Don’t throw those Easter lilies away. How to make Easter plants last for years as seen on PTL

April 9th, 2015

Easter lilies will thrive outdoors for decades.

Easter lilies will thrive outdoors for decades.

Lilies are just one of the plants used as traditional Easter gifts. Hydrangeas, daffodils and other spring bulbs also fit the category. But there’s no reason to toss them after the holiday, all these plants will be happy in the garden and return season after season.
The hydrangeas need the most thought when planting. It’s bred as an indoor plant, but I’m going to try and put it in the garden. It can’t go outside until May and is probably best grown in a container sited with morning sun and afternoon shade.
For the lilies, I wait until the blooms have finished and put them out in the garden around Mother’s Day. They will bloom again next year, but not at Easter. They flower at mid-summer and make great cut flowers.
The bulbs are easier to plant, when choosing the site be sure to find a place that will dry out in the summer. Even though fall is the best time to plant bulbs, these plants should go in the ground as soon as they are done blooming.

Explore the gardens of Paris with Doug

April 1st, 2015

I shot this picture from the top of Notre Dame. It's quite a climb, but worth it for the view.

I shot this picture from the top of Notre Dame. It’s quite a climb, but worth it for the view.


I can’t wait to show you Paris. This is the first trip that I’ve helped build myself, and I did that since I’ve been there before.
I think it’s the most beautiful city in the world. One big bonus, is the fight is direct! It makes the journey so much easier.
You’ll eat dinner at the Eiffel Tower, tour Notre Dame Cathedral, see Monet’s garden, Versailles, the secret gardens of Paris and more.
On Friday come with me as we get lost in Paris. It’s one of the best ways to see the city and don’t worry, we’ll find our way back to the hotel. That’s also a day to kick back if you’d prefer. Sit at a street side cafe and people watch or check out the little shops near our hotel.
Here are all the details, sign up soon, like all my other trips, it’s going to sell out. I will only take a maximum of 32 people, that way we get to know each other. I’ve made many good friends as we’ve enjoyed traveling together.
This is the easiest way to travel as my friends from Collette provide us a local guide who cares for us through the whole trip.

This is the itinerary-

Spotlight on Paris

Day 1: Monday, August 10, 2015 Overnight Flight
Set out for captivating Paris. Come to know this city famous for its world-renowned art, food and fashion. Its rich history will astound you while its style dazzles.
Day 2: Tuesday, August 11, 2015 Paris, France
Arrive in the “City of Light.” Take this day to meander two of Paris’ most well-known gardens. First, visit Luxembourg Gardens, spanning 60 acres, which was created beginning in 1612 by Marie de’ Medici, the widow of King Henry IV of France, and inspired by the Boboli Gardens in Florence. Next, you will visit the Jardin des Plantes, a 17th-century royal garden complete with a natural-history museum, greenhouses, alpine garden, iris garden, rose garden, remarkable trees, and a menagerie. (B)
Day 3: Wednesday, August 12, 2015 Paris, France – Tour Begins
Today you travel to Bois Richeux. Feel like you have stepped back in time when exploring the medieval gardens, established more than 2000 years ago. After this visit, you travel to another of France’s famous gardens in Giverny. The tranquil gardens here combine flora and water elements, and also inspired Monet’s greatest works when he lived in Giverny for more than 40 years. Tonight, enjoy breathtaking views of the city during a dinner featuring delicious French cuisine at the Eiffel Tower. Following dinner, get a different perspective on the city during a Seine River cruise. As you glide along, admire Paris’ glittering skyline. (B, D)
Day 4: Thursday, August 13, 2015 Paris
Come to know the dramatic highlights of Paris – the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame Cathedral, Champs-Elysees, Place de la Concorde and the magnificent Place Vendome are just some of the amazing landmarks you will see while on a locally-guided tour. Your day continues with a guided tour at the famous Louvre. Dine this evening at one of Paris’ fine restaurants. (B, D)
Day 5: Friday, August 14, 2015 Paris
The entire day is yours to enjoy the city in your own way. You may choose to get a new perspective and leave the city to explore the surrounding countryside. Your tour manager will be on hand with suggestions on exciting ways to spend your free time. (B)
Day 6: Saturday, August 15, 2015 Paris – Reims – Épernay – Paris
Today our journey takes us to Champagne country. Make a stop in ancient Reims to visit its towering centerpiece, the Notre-Dame de Reims. This UNESCO World Heritage site was once the place where French kings were crowned. Discover Reims’ pedestrian streets lined with art galleries and cafés during an included walking tour. Next, travel a short distance to the village of Épernay. Set on the banks of the river Marne, it is home to the world’s leading champagne makers. Stroll down the most famous street in Épernay, the Avenue de Champagne, before making a visit to one of the cellars dug here between the 4th – 15th centuries. Here we see the traditional equipment and enjoy a guided tour and a tasting of the notable champagne varieties. (B)
Day 7: Sunday, August 16, 2015 Paris
During your free afternoon, enjoy an interesting visit to the incomparable Palace of Versailles. The palace and gardens of Versailles reflect the extravagant tastes of King Louis XIV, the “Sun King.” On this excursion travel by coach to Versailles, where your local guide will recount the history of the palace and lead you through the various rooms of the State Apartments. Of particular interest are the Queen’s bedchamber and the famous Hall of Mirrors. You then have leisure time to explore the incredible gardens, some of the most famous in the world, which took over 40 years to complete. Celebrate the end of a fabulous trip with a special dinner at the Paradis Latin*, Paris’ oldest cabaret theatre. Enjoy a sumptuous dinner complete with wine, champagne and a delightful cabaret show. (B, D)
Day 8: Monday, August 17, 2015 Paris – Tour Ends
Your tour comes to a close today. Head home with many wonderful memories of your Parisian adventure. (B)

Pansies and Violas love cool weather as seen on KDKA’s Pittsburgh Today Live

April 1st, 2015

Hip Hop violas were released last year and I love them.

Hip Hop violas were released last year and I love them.


Pansies and violas offer an unending myriad of colors. They love cool weather, can be planted in containers or right in the garden. They bring happiness with every blossom.

Both plants are easy to grow. Be sure they get plenty of water and some liquid organic fertilizer every other week to keep them growing strong.

In my garden I fill as many containers as I can, mixing the pansies and violas at will. The front of the house is a rainbow of colors to great visitors. Many have a subtle, but wonderful fragrance too.

Since the flowers can take anything Mother Nature has left in her, they are the perfect choice to plant now.

I’m a cheap gardener (as you know) and I prefer to buy the plants in flats, it’s the best bang for the buck. I did have to buy some of the ‘Hip Hop’ violas at Chapon’s Greenhouse. They are sold in plastic pots and are pricey in comparison to buying a flat, but I love them, so I purchased four of them.

Get some pansies in the garden and soak in the beauty, it’s guaranteed to make you smile.
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Free cooking/gardening demo with The Organic Gardeners on Sunday at Giant Eagle Market District

March 29th, 2015

Join The Organic Gardeners Sunday for a free gardening/cooking demonstration.

Join The Organic Gardeners Sunday for a free gardening/cooking demonstration.


I’ll be joined by my radio partner Jessica Walliser on Sunday March 29th, 2015 at three Giant Eagle Market District stores.

We’ll be talking gardening and cooking a special recipe from the onion family. Best of all you get to taste what we make.

We’ve also got lots of seeds and other gardening stuff to give a way.

We’re at the Bethel Park Giant Eagle Market District at 9:30 a.m.

The new Waterworks store at 12 noon

Then we’ll finish the day at the Pine store at 2:30 p.m.

Hope to see you there.

Jumpstarting the Spring Garden with Doug at Wholey’s Sunday 3/22/15. Free Cooking/Gardening Demo

March 18th, 2015

Join me at Wholey's this Sunday. I'll cook some tuna steaks for you and we'll talk spring gardening.

Join me at Wholey’s this Sunday. I’ll cook some tuna steaks for you and we’ll talk spring gardening.


I’m back at Wholey’s Fish Market in the Strip on Sunday March 22, 2015 at 1 p.m.
I’ll be talking about things to plant early in the garden. I’ve already got peas, lettuce, carrots and other crops in the garden. I’ll explain how to grow outside the limits of first and last frost.
I’ve got lots of free seeds of spring crops for everyone who comes.
Then we’re going to get the grill going and make tuna steaks with a twist.
Hope to see you there.

Peas and other cool weather crops jump start the spring garden as seen on Pittsburgh Today Live

March 18th, 2015

Peas soaked in water overnight will germinate quicker in the cool spring soil.

Peas soaked in water overnight will germinate quicker in the cool spring soil.


St. Patrick’s Day marks the traditional start of the gardening season by planting peas, but there’s still another month at least to get some seeds in the ground. It’s thrilling to be back in the garden.
I plant Oregon Sugar II Snow Pea every spring, soaking the seeds overnight in water. They swell to three times their size and sprout easier in the cool spring soil. But this year I decided to have some fun and try a couple different varieties. ‘Golden Sweet Edible Pod’ is from India and produces tall vines covered in pale yellow snow peas. Beside having a beautiful name which rolls off the tongue, ‘Blauschokker’ grows pretty, purple podded shell peas. The peas themselves are lime green and they look amazing, it’s going to be fun to add color to the spring garden.

My garden is filled with raised beds, they dry out quick. But, it was a wet winter and the snow took its time melting. I bought $20 worth of compost (half yard) and piled it onto the beds and then planted directly in the compost.
There are lots of cool weather crops that can be planted now, lettuce, radishes, Swiss chard, beets and more.
Plant something now and you’ll be picking with “normal” gardeners are just getting getting started. And that feels good.

'Blauschokker,' what a beautiful name for a pea. But the pods are amazing!

‘Blauschokker,’ what a beautiful name for a pea. But the pods are amazing!

Fairy gardens are fun! As seen on KDKA’s Pittburgh Today Live

February 25th, 2015

Meadow and Sandy Santucci love their fairy garden and plan to take it outside in the spring.

Meadow and Sandy Santucci love their fairy garden and plan to take it outside in the spring.


As I stood in Wholey’s after giving a garden talk, three year-old Meadow Santucci walked up to me and asked, “do fairies like parsley?” I told her yes and after talking to her mother Sandy I realized why she asked. The parsley growing in their fairy garden was struggling as the succulents thrived.
Fairy gardens have become all the rage, and why not, they’re fun. It’s a small garden for fairy’s, gnomes, trolls and more. Even though it’s wonderful project for children, big kids can enjoy making these gardens too. There are fairy garden Steelers tailgate decorations available.
I found everything I needed at Chapon’s Greenhouse in Baldwin. They have a huge selection of fairy garden supplies.
At the Santucci’s, the parsley needed water, the other plants wanted it dry. It would be hard to grow both together, that’s something to think about when choosing plants.
I prefer the succulents as they are almost indestructible. First pick a container with drainage, the Santuccis found a cracked pot which was the perfect home for fairies and everything they love. Fill the container with a moist planting mix and then the garden can be filled with small plants, moss, rocks small benches and more.
A fairy garden is only limited by your imagination.
Maybe you’ll be lucky like Meadow and get some fairies visiting your garden. She told me, “fairies blow pixie dust so our flowers grow.”

This is the perfect time (thyme) to grow herbs on the windowsill as seen on Pittsburgh Today Live

February 18th, 2015

Windowsill herbs will make you happy in the winter.

Windowsill herbs will make you happy in the winter.


This time of the year, I always plant a windowsill herb box. But this year, with the help of Chapon’s Greenhouse, I’ve found some new varieties to try. I’m planting African Blue Basil this year. It will do better than most basils with the low light of the window.
Choose a container with good drainage so the soil can dry out. Water will also flush salts out of the soil. I love the new containers I got at Chapon’s, one is a faux watering can and the other has a place for scissors to harvest the herbs.
These other herbs work well on the windowsill too- Oregano, thyme, chives, sage and rosemary are all good choices to grow.
It’s wonderful to pick them and use them in the kitchen.
It’s also great to grow something through the winter.

Here are some other flowers for Valentine’s Day, as seen on KDKA’s Pittsburgh Today Live

February 11th, 2015

Roses aren't the only flowers which make great gifts for Valentine's Day.

Roses aren’t the only flowers which make great gifts for Valentine’s Day.


Ok, you’ve got to buy roses, right? I think there are better choices for Valentine’s Day, but no one wants to end up in the dog house.
Keeping roses looking their best means cutting the bottoms of the stems before putting them in water and adding a drop or two of bleach to keep bacteria at bay. Change the water daily and give the roses another cut at the bottom after a few days.
For some reason a penny in the vase helps too.
There are lots of plants which will last longer than a dozen roses. Every time your significant other looks at these plants, they will think of you.
Potted miniature roses will live all winter on the windowsill and can go into the garden in April where they will last for many years.
Cyclamen is one of the only houseplants which should be kept on the moist side. When watered frequently they will bloom for months.
How about an orchid, they will bloom for months too.
I found some really cool plants at Chapon’s Greenhouse, including a heart shaped topiary.
I love giving tulips and hyacinths in bloom. When they are done they can sit on the windowsill until they can be planted in the ground and will come back year after year in the garden.
One more tip for those roses, dry them when their time is done in the vase and they will last forever, just like your undying love for your partner.

Lets go to Paris!

January 28th, 2015

I shot this picture from the top of Notre Dame. It's quite a climb, but worth it for the view.

I shot this picture from the top of Notre Dame. It’s quite a climb, but worth it for the view.


I can’t wait to show you Paris. This is the first trip that I’ve helped build myself, and I did that since I’ve been there before.
I think it’s the most beautiful city in the world. One big bonus, is the fight is direct! It makes the journey so much easier.
You’ll eat dinner at the Eiffel Tower, tour Notre Dame Cathedral, see Monet’s garden, Versailles, the secret gardens of Paris and more.
On Friday come with me as we get lost in Paris. It’s one of the best ways to see the city and don’t worry, we’ll find our way back to the hotel. That’s also a day to kick back if you’d prefer. Sit at a street side cafe and people watch or check out the little shops near our hotel.
Here are all the details, sign up soon, like all my other trips, it’s going to sell out. I will only take a maximum of 32 people, that way we get to know each other. I’ve made many good friends as we’ve enjoyed traveling together.
This is the easiest way to travel as my friends from Collette provide us a local guide who cares for us through the whole trip.

This is the itinerary-

Spotlight on Paris

Day 1: Monday, August 10, 2015 Overnight Flight
Set out for captivating Paris. Come to know this city famous for its world-renowned art, food and fashion. Its rich history will astound you while its style dazzles.
Day 2: Tuesday, August 11, 2015 Paris, France
Arrive in the “City of Light.” Take this day to meander two of Paris’ most well-known gardens. First, visit Luxembourg Gardens, spanning 60 acres, which was created beginning in 1612 by Marie de’ Medici, the widow of King Henry IV of France, and inspired by the Boboli Gardens in Florence. Next, you will visit the Jardin des Plantes, a 17th-century royal garden complete with a natural-history museum, greenhouses, alpine garden, iris garden, rose garden, remarkable trees, and a menagerie. (B)
Day 3: Wednesday, August 12, 2015 Paris, France – Tour Begins
Today you travel to Bois Richeux. Feel like you have stepped back in time when exploring the medieval gardens, established more than 2000 years ago. After this visit, you travel to another of France’s famous gardens in Giverny. The tranquil gardens here combine flora and water elements, and also inspired Monet’s greatest works when he lived in Giverny for more than 40 years. Tonight, enjoy breathtaking views of the city during a dinner featuring delicious French cuisine at the Eiffel Tower. Following dinner, get a different perspective on the city during a Seine River cruise. As you glide along, admire Paris’ glittering skyline. (B, D)
Day 4: Thursday, August 13, 2015 Paris
Come to know the dramatic highlights of Paris – the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame Cathedral, Champs-Elysees, Place de la Concorde and the magnificent Place Vendome are just some of the amazing landmarks you will see while on a locally-guided tour. Your day continues with a guided tour at the famous Louvre. Dine this evening at one of Paris’ fine restaurants. (B, D)
Day 5: Friday, August 14, 2015 Paris
The entire day is yours to enjoy the city in your own way. You may choose to get a new perspective and leave the city to explore the surrounding countryside. Your tour manager will be on hand with suggestions on exciting ways to spend your free time. (B)
Day 6: Saturday, August 15, 2015 Paris – Reims – Épernay – Paris
Today our journey takes us to Champagne country. Make a stop in ancient Reims to visit its towering centerpiece, the Notre-Dame de Reims. This UNESCO World Heritage site was once the place where French kings were crowned. Discover Reims’ pedestrian streets lined with art galleries and cafés during an included walking tour. Next, travel a short distance to the village of Épernay. Set on the banks of the river Marne, it is home to the world’s leading champagne makers. Stroll down the most famous street in Épernay, the Avenue de Champagne, before making a visit to one of the cellars dug here between the 4th – 15th centuries. Here we see the traditional equipment and enjoy a guided tour and a tasting of the notable champagne varieties. (B)
Day 7: Sunday, August 16, 2015 Paris
During your free afternoon, enjoy an interesting visit to the incomparable Palace of Versailles. The palace and gardens of Versailles reflect the extravagant tastes of King Louis XIV, the “Sun King.” On this excursion travel by coach to Versailles, where your local guide will recount the history of the palace and lead you through the various rooms of the State Apartments. Of particular interest are the Queen’s bedchamber and the famous Hall of Mirrors. You then have leisure time to explore the incredible gardens, some of the most famous in the world, which took over 40 years to complete. Celebrate the end of a fabulous trip with a special dinner at the Paradis Latin*, Paris’ oldest cabaret theatre. Enjoy a sumptuous dinner complete with wine, champagne and a delightful cabaret show. (B, D)
Day 8: Monday, August 17, 2015 Paris – Tour Ends
Your tour comes to a close today. Head home with many wonderful memories of your Parisian adventure. (B)