Archive for March, 2013

Live Garden Chat with Doug Thursday 3/24/13 11am

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

Join me at 11am on Thursday 3/24/13 to talk gardening on the Post-Gazette web page. Just click here to tell your favorite garden stories or ask a question. We are going to have fun!

Easter Plants Can Last For Years As Seen On KDKA’s Pittsburgh Today Live

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013


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 Strawberries and Cream hydrangea 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. When winter comes, this plant needs to come back inside, it’s only hardy to zone 7, which is a little warmer than our climate. I’ll put mine in an unheated greenhouse for the winter.
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.

Strawberries & Cream hydrangea makes a nice Easter gift. It’s available at independent garden centers and box stores.

How To Start Seeds Indoors As Seen on KDKA’s Pittsburgh Today Live

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

These are tomato seedlings which have just sprouted. I start my main crop on April 1st, but need to have something growing a little earlier. Photo by Doug Oster


Growing from seed saves money, provides the opportunity to grow endless varieties and, most importantly, nurtures the soul.

Being able to say “I grew it from seed” just feels good.

The key is to start off with the right kind of growing medium. Use a planting mix or seed-starting mix from your favorite nursery. Don’t use garden soil or potting soil; it’s too heavy.

Moisten the mix before putting it into the container. I use plastic six-packs from last year’s flowers, but anything with drainage will do.

Lay the seed on the mix and cover it. Press down to assure good contact between the mix and the seed.

Cover the container with clear plastic and place it in a warm, bright location. You might be able to get away with a bright south-facing window, but you’re better off growing under fluorescent shop lights. Hang them from chains just inches above the plants. As soon as the seeds germinate, remove the plastic.

Start fertilizing at half strength a couple of weeks after sprouting, then continue about once a week.

When temperatures warm up, get the transplants outside to acclimate them to the weather — at first only for an hour and eventually overnight. The process takes about a week. Tender plants like tomatoes and peppers can go out into the garden around the third week of May. I usually wait until Memorial Day when the soil has really warmed up.

This year, I’m going to try a trick I learned at Janoski’s Farm and Greenhouse in Clinton. On a tour of the farm in April, I saw rows of tomatoes covered with two layers of floating row covers supported by wire hoops. A floating row cover is spun bound translucent fabric often used to extend the season. It’s really a greenhouse in the field. I’m going to try it with just a couple of plants.

Growing from seed is fulfilling, educational and fun. Give it a try.

“The Steel City Garden: Creating a one of a kind garden in black and gold” comes out in November as seen on KDKA’s PTL

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

This is the cover of my new book, The Steel City Garden. I’m looking for gardeners who grow black and gold plants.


I’m excited to team up with St. Lynn’s Press for my fourth book with the company.
“The Steel City Garden: Creating a one of a kind garden in black and gold” comes out in November and will be filled with ways to make an amazing garden with Pittsburgh’s favorite colors.
The information on all the plants with have colorful photographs accompanied by detailed instructions on how to grow them.
I’ll also be writing about attracting black and gold birds, insects and show you how to build birdhouses and planters in black and gold.
I’m going to include five of the best black and gold gardens I can find. If you have one, just drop me a line at dougoster@comcast.net
Even if you don’t make the printed copy of the book, there’s a chance you’ll be included in the E-book and Steel City Garden blog.