Archive for August, 2012

Saving Seeds as seen on KDKA’s PTL

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

There are plenty of plants that when left to their natural habit will produce seeds during the season. It’s what most of them have done for centuries.
They flower, go to seed, drop the seed to ensure another generation.
When radishes don’t head up, I just leave them in the garden. They form pretty pink seed pods. I eat some of the young ones, the rest grow, turn color and then will dry brown.
The key to saving seeds is allowing the plant to reach fruition. Just before it’s ready to drop seed, the gardener swoops in to gather the seed.
The radishes are just about ready. Sometimes a couple pods will open and I’ll know it’s time to harvest.

In my garden I left some peas on the vine, they dried, dropped and now have sprouted for a fall crop.
One thing that’s important is that only open pollinated plants will produce seed that’s true, meaning it will produce the same variety.
Hybrid seeds will revert to parent plant that was crossed to create the hybrid plant. Seeds and plants are always labelled if they are hybrid, if they are not, that usually means they are open pollinated.
Besides radish and peas, I’ll save coriander (cilantro that went to seed), dill, tomatoes, lettuce and anything else I find that reaches fruition as long as it’s open pollinated.
Here’s how I save tomato seed-
Squeeze the seeds into a jar of water and stir them once a day for three days. This ferments the seed, removing the gelatinous coating and killing some soil borne diseases.
Then I lay mine on a coffee filter, let them dry and store them in an envelope. That’s put in an airtight jar like a mason jar and stored in a cool dry place.
That’s how I store all my seeds. First in paper envelopes, then in the mason jars in a cool dry place.
These seeds germinate above 90 percent and some horticulturalist theorize change through evolution to suit your micro-climate.

Try saving a little seed it’s fun. I like to give packets away to gardening friends. You’ll be surprised how good the seed is and how much you’ll save when ordering next season.

Growing succulents in containers as seen on KDKA’s Pittsburgh Today Live

Thursday, August 9th, 2012


I’ve fallen under the spell of succulents. Although they look formidable, only the tiny hair like spines of the white cactus pose a threat to fingertips. I think of them as friendly dinosaurs, rough on the outside, but happy to share a garden together. As the light changes throughout the day the plants transform with the angle of the sun.

They’re the only plants I’ve ever been able to keep alive in strawberry pots. I stole a trick off TV to water them and included it in this video. Every winter I bring them inside; with a monthly watering they happily spend winter on a windowsill.

Not everyone enjoys their charm, but every once and a while a visitor will discover their merits. A friend came over a couple weeks ago and fell in love with the containers, pledging to create her own.

Buy a hydrangea that actually blooms! As seen on KDKA Pittsburgh Today Live

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

Hydrangea 'Great Star' is just that.


“Why won’t my hydrangeas bloom?” Well, it’s the number one garden question.
There are many answers. One common problem is that the most popular type of hydrangea grown in our area is hydrangea macrophylla, often referred to as mophead.
That type of hydrangea isn’t best suited for our climate. Often times the buds will freeze out.
What I do to help them during the winter is to surround the plant with burlap, leaving the top open. This protects the buds from very cold winter winds.
The other thing that stops hydrangeas from blooming is improper pruning. Mopheads and some other types of hydrangeas bloom on old wood. Meaning after they bloom, they put buds on that will sit all winter and then bloom in the summer. If those buds are removed, the plant can’t bloom.
Wait until right after the plant blooms to do any pruning. Wait too long and your risking the buds.
In my garden, I’ve slowly converted to other types of hydrangeas that are more reliable bloomers. One of my favorites is the oak leaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia). The plant has many seasons of interest. In winter the plant sports a beautiful orangish exfoliating bark. Then beautiful conical white blooms which fade to pink. In the fall the large green oak leaf shaped foliage turns deep red.
The Endless Summer brand of hydrangeas offer a plant that’s a reliable bloomer. Many of the plants put buds on new and old wood.
‘Annabelle’ (Hydrangea arborescens) is one of the only hydrangeas that can be cut to the ground at the end of the season and blooms profusely every season.
There’s a new variety I had on the show called ‘Invincibelle Spirit.’ It’s the first pink annabelle variety. $1.00 from each Invincibelle Spirit sold is donated to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
‘Doublicious’ hydrangea has a double flower form and is a repeat bloomer. I’ve put three in my garden and I love them so far.
‘Sister Theresa’ is a beautiful flowering shrub with white flowers.
Find the right hydrangea and enjoy the blooms for years to come.