Get ahead of the problem before they devour everything green

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In the next few months many gardeners will have to wage a battle in earnest against snails and slugs. The combination of moist conditions from late winter and spring rains and lots of tender, green growth is irresistible to them and they will slowly but determinedly make their slimy way through your garden, munching as they go.

It doesn’t take much time for snails and slugs to do significant damage, especially when you’re trying to nurture tender seedlings. But snails also act as janitors in the garden. They eat dead plant material and emit waste that is nitrogen-rich to feed…

A workspace that’s well-stocked and organized makes garden chores a breeze

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Whether you call it a potting bench, propagation area, or transplant table, a gardener needs a dedicated space to perform all those tasks — sowing seeds, planting containers, cleaning tools, and much more — that require a clear, flat surface and easy access to your tools and supplies. It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive, but it does need to be well thought out and properly stocked.

Here are the essential elements to include in your workspace:

  • Worktable: It can be metal, wood, or plastic, but it should be weather-resistant and have a big enough working surface to accommodate…

The answer depends on your location and gardening conditions

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If you want to grow truly delicious tomatoes this summer, the first step is the most crucial to your success: picking the best variety for your climate and growing conditions. Make the wrong choice and you’ll get fruit that is smaller and blander than you were hoping for. Make the right choice and you can have a bounty of fruits that are ripe, juicy, and full of flavor.

And the time to choose is now, when seed companies are well stocked with a selection of tomato varieties that is more diverse and plentiful than what you’re likely to see in…

A contained patio space is the best and safest way to let your cat experience the outdoors

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My Maine Coon cat, Henry, is sending me a message. He spends most of the day sitting on a shelf staring out the laundry room window into the back yard. Whenever I open the front door, he is suddenly right there, considering whether there is an opportunity for him to sneak out for a little outdoor escapade. And he nibbles at or otherwise molests all my indoor plants.

The message is clear: he wants a catio and he says your cat wants one too.

After having cats suffer various ailments and accidents due to being outdoors, I’ve determined that Henry…

Choosing the right trees and growing conditions is key to a bountiful harvest

Photo by Claire Splan

You don’t need to have acres of land to have a successful fruit orchard. By selecting the right varieties, utilizing space-saving planting techniques, and employing simple garden practices, you can grow numerous types of fruit in a relatively small garden and keep your fruit bowl overflowing with home-grown fresh produce.

What you need to know before buying

Here are the basics you should know before you start tree-shopping:

  • Know how much space your garden has with full sun exposure. Virtually every kind of fruit tree requires a minimum of 6 hours of direct sun.
  • Know what your plant hardiness zone is. You can find out what zone…

If you really think you’re a special case, read on

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Every day it seems there are new stories popping up about people (usually wealthy or at least well off, usually white) gaming the system in whatever way they can manage to get their COVID vaccination before they were due to.

It started with the politicians. We all got to see members of Congress declare themselves essential workers (insert derisive snort here) and be among the very first to get the freshly approved vaccine before almost anyone else. The argument was that by doing so, they were modeling good pandemic behavior and confirming to their constituents that the vaccine was safe…

Treat pest and disease problems early with a dormant tree spray

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Leaf curl. Fireblight. Rust. Aphids. Mites. If you’ve had a serious problem with these or other diseases or pests on any of your deciduous fruit trees, the best remedy is often to spray the tree while it is in its dormant state.

What to spray

Dormant sprays can be fungicides, horticultural oils, or a combination of an oil and a pesticide. They should be applied when the tree is dormant because the active ingredients in the sprays can damage foliage and blossoms, and could be deadly to bees and other pollinators if applied when trees are in bloom.

What kind of spray you…

Planting bare-root roses is the best and most cost-efficient way to make your spring and summer bloom like mad

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If your garden dreams include a lush and colorful rose garden, the best time to plan and plant it is in the winter months when bare-root roses are available in local and mail-order nurseries.

Bare-root roses are dormant bushes that are packaged and shipped without a container. Shipping the plants in this form saves a great deal of money for growers compared to shipping potted bushes after they break dormancy, and those savings are passed on to you. You can often purchase multiple bare-root bushes for what a single potted rose will cost you later in the year.

Each year…

Brighten your life and your garden by planting a citrus tree

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Citrus trees are one of my favorite choices for almost any garden. They are evergreen, prolific, and relatively low maintenance. And they just make a garden look sunnier!

Selecting and planting

In climates where frosts do not occur, citrus (Citrus spp.) can be planted at any time. Elsewhere, plant trees in early spring.

Citrus is best suited for USDA zones 8 to 11. Best results come from planting in full sun, but they can tolerate some shade in most areas and do well with afternoon shade in the hottest regions. The general rule of thumb is that sweeter citrus types need more heat…

Follow these basic steps to be a more successful seed-starter!

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Growing most plants from seed is easy as long as you provide the basics that all plants require — soil, heat, light, and water — and then avoid a few common pitfalls.

The Basics

1. Begin by purchasing a commercial seed-starting medium or mixing your own blend. Whichever you way you decide to go, you need the medium to be sterile and fast-draining. I often use a good-quality potting soil (as opposed to a seed-starting mix) that I lighten by adding perlite to improve the drainage. I avoid using seed-starting media that is primarily made of peat, especially those tablet-like peat plugs…

Claire Splan

Author/Editor. Writes about gardening, writing, etc. Website: Newsletters: and

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