-collecting tool, it is now my favorite go-to gardening tool. Besides my box of Band-Aids.

Wednesday
Aug272014

Autumn Joy Sedum in Summer

One of my all-time, low maintenance and low water-requiring perennials is Autumn Joy Sedum. This succulent plant starts out as low to the ground, green roses. By summer, Autumn Joy Sedum grows to almost two feet tall with tiny pink flowers at the end of stalks resembling broccoli.

Summer of 2012, when Missouri set new high summer temperature records, this plant survived most of the time without requiring extra watering. The pink flowers provide pollen for native bumble bees and carpenter bees, and much-needed nectar for butterflies and hummingbirds.

Saturday
Aug232014

Start Seeds In Egg Cartons

Another common household item you can use to start seeds is an egg carton, both cardboard and styrofoam.

Cardboard Egg Cartons
Cardboard egg cartons make excellent seed-starting pots. Add potting soil to the individual egg holders, add seeds and water. Once seeds start outgrowing the egg-size container, it's time to get them into the ground or into their final pot destination. You can use the flat size of the cardboard egg carton for toilet-paper roll pots, where you could transplant seedlings out of egg cups. The flat side can also be used as a seed-planting tray for one seed type; plant the whole tray when it's time to transplant. Use styrofoam egg cartons under cardboard ones.

Styrofoam Egg Cartons
Once watered, cardboard egg cartons can easily loose their shape before it's time to cut them up and plant. By placing styrofoam under cardboard, the styrofoam will also help keep the seedlings in cardboard warm. I also use styrofoam egg cartons to save broken egg shells, my favorite "pot" for growing seedlings. Once seedlings are ready to transplant, plop the seedling in egg shell right into the planting hole. No transplanting trauma, which usually kills off a percentage of young seedlings, and the egg shell will provide young plants with much-needed calcium.