Archive for July, 2012

Plant a Garden Today! As seen on KDKA’s Pittsburgh Today Live

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

Different colored sweet potato vine are on sale and soften the sides of containers. Photo by Doug Oster


There’s still plenty of time to plant. If you’re somebody who didn’t get their garden in or would just like to spruce up what you’re growing.
This is bargain time at the nursery, so regardless of why you need to get plants, they will be cheap.
Didn’t get a vegetable garden in? Buy some big tomato plants. I showed a six pack of peppers on the show, with nice sized fruit already on the plants too. Lettuce, cilantro, mixed greens, arugula and lots of other things can be started from seed right now also. They will all grow now and will really flourish when the weather cools off.
There are lots of plants at the nursery to spruce up the garden too. I bought a bunch of sweet potato vine cheap, and the vines were nice a long. Perfect to soften up the edges of containers.
There are lots of plants to try which normally wouldn’t make it into the garden. But they are cheap and it’s fun to learn about new varieties.

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

Ornamental grasses are easy to grow, beautiful and most will last a lifetime.


Ornamental grasses can make a bold statement in the garden. They can be anywhere from a few inches tall to 10 feet.
I love the shorter blue grasses planted in groups of three or five.
Zebra grasses put on a show all summer.
The tall pampas grasses are beautiful and also are a great habitat for beneficial insects.
I like to leave them stand all winter, they really look great in the landscape off season.
They are cut down first thing in the spring to invigorate the plant.
Every few years I dig the whole plant out and split them up to keep them growing well.
Find a place for ornamental grasses in the garden. They are indestructible, pretty and will last a lifetime.

Garden questions at mid summer from KDKA’s Pittsburgh Today Live

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

What is that white butterfly flitting around my garden? Is it good or bad?

Good bug or bad?

That’s the Cabbage Looper butterfly and it’s actually good and bad. It’s a great pollinator but also lays eggs that hatch into cabbage worms. I use a floating row cover so the butterfly can’t get to the plants.

I’ve got a sunken black lesion on the bottom of my tomatoes, is that blight?

This is a tomato with blossom end rot.


No, that’s blossom end rot.This is caused when the plant can’t get the calcium it needs. The nutrient is probably in the soil, but unavailable when the soil dries out. The way to beat blossom end rot is to keep the soil evenly moist. Don’t let the plant go through periods of drought then to be deluged in a summer thunderstorm. A good thick layer of mulch helps.

Some varieties of tomato are more susceptible than others, often sauce or paste tomatoes are hit hard. Tomatoes grown in containers are also prone to the problem. They need constant watering or you might consider a self watering container.

I hear all sorts of things about when the right time is to water. What part of the day is best?
The morning is the best time to water. This gets the plants ready for the day, and the leaves also have a chance to dry off. Many plants are susceptible to fungal diseases. When their foliage remains wet, the fungal diseases can take hold.

Water at the base of the plant when possible. This uses the water most efficiantly and not much is lost through evaporation. It’s also another way to keep the leaves dry.

Really soak the plants. It’s best to give them lots of water once or twice a week instead of a little every day. A deep watering encourages deep roots.

Mulch is so important this time of the year. It keeps the soil evenly moist and also retards fungal diseases. Hopefully your plants are already mulched. If not, be sure to get a couple inches of mulch around the plants after a good watering.

Mulch should never touch the base of the plants, it can heat up.

I use straw in the vegetable garden and bark mulch for ornamentals.

Containers might need water every day depending on their size. Stick a finger an inch deep into the pot, if it’s dry, it’s time to water.

Don’t forget trees and shrubs, especially if they are newly planted. Small trees and shrubs might need 15 gallons of water a couple times a week if rain is scarce.

The last resort is an overhead sprinkler. Sometimes a large area like a lawn needs watered and that’s the best way to get it covered. Put a small can in the watering area to know when you’ve reached one inch.

The last few seasons have given us plenty of rain, something we take for granted when it doesn’t come that often.

Join Doug this Sunday at all four Giant Eagle Market District stores

Thursday, July 5th, 2012

I’ll be with my radio partner Jessica Walliser this Sunday for a free gardening/cooking demo. We’re talking about summer garden maintenance and then cooking Black Bean Sliders, Blackened Fish Tacos and Cantaloupe Pie.
We’ll be at the Bethel Park GEMD at 9:30, Robinson at 12 noon, Shadyside at 2:30 and Pine at 5pm.
Hope to see you there.

Thursday, July 5th, 2012

These big rosemary plants were going for $14 and will last for years with the right care.


Fourth of July marks the time of the year nurseries and garden centers start putting annuals on sale.
I wouldn’t buy a plant anywhere else at this time of the year, I know that the nurseries have kept the plants watered and that’s important.
Normally I buy my plants in flats to save money, but the bigger pots have been drastically reduced and I can try some really cool plants for next to nothing. There’s a great variety of plants in those pots.
Since the plants are in big pots they offer instant color for a fraction of the price. The newest varieties and most interesting plants are often sold in three inch or bigger pots, so it’s also a good chance to try something different.
I think the best deal I found was a one gallon mixed planter that could go right in a hanging basket for $10. There was a rosemary plant in a really big pot for $14 and strawberries growing in a hanging basket for $7.
Take a trip to your local nursery and get some great plants that will last for months, well into fall.
All the plants I used on Pittsburgh Today Live were from Hahn Nursery in Ross, 412-635-7475.