Vermont Garden Journal

AP/Wayne Parry

Friday, August 16, 2013 at 5:57 p.m. & Sunday, August 18, 2013 at 9:35 a.m. I'm Charlie Nardozzi and this is the Vermont Garden Journal. Logan Smith once said, "What is more mortifying than to feel that you have missed the plum for want of courage to shake the tree? Plums are special and second only to apples as a cultivated fruit. There are different types of plums, but most are small trees that fit in any sized yard.

AP Photo/Tesselaar Plants

Friday, August 9, 2013 at 5:56 p.m. and Sunday, August 11, 2013 at 9:35 a.m. I'm Charlie Nardozzi and this is the Vermont Garden Journal. This native American, semi-tropical bulb is known for its banana-sized leaves and colorful flowers. Originally the fleshy rhizomes were used as a food crop to make a starchy paste, called achira, which is used around the world.

AP Photo/Dean Fosdick

There's only one thing I hate more than swatting Japanese beetles, it's weeding around trees and shrubs. Sure I could mulch them all with bark, but it looks kind of dull and uniform. I crave some color and the solution is shade-loving, flowering ground covers. But instead of growing the common vinca or pachysandra, consider some more colorful alternatives.  Here are some options.

AP Photo/Tara Todras-Whitehill

Friday, August 2, 2013 at 5:56 p.m. and Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 9:35 a.m.  I'm Charlie Nardozzi and this is the Vermont Garden Journal. Well the recent spate of hot summer weather has got my melons cranking. They're putting on growth daily and soon I hope to have some juicy fruits to eat. While cantaloupes and watermelons may be one of the signs of mid summer, think about trying some unusual melons.

AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

It was supposed to be knee high by the 4th of July, but more likely it was knee high in water. But with the recent spate of hot, humid weather sweet corn is taking off. If you're growing your own patch here are a few pests to watch for.

AP/Lee Reich

This popular perennial flower is native to  Eastern North America and, until recently, was more known as a tea and medicinal plant than an attractive ornamental. It was used to cure ailments such as upset stomachs to infections and called the Oswego tea by early colonists. We know it as Monarda or bee balm.

AP/Hillary Rhodes

What's the key ingredient to Italian food? I think it's all in the herbs. When you're enjoying your summer dinners potato salad, pizza and grilled meats you can thank some Italian herbs for making them so tasty. While basil gets all the attention (and rightly so), oregano, thyme and flat-leafed parsley also give Italian food that unmistakable flavor.

AP Photo/Itsuo Inouye

This Native American flower was one of the earliest examples of Russian and American cooperation. It has been grown in the Americas for thousands of years, but became popular in modern times due to breeding in Russia. It's the sunflower.

AP Photo/University of Maine Cooperative Extension Service, Griffin Dill

Blueberries and garlic are two of my favorite, low pest edibles to grow. Get the pH right on blueberries and keep the birds away, and you're almost guaranteed a great harvest of sweet, fruits. For garlic, just plant in fall on well-drained soil, mulch them with straw and by next summer you have enough garlic to feed the Italian army, or at least your family, all year long.

But nature hates a vacuum, so guess what's happened? There are now two new insect pests attacking these very crops. I hate to be a downer, but we all should know about these new pests.

AP/Pat Wellenbach

I recently returned from leading a VPR Tour of the Gardens and Food of Italy and was amazed at the wild poppies in full bloom. They were everywhere. In wine yards, olive orchards, vegetable gardens and along the highways. It made me appreciate the toughness of the poppy flower. They're a great annual or biennial flower with bursts of color.  Here's a run down of some types to grow.