Vermont Garden Journal

Fridays at 5:55p.m., Sunday at 9:34a.m.

The Vermont Garden Journal is a weekly program hosted by horticulturalist Charlie Nardozzi. Each week, Nardozzi will focus on a topic that's relevant to both new and experienced gardeners, including pruning lilac bushes, growing blight-free tomatoes, groundcovers, sunflowers, bulbs, pests and more.

Hear the Vermont Garden Journal Friday afternoons at 5:55pm and Sunday mornings at 9:34am.

Subscribe to the Vermont Garden Journal Podcast and RSS

Visit the VPR Archive for Vermont Garden Journal programs before 4/19/2013.

When starting seeds indoors, open trays are good for large quantities while cell trays are best for smaller amounts.
pepifoto / iStock

We're getting closer to indoor seed-starting time. Actually, some vegetables seeds, like leeks, could have been started already. But if you're new to indoor seed-starting or need a refresher, let's walk through the basic steps to growing transplants in your home.

Long-stemmed roses are a traditional Valentine's Day flower, but miniature roses are just as pretty, will continue blooming and can even be moved outdoors.
Kusska / iStock

It's almost Valentine's Day and, of course, the flower of love is the rose. But this year, instead of giving the usual cut roses, why not a rose plant? Miniature roses come in many shapes, with some being three- to four-feet tall, but still called miniature. But I'm thinking of the micro-mini rose plants found in garden centers and floral shops. These grow around 12- to 18-inches tall with small, colorful, fragrant flowers and can be grown indoors and outside.

In order to keep a pollinator garden active through the growing season, a diversity of flowers is needed to produce nectar and pollen.
Jill Lang / iStock

Monarch butterflies and honey bees have become the poster children for the plight of pollinating insects. More and more, we are realizing the importance they play in our food system and ecology. While the threat is global, there are things we can do in our own yards to help the local populations, like creating a pollinator garden.

When planning a cottage garden, remember to allow space for a seating area to sit back and enjoy your creation.
bauhaus1000 / iStock

Everyone loves cottage gardens! They overflow with color, texture and exuberance. This informal design is not simply “letting things go,” but more aptly called organized chaos. There's a method to the madness and and some elements to consider.

Pentas, also known as Egyptian star flowers, are great for adding a splash of color in window boxes and planters.
aimintang / iStock

I'm always looking out for new flowers. Not necessarily the next color of petunia, but flowers that aren't widely known. This year, pentas have struck my fancy.

Oxalis, or the shamrock plant, can be brought indoors in winter as long as certain steps are carefully followed.
Scacciamosche / iStock

Some may say that oxalis, or the shamrock plant, is an invasive weed, a sour-tasting groundcover or a cute houseplant. All three are correct. In warm climates, oxalis can be an attractive groundcover or a weed. In colder climates, yellow sorrel is an oxalis that grows as an understory plant in the forest. Then there's the tender houseplant versions. This is where oxalis becomes more interesting.

Jicama is a crunchy, sweet Central American root vegetable that can also be grown in warmer areas of Vermont.
bhofack2 / iStock

In our culture, potatoes, carrots, beets, radishes and sweet potatoes are favorite roots in gardens and on tables. But there are other unusual roots worth growing.

A new variety of habanero pepper is called 'Roulette' which offers a citrus flavor rather than heat.
Debbi Smirnoff / iStock

One of my year-end rituals is to start perusing seed catalogs. I love sitting by a roaring fire with tea and cookies while looking for new vegetable varieties. Read on or listen to the podcast to hear what I've found so far.

Aglaonema, also known as a Chinese evergreen, requires less care than most houseplants and is a good choice for someone who doesn't have a green thumb.
Pichaitun / iStock

This time of year, our houses are filled with poinsettias, Christmas cactus and amaryllis flowers. All of their colorful flowers are quite festive during the holidays. But if you're still looking for a holiday gift for the black thumb in the family, allow me to share three suggestions for shade-tolerant, low maintenance houseplants that even they will find hard to kill.   

With so much extreme weather these days, protecting your garden is more important than ever.
Batuhan Toker / iStock

Wildfires in California, floods in Texas and Florida, drought, sudden bursts of high and low temperatures, you get the idea. We're officially in the world of weather extremes. Even in Vermont, an intense, unusual wind storm this fall destroyed my greenhouse and uprooted 50-year-old trees.  How does a gardener prepare for all this extreme weather? 

Oranges and other citrus fruit can be grown indoors in colder climates by using certain dwarf varieties and creating proper conditions.
Davizro / iStock

On my garden tour to France last fall, we went to Versailles. The city is famous for gardens, palaces and its orangerie. An orangerie is a building built to grow lemons, oranges and limes year-round in a cold climate. But you don't have to build an orangerie to enjoy citrus even in our northern climate.

Milkweed floss, once used to stuff pillows and mattresses, is coming into favor again as an insulation for winter jackets.
M Raust / iStock

I love it when old ideas come full-circle and become relevant again. For example, take milkweed. This common plant is considered a weed by farmers trying to grow forage crops; however, it's prized by butterfly lovers since the plant provides essential food for the monarch butterfly. Now, milkweed has another use that harkens back to Colonial times.   

Unlike true cactus that grow in desert climates, the Christmas cactus is native to the wet, coastal mountains of Brazil.
Nadezhda Nesterova / iStock

Common plant names can be misleading. Joe Pye weed isn't a weed at all. Eggplant does not bear eggs and I have yet to find crabs on my crabapples. The name Christmas cactus is the same. You'd think it would bloom at Christmas time, but mine start in November and continue through late winter.

Pumpkin pie might be the go-to dessert at Thanksgiving, but there are many varieties of winter squash that also make for a delicious pie.
pilipphoto / iStock

With Thanksgiving on the way, many of us are looking up recipes for pumpkin pie. While pumpkins certainly make great pies, other types of winter squash make wonderful pies, too.

Now that outdoor gardening is done for the season, it’s time to move inside and focus on houseplants.
imnoom / iStock

The word around horticultural circles is that houseplants are back! With a growing interest in having greenery indoors and the benefit of air purification, houseplants are being used by interior designers to create a cozy, natural look.

Many trees in Vermont, like this one in Middlebury, were damaged or uprooted from wind and rain during a late October 2017 storm.
Melody Bodette, Courtesy / VPR

The storm earlier this week caused significant damage to many trees in Vermont. The combination of ferocious wind and heavy rain uprooted large trees and, in the process, damaged nearby trees as well. While uprooted trees can't be saved, you can salvage trees with broken branches.

Autumn leaves left on the lawn can support better growth in the coming year and can also be used as winter mulch around certain vegetation.
Elenathewise / iStock

Leaves are beautiful to look at when they turn vibrant colors in fall, but can be a pain to clean up when they drop. Instead of cursing your fallen leaves, rejoice in them! Leaves can help your flowers, vegetables, lawn, trees and shrubs grow better. 

Selecting the right pumpkin and using carving tools will help to create a jack-o'-lantern masterpiece.
Media Photos / iStock

Halloween has become one of our most popular holidays. It's estimated Americans will spend over $8 billion dollars on candy, decorating, making costumes and having parties. At the center of all this activity is the common pumpkin, so read on if you want to step-up your jack-o'-lantern decorating game.

After drying properly, hard-shelled gourds have a multitude of uses and will last for years.
Merinka / iStock

What grows in a vegetable garden and is used for everything but eating? Gourds! Hard-shelled gourds can be used for a shower sponge, spoon, dipper, bottle, basket, birdhouse and even a musical instrument.

The leaves of elderberry bushes and other edibles provide additional bright colors during fall.
Forgem / iStock

I'm a native New Englander but still always struck by our fall foliage colors. Many gardeners like to bring these colors into their yards with beautiful trees and shrubs but don't forget about adding edibles.

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